CoB-KIBM Scholars

Summer 2022 Cohort

This year a total of 41 completed application were submitted! The high quality of applications meant we invited to interview a total of 19 students. These half-hour interviews consisted of learning more about their career goals, faculty interests, and their general motivation for pursuing neuroscience, as well as any barriers they may have faced in their journey towards getting involved in research.

From those interviews, we selected our top 9 applicants using a ranked-choice voting system with 6 total reviewers. We chose these students due to a demonstrated financial need and clearly articulated excitement for neuroscience research, in addition to a holistic evaluation of just how much they would benefit from having a competitive research position under their belt as they prepare to apply to graduate programs. This is a diverse cohort of fellows across several dimensions, from research interests to life backgrounds, and we believe that our program will be a much-needed springboard towards future research opportunities in the Fall and beyond.

Sharai Barrera

Senior / Cognitive Science, Machine Learning & Neural Computation/ Math minor

I am interested in Computation, Cognitive Neuroscience, Decision-making, and Learning.
I am the eldest of four children and the first person in my family to go to college. I am a foodie, I love exploring different coffee shops and trying new places. I also enjoy dancing and working out. One of my goals was to pursue research as an undergrad. After exploring many interests I was most fascinated by Neuroscience and wanted to get involved in the field. I learned about the CoB-KIBM Scholars Program through my faculty advisor for an organization I am a part of, so I decided to apply!

Alexandra Garcia

Junior / Psychology

I am interested in learning about neurological disorders to help treat or prevent problems that affect the brain and nervous system. I am from Calexico, CA and spent my childhood crossing between the U.S./Mexico border into Mexicali, BC, MX visiting family and friends. I enjoy spending time with my dog, reading, and listening to music by Latin artists such as Bad Bunny. Being Latina and coming from a working-class background, it is often overwhelming and intimidating to get into research, especially with no previous experience. I was captivated by the Cob-KIBM Scholar Program because of their aim to help and guide underrepresented students as myself into a career in neuroscience research.

Alejandro Cervantes-Medrano

Senior / Molecular and Cell Biology

I am interested in researching the causes of migraines and any potential new medical therapies that can be used to treat migraines to replace the over reliance in pain pill as a medicine form for migraines. I am a first generation Mexican-American. I love learning, listening to music, and working out, and spending time with my friends and family. I applied to the CoB-KIBM Scholars Program because of all the invaluable mentorship opportunities CoB-KIBM Scholars receive both within the research lab and outside with it in our goal to attend graduate school.

Farah Humam Farouq

Senior / General Biology

I am interested in studying circuits underlying learning and memory. I also would like to better understand memory impairments that can occur and how we can go about treating these impairments (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease). I was born in Amman, Jordan and I came to the U.S. when I was in third grade. I enjoy drawing, playing video games, and watching horror movies! I also applied to CoB-KIBM Scholars program because I wanted to have the opportunity to be mentored as I don’t know anyone pursuing the career path I am interested in. I also wanted to experience working in a formal laboratory setting.

Jessica Muojekwu

Junior / Neurobiology

I am interested in researching the effects of alcohol in the ventral tegmental area as well as the nucleus accumbens. I’m also interested in the development of a drug that would be able to target receptors in the VTA and nucleus accumbens to help with alcohol dependency and addiction. I am Nigerian and I love visiting my home country to stay with family. Fun facts about me are that I love the 70-80s era of music, collecting vinyls, watching movies and I have a slight shopping addiction. I applied to the CoB-KIBM Scholars Program because I was interested in gaining research experience that is centered towards neuroscience. I was also intrigued by the workshops and having a mentor that would guide me for the rest of my academic journey at UCSD.

Isabel Smith

Senior / Neurobiology

As a nursing assistant, I spent a lot of time working with patients that suffered from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. I wanted to do everything I could to help these patients, and this pushed me to pursue my interest in researching these diseases, specifically the effects of glial cells in neurodegenerative disorders that impair memory and cognition. Mental health disorders are also a research interest of mine, as I am very passionate about spreading mental health awareness in the San Diego community in my health seminars. I am a first-generation, Mexican-American student and spent most of my life in San Diego. In my free time I love to paint, hike, and try new food with my friends! I applied to the CoB-KIBM Scholar Program because this program allows students who come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to explore our passion in research. Seeing students like me being represented in research in the CoB-KIBM program has reminded me that I belong here.

Faith Aloboudi

Senior / Neurobiology

I am strongly interested in systems and social neuroscience, investigating how social disparities and factors can influence health and disease mechanisms. I hope to identify and evaluate potential neural substrates, processes, and neurobiological representation behind social disparities to maximize the efficacy of current and novel medical and therapeutic treatments. Outside neuroscience, I love trying out new recipes and restaurants, celebrating drag culture, listening to music, and hanging out with friends. I applied to the CoB-KIBM Scholars Program because it deeply resonated with my interests and background, feeling as if it were tailored to underrepresented aspiring neuroscientists like myself. Also, I was excited by the prominent amount of neuroscience-related mentorship leading the CoB-KIBM Scholars Program, especially in preparing for graduate school as I intend on applying to a respective neuroscience graduate program.

Francesca Massa

Senior / Psychology

I’m interested in studying how the neural networks of the human brain change due to experience and disease. I’m interested in the visual system and how humans make decisions about visual information. I’m interested in behavioral determinism and theories of consciousness. I’m also interested in metascience and computational methods for improving the quality of future research. During the summer, I like to grow some of the spiciest pepper varieties on earth and ferment them into my own special hot sauces. I also like to do Olympic weightlifting. I applied to the CoB-KIBM Scholar Program because I’m proud of what makes me diverse and I think this program celebrates individualism in the exciting field of neuroscience.

Rogelio Castro

Senior / Neurobiology

My research interests are based around the reactions of the brain to different types of diseases/injuries that can affect brain activity. I am a first generation Mexican-American. I love sports, watching and playing them is the reason that I decided to study Neurobiology to understand certain diseases/injuries of the brain that are predominantly present in athletes. I applied to the program because I wanted to get involved in the research area of my career. Having little prior experience in this field, CoB-KIBM seemed like the program that would be able to smoothly introduce me to a proper research setting.

Summer 2021 Cohort

We are excited to report that out of 47 completed application submissions (!), we chose to interview 11 students. From those interviews, we selected our top 4 applicants using a ranked-choice voting system with 6 total reviewers.

Eman Abdulkadir

Junior / Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience

I am interested in Behavioral, Developmental, Decision-making, and Cognitive Neuroscience.
I am originally from Ethiopia, specifically from the ethnic tribe of Oromo. I moved to the U.S when I was 11 years old. In my free time I love playing volleyball and making string art.
I applied to the CoB-KIBM scholars programs because it is a program that is designed for students like me who haven’t had the opportunity to explore their interests in Neuroscience research. I also applied because I knew this program will offer me support and guidance throughout my undergraduate career.

Lauren Valdez

Senior / Neurobiology / History

I am interested in researching the molecular mechanisms that underlie many neurodegenerative diseases along with the altered neural circuitry that contributes to many mental disorders.
I was born in San Diego but grew up moving around the country and played competitive soccer for 12 years of my life. On my free time, I love to embroider, watch Netflix, and listen to music!
I recently decided to pursue an MD-PhD program after my undergraduate career and while trying to orient myself on this new path I came across the CoB-KIBM Scholar Program! I applied to this program because I believe they offered the best opportunities and was deeply moved by their commitment to give underrepresented students with no previous research experience a chance at neuroscience research.

Khoa Nguyen

Junior / General Biology

I am interested in researching the connections between single neurons and specific cell types in the brain and the signaling mechanisms that regulate the formation of the blood-brain barrier during the development.
I am a Vietnamese immigrant and the first generation in my family to go to college. My hobby during my free time is photography.
Since I am the first in my family to go to college, I do not have anyone that can provide guidance during my academic and career pathway. The CoB-KIBM Scholars Program is a great program that will connect me with graduate student mentors so that I can successfully get involved in the neuroscience career.

Marissa Evans

Junior / Human Biology / Visual Arts

I’m really interested in exploring the extent to which generational/racial trauma affects marginalized communities.
I am a first generation American and a first-generation college student. I am involved in activism and I’m really interested in creating positive change for the communities I’m a part of. I love expressing myself through playing instruments, drawing, and fashion!
I applied to the CoB-KIBM Scholars Program because it looked really fun. As a naturally curious person I felt this was the first step to getting into research and exploring some lifelong questions I’ve had about neuroscience.