2023 Discovery PREP Trainees

Group photo of current trainees(Top Row, L. to R.) Andrew Sanchez, Ehi Okojie, Katie Koontz, Alex Gonzalez
(Bottom Row, L. to R.) Tyson Ngatikaura, Robrielle Pierce, Lynn Moreira, Dr. Erica Glasper 

GonzalezAlex Gonzalez

I am from Cancun, Mexico, and have recently completed my studies at the University of North Florida, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry. Throughout my undergraduate years, I undertook the role of a laboratory technician at a brain imaging lab dedicated to investigating the intersections of political ideology and racial bias. Subsequently, my responsibilities expanded as I assumed the position of assistant project manager within the same lab, which entailed my participation in conferences held across the Southeastern United States. These experiences have nurtured a profound interest within me, prompting me to delve into an exploration of cellular and molecular mechanisms underpinning neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. My goal is to advance drug delivery, therapeutics, and diagnostics in this domain. Being a part of Discovery PREP is my proactive stride towards accumulating further research experience and refining the essential skills to succeed in a Ph.D. program.

KoontzKatie Koontz

Hailing from West Salem, Ohio, I graduated in May 2023 from Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Chemistry. During my undergraduate years, I participated as a fellow in the Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Minnesota. There, I investigated how a specific neuropeptide's interactions with microglia triggered downstream protective effects against diet-induced obesity. This research, alongside other scientific and professional development experiences, confirmed my desire to pursue an MD/PhD in an interdisciplinary biomedical program. Now, I am returning to Ohio as a Discovery PREP scholar at The Ohio State University, aiming to expand my research expertise, focus my interests, and refine my scientific skills before applying to MD/PhD programs.

MoreiraLynn Moreira

I graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras with a Bachelor of Biology, focusing on Cellular Molecular Biology. As an undergraduate, I researched the effects of the pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis on coqui frogs in the El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico.  I was also selected for the Institutional Award for Undergraduate Student Training Summer Internship at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Specifically, I worked under Dr. Kim Mcbride's supervision to study the role of the Potassium Inwardly Rectifying Channel Subfamily J Member 2 gene in congenital bicuspid aortic valve disease. This experience reinforced my passion for cellular and molecular biology and prompted my decision to join Discovery PREP to enhance my research skills before pursuing my Ph.D.

NgatikauraTyson Ngatikaura

I was born and raised in Utah, and in 2023, I graduated magna cum laude from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science. During my undergraduate years, I worked with Dr. Shane Draper and Dr. Tyler Standifird, researching the metabolic and biomechanical efficiency linked to different weight loads in running. My enthusiasm for undergraduate research prompted me to expand my aspirations to pursue an MD/PhD. I joined Discovery PREP at OSU to gain additional experience in research and elevate my skills as a biomedical scientist. As a future physician-scientist, I aspire to contribute significantly to the global research community in the development of novel therapeutics and procedures.

OkojieEhi Okojie

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. During my undergrad, I served as a research assistant in Dr. Julie Golomb’s Vision & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. Here, we investigated the intricacies of the visual system and explored how factors like distractions, motivation, and attention impact visual processing. Working in this lab granted me hands-on experience in conducting behavioral experiments, analyzing behavioral and fMRI data, and programming in Matlab. Entering Discovery PREP, I'm eager to advance my expertise and skills in cognitive neuroscience/psychology before seeking admission to PhD programs in this realm. My passion for researching the brain and mind drives me, and I aspire to contribute to this scientific domain to enhance the human experience.

PierceRobrielle Pierce

I graduated in 2023 from the University of Florida with a dual degree - a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. Throughout my undergraduate years, I actively pursued diverse research experiences. In Dr. Andreas Keil's lab, I honed my interest in cognitive neuroscience methods, gaining EEG neuroimaging experience through a fear-based conditioning study that analyzed visual cortical processing and neural activity. I then joined Dr. Carol Mathew's lab, deepening my fascination with neuropsychology. Here, I administered, scored, and scaled full-battery neuropsychological tests on older adults within a study aimed at distinguishing cognitive performance in individuals with hoarding disorder. These prior experiences have firmly anchored my research passions in cognitive aging, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroimaging methods. As I advance as a Discovery PREP scholar, my goal is to accumulate further research and professional exposure, positioning me to thrive in a Ph.D. graduate program.

SanchezAndrew Sanchez

Hailing from Rochester, New York, I graduated in the fall of 2022 from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, specializing in Neuroscience, and minors in Psychology and Chemistry. Fueled by my family's history of neurodegenerative diseases and other neurological disorders, I developed a profound interest in the brain. In my undergrad, I had the privilege of participating in a Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the Georgia Institute of Technology. There, under Dr. Eric Shumacher's guidance, I investigated the Quasi-Periodic Pattern in the brain. As a Discovery PREP scholar at The Ohio State University, my focus is on enhancing and refining my research skills and techniques, while also fostering my professional development in preparation for Ph.D. program applications.


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