Mentorship Initiative (GSMI)
We run the Graduate School Mentorship Initiative (GSMI) program with the mission to help graduate school applicants from minoritized backgrounds by pairing them with STEM professionals in their respective STEM disciplines. We provide our applicants with graduate school preparation material, one-on-one guidance from a mentor in their STEM field, financial assistance in the form of fee waivers, feedback on written materials, access to webinars, mock interviews, and access to a broader community of peers and mentors. Learn more about our program here.
GSMI 2023 is possible due to the generous support of
GSMI 2023 Mentors
PhD student at University of Pennsylvania
mentor: Roddy O'Connor, PhD
Laura Anderson, a second-year Immunology Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania, is dedicated to discovering innovative methods for utilizing the immune system to enhance cancer treatment. She grew up in Arizona and obtained a B.S. in Medical Microbiology and a B.S. in Neuroscience from Arizona State University. Laura is a first-generation graduate student and her passion of promoting diversity and inclusivity in STEM led her to volunteer as a CL-GSMI mentor.
Anaya Sanchez Andrea
PhD student at University of California, Berkeley
co-mentors: Daniel Portnoy, PhD, Sarah Stanley, PhD
I was born and raised in Mexico, where I did my bachelor studies. I then went to the Netherlands to do my master studies and absolutely fell in love with pathogenic bacteria. I came to UC Berkeley as part of my master studies and stayed in the Portnoy lab after that. I am now a joint PhD student in the Stanley and Portnoy labs where I study pathogenic bacteria. I've had incredible mentors and I just want to share my experience and knowledge with someone else so they can also achieve their dreams too.
PhD student at University of California, Davis
mentor: Christina Kim, PhD
Maribel is a neuroscience PhD candidate in the Kim lab at the University of California, Davis. She is investigating the molecular and functional circuitry underlying reward-seeking. Maribel is first-generation Mexican-American and the first in her family to attend college and graduate school. She enjoys investing time in DEI initiatives that make science and graduate school more accessible.
Postdoctoral Researcher at The Rockefeller University
mentor: Daniel Mucida, PhD
Begüm Aydin, a postdoctoral researcher at Rockefeller University, holds a Ph.D. from New York University and a B.S. from Boğaziçi University. Her research explores the gut's nervous system, known as the "second brain," and its interactions with gut microbiota. Coming from an underrepresented background in STEM, Aydin recognizes the challenges of navigating higher education. She is dedicated to demystifying these processes to support aspiring scientists, and foster inclusivity in academia.
Immunology, Microbiology/ Bacteriology, Neurobiology
PhD student at California Institute of Technology
Environmental Science and Engineering
I use a range of tools and techniques to study the climate system. The ultimate goal of my research is to develop a better understanding of how Earth’s climate has changed in the past, is currently changing, and will change in the future. I volunteered to be a CL-GSMI mentor to help create a community for others in the field of climate science. Many of my successes in graduate school came about because there was a community to lean on and have support. I hope to create that for others.
Atmospheric Science, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Oceonagraphy
Faculty at The Ohio State University
Department of Molecular Genetics
Susan Cole grew up in New Mexico. She earned a PhD at Johns Hopkins and did postdoc research at Princeton. Her lab at The Ohio State University studies intercellular communication in development, focusing on oscillatory Notch signaling during segmentation, and post-transcriptional regulation of the pathway in other developmental and disease contexts. Her experiences running an NSF-funded REU program, make her excited to work as a mentor who can help empower marginalized students in STEM.
Molecular and Developmental Biology
Stephanie Colón Rodríguez
PhD student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Thermosphere Research and Applied Sciences Lab
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Stephanie is a PhD student at the University of Michigan | Climate and Space Sciences. Her interests include the plasma physics of the heliosphere and solar wind coupling with planetary magnetospheres. Currently, she analyzes spacecraft data to study the mass-energy flow of Earth’s magnetosphere during space weather events. She is also passionate about advocating for diversity in STEM, accessible science for kids, and more Latinx representation in our community.
Geology and Geosciences, Physics, Planetary Sciences
Pablo Cárdenas R.
PhD student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
mentor: Jacquin C. Niles, MD, PhD
I am a PhD candidate at MIT's Department of Biological Engineering, where I make computational and experimental tools to study infectious disease across scales ranging from the molecular to the epidemiological. As an undergraduate student in Colombia, I benefited a lot from application mentorship programs similar to this one, and have made contributing to them a yearly ritual throughout my PhD!
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Engineering - Bioengineering/ Biomedical engineering, Public Health - Infectious diseases
PhD Student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine
mentor: Bryen Jordan, PhD
Jenny is a Bogota, Colombia native. Passionate about unraveling the link between myelination dysfunction and autism spectrum disorder development. Jenny is equally dedicated to promoting diversity in STEM. Interested in offering guidance to aspiring PhD candidates drawing from personal experience and mentorship. As a first-generation Latina international student, Jenny wants to help others to successfully apply to PhD programs, just as a mentor once helped her to succeed.
Sandra Estrada González
PhD student at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
I am a third-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at UTRGV. I am interested in adapting/developing interventions that benefit individuals from BIPOC and linguistic minority backgrounds. I became a mentor because I am passionate about increasing the number of underrepresented scientists in my field and other STEM majors. From experience, I know that Científico Latino genuinely cares about increasing representation, and I would like to pass down the knowledge I have acquired thus far.
Psychology - Clinical Psychology
Postdoctoral Researcher at Columbia University
mentors: Mariam Aly, PhD and Joshua Jacobs, PhD
Serra Favila is postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University, where she works to understand how the human brain forms long-term memories that are useful for guiding future behavior. She is looking forward to starting her own lab in Brown’s Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences next year. Serra was raised in a bicultural family in Los Angeles, CA, and is committed to mentoring and empowering the next generation of underrepresented scientists.
PhD student at Cornell University
Department of Astronomy
Rodrigo Freundt designs and builds state-of-the-art instruments to study the early universe and its evolution. He is particularly interested in studying the Epoch of Reionization, the period where the first stars and galaxies formed. Rodrigo is currently a third year PhD student in the astronomy department at Cornell University. Born and raised in Peru, he is excited to join the CL-GSMI program as a mentor this year.
Physics, Planetary Sciences
PhD student at Harvard University
Amy S.Y. Lee, PhD
As a Biological and Biomedical Sciences PhD student at Harvard University, Jasmine Garcia is identifying how RNA modifications drive biological processes. A San José, CA native and San José State grad, she worked in research at Stanford and identified mentors that advocated for her potential, demystified the PhD application process, and inspired her passion for outreach. Therefore, Jasmine is committed to broadening science accessibility and providing mentorship for underrepresented students.
Cell Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics/ Structural Biology, Molecular and Developmental Biology
Program Officer at The Simons Foundation
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI)
Brigitta Gundersen is a Senior Scientist at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), where she manages a grant portfolio focused on research in animal models using behavioral, electrophysiological, and molecular approaches. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania, and prior to joining SFARI was a Senior Editor at Nature Neuroscience. She looks forward to sharing her experiences with GSMI mentees and to building a diverse and equitable scientific community.
Jasmin Imran Alsous
Research Scientist at Flatiron Institute - Simons Foundation
Jasmin works on problems of collective growth and behaviors that arise during the development of eggs and sperm. She received her B.S.E. and M.S.E. in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and received her PhD from Princeton before joining MIT as a postdoc. Jasmin is currently a research scientist at the Flatiron Institute, where she combines experiments, imaging, and theoretical modeling to understand the processes that lead to successful gamete formation.
Computational Biology, Engineering - Chemical engineering, Molecular and Developmental Biology
PhD student at Rowan University
mentor: Cheryl Bodnar, PhD
Alexandra Jackson is a third year Engineering Education PhD student at Rowan University with an interest in assessment of entrepreneurial mindset through quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. She was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in April, 2022, and aspires to continue in the research field and work for a university as a research professor and advisor.
Postdoctoral Researcher at UCSF
mentor: Daniele Canzio, PhD
Lea Kiefer is investigating how brain cells make the right connections. She is using a combination of singe-cell RNA-seq and assays to probe DNA folding to determine how different types of neurons pattern and connect according to the specific function they perform. Her work is aimed at understanding how healthy brains wire with the potential of shedding light on how brains mis-wire in neurological diseases.
PhD student at Boston University
mentor: Chandramouli Chandrasekaran, PhD
How does the makeup of our minds help us make up our mind? Using high-density in vivo electrophysiology, I study how the neural dynamics of cell types in prefrontal cortex facilitate complex decision-making. Specifically, I study how evidence accumulation and the encoding of categories are transformed into a motor action. This has important implications for circuit-level disorders of executive function like schizophrenia.
Postdoctoral Researcher / Industry research position at Columbia University / Basis Research Institute
Aronov Lab and Center for Theoretical Neuroscience
Emily Mackevicius investigates how intelligent behaviors arise in distributed and recurrent systems, with a focus on birds. Her research bridges multiple levels of abstraction, from neural mechanisms, to cognitive functions, to collaborative group behaviors. She is affiliated with Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute through Aronov Lab and the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, and she co-founded a new research institute, Basis, which develops open-source AI code applied to real-world problems.
Computational Biology, Neuroscience
Gustavo Madeira Santana
PhD student at Yale University
mentor: Thierry Emonet, PhD
Gustavo Madeira Santana is investigating the neural basis of olfactory navigation in fruit flies, a complex behavior that integrates sensory information with ongoing decision-making. Gustavo obtained his BS in Computer Engineering from UFRGS, Brazil. He is now a PhD student in the Neuroscience and the Physics, Engineering and Biology programs at Yale University. Gustavo is passionate about outreach and is excited about supporting young scientists as a CL-GSMI mentor.
Computational Biology, Neurobiology, Neuroscience
Faculty at Harvard Medical School
mentor: Gary Yellen, PhD
Juan Martinez-Francois studies the molecular mechanisms linking metabolism and neuronal excitability with the hope of understanding, and hopefully treating, epilepsy. His academic background is in biomedical research, and more specifically neuroscience and biophysics. Juan has been a scientist since he was in high-school (about 25 years ago!) and is very passionate about helping other scientists achieve their goals.
PhD student at Oregon Health and Science University
mentor: Swetha Murthy, PhD
Motivated by the resources and guidance from numerous great mentors, Antonio Munoz volunteered as a GSMI mentor to assist the next generation of underrepresented scientists to apply and get accepted into graduate school. Antonio Munoz has participated in research since high school and received his B.S at the University of Oregon. He did a postbaccalaureate at Oregon Health and Science University where he is now a Neuroscience Graduate Ph. D student studying the sensation of touch and pain.
Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Neuroscience
PhD student at University of Florida
UF Star and Planet Formation Group
Lorraine Nicholson is a graduate student and NSF GRFP recipient at the University of Florida in the department of Astronomy. She received a B.S. in Astrophysics from UCLA. Her research involves simulating planet-forming environments, called circum-planetary disks, to study planet formation. Her mentors during undergrad played a critical role in her confidence and ability to apply to graduate school, and she looks forward to having a similar impact for young scientists as a CL-GSMI mentor.
PhD student at Oregon Health & Science University
mentor: William Messer, MD, PhD
I'm a Sac & Fox tribal member from Oklahoma and 1st gen student. I got my BA in Biology from Rice University in 2019, then worked as a RA for 2 years at UTMB. I am now a 3rd year OHSU PBMS PhD candidate and I study antibody responses to flaviviruses in human cohorts. My STEM mentorship experiences throughout undergrad/grad, were incredibly rewarding and led me to apply to CL-GSMI. I am excited to mentor a student through CL-GSMI to help make the grad application process less daunting!
Elif N. Ozsen
PhD student at Boston University
Elif Naz Ozsen is a first year student in Boston University's Biology PhD program (Neuro track). With a background in cellular and molecular neuroscience, she is largely interested in studying the molecular mechanisms of neuroinflammation. Elif is very excited to be a CL-GSMI mentor and aims to encourage and support her mentees throughout the entire graduate school application process.
Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Neuroscience
Master's student / Senior Scientist at The Simons Foundation
I joined the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative in 2009 to work with a team of scientists responsible for SFARI’s grantmaking portfolio in autism science, with a particular emphasis on grants in the areas of genetics and cellular and developmental neuroscience. I closely follow efforts to build on genetic insights in the service of a better understanding of the biology of autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. I am eager to help talented students further their education in these areas of science.
Genetics, Molecular and Developmental Biology, Neurobiology
Postdoctoral Researcher at Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Marine Station
Ariel Pezner is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Smithsonian Marine Station studying the impacts of ocean deoxygenation on reef-building Caribbean corals. She earned her Ph.D. in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and her B.S. in Environmental Science from UCLA. As a multiracial woman in STEM, she has always been passionate about promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in the sciences and is excited to use her experiences and expertise as a GSMI mentor.
Marine Biology, Oceonagraphy
Roberto Pineda Guzman
Postdoctoral Researcher at Carle Foundation Hospital
Stephens Family Clinical Research Institute
The motion of our bodies is dictated by the mechanical function of our musculoskeletal system. Roberto Pineda Guzman studies the effect of tissue microstructure in the mechanical behavior of ligaments, tendons, and muscle. With the help of non-invasive imaging techniques, Roberto is working to develop biomarkers that can detect damage and predict the mechanical function of musculoskeletal tissues. His research strives to develop imaging-based clinical assessments that can prevent injuries and improve the clinical care of patients at risk of injuries.
Engineering - Bioengineering/ Biomedical engineering, Engineering - Material Science, Engineering - Mechanical engineering
Postdoctoral Researcher at Simons Foundation
I am a physicist with interest in astronomy because of the wide range of phenomena and processes occurring astrophysical context. I focus mostly on stellar astrophysics, and in particular massive stars, binary evolution, and stellar explosions. I mainly use analytical and numerical simulations to understand massive star evolution, their explosions, and how they interact in binary systems.
Lester Rodriguez Santos
PhD student at Yale University
Co-mentors: Kelly Cosgrove, PhD, Sarah Yip, PhD
Lester completed his bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Puerto Rico. He is currently a second-year neuroscience PhD student co-mentored by Dr. Kelly Cosgrove and Dr. Sarah Yip at Yale University. His research interests include the use of multimodal neuroimaging approaches (e.g. fMRI and PET) to study substance abuse in humans. Lester hopes to contribute to the diversification of academia by mentoring the next generation of scientists through GSMI.
PhD student at UC Santa Cruz
working with Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, PhD
Alejandra is a 2nd year PhD student in Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She received her BA in physics at Clark University, MA and her MS in physics from Brown University, RI. Alejandra currently work in theoretical high energy astrophysics, studying some of the highest energy events in the universe. She is an active advocate to make physics and astronomy more diverse fields.
Angelina Ruiz Lambides
Faculty, Research Staff at University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus
Caribbean Primate Research Center
My research focuses on the study of mating strategies in rhesus macaques. In addition to conducting my own research, I have held several leadership positions in research and management at Caribbean Primate Research and as Scientific Coordinator at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior. Throughout my career I have found it very rewarding to mentor underrepresented Puerto Rican students, this is my main reason for supporting students from all over the world through Cientifico Latino.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Postdoctoral Researcher at Flatiron Institute
Center for Computational Biology
Abhilash Sahoo is a Flatiron Research Fellow at the Center for Computational Biology in Flatiron Institute. He received his Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Maryland (UMD) at College Park, and BS-MS dual degree in physics from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata (India). His research is focused on creating and applying multi-scale computational tools to study the dynamics of large biomolecular assemblies.
Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biophysics/ Structural Biology, Physics
Lisby Santiago Pagán
PhD student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
mentor: Jovan Kamcev, PhD
Lisby holds a BA in Chemistry from UPR-RP and is currently pursuing a PhD in Macromolecular Science and Engineering at UMich. Her research focuses on gaining a fundamental understanding of ion transport in ion exchange membranes for water and energy applications. Lisby is passionate about initiatives that amplify diversity within STEM communities. Enrolled in GSMI, she hopes to connect with students from various backgrounds and of diverse experiences, and to support their pursuit of higher education.
Chemistry, Engineering - Chemical engineering, Environmental sciences
Postdoctoral Researcher at Rockefeller University / University of Cincinnati
mentors: Erich Jarvis, PhD, Elizabeth Hobson, PhD
Grace Smith-Vidaurre’s research focuses on how vocal communication systems that depend on social learning are flexible or constrained over short evolutionary timescales. She tests ideas about how animals are using learned vocal signals, as well as how the neuronal populations necessary for producing vocalizations may be sensitive to the early-life environment. Grace develops and tests tools for the collection and analysis of complex and messy biological datasets.
Computational Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience
Maggie E. Straight
PhD student at Georgia Institute of Technology
mentor: Julia Kubanek, PhD
An aquatic microbiologist at heart, Maggie Straight explores the chemically-mediated interactions of marine microbes. Currently, Straight is examining how bacterial metabolites affect algal metabolism. Growing up 250 miles from the Ocean, Straight found her start staring at freshwater diatoms and researching antibiotic production. Straight owes her success navigating the PhD application process to her friends already in graduate school and looks forward to helping future PhD applicants.
Marine Biology, Microbiology/ Bacteriology, Oceonagraphy
María A. Torres Colón
PhD student at University of California-Berkeley
mentor: Ian Swinburne, PhD
I received my B.A. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico-Humacao where I worked as a research assistant studying early muscle development. I’m currently pursuing my PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley, studying how cells integrate mechanical signals to direct organ function. My previous mentors greatly influenced my sense of belonging and success in academia which motivated me to become a mentor for the GSMI program this year.
Cell Biology, Molecular and Developmental Biology
Elizabeth Torres De Jesús
PhD student at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Turbulent Dynamics Research Group at UIUC
Elizabeth is a PhD student in Aerospace Engineering at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Since she started her engineering career, she has been working in leadership and in support of different organizations to do outreach and mentorship for minorities and women to increase diversity in engineering. Her research interest are in experimental fluid dynamics, particularly turbulent boundary layers.
Engineering - Aerospace Engineering, Engineering - Mechanical engineering, Physics
PhD student at University of California, Davis
mentor: Gitta Coaker, PhD
Jessica is researching the evolution of vector-borne bacterial species that infect plants, which cause millions of dollars in crop damages each year around the world. Much of her work focuses on how plants can recognize such bacteria as pathogens in order to prepare their immune response for the incoming invaders. She enjoys serving as a CL-GSMI mentor because she knows how challenging the graduate school application process is and would like to help make it easier for everyone.
Microbiology/ Bacteriology, Plant Biology
Incoming Assistant Professor at Clemson University (Jan 2024)
Department of Biological Sciences
I am currently a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Michigan State University and, as of Jan 2024, an Assistant Professor at Clemson University. My work is focused on using quantitative tools to address questions in global change ecology, biodiversity, and population biology. I volunteered as a CL-GSMI mentor to help future research leaders navigate the early stages of their academic careers and to support the advancement of underrepresented groups in the sciences.
Computational Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Allan Cabrero (University of California, Berkeley)
Amanda Anqueira (Columbia University)
Amy Norovich (The Simons Foundation, SFARI)
Ana Enriquez (Emory University)
Andrea Anaya Sanchez (University of California, Berkeley)
Andrew Ramirez (University of California, Los Angeles)
Angelina Ruiz (University of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust)
Ashley Bautista (University of Houston)
Ashley Chui (NYU School of Medicine)
Bolutife Fakoya (Harvard University)
Brooke Gates (University of Utah)
Cassandra Hayne (University of Chicago)
Chanel Mosby-Haundrup (University of Florida)
Cindy Ayala (University of California, Berkeley)
Daniela Martinez (Harvard University)
Darian Carroll (Vanderbilt University)
Diego Garza (University of California at Santa Cruz)
Eldridge Hager Soto (University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston)
Elif Ozsen (Boston University)
Erik Pavlina (Colorado School of Mines)
Eugene Law (University of Delaware, USDA Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory)
Godspower Ubit (University of Pittsburgh)
Gustavo Santana (Yale University)
Hannah Lacey (University of Delaware)
Hecmarie Meléndez-Fernández (West Virginia University)
Ignacio Escalante Meza (University of Illinois - Chicago)
Jeannette Tenthorey (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center)
Jeff Farrell (National Institute of Child Health & Human Development)
Jennifer Foss-Feig (Mount Sinai)
Jesus Antonio Sanchez-Perez (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Jireh Garcia (University of Chicago)
Jon McGinn (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Jorge Arroyo Esquivel (University of California, Davis)
José Morán Jr (University of California, Irvine)
Julio Rivera de Jesus (University of California, Berkeley)
Kaitlyn Shin (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Keith Hernandez (Oregon State University)
Kevin Delgado-Cunningham (University of California, San Francisco)
Kiera James (Binghamton University, State University of New York)
Kwame Osei-Sarfo (Technical Resources International, Inc.)
Lester Rodriguez (Yale University)
Lisby Santiago-Pagán (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
Maggie Straight (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Marcela Melara (Intel Labs)
María Torres Colón (UC Berkeley)
Maritza Puray-Chavez (Washington University in Saint Louis)
Meghan Wynne (Emory University)
Melanie Medina López (Same institution)
Meredith Zettlemoyer (University of Georgia)
Mislael Valentin-Cortes (University of Michigan)
Monserrat Orozco (University of New Mexico)
Nicholas Acuna (University of Southern California)
Nilsa La Cunza (University of California, San Francisco)
Pablo Cárdenas Ramírez (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Rachel Sealfon (Flatiron Institute)
Raja Estes (Oregon Health and Sciences University)
Roberto Rodriguez Cartagena (The Rockefeller University)
Rongxin Fang (Harvard University)
Sandra Estrada (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley)
Santiago Torres Arias (Purdue University)
Sebastian Malagon Perez (Northwestern University)
Stephanie Colón-Rodríguez (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
Stephanie Tonnesen (Center for Computational Astrophysics, Flatiron Institute, Simons Foundation)
Tania Miramontes (Oregon Health and Science University)
Tatiana Vera (Columbia University, Teacher's College)
Taylor Moot (UbiQD, Inc)
Tracie Ebalu (University of Pittsburgh)
Yadilette Rivera-Colón (Bay Path University)