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Peer Mentors

Meet our BBS Peer Mentors

The members of the Biomedical and Biological Sciences Peer Mentors are a dedicated group of current students that help incoming students transition into the BBS program, provide peer support to current BBS students, and answer questions from prospective students. They are here to share their personal perspectives and experiences as a BBS graduate student with you via email. Please feel free to contact them by clicking on their name. Please note that questions related to administrative matters can be directed to the Office of Graduate Education.

Orchi Anannya

Ph.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Avery AugustOrchi Anannya Molecular and Cellular Medicine

My research focuses on T cell biology within the lab of Prof Avery August. I hope that through my participation, we shall be able to further understand the role of Interleukin-2 inducible T cell kinase (ITK) in fine tuning immune responses, thereby paving the way for improved immunotherapy in the future. The time I have outside of lab is spend with family and friends, and I am very grateful to have this research opportunity that I believe can someday enable people to live to their fullest potentials. I would like to send my very best wishes to everyone in the BBS community and I very much hope that each individual BBS student here at Cornell University has every success in their future.

Felicity Emerson

Ph.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Siu Sylvia Lee Molecular and Cellular MedicineFelicity Emerson

I am a second year Comparative Biomedical Sciences student in Dr. Siu Sylvia Lee's lab where I study biological mechanisms underlying aging and neurodegeneration using the worm C. elegans.  I grew up in Connecticut and received my B.A. in Neuroscience and Behavior from Mount Holyoke College in 2017 before joining the BBS program.  I volunteer with Advancing Secondary Science Foundation Thru Tetrahymena (ASSET) to foster a love of science in K-12 students and serve on the board of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) to advocate for gender minorities in STEM.  Outside of lab, I love to relax with my cat, bake, and sing.

Maria Font

Ph.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Holger SondermannMaria Font Immunology & Infectious Disease

Hello, my name is Maria! I work in the Sondermann lab, studying biochemical interactions behind proteins involved in biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and fluorescens. I’m biased but I think it’s the coolest! I’m from Colorado and I love to hike, bike, kayak and just be outdoors! The meal I most look forward to everyday is coffee and I have two hamsters named Something Royal and Hambletonian, my pride and joy. My goal is to be an astronaut and study biochemistry in space, but I think I would also enjoy someday getting a change to teach.

Laura Keller

Laura KellerPh.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Lisa Fortier Translational Medicine

My name is Laura Keller and I am a second year student in the Fortier lab where we use the horse as a model to researching pro- and anti-inflammatory T cell populations in osteoarthritic joints.  The goal of our research is to find windows for immunotherapeutic intervention in order to mitigate the progression of disease.  I am also involved in GRASSHOPR and Expanding Your Horizons to promote an interest in STEM in young children.  I am from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and earned my B.S. in Animal Science from Penn State University in 2015.  Outside the lab my passion is horseback riding.

Ellie Larson

Ph.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Bettina WagnerEllie Larson Immunology & Infectious Disease

My name is Ellie Larson and I am a 3rd year student in Immunology and Infectious Diseases. I am part of the Wagner lab, which is an equine immunology lab. I study the role of innate immune cells in the regulation of allergic diseases in order to optimize immunotherapy treatment for horses with seasonal allergies. I enjoy teaching and mentoring others and hope to pursue a career in academia at a small liberal arts school when I graduate. I am from Bellingham, WA and love spending time outside: swimming, hiking and kayaking in the summer, and skiing in the winter. 

Seona Lee

Seona LeePh.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Tudorita Tumbar Molecular & Cellular Medicine

Hi, my name is Seona Lee and I'm a second year student in Comparative Biomedical Sciences field within the BBS program.  I am originally from Seoul, South Korea, but I spent most of my life in Louisiana where I did my undergraduate and master's studies in Biological/Biomedical Engineering.  My current research in Tumbar Lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which adult stem cells regenerate tissue and repair injuries in skin, particularly in relation to their histone methylation levels.  Outside of the lab, I enjoy cooking food, playing computer games and hanging out with my fellow BBS students!

Furkat Mukhtarov

Ph.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Carolyn Sevier Immunology & Infectious Disease

Furkat MukhtarovI am a senior, international student in Dr. Carolyn Sevier's lab. Our lab uses yeast S. Cerevisiae as a model organism to look into ER and cytoplasm protein folding and RedOx homeostasis using biochemical, genetic, and molecular biology approaches. The main focus of the lab is in characterizing pathways that are involved in maintaining proper protein folding during oxidative stress, the condition where cells have elevated levels of reactive oxygen species.

Cornell student community is rich in activities. Outside of the lab, I do swing dancing and currently a President of the Graduate Swing Dance Society. I also enjoy going to the Lindseth rock climbing wall. If you are interested, I am always happy to provide more information and introduce you to these and other activities to have some fun (other than fun working on your awesome projects!).

Jeff Pea

Ph.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Paula Cohen Molecular & Cellular MedicineJeff Pea

Hi everyone, I am Jeff!  My role is to act as a liaison between our program and other graduate & professional programs at Cornell as well as to ensure that our voice is heard on campus.  The West Coast has always been my home, having grown up in the sunny Bay Area and doing my undergraduate studies across the border in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Currently, I'm a 2nd year Molecular & Integrative Physiology (MIP) student in the Cohen lab, in which I study the DNA repair mechanisms that drive meiotic recombination and its effects on germline integrity and fertility.  Beyond the lab, I consume an unhealthy amount of homecooked food and offset it with my love for outdoor activities, such as hiking, paddleboarding and soccer!

Alison Stout

Ph.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Renata Ivanek MiojevicAlison Stout Population Medicine & Epidemiology

I am a second year student in Population Medicine and Epidemiology in Dr. Renata Ivanek’s lab.  My work entails the development and application of mathematical models to probe questions around infectious disease dynamics.  Currently, I am working on a project modeling natural exposure to two strains of Listeria monocytogenes and the public health impacts.  While I grew up in New Jersey, Ithaca has been home for a while, having done both my undergraduate and veterinary degrees here.  Outside of the lab, I enjoy exploring Ithaca and training my dog for competitive agility.   

Cybelle Tabilas

Ph.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Brian RuddCybelle Tabilas Immunology & Infectious Disease

Hi, my name is Cybelle Tabilas and I grew up in Woodland, CA and got my B.A. from Willamette University then went on to complete an NIH post-bacc at the University of Georgia. I am a third year Ph.D. candidate in the Rudd lab where I am studying how the developmental origin of CD8+ T cells contributes to their survival in the periphery and response to infection. Aside from lab work, I love participating in STEM outreach in local elementary schools, taking care of my plants, hiking, and watching The Bachelor!

Jon Villanueva

Ph.D. Candidate, Mentor - Dr. Praveen Sethupathy Jon Villanueva Molecular & Cellular Medicine

I am currently a second-year graduate student in the field of Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBS) with a co-mentorship between Dr. Charles Danko and Dr. Praveen Sethupathy.  Prior to coming to Cornell, I earned my B.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  My current research focuses on investigating the gene regulatory mechanisms utilized in colorectal cancer.  Specifically, I am looking at how these mechanisms can vary when comparing different primary patient samples and various model systems.  Outside of the lab I enjoy a bit of running, watching college sports, getting involved in science outreach, and watching movies.

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