Katherine (Katie) Cobian graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biological Sciences and Sociology. During her time at Notre Dame, Katie conducted social health research, served as the Vice President of her residential dormitory, and was active in service programs. In 2015, she worked as an intern for the Woodruff Lab at Northwestern University where she assisted in a project to assess the impact of cancer treatments on ovarian tissue. Katie interned for the Genetics and Risk Assessment Center at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) in Mishawaka, Indiana where she shadowed genetic counselors in the fields of cancer, prenatal, and cardiology genetics; she also helped to manage SJRMC’s hereditary breast and ovarian cancer screening program.
Lenika De Simone graduated from Stanford University in 2012 with a B.A. in Human Biology. During undergrad, she volunteered at Arbor Free Clinic as a Spanish medical interpreter, was the team manager of the Stanford Women’s Gymnastics team, and studied the differentiation patterns of Drosophila stem cells. After college, she moved back to Madrid to obtain a master’s degree in Physical Anthropology. Her thesis focused on the effects of natural selection on human mitochondrial DNA and climate adaptation. She works at Counsyl, a biotech company that offers DNA screening and genetic counseling. Before college, Lenika was a member of the Spanish national gymnastics team and competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Nina Hann graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with a BS in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. As an undergraduate, she was a lab technician and researcher in a genetics lab as well as a teaching assistant for an introductory biology course. After traveling for a year post-graduation, she began working at a developmental and behavioral pediatrics office and shadowing at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco and the UC Davis MIND Institute. There, she saw cases in many specialties including pediatrics, cancer and prenatal genetics. Nina also volunteered at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center where she provided emotional and practical support for women with cancer and their caregivers.
Meredith Heiss graduated from Reed College in 2012 with a BA in Psychology. While at Reed, Meredith chaired Honor Council and worked as a Housing Advisor. She conducted her thesis research on deception detection and false memories. After graduating from Reed, Meredith studied biology at the Harvard Extension School and University of Colorado, Denver. At UC Denver, Meredith worked in a lab studying translational regulation during development in Xenopus laevis. She also tutored students in genetics and taught supplemental instruction for general biology. Meredith volunteered for Special Olympics, Colorado and taught science lessons to 5th grade students.
Kristen Hughes graduated from the University of Illinois in 2016, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Chemistry. During her undergraduate career, she spent her time as a laboratory technician in a Behavioral Neuroscience lab that studies the effects of methamphetamine addiction on adolescent and adult rats. Kristen also worked as a peer advisor for the University of Illinois' Psychology Undergraduate Advising Office, assisting students with their academic careers. She spent her summers in Champaign working as a certified Emergency Medical Technician, and shadowed a pediatric genetic counselor at Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign, Illinois.
Susheela (Sheela) Jayaraman graduated from DePauw University in 2016 with a BA in Biology with minors in chemistry and philosophy. During her undergraduate studies, she worked as a peer tutor in the Speaking and Listening Center. In addition, she served as a research assistant for the Biology Department at DePauw where she assisted on research projects including a neurobehavioral and molecular genetic projects. During her summers, Susheela worked as a Leadership Director/Counselor and Trip Leader for Camp Jorn YMCA in Manitowish Waters, WI. She has also been able to shadow medical genetic and cancer genetic counselors in the Indianapolis and Chicagoland area.
Tara Jones graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) in 2010 with a B.S. in Biology. During her undergraduate career, she attended a quarter abroad in Costa Rica, where she completed an independent research project. She was an avid member of the Backpacking Club at UCSC and volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters Afterschool Program. Since graduating, Tara secured a mentorship with a genetic counselor at Kaiser and interned at Cedars Sinai’s GenRisk program, where she gained shadowing experience and attended grand rounds. She volunteered as a patient advocate for Cedars Sinai’s Heart Transplant Center and as a crisis counselor for Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Hotline. Tara hails from Southern California and her passions include cooking, rock climbing, and dancing.
Anastasia Kathrens-Gallardo graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Spanish. As an undergraduate, she volunteered on a parent stress line with Canopy Center and as a student supporter with Badger SPILL, an email-based peer support system. Additionally, she volunteered as a tutor with Schools of Hope and as a summer day camp volunteer. During the fall of her senior year, she studied in Seville, Spain where she was involved with the T-oigo organization as an “Ally in English,” working with a four-year-old girl with hearing loss to improve her English. She has also shadowed cancer, pediatric, and prenatal genetic counselors in Madison, Minneapolis, and Chicago.
Madelyn Katz graduated from Brandeis University in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in Economics and Psychology and a minor in Business. After graduating, she served as a City Year corps member, tutoring and mentoring 6th grade students in New York City. The following year, she completed a post-baccalaureate pre-health program at Fordham University, while teaching part-time at the Rodeph Sholom After School program and volunteering with a genetic counselor at the Center for Skeletal Dysplasias at the Hospital for Special Surgery. She is currently working as an embryology lab assistant at an IVF clinic in New York City. She also volunteers for RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline.
Megan Knapke graduated from the Ohio State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Genetics and a minor in psychology. As an undergraduate, Megan worked as an intern at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, assisting genetic counselors with their clinical research focusing on the genetic causes of congenital heart disease and papillary thyroid cancer. In addition to research, Megan volunteered for organizations such as The Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, Franklin County Suicide Prevention Services, The Heart Hope Foundation, and the OhioHealth Cancer Genetics Department. On campus, she served as President of the Undergraduate Genetic Counseling Club, a club that she started her sophomore year of college.
Weilong Li graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a BS in Biological Sciences and a BA in Theatre. During his time at the University of Maryland, he worked as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant in introductory biology, as well as researching the impacts of flow rates and solvent composition on the formation of droplets in microfluidic chips. He shadowed and interviewed different genetic counselors in the Baltimore region. Weilong has also worked with students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., mentoring and guiding these students to help them create a showcase of student derived work. In addition, Weilong has acted in, directed, produced, written, and designed multiple theatre productions through University of Maryland.
Ruben Alejandro Martin graduated from the University of California at Irvine in 2014 with a BS in Biological Sciences. While an undergraduate, he worked as a researcher in a Huntington's Disease laboratory, leading a project to determine the relative pathology of several polyglutamine neurodegenerative disorders. Additionally, Ruben mentored underprivileged students in Santa Ana, CA and worked with several social activist organizations on campus. After his time at UC Irvine, he worked a variety of jobs, including a position as an approved relative caregiver to take care of his elderly grandparents. Ruben also volunteered at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, CA where he was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to shadow genetic counselors in a cancer setting.
Nora Nashawaty graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2015 with a B.S. in Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and a minor in Leadership. As an undergraduate at the UMN, she raised awareness of marginalized and underprivileged communities through her work in Al-Madinah Cultural Center, as a Leadership Minor teaching assistant, in national activist networks including the Muslim American Society, and as an Orientation Leader. Nora also interned at Sojourner Project, advocating for and counseling victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking, and leading community education programs at local middle schools. She was first exposed to genetics in high school and chose to pursue genetic counseling after shadowing genetic counselors through MN Oncology.
Min Seon Park graduated from University of California, San Diego in 2014 with a BS in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. While at UCSD, she was an undergraduate research assistant at Salk Institute, where she assisted the postdoctoral fellow with his research on spermatogonial stem cells. She was also a teaching assistant for an introductory biology class, and an intern at Cognitive and Neurobehavioral Studies in Aggression, Coping, Trauma and Stress (CNS-Acts) research program at UCSD. After graduation, Min Seon went back to South Korea and worked as an intern at Genomic Medicine Institute at Seoul National University, where she was involved in NGS and GWAS research projects. To gain more insight in genetic counseling profession, she attended the 2015 NSGC AEC at Pittsburgh.
Amy Plaut graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011 with a dual BA in Anthropology and Spanish. During college, she spent a summer interning with the Genetic Alliance in Washington, D.C., and subsequently did research on neonatal bio banking at the Michigan School of Public Health. Since graduation she has worked both in media and as a medical assistant. She is also a certified rape crisis counselor and tutors high school students in standardized testing, biology and Spanish.
Karen Schmitz graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 2014 with a BA in Biology and a minor in Hispanic Studies. As an undergraduate she worked as a teacher’s assistant in the Biology department, assisting first-year students during their intro lab course. After graduation she moved to Chicago and completed two years of service with AmeriCorps. In 2014-2015 she volunteered at Franciscan Outreach, an organization that provides services to the homeless, and in 2015-2016 she served with Project YES, assisting in high school Chemistry and Biology classes, and organizing community service trips for students. Karen had the opportunity to shadow prenatal and cancer genetic counselors in Chicago as well as Sioux Falls South Dakota.
Carey Sentman graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 2014 with a B.A. in Biology and a minor in Medicine in Society. At F&M Carey worked as a teaching assistant for the biology department and a supplemental instruction leader for the college’s Quantitative and Science Center (Q&SC). She spent 2 years conducting public health research on genetic disorders in the Amish and Mennonite populations of Lancaster County and subsequently published a parent’s handbook on congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Post-graduation, Carey spent a year managing the Q&SC at F&M, expanding student programming. Carey then completed a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA at The Reynolds Refugee Center and Community School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, coordinating volunteers and developing programming focused on refugee parent and student integration.
Nicolette Sookar graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 with a B.A. in Molecular Biology and a minor in Classical Studies. Her freshman summer she worked at the Perelman School of Medicine assisting in the design of a mouse model for Parkinson’s disease. She spent the rest of her undergraduate years at the Perelman School working with zebrafish. She worked on using the CRISPR/Cas9 protocol to mutate a gene involved in a cranial disorder in children. After graduating she worked on a number of projects involving human genetics. While at Penn, she was very involved with dance and volunteer projects. She has also worked very closely for a number of years with both children and young adults on the autism spectrum.
Brittany Szymaniak graduated from Nazareth College of Rochester in 2011, earning a B.S. in Biochemistry. As an undergraduate she participated in various outreach programs, such as Partners for Serving, where she worked with women at a chemical dependency clinic, and Homework Help, a tutoring initiative for preventing the dropout of at-risk high school students. She then went on to receive her PhD in Genetics from University of Rochester in 2016, completing her dissertation work on a rare neurodegenerative disease, Ataxia-telangiectasia. As a graduate student, she continued her efforts in both science education, participating in the national Brain Awareness campaign, and outreach with Friends of Strong. She also had the opportunity to shadow genetic counselors and an oncologist at Strong Memorial Hospital.
Alice Zalan graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2016 earning a BS in Biology and a BA in Sociology. As an undergraduate, she tutored and mentored youth in various charter schools in San Diego through Education Corps and the Preuss School at UCSD. This past year she started volunteering with the Center for Community Solutions as a hotline and walk-in client responder. She studied abroad in Denmark where she worked in a Cell and Neurobiology Laboratory discovering the GPCR pathway for a novel neuropeptide. Alice also had both the opportunity to shadow laboratory genetic counselors while interning with Ambry Genetics over the summer in addition to observing prenatal genetic counselors at the UCSD Fetal Care and Genetics Center.
Class of 2019
Katherine (Katie) Abihider graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2012 with a BS in Human Biology. Upon graduation, she worked for the Athena Breast Health Network, a multi-site collaboration across the University of California aimed at improving breast health. One of her main projects was implementing a personalized risk assessment in the mammography clinic to apply an intervention for women at increased risk for breast cancer. She then was promoted to lead the Wisdom Study at UCSD, a clinical trial using population genetic testing to inform personalized screening mammogram schedules. In her tenure with Wisdom, she especially enjoyed working closely with genetic counselors in the development of protocols and workflows. In her spare time, Katie enjoys dancing, writing fiction, and cooking.
Liana Abramson graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2017 with a BS in Neuroscience and a minor in Linguistics. While at William and Mary, she served on the Honor Council and volunteered as an Academic Peer Advisor for incoming students. During her senior year, she volunteered as a shelter advocate at Avalon, a women’s shelter for victims of domestic and sexual violence. In addition, she worked in a computational linguistics lab, researching human language processing through predictive models and self-paced reading tasks. She has also shadowed and interviewed cancer, prenatal, and adult genetic counselors in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Virginia.
Austin Bland graduated from the University of Washington in 2015 with a BS in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. During his undergraduate career, Austin volunteered with the genetic counseling team at the UW Medical Center and interned with genetic counselors the Stanford Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease. After graduating, he returned to Stanford as a clinical research coordinator to further pursue his interest in preventing inherited disease. During this time, he conducted original research on medically significant discordance between Stanford clinicians and genetic testing laboratories, which he gave as a platform presentation at the 2015 NSGC conference in Seattle. Austin volunteers weekly with his local crisis hotline.
Katherine (Kate) Donohue graduated from Rutgers University in 2017 with a B.A. in Genetics and minors in French and Political Science. She also earned a Certificate in Genetic Counseling, having shadowed genetic counselors in cancer, pediatrics, and prenatal clinics at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Kate worked for two years in a Neuroscience laboratory on campus, completing an honors thesis studying the effect of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) on dendrite arborization. She was a member of the Rutgers Society of Bioethics and the Catholic Student Association. In 2016, Kate interned with the New York Genome Center with the legal department. Kate also studied in Paris in the summer of 2015, and is a certified crisis & suicide hotline counselor.
Rachel Full graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017 with a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a minor in Spanish. She was a member of the James Scholar Honors program and spent a semester in Granada, Spain studying the Spanish culture and language. During her undergraduate career, she investigated her own research proposal on the topic of childhood obesity through the STRONG Kids2 Project. She has been volunteering with the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation for eight years. Rachel also shadowed a pediatric genetic counselor for a year at the Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign, Illinois.
Mary Hickman graduated from Hood College in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology with minors in Biology and Gerontology. During undergrad, she volunteered as a call specialist at the Frederick County Crisis Hotline, assisted with support groups organized by the Alzheimer’s Association, and worked as a research assistant in the Hood College Geriatric Assessment Research Lab. She also served as President of her college’s chapter of the Psi Chi International Psychology Honor Society, and coordinated events and fundraisers for multiple service organizations on campus. After graduation, she worked as a Genetic Counseling Assistant in the whole exome sequencing department at GeneDx, where she was mentored by genetic counselors who have practiced in both clinical and industry settings.
Franceska Hinkamp earned her B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Media Studies from the University of San Francisco in 2012. She then joined The Jesuit Volunteer Corps and was placed in Yakima, WA, where she designed and implemented The Youth Employment Connections Program for youth in foster care. She continued in the child welfare field in a variety capacities including a Case Manager for youth housing assistance and an Engagement Specialist at the leading advocacy organization for child welfare reform in Washington. From 2015-2017, Franceska completed post-baccalaureate studies at Oregon State University while working as a researcher in a lab analyzing miRNA regulation of gene transcription in plant models. Franceska shadowed genetic counselors in Yakima and Portland in cancer, pediatric, prenatal and cardiovascular settings.
Kelsey Hogan graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014 with a BS in Psychology. While at Wisconsin, she spent a summer studying abroad in London & still enjoys traveling. After graduation, Kelsey moved back to her hometown of Chicago and began volunteering for a domestic violence crisis line & shelter in Evanston. She volunteered at Advocate Lutheran General in their Ambulatory Surgery Center from 2014-2016. She then became the first volunteer in Advocate's Genetics Department in 2015 and was hired as their first Genetic Counseling Assistant (GCA) in 2016. As a GCA, Kelsey has worked extensively alongside genetic counselors to provide administrative support and help coordinate testing with patients. She shadowed many cases in various specialties including pediatrics, cancer, and prenatal genetics.
Sinead Horgan graduated from the University of California San Diego in 2015 with a BS in Biology. During undergrad, she became a research assistant for the UCSD REACH project, a research study aimed at understanding the genetic basis of Autism. In addition, she shadowed the genetic counselors at the Moores Cancer Center and volunteered for the Therapeutic Horse Riding Center for Children with Disabilities. To balance her interest in biology and genetics, Sinead spent her extra time competing for the UCSD triathlon team and continued on the National level for three years a row. Since graduation, she has been working at Ambry Genetics as a Clinical Data Analyst.
Ismam Islam graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2014 with a BS in Biological Sciences, a BA in Psychology, and a BHS in Health Sciences. Ismam founded an organization connecting students to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital where student volunteers would partake in various activities with the pediatric patients and provide support to their families. He also was involved with other service programs such as the Mid-Missouri Crisis Hotline, Adaptive Ice Skating, and Relay For Life. Ismam interned for the Cancer Genetic Counseling Department with Ellis Fischel Cancer Center where he worked on a Lynch Syndrome project; connecting patients who meet national guidelines for genetic testing to receive genetic counseling and cancer screening.
Alexander (Alex) Lao graduated from St. Olaf College in 2016 with a BA in Biology and a concentration in Asian Studies. At St. Olaf he was heavily involved with the rowing team and eventually served as president of the club. Alex spent a summer interning in Japan, practicing sustainable organic farming and learning about leadership skills with a global community. Alex returned to Japan in 2016 to conduct research comparing the efficiency of rice and wheat in different local fertilizers. At St. Olaf, he also spent time volunteering with local elementary students, working to increase interest in STEM fields. Over the past year, Alex worked at a group home for adults with autism and volunteered with a youth crisis hotline at The Bridge for Youth.
Meghan Miller graduated from Villanova University in 2016, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, with a minor in Communication. As an undergrad, she volunteered for Hospice, tutored underprivileged children, and was the vice president and philanthropy chair of the Pre-Health Club. During summers Meghan spent time conducting research on risk factors that contribute to a negative pregnancy despite genetically normal embryos. She also worked as a Project Manager for a Continuing Medical Education company. Her ongoing passion, however, has been the non-profit she founded in 2011, the Red Lily Foundation. Through her work with the foundation she has raised funds to find a cure and promote physician education for Dysautonomia and POTS.
Jason Murphy graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2014 with a B.S. in Biology. During his undergraduate career, Jason did research investigating avian eggshell morphology, and interned at the Community Cancer Center in Normal, IL. After graduation he worked as a research assistant in a neuro-oncology lab at the University of Chicago, before becoming an academic researcher at The Joint Commission where he helped to write healthcare standards for organizations across the country. Jason has also had the opportunity to volunteer as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line and shadow a genetic counselor working in the cancer specialty.
Katie Rembisz graduated from Northwestern University in 2017 with a BA in Biological Sciences, and minor in English Literature. At Northwestern, Katie served as a Peer Adviser for new students, volunteered with Special Olympics, and moderated Sustained Dialogues through the Campus Inclusion & Community office. She also had the opportunity to conduct research in a molecular genetics lab, where she screened yeast colonies for transcriptional memory mutations. In 2016, she worked with the Evanston non-profit Youth & Opportunity United as a fellow for the Summer Learning Program. Katie learned more about Genetic Counseling through shadowing genetic counselors in New Jersey and throughout the Chicagoland area.
Marc Rosenbaum graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2015 with a B.S. in Molecular Biology, a B.A. in Spanish, and a minor in Psychology. As an undergraduate, he was involved all four years in Best Buddies, eventually serving as Co-President for Loyola’s chapter. During his junior year, he attended a medical brigade mission to Panama, organized and led by a group of pre-health undergraduate students. Marc also served as a Resident Assistant, played the clarinet in Loyola’s pep band, and spent his summers volunteering at a pediatric endocrinology clinic and doing research on myocyte mutations and heart disease at Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood. After attending medical school for a semester, Marc discovered genetic counseling and has been fortunate enough to shadow some Northwestern-trained genetic counselors at NorthShore Glenbrook Hospital.
Ryan Smith graduated from Howard Payne University (Texas) in 2015 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Health Science. At HPU, he worked for the Biology Department as a teaching assistant and tutored students in various science courses. Ryan served as a senator within student government and as president of his chapter’s biological honor society. During his time off, he volunteered at West Texas Rehabilitation Center shadowing physical, occupational, and speech therapists. In the summer of 2016, he participated in a Wheels for the World trip to Haiti involving fitting wheelchairs for individuals who had a need for them. Born with a form of dwarfism, Ryan is a member of Little People of America, an organization that provides support and advocacy for people with dwarfism and their families.
Iva Stoyanova completed her undergraduate degree in health science at Benedictine University. Following her freshman year she was awarded a research fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and spent the summer studying the host-plant choices of the black swallowtail butterfly with Dr. Cheryl Heinz. She later earned a graduate degree in sociology from DePaul University. Her capstone project was a qualitative study grounded in feminist theory. It explored how divergence from traditional gender roles is employed as a narrative device in a reality crime series portraying women who have committed violent crime. After graduate school, Iva developed and implemented employment programs for social services agencies. In that capacity she was involved in providing advocacy, education, and empowerment services to individuals with disabilities and military veterans.
Stephanie Tsang graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Sciences; she also graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Dallas with a B.S. in Biology. As an undergraduate, she studied abroad in China to learn more about the Chinese healthcare system and to compare Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to Western medicine. She also served as a Teaching Assistant for Eukaryotic Molecular and Cell Biology. She works as a research technician in Dr. Theodora Ross’s lab at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, where they examine how patients with mutations in the gene BRCA1 respond to chemotherapy by studying the mechanisms that control the recruitment of immune cells. Stephanie is also a certified sexual assault advocate.
Angela Wang graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2017 with a B.A. in Public Health Studies and Biology. At Hopkins, she served as a peer health educator and worked as a tutor at The Learning Den. She was also a research assistant at the Hopkins Early Neurodevelopment Lab, which studies the effects of maternal hormones during pregnancy on infant and child behavior. Angela particularly enjoyed volunteering as an insurance counselor at a clinic for uninsured patients and as a resource advocate at a community social service organization. She spent a summer interning at the Institute of Genetic Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she had the opportunity to shadow genetic counselors in the pediatrics and neurogenetics settings.
Kristen Young graduated from the University of South Carolina Honors College in 2017 with a BS in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. During her time as an undergraduate, she studied abroad in Italy and Thailand and worked as a peer advisor in the USC Study Abroad Office. Kristen interned at a genetics laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and participated in Yale University’s Summer Institute in Bioethics. She has volunteered with the Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and served as a camp counselor for children with serious illnesses at the Double H Ranch. Kristen also had the opportunity to shadow genetic counselors and assist with clinical research at the Turner Syndrome Clinic at Mass General Hospital.