Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

PREP Scholars and Faculty Mentors

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BCM PREP Scholars have the freedom to choose a BCM Faculty Mentor based on their research interests found in the seven GSBS graduate programs:  Cancer & Cell Biology; Chemical, Physical & Structural Biology; Development, Disease Models & Therapeutics; Genetics & Genomics; Immunology & Microbiology; Neuroscience; Quantitative & Computational Biosciences. Select Faculty Lab websites provide information on the focus, projects and people working within them. PREP Scholars and faculty mentors are listed from the past five years.

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19th-Year Cohort 2021/2022

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Olumide

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Olumide Ayeni

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Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Interest: Stem cell research, Biochemistry 
PI: Katherine King, M.D., Ph.D.; Bench Mentor: Bailee Kain
Houston is honestly the city to be for research in general and I’m excited to be a pa­rt of vast network of mentors at such an institution like Baylor.

Benjamin

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Benjamin Gephart

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Undergraduate Institution: Nebraska Wesleyan University 
Research Interest: Cancer immunotherapy, molecular biology, immunology 
PI: William Decker, Ph.D.; Bench Mentor: Giselle De La Torredo Pinedo
I am originally from Henderson, NV. My hobbies include martial arts, lifting weights, and listening to podcasts. My favorite type of food is Mexican and Chinese.

Tia

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Tia Gordon

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Undergraduate Institution: Kennesaw State University; Biology, 2021
Research Interest: Genetics, Microbiology, Immunology
PI: Rachel Schiff, Ph.D.; Bench Mentor: Sreyashree Bose, Ph.D.
I am passionate about genetics and translational research. In my leisure time I enjoy running, biking, trying new food, and improving my Spanish as a second language. 

Anthony

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Anthony Grichuk

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Undergraduate Institution: University of Houston Clear Lake 
Research Interest: Telomere, Oncogene, Aging, and Burn Trauma Research 
PI: Alison Bertuch, M.D., Ph.D.; Bench Mentor: Danna Morris
I have known research is something I wanted to do since a very young age! I was motivated by both a family history of cancer as well as an interest in prolonging human life expectancy for applications such a space travel. I am proud to say I can solve any type of Rubiks cube, and I accomplished this on my own!

Karina

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Karina Moreno

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Undergraduate Institution: St. Edward's University; BS Biology and BA Spanish, 2021
Research Interest: Cellular and Molecular Biology, Neuroscience 
PI: Ganesh Rao, M.D.; Bench Mentor: Anantha Marisetti, Ph.D.
I am a first-generation, Mexican American. At St. Edward’s, I was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, president and captain on the women’s club soccer team, an ambassador for the club sports program, and I conducted research at both St. Edward’s and The University of Texas at Austin. In my free time, I enjoy running, working out, and trying new foods!

Nathaniel

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Nathaniel Smith

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Undergraduate Institution: Arizona State University; BS. Psychology, BS. Neuroscience (2021)
Research Interest: Dementia/Alzheimer's 
PI: Josh Schulman, M.D., Ph.D.; Bench Mentor: David Li-Kroger, Ph.D.
I'm a nontraditional student who likes nature and art but gravitates toward science because it offers a greater sense of purpose for me. My fun fact is that I wrote and directed a few short films, it was pretty flattering that other people wanted to pay for my production costs because they liked the script.

Karen

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Karen Zuniga

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Undergraduate Institution: University of Houston-Victoria; BS. Biology 2020
Research Interest: Cancer research (Breast, Ovarian, Pancreatic, Cervical)
PI: Lisa Bouchier-Hayes, Ph.D.; Bench Mentor: Alexandra Brown
My research interests are in studying cancers of the female reproductive organs. I enjoy exploring broad categories of biomedical research because science is an abundance of puzzles, and I like puzzles! In my free time, I love to read, paint, and do photography.

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18th-Year Cohort 2020/2021

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Estephanie Balbuena

Undergraduate Institution: Hunter College
Graduate Institution: University of Rochester
Research Title: The Role of AP1G1 in Regulating APP Levels and Processing
Mentor: Huda Zoghbi, M.D.

Katie Brandel-Ankrapp

Undergraduate Institution: Michigan State University
Graduate Institution: Baylor College of Medicine
Research Title: Parsing State-Dependent Neuronal Activity in the Basal Forebrain
Mentor: Benjamin Arenkiel, Ph.D.

Peter Cruz Parrilla 

Undergraduate Institution: Haverford College
Graduate Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research Title Improving the Structure of Nuclear Receptor Full-Length Complexes by Cryo-EM.
MentorSteven Ludtke, Ph.D.

Harim Delgado-Seo

Undergraduate Institution: Universidad Ana G. Mendez
Graduate Institution: Baylor College of Medicine
Research Title: Investigating the behavioral hallmarks of teneurin dysfunction in flies and mice.
Mentors: Hsiao-Tuan Chao, M.D., Ph.D. & Minghsan Xue, Ph.D.

Gabriela Gryc

Undergraduate Institution: Grinnell College
Graduate Institution: University of Iowa
Research Title: Neural Activity Governs Purkinje Cell Survival in the Adult Brain.
Mentor: Joanna Jankowski, Ph.D.

Brianna Lopez

Undergraduate Institution: Arizona State University
Graduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Research Title: Anti-Spike IgG antibody levels are associated with neutralization of SARS-CoV-2
Mentor: Jason Kimata, Ph.D.

Katherine Perks

Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas Austin
Graduate Institution: University of Washington
Research Title: Optimal Cue Integration Explains Bimanual Touch Encoding in the Human Brain
Mentor: Jeffrey Yau, Ph.D.

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17th-Year Cohort 2019/2020 

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Yonaida Valentine

Undergraduate Institution: Binghamton University
Graduate Institution: The Ohio State University
Research Title: Is the Spectrin Cytoskeleton Required for Axon Regeneration?
Mentor: Matthew Rasband, Ph.D.

Sumayyah Khan

Undergraduate Institution: University of Houston
Graduate Institution: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Research Title: Quantifying alpha dynamics in human visual cortex: an intracranial study
Mentor: Brett Foster, Ph.D.

Garrett Lindsay

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara 
Graduate Institution: Scripps Research Institute 
Research Title: A Novel Therapeutic Approach for Treatment-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Mentor: Damian Young, Ph.D.

Anayah Ferris

Undergraduate Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Graduate Institution: University of Iowa
Research Title: The Role of RNA Splicing in Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
Mentor: Chonghui Cheng, M.D., Ph.D.

Jayso’n Davidson

Undergraduate Institution: Hampton University
Graduate Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Research Title: Gene Therapy Treatment for Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia.
Mentor: Xander Wehrens, M.D., Ph.D.

Miranda Torres

Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas at Dallas
Graduate Institution: Northwestern University
Research Title: Reproducible Behavioral and Cellular Deficits in a Rat Model of Contactin-Associated Protein-Like 2 Deficiency
Mentor: Rodney Samaco, Ph.D.

Joe Martinez

Undergraduate Institution: Carnegie Mellon University
Graduate Institution: California Institute of Technology
Research Title: Engineering Lactobacillus reuteri for probiotic delivery of therapeutics.
Mentor: Robert Britton, Ph.D. 

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16th-Year Cohort 2018/2019 

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Brooke Hull

Undergraduate Institution: University of Georgia
Graduate Institution: Princeton University
Research Title: Zika virus proteins interact with host cellular pathways in Drosophila
Mentor: Shinya Yamamoto, Ph.D.

Zevin Condiotte

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University
Graduate Institution: California Institute of Technology
Research Title: γ-glutamylcysteine Synthases Increase Lactobacillus reuteri Anti-inflammatory Properties
Mentor: James Versalovic, M.D., Ph.D. 

Grace Adeniyi-Ipadeola

Undergraduate Institution: Texas A & M, College Station
Graduate Institution: Baylor College of Medicine
Research Title: Ascaris Larvae Excretory-Secretory Products Are Potential Targets for Vaccine Development
Mentor: Jill Weatherhead, M.D.

Azaria Anderson

Undergraduate Institution: University of Nevada
Graduate Institution: University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Research Title: Seizures increase ∆FosB expression in brain areas related to psychiatric comorbidities in Alzheimer’s disease
Mentor: Jeannie Chin Medina, Ph.D.

Minerva Solis

Undergraduate Institution: University of St. Thomas
Graduate Institution: Baylor College of Medicine
Research Title: Vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM1) is a novel theca cell specific androgen regulated gene in the ovary
Mentor: JoAnne Richards, Ph.D.

Thomas Fair

Undergraduate Institution: Winston Salem State University
Graduate Institution: Baylor College of Medicine
Research Title: Novel Nuclear Localization of JPH2 C-Terminal Fragment in Heart Failure
Mentor: Xander Wehrens, M.D., Ph.D.

Madelyn Szilagyi-Jones

Undergraduate Institution: Case Western Reserve University
Graduate Institution: Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Research Title: Loss of Magel2 alters anxiety-like behavior in the rat.
Mentor: Rodney Samaco, Ph.D.

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15th-Year Cohort 2017/2018 

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Barbara Nassif

Undergraduate Institution: University of Houston
Graduate Institution: University of Texas Health MD Anderson Cancer Center
Research Title: Role of the androgen receptor in estrogen receptor mutant breast cancer
Mentor: Suzanne Fuqua, Ph.D.

Kelsey Heavener

Undergraduate Institution: Simmons College
Graduate Institution: Columbia University Medical
Research Title: Modeling breast cancer through CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing
Mentor: Yi Li, Ph.D.

Markia Smith

Undergraduate Institution: University of Delaware
Graduate Institution: University of North Caroline Chapel Hill
Research Title: Generation of broader repertoire Epstein-Barr virus specific T cells for EBV+ lymphomas
Mentor: Clio Rooney, Ph.D.

Giovanni Monterroso

Undergraduate Institution: Northeastern Illinois University
Graduate Institution: Michigan State University
Research Title: Possible target for treating metabolic disorders?
Mentor: Atul Chopra, M.D., Ph.D.

Elizabeth Borneman

Undergraduate Institution: Georgetown University
Graduate Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Title: Seeing to See: Visualizing concepts for better understanding in neuroscience and machine learning
Mentor: Xaq Pitkow, Ph.D.

Kenneth Guzman Rodriquez

Undergraduate Institution: University of Puerto Rico-Cayey
Graduate Institution: University of North Caroline Chapel Hill
Research Title: Synthesis of (+)JQ1 analogs with enhanced metabolic stability
Mentor: Damian Young, Ph.D.

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14th-Year Cohort 2016/2017 

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David Cardenas 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Houston Downtown
Graduate Institution: University of Houston School of Medicine
Research Title: Activation of epigenetically silenced genes to target aggressive breast cancer phenotypes
Mentor: Jeff Rosen, Ph.D.

Taylor Jefferson 

Undergraduate Institution: Baylor University
Graduate Institution: Northwestern University
Research Title: Abnormal Purkinje cell firing during development in Car8wdl mice
Mentor: Roy Sillitoe, Ph.D.

Faith Joseph 

Undergraduate Institution: Xavier University of Louisiana
Graduate Institution: Baylor College of Medicine
Research Title: The role of CD5 in T-Reg Induction
Mentor: Maria Bettini, Ph.D.

Dakari McCoy

Undergraduate Institution: University of New Mexico
Graduate Institution: University of Southern California
Research Title: Virtual reality manipulations of visual and non-visual cues for proprioception
Mentor: Jeffrey Yau, Ph.D.

Dominique Thompson

Undergraduate Institution: Northwestern State University
Graduate Institution: Baylor College of Medicine
Research Title: Examining biomarkers of environmental polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in placental and cord blood samples
Mentor: Melissa Suter, Ph.D.

Antonio Valentin-Acevedo

Undergraduate Institution: University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla
Graduate Institution: Baylor College of Medicine
Research Title: HIV-1 replication block autophagy by preventing cleavage of GAG-LC3
Mentor: Sue Crawford, Ph.D.

Justin Branch

Undergraduate Institution: The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Research Tech, Baylor College of Medicine
Research Title: Validating splice altering variants in Leber congenital amaurosis patients 
Mentor: Rui Chen, Ph.D.