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Past Student Mentors

  • Student Coordinator

    MD/PhD Student, Therapeutic Radiology

    Originally from New York state, Alanna attended Dartmouth College where she majored in Neuroscience and studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In college, she worked as a student intern for Dartmouth College Health Services, was vice president of her sorority, Alpha Phi, and had a brief stint on the Dartmouth Women’s Rugby team. Her research in college included studying the relationship between social context and emotional processing, as well as the role of thyroid hormone in brain development. After graduation, to help her figure out her career goals, Alanna spent two years working at the National Institutes of Health as a postbaccalaureate IRTA fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Veronica Alvarez, where she studied dopamine signaling and drug addiction. Her time at the NIH confirmed her desire to pursue a career in science and in medicine.Alanna is now a sixth-year MD/PhD student in Dr. Peter Glazer’s lab. While she was originally interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience, she now studies cancer biology and is particularly interested in targeting DNA repair as a form of cancer therapy. Outside of the lab, she has worked at HAVEN Free Clinic, a student-run primary clinic in New Haven. In her free time, she enjoys salsa dancing, rock climbing, traveling, crossword puzzles, and reading.
  • Peer Mentor

    Program Administrator

    Rick grew up in Palatka, Florida and attended the University of South Florida, majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. During undergrad, Rick interned at Draper Laboratory, researching microfluidic in vitro cell culture systems for both the brain and liver. His senior thesis involved determining the conditions necessary for long term primary liver cell culture that allowed for study of malarial liver infections. Rick was heavily involved in the service organization Rotary International while at USF. After graduation, he worked as a Preclinical Staff Scientist at Intezyne Technologies, evaluating the in vitro and in vivo efficacy of a novel drug delivery technology for cancer therapeutics. Rick is a rising fifth year PhD student in Dr. Marina Picciotto’s lab, investigating the effect of acetylcholine on appetitive learning in mice. He spends his free time forging relationships between graduate student groups and New Haven neighborhood leaders by bringing science activities to community events, gardening, walking his two cats, and playing board/card/video games.
  • Peer Mentor

    Originally from a small rural town in Puerto Rico, Paola graduated with a B.S. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras. During her first years as an undergrad, she served as a research mentor to pre-college students at the Arecibo Observatory Space Academy conducting research in astronomy, physics, engineering, biology and chemistry. Half-way through her undergrad she conducted clinical research with a Neuropathologist at the University of Puerto Rico Medical School, which helped her define her interests toward pursuing a career in neuroscience research. During her last two years of undergrad, Paola was a fellow of an NIH BP-ENDURE Research Program at her institution, which provided training in Neuroscience for individuals of underrepresented and low-income backgrounds. She worked in identifying molecular and cellular mechanisms that promote nervous system regeneration in the sea cucumber H. glaberrima. In the Summer of her junior year, she participated in the Department of Molecular Biology and Lewis Sigler Institute Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Princeton University as an intern. Under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Gavis, she worked on identifying the role of the canonical Wnt-pathway in regulating neuron morphology. Throughout her undergraduate degree, she led and participated on various initiatives to promote and increase diversity in STE(A)M. Paola has now finished her first-year as a PhD student in the Yogev laboratory, studying the underlying mechanisms that regulate dendrite-specific pruning. In her free time, she enjoys game-nights with friends, going on a run, binge-watching series, taking a day or weekend trip to New York or Boston, and volunteering.
  • Peer Mentor

    Graduate Student, Cell Biology

    Ian was born and raised in San Marcos, Texas before pursuing a degree in Neuroscience at The University of Texas at Dallas. There, Ian worked on validating vagus nerve stimulation as a therapeutic adjunct to classical cognitive behavioral therapy, specifically for the treatment of an animal model of posttraumatic stress disorder. Then, as a part of a joint fellowship program with UT Southwestern Medical Center, Ian completed his honors thesis in the lab of Peter Douglas, studying the role of heat shock response in maintaining intestinal cytoskeletal integrity and longevity in C. elegans nematodes. Ian was also an active peer mentor in the UTD peer-led team learning program, primarily tutoring general chemistry and physics. Ian is now a second year PhD student in the Cell Biology department in Daniel Colón-Ramos’ lab. There, he studies the supramolecular organization of glycolytic proteins in C. elegans neurons and seeks to understand their role in fundamental physiological processes. He is also on the editorial board for the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine and is a track leader for the Yale BBS Diversity Inclusion Collective. In his free time, Ian likes playing board games with friends, playing & watching basketball, and birdwatching.
  • Peer Mentor

    Originally from South Florida, Sydney attended Harvard College where she majored in History and Science. In college, she volunteered with Peer Health Exchange teaching health education to Boston high school students. This work inspired her senior thesis, which focused on the history of Battered Woman Syndrome. After graduation, she spent two years as a research assistant to Dr. Michael Nair-Collins, a philosopher at Florida State University College of Medicine, where she studied public attitudes towards brain death and organ donation. During this time, she also volunteered with the Red Cross, among many things, teaching kindergarteners about germs and hand-washing. This pull towards teaching, health, and research inspired her to pursue a career combining all three.Sydney is now a fourth year MD-PhD student in the Program for History of Science and Medicine. Her research investigates how a social ill - violence, for example - becomes a diagnosable medical condition. When she is not reading or in the archives, you can probably find her knitting.
  • Peer Mentor

    Originally from the rural farming town of Manassa, Colorado, Alyssa’s not quite sure how she ended up at Yale for undergrad. After adjusting to *the city* and *the East Coast*, she decided to study biology. Thanks to a program similar to BioMed SURF she spent three years in a lab studying DNA damage repair. Outside of science she choreographed for her dance group, tutored biology, and was a Freshmen Counselor. Although she knew she loved science, Alyssa was unsure whether to pursue a PhD, MD, or MD/PhD when she graduated. She consequently decided to spend two years working as an IRTA postbaccalaureate fellow at the National Institutes of Health, where she studied human Th2 cells in allergic disease. Alyssa’s experiences at the NIH not only confirmed her desire to pursue an MD/PhD, but also fostered her love for the immune system. She is now a fourth-year MD/PhD student in the Medzhitov laboratory, studying the initiation and regulation of Allergic inflammation. Outside of science, Alyssa enjoys dancing, eating tacos, hiking Connecticut state parks, and playing with her two cats.
  • Peer Mentor

    Lorenzo Rakesh Sewanan (Renz) was born to Guyanese parents in Suriname, a small Caribbean country. At the age of 16, he and part of his family moved to Jamaica, Queens, New York, where he attended the local public high school Hillcrest for his junior and senior years. Due to a fortunate series of circumstances, he was awarded a Questbridge National Questbridge National Match Scholarship to Trinity College, a small liberal arts institution in Hartford, Connecticut, and was the first person in his family to finish high school and to attend college. At Trinity College, he majored in Physics and in Mechanical Engineering, with a minor in Writing and Rhetoric and completing premedical courses, in addition to studying abroad in Asia and Australia. While at Trinity, he was involved in a variety of activities from teaching, mentoring, literacy outreach, and science outreach. While an underg-raduate, he conducted research on the neuroethology of the weakly electric fish Apteronotus leptorhynchus, computational modeling to understand cardiac contractile function, and spent two summers studying intervertebral disc degeneration at the Feinstein Institute and was there exposed to the concept of the physician-scientist. Currently, he is a seventh year MD/PhD student, completing his thesis research on cardiac biomechanics, tissue engineering, and human cardiomyopathy in the lab of Stuart G. Campbell in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He plans to specialize in cardiovascular medicine and pursue a career as physician-scientist. His leisure time activities include happy hours, cooking, gaming, writing, and reading.