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2007 - 2008 Graduate Fellows


Joseph Ahlander
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Research Expertise: Using fruit flies to understand cancer genes

In his research, Joseph uses fruit flies to better understand tumor suppressor genes and how they work to prevent cancer in people. Joseph is working with Michael Frank at Empire High School (Vail School District), and he hopes that the BioME program will allow him to share his excitement with high school students learning biology. Joseph has always been fascinated by the science of life and says that one of the major influences during his youth that encouraged him to pursue science was Spiderman. When he isn't busy being a superhero scientist, Joseph enjoys exploring nature and all its cool creatures, including his Honduran tangerine milksnake, Hercules.

Latifa Borgelin
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Research Expertise: Human Evolution; Infectious Disease

Latifa's research interests include human origins and genetic variation, as well as the impact of infectious disease on human populations. Latifa first became interested in science when her parents took her to the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkley, where she enjoyed playing with science toys. Through the BioME program, Latifa is working with Sandi Stewart at Sunnyside High School (Sunnyside Unified School District), and she hopes to share her passion for science with younger students. When she is not in the lab or the classroom, she also enjoys painting, gardening, and traveling.

Jessica Cantrell 
Interdisciplinary Program in Cancer Biology
Research Expertise: Cancer Biology; Immunotherapy

Jessica's research focuses on uncovering the mechanism of a novel anticancer vaccine. Jessica was first inspired to pursue a career in science research at the Cancer Research Institute at ASU. Jessica is working with Angela Urbon-Bonine at AmeriSchools Charter High School, where she hopes to spark students' interest and curiosity in science by infusing real science into the classroom. Some of Jessica's other hobbies include scuba diving and running, and she is currently training for the Nike Women's marathon while raising funds for cancer research.

Mindy M. Escobar
Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience
Research Expertise: Neuroscience & Pharmacology

Mindy's research focuses on the development of animal models to study epilepsy. She first became interested in the neurobiology of human disease when her mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Mindy was attracted to the BioME program for the opportunity to teach biology to high school students in a way that is fun, understandable, and memorable. She is working with Aida Castillo-Flores at Tucson High Magnet School (Tucson Unified School District). One of Mindy's favorite leisure pursuits outside of the classroom is training her two Doberman pinschers from Germany!

Kathy Gerst
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Research Expertise: Plant Reproductive Ecology

Kathy studies pollination ecology and floral biology, with a focus on the reproductive strategies of desert winter annuals. Kathy will be working with three teachers at White Elementary School in the Tucson Unified School District. Through BioME, Kathy hopes to gain valuable teaching experience that will allow her to more effectively communicate with both students and the general community. Outside of graduate school and her work with BioME, Kathy enjoys hiking, camping, photography, and spending time with her dogs.

Jesse Hardin
Department of Entomology
Research Expertise: Migration and dispersal of small insects


Jesse studies the nutritional ecology of small insects. He is part of the Borman Elementary School team (Tucson Unified School District), and he hopes that his fellowship will help connect the university's resources with the educational community, particularly at the elementary school level. Jesse discovered that the only way to overcome fear of the unknown is to embrace it, and he has done this through scientific inquiry and the study of insects. In addition to his work, Jesse is the proud father of a two-year old son, and enjoys flower macrophotography and riding motorcycles.

Jennifer Jandt
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Research Expertise: Behavioral Ecology; Social Insect Biology

Jenny studies cooperation and organization in social insects, and is very enthusiastic about sharing her love of insects and biology with younger students. Killer whales at Sea World first sparked her interest in science, and she hopes that her BioME fellowship will inspire the young students at Lynn/Urquides Elementary School (Tucson Unified School District) in the sciences. In addition to her passion for science and teaching, Jenny is a super hero aficionado, and enjoys reading comic books!

Nomalie Jaya
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Research Expertise: Protein Biochemistry

In her graduate program, Nomalie is investigating the mechanisms of interaction between heat shock proteins and substrates. Growing up with scientists as parents, Nomalie has spent her weekends in the lab for as long as she can remember, and she is eager to share her love of the scientific process with the community. Through BioME, she is working with two middle school teachers at Coronado K-8 School in the Amphitheater School District. When Nomalie isn't reading scientific journals, she enjoys hiking, running, and spending time with her dogs.

Chris Schmidt
Interdisciplinary Program in Insect Science
Research Expertise: Entomology; Evolutionary Biology

Chris's research focuses on the evolutionary history of ants and other insects, which he hopes to use as platform to bring concepts of biodiversity into the classroom. Through BioME, Chris is working with 8th graders at Amphitheater Middle School (Amphitheater School District) and 5th graders at Walter Douglas Elementary School (Flowing Wells School District). Some of Chris' other hobbies and interests include sustainability, African music, and good Mexican food.

Kevin Vogel
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Research Expertise: Evolutionary Biology & Genomics

Kevin works in Nancy Moran's lab and studies how microbes help other organisms adapt to their environments. Kevin recalls high school first awakening his passion for science, and hopes that his excitement for biology will inspire other high school students to pursue science as a career. He is working with Margaret Wilch at Tucson High Magnet School (Tucson Unified School District) and is looking forward to helping students in the THMS BLAST lab facility. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys playing ice hockey and squash, cooking, and collecting insects.



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