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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 2023

 Batoul Elbassoiuny was born and raised in Egypt but spent the last 5 years before college in Saudi Arabia. At 18, she moved back to Egypt for college, and, in 2018, she graduated from the German University in Cairo (GUC) with a B.Sc. in Biotechnology with Highest Honors. During undergraduate study, she served as a junior teaching assistant for an analytical chemistry course and as a research assistant studying the toxicity of green silver nanoparticles on different cell lines. She interned as a GCA which she considers an eye-opening experience. Batoul also volunteered as a teacher for children in underprivileged communities in Egypt and participated in fundraising events for raising awareness about sustainable development and funding income-generating projects for underserved families. Upon graduation, she joined a research team developing a stem-cell targeted therapy for type I Diabetes. She continued to take part in volunteer activities with special needs kids and orphans. She also held talks for raising awareness about Biotechnology as a field of study and its unrealized merits. In her free time, she enjoys practicing calligraphy, playing violin, photography and reading. Batoul aspires to implement the first high-quality genetic counselling system in Egypt and she believes that she has what it takes.

Delaney Pease grew up in the very small town of Carlton, Minnesota. She earned her B.S. degree in Biology at the University of Minnesota Duluth where she held a position as President of the Women in Engineering and Science club and worked as an undergraduate TA. Outside of class, she volunteered as a sexual assault advocate for PAVSA providing crisis counseling and worked as a manager of a McDonald’s. After graduating, she worked in a clinical cytogenetics laboratory at Mayo Clinic using FISH to identify genetic mutations for patients. She shadowed genetic counselors at Mayo and volunteered with families on the pediatric outpatient unit. When COVID struck she volunteered to work the summer in the virology laboratory where she developed workflows and trained employees. When Delaney isn’t working, she enjoys backpacking the wilderness or exploring new cities with her husband, cooking yummy recipes, playing piano, and cuddling at home with her two rescued cats!

Ellory Wolin grew up in Chicago, Illinois as a fifth generation Chicagoan. She moved to the Twin Cities and graduated from Macalester College in 2020 where she studied biology, chemistry, and psychology. As an undergraduate student, she conducted research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center focused on the epigenetics of the gene Foxa1 and triple negative breast cancer. She also contributed to research at the University of Minnesota aimed at investigating interventions used to increase screening for familial hypercholesterolemia. Ellory has served as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line for over four years, and on Macalester’s campus, was the co-chair of two student organizations, Students Against Sexual Assault and Rape and Women in STEM. After graduation, she began working for Allina Health as a Research Project Specialist in the neurophysiology department. Ellory lives in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota with her partner and loves spending time with family, including her dogs, biking, baking, and painting.

 Erin Aguero was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She graduated from the Honors College at Washington State University in 2015 with a B.S. in General Studies of Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Genetics and Cell Biology, and minors in Pre-Genetic Counseling and Spanish. During her undergraduate experience, she volunteered in a research lab studying DNA repair pathways and also on a crisis hotline. Upon graduation, she worked as Violence Prevention Educator at Clackamas Women’s Services providing domestic and sexual violence advocacy and prevention education to middle and high school students throughout Clackamas County, Oregon. During this time, she was a member of A Safe Place Family Justice Center Latina Leadership Committee working to develop support networks for the Latine population. She served on the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force to organize statewide prevention efforts. She also coordinated programming at Camp HOPE Oregon, a summer camp for youth who have experienced family violence. Erin then worked as a Research Assistant at Oregon Health and Science University, her research project focused on characterizing somatic mutations in the ROS1 gene to determine whether these mutations could be cancer causing and if they are sensitive to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the hope that these inhibitors could be utilized for targeted therapy in patients with ROS1 mutant cancers. Most recently, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute where she coordinated pharmaceutical clinical research trials for the treatment of the genetic condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Her interests include reading, skiing, collecting vintage fashion, playing the banjo, and mutual aid.

 

Haley Fuoco grew up in Highland Park, IL. In May 2021, she graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelors of Science in Integrative Biology and a minor in Chemistry. As an undergraduate, she worked as a counseling center paraprofessional for the University of Illinois Counseling Center. Additionally, she worked as a student instructor and teaching assistant for organic chemistry and general chemistry. She also volunteered for Champaign County Court Appointed Special Advocates. In the summer, she worked as a Lewis Summer Intern for the Norton and Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics. In her free time, she enjoys playing saxophone, cooking, crocheting, and watching Marvel movies.

 

Inga Strinz was born in Eagan, Minnesota and spent her youth enjoying the beautiful wilderness of Dakota County. She graduated with honors with a BA in Japanese, Linguistics, and East Asian Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013, after which she moved to northern Japan for three years to act as a translator, interpreter, and cultural liaison. She has over ten years of youth counseling experience through Concordia Language Villages, and is Youth Mental Health First Aid certified. In the summer, she volunteers for the parks system doing invasive species removal and dragonfly identification surveys. Throughout the year, she enjoys hiking, birding, playing video games, and spending time with her cat, Mortimer.

 

 Mariah Volesky grew up in the small town of Webster, South Dakota. At age 17, she enlisted in the South Dakota Army National Guard and attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, SC. In December 2020, Mariah graduated cum laude from the University of South Dakota with a B.S. in Biology-Cellular & Molecular Physiology, with minors in both Psychology and Military Science. With her bachelor’s degree, Mariah also commissioned as a Medical Service officer, and is currently serving in the 730th ASMC, based out of Vermillion, SD. Mariah has spent time researching in a microbiology lab at the Sanford School of Medicine, studying gene regulation in Streptococcus pyogenes. Her advocacy experience consists of working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in both a nursing home and a home health care setting, along with volunteering with the USD Special Olympics Club. Some of Mariah’s favorite hobbies include weightlifting, basketball, water skiing, or traveling back home to hunt and fish.

 

 Nila Khan grew up in Dodge City, KS. She graduated from the University of Kansas in 2021 with a B.A. in Biology. During her undergraduate experience, she worked as a research assistant and focused on the relationship between increasing levels of greenhouse gases and changes in leaf hair patterns. She also worked as a biology tutor for the Academic Achievement and Success Center. Additionally, Nila has also volunteered as a crisis counselor for the Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters, an administrative assistant at a free health clinic, and went to Panama with the Jayhawk Health Initiative to organize a clinic in an area with a severe lack of access to healthcare resources. Her interests outside of school include reading, painting, cooking, buying too many houseplants, and watching anime. 

 Perla Cortes was born in Mexico and moved to the United States at a young age. She was raised in Minnesota where she obtained a BS in Biology from Augsburg University. During her time as an undergraduate, she pursued research focused on the role of the hedgehog gene in the development of the single-eye in Daphnia magna embryos. She also studied and co-authored a publication studying the role of zinc binding to fibrinogen. She has volunteered at Fairview Hospice, Casa de Esperanza and Lutheran Social Services. Perla also worked at the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, M Health Fairview. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and working out. 

Priyankar De grew up in West Bengal, India where he completed a bachelor’s degree in Genetics. As an undergraduate student, he studied the chemotherapeutic agent methotrexate-induced genotoxicity in Drosophila melanogaster.  He went on to obtain a Master’s degree in Biomedical Genetics from the Vellore Institute of Technology, India. During this time, he carried out a thesis project to understand the incidence of single umbilical artery in a prenatal clinic. Priyankar took a gap year and worked in a fetal medicine center in Bengaluru assisting in their genetic counseling services and coordinating genetic testing for the clinic. He served as the Lead intern in a telehealth-based company called Bluegene Healthtech Pvt Ltd and created content for its social media outreach. As an emotional support volunteer for cancer patients, he visited various hospitals across Bengaluru and specialized in palliative care. He is excited to contribute to the growth and diversity of this dynamic field. Priyankar spends his free time with his cats, singing and trying out his hand at cooking different cuisines.
 



PhD Students

Caroline Aragon 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.

 

 Jacque Lyman grew up in Chandler, Arizona and graduated summa cum laude from Northern Arizona University with degrees in Biology and Spanish and a minor in Chemistry. During her undergraduate career, she worked as a researcher in conservation genetics and developed a noninvasive assay to detect environmental DNA of an endangered mammal. She studied abroad for two semesters in Spain at the University of Alicante where she took classes in ocean sports, culinary arts, and molecular genetics. Additionally, she interned in an andrology research lab optimizing gamete selection for assisted reproduction. Jacque was an Honors student mentor, crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line, and a volunteer for children with limb differences. She founded Northern Arizona University’s first multidisciplinary campus organization for Women in STEM to promote inclusion and advancement for underrepresented students. Jacque is an only child, despite being raised alongside a blue and gold macaw named Booboo. In her free time, Jacque enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and petting dogs.