Graduate Students

Ayça received her bachelor’s degree from Hacettepe University in Nutrition and Dietetics and her master’s degree from the Middle East Technical University in Biotechnology. 

For her Ph.D., she has been working on estrogen receptor-positive endocrine therapy-resistant metastatic breast cancer to determine the underlying cause of therapy resistance as well as alternative therapies that would resolve the resistance. For this purpose, she uses various metabolic, genetic, and epigenetic techniques. 

She also works on a translational study as part of the C★STAR (Cancer Scholars for Translational and Applied Research) program in collaboration with the Cancer Center at Illinois and Carle Foundation Hospitals. In this project, she focuses on the efficacy of a commonly used endocrine therapy (Fulvestrant) in different metastatic site treatments of breast cancer.

Jin Young is a Food Science and Human Nutrition Ph.D. student and T32 Tissue Microenvironment (TiME) Trainee. She earned her B.S. in Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and M.S. in Food and Nutrition at Seoul National University, specializing in cancer epidemiology.

During her Ph.D. program, Jin Young utilizes spatial transcriptomics and geographic information science methods to understand tumor heterogeneity of metastatic breast cancer. She aims to develop a computational pipeline to visualize hotspots of spatially relevant genes which will help characterize the link between tumor microenvironment, local metabolism, and changes in transcriptional response to external stimuli.

Jin Young’s publication list can be found through ORCID (

Human Nutrition Ph.D. student and 2022-2025 Graduate College Fellow.  She earned her B.S. in Nutrition Science from Cal Poly SLO, working as a data processor at the Cal Poly Metabolomics Service Center. As a Ph.D. student, Hannah uses transcriptomic, cistromic, and metabolomic methods to elucidate the mechanisms through which cortisol and the glucocorticoid receptor impact tumorigenesis in lung and breast cancer patients.

Outside of her research, Hannah works to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within STEM through leading mentorship and training opportunities. She mentors undergraduates in the Madak-Erdogan lab, organizes peer mentoring events through the WomiX: Womxn in Metabolomics mentoring program, and co-facilitates the UIUC Disability Ally Training. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing and tabletop gaming. 

Hannah’s publication list can be found through NCBI( and ResearchGate (