Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

PREP Scholars and Faculty Mentors


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.


19th-Year Cohort 2021/2022


Item Term
Olumide Ayeni

Item Definition

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.


Item Term
Benjamin Gephart

Item Definition

Undergraduate Institution: Nebraska Wesleyan University 
Research Interest: Cancer immunotherapy, molecular biology, immunology 
PI: William Decker, Ph.D.; Bench Mentor: Giselle De La Torre 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.


Item Term
Tia Gordon

Item Definition

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. 


Item Term
Anthony Grichuk

Item Definition

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!


Item Term
Karina Moreno

Item Definition

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!


Item Term
Nathaniel Smith

Item Definition

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.


Item Term
Karen Zuniga

Item Definition

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.


18th-Year Cohort 2020/2021


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.


17th-Year Cohort 2019/2020 


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. 


16th-Year Cohort 2018/2019 


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.


15th-Year Cohort 2017/2018 


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.


14th-Year Cohort 2016/2017 


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.