BBS PhD Program

Diversity & Inclusion Council

Mission Statement
The BBS Diversity & Inclusion Council is committed to educating and serving the BBS community while enhancing cultural awareness, sensitivity, and growth. We strive to provide safe spaces for students of all backgrounds to express their concerns and challenges with their graduate school journey on a peer level and maintain active communication with faculty in hopes to promote a more inclusive BBS community. Our council will amplify student voices, particularly those of Black, Native, Latinxs, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and other underrepresented student groups by serving as liaisons between students, the BBS community, and campus-wide resources to ensure well-rounded support is available.

Meet the D&I Council Members

Richard AdelekeNaya Eady

Hi everyone, I am Richard Adeleke, a DVM-seeking PhD student in the BBS program. I obtained my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. My interest in biomedical research started during my fourth year in Veterinary school. At Cornell, my research interest centers around developing novel vaccine candidates and antivirals for SARS-CoV-2 and a universal vaccine for Flu. I volunteer with Cornell Vaccination conversations with scientists (Vacs), where we educate people about vaccine safety and Cornell Fall Into Science program. I want to promote inclusion and improve student interactions within the BBS community. Outside the lab, I love hanging out with friends, watching movies, visiting waterfalls in Ithaca, and traveling. I am open to building new networks.

Hsin-Yun (Rachel) ChangRachel Chang

I am a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory of Dr. Siu Sylvia Lee, where I use functional genomic approaches to study the biology of aging. Originally from Taiwan, I earned a Master's degree in Brain Science before coming to the United States to pursue my Ph.D. in 2019. I am passionate about mentoring, promoting diversity, and inclusion in higher education and research workforce, and advocating for women in science. Currently, as a mentor in the Cornell Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives Graduate Students Mentoring Undergraduates (OADI GSMU) program, I aim to inspire the younger generation and increase access to higher education for all. Additionally, I am excited to launch the new "Science Journey Series" column in the spring 2023 semester on the Scopes Magazine to share inspiring stories and meaningful conversations between invited speakers of BBS3 seminar and students with a wider audience. In my free time, I enjoy being in nature, trying new sports such as snowboarding and windsurfing, exploring human paths in antique stores, and writing poetry.

Jingyi ChenJeff Pea

I am a first-year PhD student in the Biomedical & Biological Science program with a concentration in molecular cellular medicine. I received my bachelor's degree in Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. I am interested in pursuing cancer biology and immunology for my PhD study. But I am still in rotation to find a home lab. As a first-generation immigrant and college student, I believe everyone can do research if given appropriate opportunities. Therefore, I would like to engage in the Diversity & Inclusion Council to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM field. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my dog.

Karla Garcia-MartinezKarla Garcia-Martinez

Hi everyone! My name is Karla and I’m part of Dr. Cynthia Leifer’s lab. I work on understanding how cancer derived extracellular vesicles modulate immune responses in macrophages. I’m a first-generation college student from San Diego, California and I earned my undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. In my free time, I enjoy reading short stories, learning different recipes to try with my friends, and exploring around Ithaca.

Kieran Koch-LaskowskiKieran Koch-Laskowski

I am a fifth-year Combined DVM/PhD student working to integrate my passions for veterinary medicine and biomedical research while promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the scientific and academic communities. Currently, I work in the lab of Dr. Praveen Sethupathy studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying metabolic diseases such as obesity and type II diabetes. I grew up in the Greater Philadelphia area and completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Outside of the clinic and the lab, I enjoy playing ice hockey, cooking and baking (more so eating), exploring new places and cuisines, and spending time with my friends, family, husband, and dog.

Hector Loyola Irizarry Hector Loyola Irizarry

Hi! I am a fifth-year student in Molecular and Cellular Medicine in the Brito Lab, where I study how the gut microbiome can cause disease and possible ways to engineer it to improve host health. I'm from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, where I grew up and did my undergraduate studies. During my free time, I like to play video games, watch movies, and try out new recipes in the kitchen. If it's a nice day outside, you might catch me playing soccer or hiking!

Tiago Zilch
Tiago Zilch

Hi everyone! I am a third-year PhD student in the field of Biomedical and Biological Sciences (BBS) with concentration in Immunology and Infectious Diseases. I am a member of Dr. Deb Fowell’s lab where I study the development of immune responses, more specifically the roles and requirements of T follicular helper cells (Tfh) on the development of adaptive immune response (B cells and antibodies). I am a Latino and first-generation college student from Brazil, where I earned my B.S. in Chemical Engineering. I am also a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Coming from many minority groups, I try my best to promote diversity and reach out to those that are also from underrepresented groups, showing that we all can be and do what we love, in my case: SCIENCE! Outside the lab, I like to go for walks with my dog, Harley the Queen (yeah, I’m a big fan of all of them: Harlequin (the character), Harley-Davidson (motorcycles) and Queen (the band)), she is a smart golden retriever that loves people and to run after chew-monks (chipmunks). I also enjoy cooking, playing video-games, and spending quality time with my American family.