Researcher with a pipette

Congratulations to our 2021 winners!

  • Cooper Hanley—Northwestern University
  • Rohan Hosuru—University of Virginia
  • Shobi Mathew—Wayne State University School of Medicine
  • Nicole Pek—University of Cincinnati
  • Katelyn Schumacher—Vanderbilt University
  • Anita Sumali—Texas A&M University

2021 scholarship recipient biographies

Cooper Hanley
Cooper Hanley, Northwestern University

Majors: Chemistry & Science in Human Culture

Cooper Hanley is rising freshman at Northwestern University, majoring in Chemistry with an adjunct major in Science in Human Culture. In high school, Cooper conducted chemical engineering research in the lab of Dr. Joel Kaar at the University of Colorado, Boulder. There, Cooper investigated a novel method of utilizing plasmonic gold nanoparticles to denature beta-secretase, an enzyme characteristic of  Alzheimer's Disease pathology. Cooper also performed research at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, studying the pharmacokinetics of CBD and THC metabolism in order to examine the biochemical consequences of marijuana use. Following graduation from college, Cooper intends to pursue graduate studies and ultimately a career in medicinal chemistry, applying emergent nano- and biotechnologies to develop innovative pharmaceuticals, with a particular focus on neurodegenerative disease. Beyond the lab, Cooper is active in Model United Nations, plays tennis, and is an avid fly fisherman.

Rohan Hosuru, University of Virginia

Majors: Human Biology & Statistics

Rohan Hosuru is a fourth year undergraduate at the University of Virginia, studying Human Biology and Statistics. He is currently conducting research in the lab of Dr. Michael Brown of the Carter Immunology Center at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. This past summer, Rohan participated in the Amgen Scholars program at Harvard University, conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Rizwan Romee and Dr. Grace Birch at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. His work focuses on understanding how natural killer (NK) cells and their genetics impact viral immunity and cancer immunology. From these experiences, Rohan was inspired to pursue an MD-PhD beginning in Fall 2022. He aims to investigate how innate immunity and genetic variations can improve vaccines and immunotherapies, and the role both play in shaping the stages of the immune response. In conjunction with research, Rohan desires to strengthen the intersection of immunology, public health, and health policy. Outside academics, Rohan is a student mentor, food pantry volunteer, and basketball fan.

Rohan Hosuru
Shobi Mathew
Shobi Mathew, Wayne State University School of Medicine

MD Candidate

Shobi Mathew is a first-year medical student at the Wayne State University School of Medicine (WSUSOM) in Detroit, Michigan. He completed his undergraduate degree in Economics at Wayne State University and completed a Master’s in Basic Medical Science at WSUSOM. Shobi worked full-time as a clinical research coordinator in Emergency Medicine while completing his master’s degree. Shobi’s invaluable experience and interest in science and research stems from coordinating multiple clinical trials and academic studies as a clinical research coordinator. He has completed significant work in cardiac arrest research, publishing 6 abstracts and manuscripts. Shobi accepted the lofty task of assisting in ways to improve cardiac arrest survival rates in the city of Detroit, which had a cardiac arrest fatality rate of 99.8% less than two decades ago, by managing the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES). In his free time, he volunteers with the Downtown Boxing Gym (DBG) Youth Program in Detroit, a program serving inner-city youth. He hopes to continue making valuable contributions to the field of science, as well as giving back to the city of Detroit.

Nicole Pek, University of Cincinnati

PhD Candidate: Molecular and Developmental Biology

Nicole is a first-year PhD student in the University of Cincinnati Molecular and Developmental Biology program, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She is currently conducting research under the supervision of Dr. Mingxia Gu at the Department of Pediatrics and Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Medicine (CuSTOM). There, she works on utilizing vascular cells and vessel organoids derived from patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells to model and study genetic diseases, as well as cardiopulmonary development. After graduating with B.Sc. (Hons) (specialization in Biomedical Sciences) at the National University of Singapore, she received scientific training in well-established research institutions such as the Agency of Science, Technology and Research, Singapore (A*STAR) and Stanford University. With many years of stem cell research experience under her belt, Nicole is working towards using 2D and 3D stem cell-based cellular platforms to model complex human diseases and screen for therapeutics to treat those diseases. She also hopes to be part of the task force that will make stem cell-based therapies accessible to patients of all needs. Outside of the lab, Nicole plays a pro-active role in science mentorship, communication and advocacy.

Nicole Pek
Katelyn Schumacher
Katelyn Schumacher, Vanderbilt University

Major: Biomedical Engineering
Minor: Human and Organizational Development

Katelyn Schumacher is an incoming freshman at Vanderbilt University, majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Human/Organizational Development. An avid volunteer with Operation Smile Charity, Katelyn has led a team in funding five cleft-lip surgeries for children without access to safe, affordable healthcare. Katelyn recognizes that systemic solutions to medical inequity cannot be made without a degree in the medical field; she intends to apply biomedical engineering concepts to develop cost-effective medical devices that can be distributed to low-resource communities across the world. Outside of academics, Katelyn is passionate about closing the gender gaps in STEM and has led an after-school program dedicated to female leadership.

Anita Sumali, Texas A&M University

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Anita Sumali is a rising Junior at Texas A&M University studying Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Biomechanics. She is currently in the “E2M” Engineering to Medicine Early Assurance medical program, which allows her to pursue her passion for engineering as an undergraduate student before beginning her medical career at the Texas A&M University College of Medicine. As an avid competitive club swimmer, Anita hopes to become a physician-scientist in orthopedic and sports medicine in order to contribute to the invention of novel biotechnology and improve the lives of athletes around the world. Her current research projects at Texas A&M and Johns Hopkins University focus on H. pylori chemotaxis and the effects of alginate hydrogel stress-relaxation properties on cell migration rates, respectively. Outside the lab, Anita loves to be in the water, try new foods, bake, and travel.

Anita Sumali
2020: Sammy Mustafa, Northwestern University

Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Global Health

A 2020 incoming freshman at Northwestern University, Sammy Mustafa conducted cell biology research in the lab of Dr. Donna Leonardi at Bergen County Academies, investigating the role of the PTEN pseudogene as a novel modulator of glioblastoma malignancy. His research utilizes the nonfunctional gene as a “decoy” to combat miRNA-mediated repression common in glioblastomas. As an enrollee of Northwestern’s seven year BA/MDHonors Program in Medical Education, Sammy will continue his academic and research career at the Feinberg School of Medicine, as well as delve further into the field of synthetic biology. Outside the lab, Sammy is a varsity hurdler and Eagle Scout who enjoys watching documentaries, thrifting, and spending time with friends and family.

Sammy Mustafa
Stella Paffenholz
2019: Stella Paffenholz, Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

PhD Candidate: Molecular Biosciences  Cancer Biology

A doctoral candidate at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Stella’s current work focuses on developing innovative genetic tools to understand the process of senescence, a tumor-suppressive mechanism de-regulated in cancer. Stella completed her undergraduate in Molecular Biomedicine at the University of Bonn, Germany, and subsequently earned a Master’s degree through a Helmholtz International Graduate School for Cancer Research Fellowship at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany. As chair of GSK Women in Science, Stella strives to advance gender equality and diversity in science. She is also part of the leadership team of the Tri-Institutional Biotech Club aiming to bridge the gap between academic research and pharmaceutical industry to ultimately turn academic breakthroughs into therapies for cancer patients. In her free time, Stella is an enthusiastic traveler and enjoys cycling and marathon running.

2018: Christopher Thang, The University of Houston
Houston, Texas

Christopher is a member of the University of Houston’s 2018 freshman class and one of 10 students in the 3/4 accelerated BS/MD program, majoring in Biomedical Science. Previously, Christopher investigated the ability of specialized peptides and antibodies that target myosin subfragment-2 to modulate muscle contraction at the University of North Texas under Dr. Douglas Root, co-authoring a publication in the Biophysical Journal. Now part of Dr. Chengzhi Cai’s laboratory at the University of Houston, Christopher researches the ability of benign E. coli to form biofilms on silicon catheters, widely used in biomedical devices, to reduce pathogen colonization. In the future, Christopher aims to benefit others by conducting both clinical research and international medical missions as a physician. In his free time, Christopher enjoys creating songs on the piano, weightlifting, and spending time with friends.

Christopher Thang
Kritika Singh
Fall 2017: Kritika Singh, Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts

Kritika is an undergraduate student at Northeastern University majoring in Bioengineering with a focus in cell and Tissue Engineering, Chemistry, and Global Health. At the Mazitschek Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, Kritika is currently working to establish an assay platform to allow the simultaneous profiling of the specificity of epigenetic modulators and their small molecule inhibitors in the context of a diverse set of histone modifications. Outside of class, Kritika gives back to society as the CEO of the non-profit, Malaria Free World Inc., advocating for malaria research and prevention. She is also the webmaster of the undergraduate engineering research journal, Embark, and is the director of Northeastern’s first global health conference.

Spring 2017: Oscar Hernandez Murillo, University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Oscar is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Biology with a concentration in Computational Biology and a minor in Chemistry. His current research at Dr. James Shorter’s laboratory focuses on engineering substrate-specific variants of Hsp104, a yeast disaggregase, as a potential therapy for neurodegenerative diseases. Oscar is planning to pursue a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences and hopes to, one day, become a University Professor. During his free time, Oscar enjoys practicing his French, reading manga, and sharing fun facts about Ecuador, his home.

Oscar Hernandez Murillo
Vanja Tolj
Fall 2016: Vanja Tolj, The Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio

Vanja Tolj is a junior at The Ohio State University majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Global Public Health. As an aspiring physician, she hopes to incorporate translational research in her practice to improve the lives of her patients. Her current research focuses on determining how forced displacement contributes to the onset of dementia in the Serbian population. In her free time, Vanja contributes her time to TEDxOhioStateUniversity as a speaker coach and leading the GlobeMed chapter at OSU.

Spring, 2016: Jessica Ong, UCLA Los Angeles, California

Jessica is an aspiring physician scientist in the MD/PhD program at UCLA. Jessica completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees concurrently in UCLA’s rigorous Departmental Scholars Program, and she is now pursuing her PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Reue. Jessica’s research focuses on lipid metabolism, studying the role of a novel gene Diet 1 in bile acid homeostasis as well as kidney proximal tubule function.

Jessica Ong
Kekoa Taparra
Fall, 2015: Kekoa Taparra, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland

A doctoral candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Cellular and Molecular Medicine PhD Program, Kekoa’s current work focuses on cancer gene transcription programs associated with the Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) and how they modulate cancer metabolism. In the future, Kekoa plans to pursue his medical degree upon completion of his PhD; ultimately his goal is to return home to Hawai‘i as a physician-scientist prepared to advance medical discoveries that will impact the health of his Native Hawaiian communities.

Spring, 2015: Peter Cabeceiras, Rice University Houston, Texas

Peter Cabeceiras is a junior at Rice University, majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. Peter holds a college student researcher position in the laboratory of Dr. Lynda Chin in the Department of Genomic Medicine at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) with a focus on cancer research.

Peter Cabeceiras
Kristin Qian
Fall, 2014: Kristin Qian, Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey

A high school graduate at 16, Kristin Qian began her research work at the Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute in Dr. Brian Druker’s Laboratory and is now attending Princeton University as a pre-med major.

Spring, 2014: Casey Miller, Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana

Casey is currently working toward a degree in Biology at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is deeply intrigued by the unknown in the world, and looks forward to learning about diseases and conditions that have yet to be cured.

Casey Miller

Full list of winners
  • Cooper Hanley—Northwestern University
  • Rohan Hosuru—University of Virginia
  • Shobi Mathew—Wayne State University School of Medicine
  • Nicole Pek—University of Cincinnati
  • Katelyn Schumacher—Vanderbilt University
  • Anita Sumali—Texas A&M University
  • Tim Brown—Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
  • Prathamesh Chati—Washington University in St. Louis
  • Shweta P. Kitchloo—University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Anna Claire McMullen—University of Tulsa
  • Sammy Mustafa—Northwestern University
  • Nicole Renee Palmer—Case Western Reserve University
  • James C. Bowden—California Institute of Technology
  • Azadeh Hadadianpour—Vanderbilt University
  • Colin J. Mann—University of California, San Diego
  • Stella Paffenholz—Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School
  • Isha Puri—Harvard University
  • Salil Uttarwar—Washington University in St. Louis
  • Rachael Adams—The Ohio State University
  • Shannon Esswein—California Institute of Technology
  • Veeraj Shah—University of Maryland
  • Christopher Thang—University of Houston
  • Jeffrey Zhou—Yale University
  • Name withheld due to NCAA rules
Fall 2017
  • Nathaniel Deimler of Nova Southeastern University
  • Ana Enriquez of Emory University
  • Micheal Munson of Baylor University
  • Kritika Singh of Northeastern University
  • Emily Xu of Yale University
  • Joshua Yang of Johns Hopkins University
Spring 2017
  • Joyce Kang of Stanford University
  • Oscar Hernandez Murillo of University of Pennsylvania
  • Danielle Mzyk of North Carolina State University
  • Nicholas Page of Rutgers University
  • John Pluvinage of Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Lillian Xu of Princeton University
Fall 2016
  • Brad Foster of Duke University 
  • Pranati Pillutla of Texas Tech Health Science Center School of Medicine
  • Christina Tan of Rice University
  • Vanja Tolj of The Ohio State University
  • Anthony J. Treichel of Winona State University
  • Jason Cheng-ting Tsai of Stanford University
Spring 2016
  • Aswin Bikkani of University of Cincinnati
  • Akhil Garg of Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Madeline Keleher of Washington University in St. Louis
  • Jessica Ong of University of California, Los Angeles
  • Pia Sen of University of Texas at Dallas
  • Mohamed Soliman of Cornell University
Fall 2015
  • Fatima Nizamuddin of University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Yeshwant Chillakuru of The George Washington University
  • Yuyan Cheryl Mai of Yale University
  • Louis “Bobby” Hollingsworth of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Marisa Egan of Saint Joseph’s University
  • Kekoa Taparra of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Spring 2015
  • Michael Zhu Chen of Stanford University
  • Claire Liu of University of Chicago
  • Peter Cabeceiras of Rice University
  • Christina Rudolph of Siena College
  • Jean-Nicholas Gallant of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Adrienne Snyder of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Fall 2014
  • Kristin Qian of Princeton University
  • Alexandra Tamerius of University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Ryan Lindeborg of Harvard College
  • Adriano Bellotti of North Carolina State University
  • Nicole Olson of University of California-San Francisco
  • Graham Walmsley of Stanford University
Spring 2014
  • Wen Chyan of University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Matthew Jeffreys of Stanford University
  • Rachel Marty of University of California, San Diego
  • Casey Miller of Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis
  • Catherine Norman of Trinity University
  • Max Wallack of Boston University
Fall 2013
  • Chandler Burke of Rice University
  • Melissa Dang of University of Oklahoma
  • Michael Neiger of Ohio State University
  • Lauren Nowacki of Texas A&M University
  • Lindsey Rogers of Yale University
  • Kelly Wallin of University of Wisconsin, Madison
Spring 2013
  • Jeanette Wat of Rice University
  • Jack Huang of Harvard University
  • Brandon Fennell of Stanford University
  • Nrithya Sundararaman of University of Miami
  • Douglas Bennion of University of Florida
  • David Han of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Fall 2012
  • Nigel Reuel of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Erik Schieda of Duke University
  • Jonathan Tsai of Stanford University
  • Shannamar Dewey of University of California, Davis
  • Priya Pathak of University of Wisconsin, Madison

Scholarship program support

If you have any questions or experience any difficulties regarding your scholarship submission, please contact our scholarship coordinator by email at