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Current student bios

Class of 2022

Caroline Gully Brown grew up in central Massachusetts where she attended Bancroft School, to which she attributes her love of science and learning. Caroline earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Performance Studies from the University of Chicago where she focused on Stage Management. She received the Technical Theater Award as a senior, though a far better measure of her time at the university was all the other student stage managers she had the great privilege of mentoring. Caroline worked as a professional stage manager in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Madison and upstate New York for 3 years. When she decided to make the shift to genetic counseling, she had the great fortune to be hired at the cat shelter where she was volunteering. Caroline’s time at Tree House Humane Society has given her the opportunity to practice her counseling skills, meet countless new feline friends, and learn what kind of professional she wants to become. In her free time, Caroline enjoys gardening, talking about cats, and watching Star Trek.

 

Alisha D'souza grew up in Kuwait and moved to the USA to attend college at 17. In 2020, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Integrative Neuroscience. As an undergraduate student, Alisha pursued research and completed her Honor’s thesis on the relationship between the ATXN1 gene and Alzheimer’s disease. She also worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the Biology of Sex course and as a student assistant for international student recruitment. She volunteered for The Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, provided de-stress hand massages to patients and their families at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, and served as the communications coordinator for the Pre-Genetic Counseling Club. She also served as the facilitator for the honor’s first-generation student conversation circle. In her free time, Alisha enjoys reading, baking, playing the violin and guitar, and watching movies!

McKayla Gourneau grew up on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation in North Dakota. As a first-generation college student, she obtained a B.A. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Harvard University in 2017. During her undergraduate experience, she served as a peer tutor for biology and organic chemistry, shared in cultural events promoting indigenous peoples, volunteered at a local homeless shelter, and conducted research with extracellular electron transferring microbes found in hydrothermal vents. Upon graduating, she joined Teach For America and began teaching Biology at a high school in Eastern North Carolina before moving back to North Dakota where she became a part of a longitudinal study regarding the effects of genetics on pre-eclampsia in American Indian women. During this time back on the reservation, she also worked for the local community college as an advocate for low-income, underserved students pursuing education in allied health careers as well as working with high school students to pursue careers and higher education. McKayla enjoys road trips, spending time with her dogs, cooking, and playing board games.

Stephen Hays was born in Nashville, TN and his family migrated up to Rochester, MN when he was in grade school. He considers himself a full-blooded Minnesotan because, compared to the rest of his southern extended family, he has grown to love our winters. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2010 with his B.A. in Psychology. He ultimately found himself in the mental health field where he has worked as a Case Manager in Ramsey County for four years. During this time he discovered the field of genetic counseling, and felt that it blended his love of all things science with his experience and affinity towards counseling people through complex and challenging emotions. When he is not working or studying, he is spending time with his wife and daughter, camping, backpacking, hiking, running, and exploring the metro for new places to eat!

Greta Henry was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2018 with a B.A. in Biology, Society, and the Environment. She then worked as a teaching assistant for a microbiology course and as a research assistant studying the genetic mechanisms enabling the spread of antibiotic resistance from animal to human populations. Greta also volunteered as a domestic abuse counselor for The Harriet Tubman Center, a child programming specialist for the Ronald McDonald House, a service dog trainer for Can Do Canines and served as a mentor to pediatric patients with Type 1 Diabetes at Children’s Hospital. Her interests outside of school include running, yoga, beekeeping, and discovering unique restaurants. 

Dhriti Jagannathan was born in India and moved to the United States at a young age. She was raised in Minnesota and went on to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Genetics and Genomics at the University of California, Davis. As an undergraduate, she served as a co-founder and publicity chair of the Genetic Counseling Club at UC Davis. She was also an undergraduate researcher at the Dennis lab, evaluating enhancers within human-specific segmental duplications that are known to contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders. After graduation, she worked as a genetic counseling assistant in the Division of Genomic Medicine at the UC Davis Medical Center. More recently, she has been involved with Exhale Pro-Voice, a post-abortion text line, as a volunteer peer counselor. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, cooking and spending time with friends and family.

Andrea Jarratt grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and lived in Indiana, Chicago, Germany, South Carolina, and California before coming home to Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a minor in English and from Dominican University with a Master of Library and Information Science. She has worked in universities in many roles, including as a science research librarian, research coordinator, and Business English lecturer. Her favorite volunteer positions have been with her local block nurse program, fostering small dogs, and Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota. She enjoys cooking, ballet, music, and listening to audiobooks. 

Susan Schowalter was born in Seattle, WA and raised in Rochester, MN. In 2020, she graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Hispanic Studies. During her time in undergrad, she participated in a research project that focused on protein engineering in 2017. In the fall of 2018, she studied away at St. Benet’s college at Oxford University and participated in rowing for the first time ever there. At PLU, she worked as a Resident Assistant in the Women and Gender Empowerment themed living community, supported writers as a writing consultant, worked in the biology labs as a TA and was the editorial intern for John Hopkins University Press’ Publication Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. In her free time, Susan loves being outside with her golden retrievers, Rodney and Jigg, cooking new dishes, planting veggies in the garden, and crafting.

Tanner Scott grew up in the small town of Macomb, Illinois before moving to Broomfield, Colorado. In 2018, Tanner graduated from the University of Tampa’s Honors Program with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and minors in Biology and Spanish. At UT, he became a founding father of Alpha Tau Omega and enjoyed his involvement in Psi Chi, Sigma Delta Pi, and Order of Omega. His undergraduate research included investigating intrinsically disordered proteins in adenoviruses, analyzing the effects of psychological principles linked to memory, and examining trends in physical activity levels from a sociological perspective. After graduating, Tanner returned to Colorado where he worked as a paraprofessional at a behavioral health center, helping patients develop emotional awareness and behavioral skills in a classroom environment. He also shadowed pediatric genetic counselors at Children’s Hospital Colorado and volunteered at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center where he crafted templates of letters to families of patients with a positive diagnosis of a genetic mutation that increases cancer risk. Outside of genetic counseling, Tanner’s passions include gymnastics, tumbling, cliff diving, and spending time with his two Australian Shepherds.

Sabrina Southwick spent her youth near Lake Minnetonka’s Wayzata Bay. In 2020, she graduated with high distinction from the University of Minnesota, having earned a B.S. in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development and a minor in Psychology. As an undergraduate, she conducted a systematic review of racial and ethnic differences in genetic counseling experiences and outcomes, which resulted in her first, first-author publication. Sabrina helped lead the Pre-Genetic Counseling Club as vice president and president for three years. She volunteered with the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education as a certified sexual assault crisis counselor. She spent her summers supporting her camper at the Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp, teaching week-long STEM camps with Engineering for Kids, and camping at Minnesota state parks. Some of Sabrina’s favorite things include choir, theatre, books, dogs, family dinners, and sunshine.

Alex Tsai grew up in Apple Valley, Minnesota. She graduated with a B.A. in Physiology and a minor in Spanish Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2016. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked as a research assistant at the Lilehei Heart Institute Program in Translational Genomics and volunteered her time at a domestic violence shelter in the Twin Cities. After graduation, Alex worked as the undergraduate CLA Admissions Counselor, helping to matriculate three first-year classes to the University of Minnesota. Most recently, she worked as a clinical research coordinator in the Dept of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences for the Promoting Teen Attachment & Development (PTAD) lab which focuses on treatment for adolescent depression and volunteered her time with Allina Health Hospice & Palliative Care as a companion and 11th-hour volunteer. In Alex's free time, you can find her at a local brewery attending Trivia Mafia and playing board games. She also enjoys petting any dog insight, being active, and checking out local art fairs. 

 

Class of 2021

Alexis Dammann was born and raised in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and minor in Psychology. After graduation she thoroughly enjoyed volunteering as a crisis counselor through Crisis Text Line and in the children's program at the Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Shelter. She also has had various jobs in the community: a tutor for biology, a caregiver for a woman with Rett Syndrome, and a behavior specialist for children with mental/developmental disabilities. In 2018, she moved to Marshfield, WI to work at PreventionGenetics as a Lab Tech and Genetic Testing Coordinator. In her free time, Alexis loves baking everything chocolate, board games, reading, photography, and 'playing' with her two birds! 

Amelia Richardson grew up in Arizona, Upstate New York, and a suburb of Chicago. After earning a BS in molecular biology from Brigham Young University in 2008, she worked as a research technician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in a stem cell lab focused on treatment of neural diseases. Amelia completed a PhD in biomedical sciences at the University of California San Diego in 2018, where she studied a cancer mutation in the cohesin complex. She has worked as a TA for undergraduate genetics and developmental biology classes and as a guest lecturer for UC San Diego School of Medicine’s pre-matriculation summer course. Her past advocacy work includes serving on the board of a STEM education and diversity discussion group, volunteering for Special Olympics, and assisting at a special education preschool. Most recently, she helped facilitate a self-advocacy group and implemented person-centered planning at a day center for adults with developmental disabilities. In her free time, she enjoys baking, knitting, making kombucha, and watching Doctor Who.

Carly Allen-Tice was born and raised in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. In 2019, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development and a minor in Spanish. As an undergraduate, Carly pursued research focused on familial hypercholesterolemia for her honors thesis and took on the role of study coordinator for the Cholesterol Evaluation to Explore Risk Screening (CHEERS) project. She also volunteered and interned for The Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, served as the president of the Pre-Genetic Counseling Club, and completed a variety of genetic counseling related projects. After graduation, she spent time traveling to Peru, Portugal, and Spain. In Carly’s free time, she enjoys hiking, playing piano, and spending time with friends. 

Carolyn Kalscheur grew up in Lakeville, Minnesota. She graduated with high distinction in 2013 from University of Iowa, earning degrees in Psychology and Dance. While in Iowa, she worked as a research assistant studying neural plasticity. After finishing undergrad, she began her advocacy work with Alzheimer’s Association, led programs for children and adults affected by Down Syndrome with Gigi’s Playhouse, and provided daily care and support for adults with traumatic brain injuries with Restart, Inc. She also became certified in Mental Health First Aid and kept the lights on at home by practicing her counseling skills from behind the bar. Her free time is generally spent baking, biking, cross-stitching, getting quality time in with her husband, and spoiling their dogs.

 

DeVon Hunter-Schlichting is originally from Coon Rapids, MN. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a B.S. in Zoology, and a MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2019. During her undergraduate degree she worked as a research assistant in murine genetics at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research. After graduation and during her MPH degree DeVon worked as a researcher at the Masonic Cancer Center focusing on epigenetics in cancer etiology and inter-individual differences in immunity, viral exposures, and cancer epidemiology. She also currently volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters and has been matched with her Little for over 4 years. In her free time, DeVon enjoys spending time with her furless sphynx cat Prometheus and watching all things reality TV and WWE.

 

Greg Marsh is from Midland, Michigan. He attended Wayne State University in Detroit for his undergraduate education and graduated with a B.A. in Chemistry and a minor in Biology in 2017. During and following his time at Wayne State he studied and co-authored two publications studying Spinocerebellar ataxia in fruit flies at a genetics lab at WSU. He has volunteered at a hospice center providing emotional care for patients. He also worked as a genetic counselor assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan pediatric genetics clinic in Detroit, Michigan. Outside of school and work Greg enjoys biking in the city, cooking and baking, and going to concerts.

 

Jessica Ruedy was born and raised in White Bear Lake, MN. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development from the University of Minnesota in 2017. During her time as an undergraduate, she was a Shelter Intern and then Shelter Relief Advocate at Sojourner Project, a domestic violence shelter in the Twin Cities. In addition to her time at the domestic violence shelter, she also enjoyed volunteering with children at a local charter school and at the Science Museum of Minnesota. After graduation, Jessica worked as a study coordinator for type 1 diabetes studies in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. In her free time, she loves to run, bake, travel, and spend time with family.

 

Nicole Cronin was born in Montreal, Canada but has lived in Minnesota, Arizona, and North Carolina, as well. She graduated from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2019 with a B.S. in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development and a minor in Microbiology. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked as an undergraduate research assistant and completed directed research and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) projects on the bypass of UV-induced DNA damage during DNA replication in mouse cells. Additionally, she worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for general and foundational biology courses and volunteered with Crisis Text Line as a crisis counselor. Throughout her undergraduate, she was also involved with Colleges against Cancer, Phi Beta Chi sorority, and the Pre-Genetic Counseling Club. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, playing cribbage, going to Twins games, and checking out local breweries and restaurants.

Samera Al-Najjar is from Chicago, Illinois. In December 2018 she graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a Bachelors of Science in molecular and cellular biology. As an undergraduate, she volunteered with on-campus organizations to provide free health screenings to underserved communities in the Champaign area. She also volunteered with Four Paws for Ability as a foster for a service dog in training named Licorice. In the summer she worked as a taxpayer advocate assistant to help the diverse communities of Chicago understand and navigate property tax procedures. After graduation, she continued to volunteer with Chicago Public Schools to help organize and judge the academic decathlon speech competition. In her free time, she enjoys baking, ice skating, swimming, and watching The Property Brothers. 

Seth Stafki grew up in Perham, Minnesota. He graduated with a Bachelors in Science from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, where he obtained a major in Biochemistry with minors in Biology and Psychology. During this time, he volunteered with genetic counselors at Essentia Health and worked as a Personal Care Assistant at McCarthy Manor in Duluth. After graduation, Seth worked first as a substitute teacher in the Duluth ISD 709, then as a Genetic Counseling Assistant in the Cancer Genetics Clinic at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and traveling.





 



PhD Student

Caroline Andrews was born and raised in Ham Lake, Minnesota. She graduated summa cum laude in 2019 from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan with a BS in Biology and a minor in Classical Education. In Hillsdale, she served as a resident assistant, biology tutor, and TA, enjoying mentoring and supporting other students. She worked as a research assistant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas studying allelic imbalance in cancer using computational techniques, as well as did on campus research in population genetics and virology. She volunteered with the American Cancer Society, visited local high schools to advocate for students exploring diverse career options, and coordinated a volunteer program to lead recreational sports for underserved kids in the county, through which she loved coaching middle school girls basketball. In the summers, she worked in junior golf with the MN PGA and still dreams of becoming a professional golfer someday (maybe after retirement). She loves playing and watching all kinds of sports as well as reading, spending time with her (many) siblings, and enjoying the outdoors.