Meet the 2022 Summer Undergraduate Research Interns at Barrow

Juwon Ben

Arizona State University

My name is Jowun Ben. I am Towering House born for the Deer Spring. My maternal grandparents are the Coyote Pass, and my paternal grandparents are the Salt People. I am from Low Mountain, Arizona. I am a current junior at Arizona State University, studying biomedical sciences and American Indian studies in a pre-med track.”

“Ya’át’ééh. Shí éí Kinyaa’áanii nishłį́ dóó Bįįh Bitoo’nii báshíshchíín. Ma’ii deeshgiizhnii dashicheii dóó ‘Áshįįhí dashinálí. Jowun Ben yinishyé. Shí éí Jeeh Deez’á dę́ę́’ naashá. Shí éí Arizona State University di ííníshta’. Biomedical Science dóó American Indian Studies baa ííníshta’.

Caitlin Brennan

University of Florida

“I am from Apollo Beach, a small town which is south of Tampa, Florida. Currently, I am finishing up my first year at the University of Florida. As a candidate in the pre-health program, my major is behavioral and cognitive neuroscience with a minor in deaf and hearing sciences. My current plan is to continue my graduate studies at UF’s physician’s assistant program. My interest in neurology stems from my personal experience with my grandmother, who unfortunately was not proactive about memory loss and was diagnosed with late-stage dementia. The importance of early intervention and its impact on neurology patients has strengthened my decision to pursue a career in neuroscience. I was drawn to the Barrow Neurological Institute’s internship due to its outstanding research, education, and innovation in neuroscience. The opportunity this internship offers will allow me to merge my academic knowledge with hands-on experience within a renowned neurological program. Outside of academia, I am a member of UF’s Neuroscience Club and very involved in community service. I am also a member of UF’s Signing Gators, which performs the national anthem at sporting games and local events. Recently, I participated in UF’s Dance Marathon and raised over $8,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network with my team. During my off-time, I enjoy traveling and spending time outdoors. This summer, I am looking forward to meeting the Barrow team and the interns!”

Crystal Espinoza

Arizona State University

“I am a first gen-student student at ASU, studying marketing. I was born and raised here in Phoenix, Arizona, but my parents are from Mexico. I carry my Mexican heritage with pride, and I am extremely proud of myself and of other first-gen students pursuing higher education. I have always had an inclination toward school and love to learn new things. This was eminent when I graduated high school in 2021 with an International Baccalaureate Diploma, which strengthened that drive to continue higher education. I knew all throughout high school that I wanted the ability to merge my creative and analytical sides in my future career and found marketing to be the right fit. Now, pursuing a marketing degree at ASU, I am ready to learn additional skills essential to my career.”

Elisabeth Fear

Case Western Reserve University

“I am originally from Arizona and am a rising sophomore at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, Ohio. At CWRU, I am part of the Pre-Professional Scholars Program in Medicine and plan on majoring in psychology. Outside of academics, I am a classically trained soprano and enjoy participating in the Case Concert Choir. I appreciate this exceptional opportunity at Barrow and can’t wait to begin working in the Innovation Center!”

Nidhi Ganta

Emory University

“I am from Chandler, Arizona. I am currently a first-year student at Emory University in Atlanta, studying neuroscience and behavioral biology and global development studies. In the past, I have conducted research on glioblastoma multiforme markers and neurodevelopment. In addition, I am very passionate about health care disparities, specifically menstrual inequality. In my free time, I enjoy exploring coffee shops, reading, re-watching shows, and spending time with friends!”

Gerardo Gomez

University of Guanajuato

“I was born in the city of Leon, Mexico. During the summer break before entering my last year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to study in university. Then, I had an accident with a glass door which caused multiple cuts in my arm, leg, and chest, and I got the tendon of my right index finger reconstructed that day. After waking up from the anesthesia and talking to my doctor, I decided that I wanted to study medicine. The model of the doctor in society and its impact in it made me realize that medicine would provide me a profession with a combination of intellectual and social skills, and as I learned later during university, I wanted to do both an art and a science in the same profession. I felt I would never become bored of being a doctor. After studying the nervous system module online, I found out that neuroscience, in my perspective, is the most exciting and evolving branch in the medical field. Recently, I formed with a group of classmates the Mission:Brain Chapter at University of Guanajuato. My current academic goals are to enjoy and get the most out of my time at medical school, become a great academic physician, complete my first research project about cerebrovascular disease, to gain experience at external institutions in order to amplify my research experience, and see how medicine is practiced outside of my home institution and to build bridges that may help me in my pursue of becoming a neurosurgeon. I think the Summer Undergraduate Internship Program at Barrow Neurological Institute will suit me well, because mentoring for novice students like me is given and I think that learning from world-class physicians is going to be beneficial to me for the rest of my career. I hope I can keep collaborating with Dr. Brian Kelly and other doctors from Barrow through networking. I have not been bored a single day since I entered medical school.”

Hitesh Gurram

Arizona State University

“In the coming fall, I’m going to be a third-year student at Arizona State University, majoring in biomedical engineering. I hope to one day attend medical school and work in the field of neuro-rehabilitation, helping to improve the lives of people with neurodegenerative disorders and diseases. In my free time, you’ll most likely catch me hiking some of Arizona’s many beautiful mountains, playing guitar, bouldering, or just lounging outside. This summer, I look forward to working on biostatistics at the Ivy Brain Tumor Center with Dr. Wonsuk Yoo!”

Dylan Huttenlocker

Grand Canyon University

“I’m from Gilbert, Arizona. I am a junior biochemistry and molecular biology major, with a minor in nutrition, at Grand Canyon University. Currently, I am a science tutor for GCU who assists in many biology and chemistry courses, but in the future, I plan to apply for PhD programs in either cancer or infectious disease. I love to critically think and explore all of God’s creations. My hobbies include hiking, exploring, and trying new foods! I am beyond excited to connect with other interns and researchers and to grow in my knowledge and capabilities as a researcher.”

Sakshi Karra

University of Arizona

“I am a second-year student, majoring in molecular and cellular biology and minoring in environmental sciences at the University of Arizona. I enjoy singing, dancing, and trying new types of food and coffee when I travel! This summer will be my second time working in the Ducruet Lab, and I am so incredibly excited to be working with this amazing group of people again! I was involved in so many cutting-edge projects and made so many lasting connections with people in my lab and others as well. The skills and knowledge that this incredible group of researchers have taught me has allowed me to gain valuable experience for my future endeavors and begin my pursuit of a medical-related career.”

Heather Kwapiszeski

University of Arizona

“I am an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona. I am double majoring in neuroscience and cognitive science and biochemistry. I am fascinated at the complexity of neural and biological pathways and how small alterations can lead to drastic effects. I also enjoy playing sports and spending time outdoors. I’m thrilled to spend the summer working and learning at Barrow.”

Zoe Lesher

Arizona State University

“I am an Arizona native, who graduated from Paradise Valley High School CREST. I am now attending the University of Virginia and studying biology with the intention of becoming a physician after graduating. In my free time, I love to spend time with friends, family, and my dogs.”

Lance Lim

Arizona State University

“I am from Goodyear, Arizona. I am a senior attending Arizona State University. My major is health entrepreneurship and innovation, with a certificate in cross-sector leadership. Some of my professional interests involve health innovation, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability. I picked this internship as I want to be able to better develop as a medical professional, network with people in my field, be affiliated with a prestigious health organization, and be able to apply my skills and strengths into a program that can make a difference!”

Bertha Lopez Altamirano

Arizona State University

“I am a first-generation college student, studying at Arizona State University. I am Latina, double majoring in biomedical sciences and family and human development. I am a sophomore, who one day in the near future will become a physician’s assistant. I love science and learning about the medical field.”

Jamie Martinez

Arizona State University

“I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I currently attend Arizona State University, majoring in public health. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I plan on attending graduate school and pursuing my master’s degree. My careers goals are to work in nonprofit organizations focusing in health or one day work for the CDC. Besides being at school, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, going on hikes, and cooking. I am very excited to be part of Barrow for the summer internship program.”

Sarah McDowell

Colgate University

“I just completed my third year at Colgate University, pursuing a double major in neuroscience and English. This last year, I worked as a research assistant in Professor Bruce Hansen’s EEG lab, managing 128 channels of electrical output for student-run senior thesis projects. Examining how tiny changes in molecular structure can contribute to neurological disease, I have written over 150 pages of research in my upper-division neuroscience courses, neurochemistry, and neuroanatomy. When I think about neuroscience research, I immediately think about Louveau et al. 2015 and the discovery of lymphatic vessels in the brain. These findings have massive implications in how neurodegenerative disorders like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s are studied, revealing just how much is left to be unearthed about the brain which is what interests me the most about this field. I look forward to joining the program at Barrow this summer!”

Sophia Menna

University of Virginia

“I am an incoming second-year student at the University of Virginia. My intended major is neuroscience, and I plan to get involved in lab research at the university this coming year. I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, and graduated from Chaparral High School. I enjoy beach volleyball, volunteering with my sorority, and spending time outdoors.”

Margaux Miller

University of Notre Dame

“I am a rising senior at the University of Notre Dame, studying pre-medical studies and sociology. I am extremely interested in the brain, notably the effects of CIT on athletes as well as dementia in the elderly, given my time working at a nursing home last summer. I am also interested in genetics and the human genome. In my free time, I enjoy reading, yoga, running, listening to music, and any and all culture (art, film, television, etc.).”

Ashley Minks

University of Arizona

“I am a junior at the University of Arizona Honors College—studying neuroscience and cognitive science, with an emphasis in neurobiology, and psychological science. I am also minoring in biochemistry. At the UofA, I am involved in several organizations including Chemistry Club, Nu Rho Psi, and Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-health honorary. Previously, I have gained research experience in a psychology based lab (TIES) at the UofA, which is focused on emotions, and in Dr. Oh’s brain AVM lab at Barrow Neurological Institute. After college, I plan to pursue a graduate degree in psychology or teaching and then attend medical school to eventually become a surgeon. I am very excited to return to Barrow Neurological Institute for another summer of exciting research!”

Megan Nelson

Arizona State University

“I have just completed my sophomore year in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, where I am majoring in biological sciences (neurobiology, physiology, and behavior) and psychology, while also pursuing a minor in math and a certificate in computational life sciences. On campus, I am an undergraduate teaching assistant, president of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Council, vice president of Psi Chi, and conducting behavioral neuroscience research. In the future, I plan to attend graduate school to earn a PhD in neuroscience. I am looking forward to this internship this summer!”

William Noll

Arizona State University

“I am a rising junior at Arizona State University, studying biomedical engineering with a minor in biochemistry. I am involved in a club called Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), where my team aims to design a facial recognition device that attaches to the glasses to assist Alzheimer’s patients with recognizing their loved ones. I’m also involved in ASU’s NeuroRobotics lab, where I am currently studying changes in human postural stability during smartphone use under unstable and challenging environments. In the future, I plan to pursue graduate school and am aiming for a career involving neural engineering and neural rehabilitation. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity to work in Dr. Brian Kelly’s spinal biomechanics lab, and I’m ecstatic to meet everyone!”

Joseph Oh

University of Texas at Dallas

“I am currently a sophomore at the University of Texas at Dallas, majoring in biology and minoring in psychology. As this is my first research experience, I am excited to spend the next 10 to 12 weeks here at Barrow’s Aneurysm and AVM Research Center under Dr. Paul Oh. Some fun facts about me are that, in my free time, I enjoy reading, listening to music, running, playing volleyball, and watching TikToks! By the end of this summer, my goals include leaving a noticeable impression in Dr. Oh’s laboratory and becoming familiar with the esteemed faculty there along with my fellow interns.”

Giselle Quezada

Arizona State University

“I am an incoming junior at Arizona State University, where I am pursuing a degree in biological sciences with a concentration in biomedical sciences and a minor in psychology. I am a New American University Scholar, which has allowed me to not only excel in academics and achieve my goals but also challenged me to make a difference in my community. Growing up, I translated and advocated for my family in both clinical and nonclinical settings. I have actively helped underserved communities since middle school by volunteering at various nonprofit organizations and hospitals such as St. Joseph’s Hospital, further developing my passion for medicine. My interest in research sparked in high school, where I presented my findings on cultural variations in a range of psychological processes related to student academic success. My membership in the American Medical Women’s Association and executive board position in the Be A Leader Association at ASU have allowed me to gain valuable knowledge and experience in how to overcome adversity as a minority in STEM. Upon completion of my undergraduate studies, I intend to apply to medical school to further my knowledge of medicine and pursue a career as a physician.”

Maddy Shoemaker

Fort Lewis College

“I will be a senior this fall at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, studying biochemistry with a minor in psychology. Outside of class, I perform undergraduate research on methyltransferases, am on the cross country and track team, and work as a teaching assistant for general chemistry. After graduation, I plan to attend grad school in hopes to get a PhD in either pharmacology or biomedical science. I am very excited to be doing research at Barrow this summer and can’t wait to meet everyone!”

Aline Sousa

Federal University of ABC

“I am a neuroscientist (BSc and MSc) and a final-year student in biological sciences at the Federal University of ABC in Brazil! I have a strong passion for science, especially neuroscience, and therefore I have been working with preclinical research in the neuroscience field for the past few years, focusing on diseases related to the central nervous system (drug-induced motor dysfunctions, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injuries). I am currently finishing my studies in biological sciences and preparing to enroll at the PhD level. As my goal is to continue my scientific training in an international PhD program and, in the long term, to lead my own research laboratory, I am sure that this amazing opportunity to work this summer in the neurodegenerative laboratory with Professor Rita Sattler and her team will not only be a unique opportunity to learn and gain experience with world-class approaches and resources in neurodegenerative disease research, but it will also help me achieve my career goals. For that I am beyond happy, grateful, and looking forward to the summer!”

Maria Strasser

Arizona State University

“I am a rising junior at Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. I am a pre-medical student majoring in neurobiology, and I hope to study and develop alternative treatment options for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. I am an avid hiker and long-distance runner and enjoy being outside, especially in my home state of Montana. I am an intern for ASU’s College of Health Solutions, where I am working to map disparities in access to treatment for people with opioid use disorders and mental illness. I also work with ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where I computationally analyze bacteria-infecting viruses to hopefully contribute to future bacterial infection research. I have also worked with Parkinson’s patients and hope to one day administer the treatments that Barrow Neurological Institute develops for Parkinson’s disease. I can’t wait to contribute to this research this summer at Barrow!”

Morgen Thomas

Arizona State University

“I am a second-year undergraduate at Arizona State University, majoring in biomedical sciences and psychology. Currently, I plan on attending an MD/PhD program to get my PhD in neuroscience. I’m interested in researching neurodegenerative diseases and look forward to working with Dr. Ashley Stokes in the Neuroimaging Innovation Center. I hope to increase access to neurological treatment for those in underserved communities. In 2016, I moved from Iowa to Arizona, where I fell in love with the gorgeous sunsets and warm weather. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, reading, and exploring the Tempe area.”

Syed Yhaan

Arizona State University

“I am a current junior in chemical engineering at ASU. I am working toward pursuing a career in medicine in the future. Working in research in both engineering as well as more medically oriented fields has developed my interest in lab work, and I hope to apply my experience in both fields during my time here at Barrow. I am especially interested in neurodegenerative diseases, due to the adverse effects they can have not just for a victim but those who also care for them. Outside of school life and work, I enjoy watching and following sports, especially soccer. I hope to have a wonderful time this summer during my internship experience at Barrow.”

Shana Yoo

Arizona State University

“I am a sophomore at Arizona State University, majoring in nutritional science. After graduating, my goal is to go to a graduate school and achieve a doctoral degree in the future. Some of my hobbies include baking and crafting. I hope to learn more about neuroimaging through this experience. I look forward to meeting everyone and being a part of Barrow this summer!”

These bios have been edited for brevity, clarity, and style.