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Are you a prospective UIUC student, new to campus, or to the MCB major? Do you have questions for experienced MCB upperclassmen?

MCB Leaders are here for you.

We’re a small group of accomplished students in MCB that want to help current and prospective students learn more about the University of Illinois, the College of LAS, and the Molecular and Cellular Biology and biochemistry majors. We know what it takes to succeed, what resources are available to you, and how to get involved on campus, so please contact us if you have any questions at mcbleaders@life.illinois.edu! Feel free to request a specific person if someone stands out to you.

Meet the 2021-2022 MCB Leaders

Angela Cabrera

Name: Angela Cabrera - President
Preferred Pronouns: She, her, hers
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor(s): Psychology
Hobbies/Activities: I am the Vice President of Programming of the International Medical Fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon IL-Beta Chapter, and a board member of the Philippine Student Association. I work as a lab technician in the RIPE Lab at the Crop Transformation Facility. When I am not studying or sleeping, I usually stay up very late to hang out with my friends, skate around campus, and play video games!
Favorite Place to Study: Caffe Paradiso
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: KFT (for the Poke Bowls!) and Shawarma Joint
Why you chose the U of I: In addition to UIUC's excellent academic programs, UIUC has such a lively, diverse student body and there are endless opportunities in student RSO's, research, and other extracurriculars that bolster your professional and personal growth. I know that the friendships I have made on campus will last even after I graduate! UIUC is also the perfect distance away from home, where I can still feel independent and have my family visit occasionally.
Favorite things about MCB: As a pre-med student, the MCB curriculum covers many topics that are in the MCAT and prepares you for the rigorous workload of medical school. Additionally, as I take more MCB courses, I have grown to love the feeling of having a difficult concept finally "click" in your head; realizing the versatility of MCB and applying concepts to everyday life always amazes me. Most importantly, the MCB community is extremely driven and supportive!

Arman Sandhu

Name: Arman Sandhu - Vice President
Preferred Pronouns: He, him, his
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB
Minor(s): Disability Studies
Hobbies/Activities: Playing/watching basketball
Favorite Place to Study: Grainger Library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Seven Saints. My wallet hurts every time but it's so worth it.
Why you chose the U of I: I chose UIUC because it is an excellent academic institution with plenty of opportunities for research, volunteering, and other organizations tailored to help your professional goals. In addition, the student body is extremely diverse at UIUC and the students are friendly so living in a college town with friends like this make the experience that much more enjoyable.
Favorite things about MCB: The advanced courses you take during your junior and senior year are super interesting and there are a ton of options for whatever you may like.

Will Reiser

Name: Will Reiser - Secretary
Preferred Pronouns: He, him, his
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor: Chemistry
Certificate: Infectious Disease
Hobbies/Activities: On campus, I am the Vice President of Block I, and I am involved in research in Dr. Brooke's virology lab. In my free time, I enjoy working out, going to athletic events, and spending time with friends.
Favorite Place to Study: Illini Union basement
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Bangkok Thai
Why you chose the U of I: I chose UIUC because of the unparalleled opportunities. UIUC has a unique mixture of personalized instruction and the resources of a global research institution. The sheer size of the University of Illinois allows for a large amount of diversity and the chance to meet people from all walks of life. Furthermore, with the abundance of RSO's and other involvements, you are able to find your niche and truly feel at home.
Favorite things about MCB: My favorite thing about the MCB program is that it provides opportunities to delve deeply into any topic you wish. The MCB curriculum is great because it allows you to explore real-world applications for your education through things like research. MCB is unique because of the freedom of classes you can take that allow you to find the parts of biology about which you are truly passionate.

Faisal Zaidi

Name: Faisal Zaidi - Treasurer
Preferred Pronouns: He, him, his
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB
Minor(s): Chemistry
Certificate(s): Cell and Developmental Biology
Hobbies/Activities: On campus, I am the President of the Illini Thaakat Foundation and I am involved in undergraduate research in Dr. Steven Blanke's microbiology lab. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, participating in sports such as football and basketball, and watching netflix.
Favorite Place to Study: Grainger Library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Bangkok Thai
Why you chose the U of I: I chose UIUC because of the variety of academic, professional, and social opportunities and experiences I knew I could have here. I had several different interests coming into college, and I knew I would be able to explore them all at a school with as many resources as ours. Also, with how large and diverse the student body is, I love that this university has allowed me to form bonds with and learn from so many different types of people.
Favorite things about MCB: One of my favorite things about the MCB major is that it provides students with a strong background on both the small-scale and large-scale views of core biological processes that are relevant to fields like health care and research. Beyond that, I love that the MCB program makes you feel welcome and supported, planning events that allow you to relieve stress and bond with your peers, and helping you achieve whatever goals you have in mind.

Edward Andrews

Name: Edward Andrews
Preferred Pronouns: He, him, his
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor (s): Chemistry
Certificate: Microbiology
Hobbies/Activities: I am passionate about research and work in Dr. Whitaker's laboratory, where I study antimicrobial resistance. Prior, I worked at the USDA in Peoria, where I assisted in the improvement of microbial insecticides. I also love teaching and will begin working as a chemistry TA this fall. Being interested in medicine, I am also an EMT-B and enjoy volunteering. Outside of academics, I play the saxophone and piano and perform throughout my community.
Favorite Place to Study: Campus Instructional Facility (CIF)
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Black Dog
Why you chose the U of I: Having grown up in a small town, my choice to attend UIUC meant stepping outside of my comfort zone to prepare me for the challenges of a career in medicine. As a large school, UIUC offers opportunities to experience the forefront of scientific research, learn from renowned faculty, and challenge oneself with coursework. Additionally, students can explore interests through RSOs and work alongside a diverse group of intelligent, motivated peers.
Favorite things about MCB: During MCB 150, I was amazed that many of the fundamental concepts discussed were recent discoveries by scientists often still alive. An MCB major means joining an innovative, fast-growing field and witnessing breakthroughs happen firsthand‚Äîopportunities that provide a strong background necessary for a future career. MCB also encompasses several departments, offering the flexibility to tailor coursework toward academic and professional interests.

Maaz Bashir

Name: Maaz Bashir
Preferred Pronouns: He, him, his
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor(s): Business
Hobbies/Activities: Working Out, Running, Basketball, Cooking/MedLife, IMSS, Avicenna
Favorite Place to Study: Grainger or my room
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Shwarma Joint
Why you chose the U of I: I chose UIUC mainly because I thought it would be the best fit for me. I feel like whichever college someone chooses is always a new experience, and no one knows how it will go. Personally, I thought UIUC was a good school because there is a lot of diversity, and it is very close to home for me so I could still see my family. It's such a big school where it is very easy to meet new people and make new friends. 
Favorite things about MCB: One of my favorite things about being an MCB major is the concepts we learn in our MCB classes. Ever since I was in high school, I enjoyed learning about Biology and Anatomy. My interest in the subjects led me to select MCB as my major. I love how this major teaches me information about multiple aspects of biology that I will continue to use throughout my career in healthcare. I also feel like the professors teach the content really well. 

Shreya Jeyakumar

Name: Shreya Jeyakumar
Preferred Pronouns: She, her, hers
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor (s): Informatics
Hobbies/Activities: Dance, cooking, traveling
Favorite Place to Study: Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) or Grainger
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Oozu Ramen
Why you chose the U of I: I chose UIUC because of its diverse population of students and staff and the many resources that the university has to offer for their students. I was really interested to see that UIUC had a lot of opportunities for students to get involved with the campus community and the class structures really prepare students for their careers and other post-graduate goals.
Favorite things about MCB: I love the challenging and rigor of the curriculum, and many of the classes are very interesting. I have had some extraordinary professors who are always willing to sit down and help students when needed. I loved meeting new people and making close friends through my classes as well. Additionally, MCB offers a bunch of tools and resources for students to get involved with research and RSOs pertaining to their interests.

Leena Lukose

Name: Leena Lukose
Preferred Pronouns: She, her, hers
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB, Psychology
Minor(s): Chemistry
Certification(s): Neuroscience
Hobbies/Activities: Running, watching TV shows (like New Girl or The Office), and baking!
Favorite Place to Study: Main Library and Grainger
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Sticky Rice
Why you chose the U of I: I chose UIUC because it is a great school regardless of one's major. It is a prestigious public university that has a plethora of academic and networking resources. This school encourages students to engage in all of their interests. On Quad Day, it is impossible to not find at least five RSOs that spark your interest. It has provided me with a well rounded college experience.
Favorite things about MCB: One of my favorite aspects of the MCB curriculum is the different certificates it offers. Spanning from Microbiology, Infection Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology and many others. I am currently pursuing a certificate in Neuroscience which gives me a list of different upper level MCB courses that are specifically tailored to strengthen my grasp of neuroscience. I greatly appreciate the freedom to venture into various subcategories of biology.

Julie Mathews

Name: Julie Mathews
Preferred Pronouns: She, her, hers
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor (s): Psychology
Hobbies/Activities: On campus, I'm on the executive board for Alpha Epsilon Delta (pre-health fraternity) and Illini Mentor Program. I'm also a research assistant in the Nutrition and Human Microbiome Laboratory. Off campus, I work at Carle Foundation Hospital as a health care tech/CNA on a medical-surgical floor, and I've worked at a nursing home in my hometown for several years. In my free time, I like to run, hang out and cook dinner with friends, and watch reality TV shows.
Favorite Place to Study: Grainger or main library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Bangkok Thai, Ko Fusion, Cowboy Monkey
Why you chose the U of I: I chose UIUC because of the variety of academic, professional, and social opportunities and experiences I knew I could have here. I had several different interests coming into college, and I knew I would be able to explore them all at a school with as many resources as ours. Also, with how large and diverse the student body is, I love that this university has allowed me to form bonds with and learn from so many different types of people.
Favorite things about MCB: One of my favorite things about the MCB major is that it provides students with a strong background on both the small-scale and large-scale views of core biological processes that are relevant to fields like health care and research. Beyond that, I love that the MCB program makes you feel welcome and supported, planning events that allow you to relieve stress and bond with your peers, and helping you achieve whatever goals you have in mind.

Sarah McGowan

Name: Sarah McGowan
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB
Minor (s): Psychology
Hobbies/Activities: Student Alumni Ambassadors, In-Game Chair for Orange Krush, Illinois Spirit and Tradition Council, Research Lab Assistant in McCusker Lab, Student Nutrition Intern with Athletics; weight-lifting, trying new restaurants, cooking, cheering on Illinois sports
Favorite Place to Study: Main library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Watson's
Why you chose the U of I: I fell in love with UIUC on my first official visit. It immediately felt like home and I knew I wanted to be a part of this famILLy. I knew I would have a great number of opportunities here and have been able to explore various interests. I've been able to grow academically, professionally, and socially thanks to Illinois. I-L-L!
Favorite things about MCB: I love the lab courses because you get to apply what you learn in classroom to actual experiments. This helps me to better understand the concepts/material because you have to understand why you're doing what you're doing not just memorize it. And who doesn't love looking at a microscope or seeing DNA on a gel?

Joey O'Brien

Name: Joey O'Brien
Preferred Pronouns: He, him, his
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): MCB
Certificate: Microbiology
Hobbies/Activities: Cooking, spending time in nature, playing videogames
Favorite Place to Study: Main library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Maize
Why you chose the U of I: As a transfer student, I had a stronger idea of what I wanted in a school the second time around. I chose Illinois because I love the opportunities and diversity you get with a big school, which has allowed me to grow as a person and be supported along my path. There are many great programs to choose from, and MCB is perfect for me. I also took an unofficial visit before applying and fell in love with the campus and surrounding areas.
Favorite things about MCB: Overall, my favorite thing about being an MCB major is the classes themselves. They fascinate me to no end and help drive my passion for biology. I am so thankful to the wonderful advising department, too. Many times, they have steered me down the right path and I would be lost without them. Another thing that makes being an MCB major great is the people you meet you share your passion and are wonderful people that I am proud to call my peers.

Anneliese Paton

Name: Anneliese Paton
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor(s): Music Performance
Hobbies/Activities: I am currently the President of a Social Sorority, on the Executive Board for Block I/Illini Pride, and a UIUC Wellness Ambassador. I am also involved in research in Dr. Spinella's Lab studying mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance. Off campus I work as a Patient Care Assistant for Carle Foundation Hospital and previously worked as a Clinical Laboratory Technician in the COVID-19 Testing Lab for IDPH.
Favorite Place to Study: Reading Room of the Main Library and Illini Union South Lounge
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Crane Alley, Bangkok Thai, Mia Za's
Why you chose the U of I: I am a third-generation Illini and spent a lot of time growing up on the UIUC campus. When it came time to pick a college, I realized as I was touring other colleges that I was subconsciously comparing the others to UIUC. And in the end, UIUC was simply home for me. UIUC is where I felt the most welcomed and comfortable and was the campus that fit my needs of diversity and strong academics.
Favorite things about MCB: My favorite thing about the MCB program is the people I've met and the freedom to explore my interests. Everyone has been so encouraging and willing to help me work to achieve my goals. Although MCB is a rigorous program, I love how I'm consistently being challenged and expanding my knowledge. I have also been able to explore my interests and personalize my degree through the various concentrations and coursework options.

Maya Raviv

Name: Maya Raviv
Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor(s): Creative writing, chemistry
Hobbies/Activities: On campus, I am the Vice President of the health volunteer organization, MEDLIFE, a research assistant at the Brieher Lab where I study cytoskeleton dynamics, and work at an EMT-B. When I'm free, I like watching and talking about movies, reading books, coffee shops, TED talks, thrifting, and science podcasts.
Favorite Place to Study: Caffe Paradiso or CIF on the day to day, and Grainger Library when I'm really desperate.
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Jip Bap and Chipotle are my go-tos on campus. Outside of campus, definitely try Sticky Rice for Thai food and Fiesta Cafe for very good Mexican.
Why you chose the U of I: I loved the idea of being in a big school, where I can meet new people and see new faces everyday. I feel like I learn the most through collaboration with and listening to other people. UIUC was a school that fosters this culture, and is also in Illinois, where I can be close to my family. Plus, our school has awesome research opportunities for MCB!
Favorite things about MCB: I love biology. I love that it's a story and a puzzle at the same time, and I love how whole learning about the human body makes me feel. I also like that studying biology is, at its nature, very collaborative, studying and researching concepts that are so simultaneously big and small is difficult without talking it through. It's fun to study enriching things with my friends, who are as passionate about them as I am.

Amber Salmon

Name: Amber Salmon
Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): MCB
Minor(s): Chemistry
Hobbies/Activities: My hobbies include photography, spending time with friends and family, playing the violin, and reading.
Favorite Place to Study: My favorite place to study on campus is Caffe Paradiso!
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: My favorite restaurant in Campustown would have to be Bangkok Thai.
Why you chose the U of I: There were many reasons why I chose to attend UIUC. My first reason was because of the welcoming and diverse community present on campus that has allowed me to expand my worldview and become a more educated individual. Secondly, I loved the wide range of extracurriculars offered here that ensure everyone will find something to get involved in. Thirdly, I appreciated the excellent academic resources provided that truly allow students to excel.
Favorite things about MCB: The first thing I love about being an MCB major is how applicable the class material is to the physical world around me. I love leaving class and being able to explain what is happening on a biological level when one of my friends has a cold. A second thing I love is how MCB classes find ways to tie in the chemistry of biological phenomena, which has always been so interesting to me to understand the intersection of the two subjects.

Amelia (Ji Ji) Steinlein

Name: Amelia (Ji Ji) Steinlein
Preferred Pronouns: She, her, hers
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor (s): Psychology
Hobbies/Activities: I love trying new recipes to cook/bake and also enjoy eating out. My current obsession is anything with pesto! I also like shopping for clothes, watching movies/TV shows, and spending time with friends. On campus, I am an active member of Beta Psi Omega, a professional biology fraternity, and Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity. I am also involved with In Between, which is an organization for those that feel in between their Asian and American cultures. Finally, I am an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Whikater's Lab and work with bacteria and viruses!
Favorite Place to Study: I loved going to Noyes Library because I would always run into people I know!
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Jipbap, Maize, Sakanaya, and Himalayan Chimney!
Why you chose the U of I: I chose UIUC because I truly believe that there is something for everyone here. When applying to colleges, I knew I loved biology but did not know what I wanted to do with it. I felt like UIUC offered a supportive atmosphere where I could explore my interests and grow as an individual. There is so much offered at this university, and while it can take a bit of trial and error, I am confident in saying everyone can find their niche here at UIUC.
Favorite things about MCB: My favorite thing about being an MCB major is how customizable it is. Being a large institution, there are countless research labs that want to work with you! We have a variety of RSOs ranging from sports to pre-professional organizations in addition to four great study abroad programs that blend nicely into your UIUC experience. And through every step of the way, there are advisors, professors, TAs, and peers all willing to help you succeed!

Umardeen Zainab

Name: Umardeen Zainab
Preferred Pronouns: She, her, hers
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB Honors Concentration
Minor(s): Psychology
Certification(s): CPR, nursing aide
Hobbies/Activities: Cooking, Watching netflix, shopping, traveling, exploring interior & exterior design
Favorite Place to Study: I love to study at the Campus Instructional Facility! The building's design is very unique and the study setting is very calming!
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Baxter's Steakhouse! Their bang bang shrimp appetizer and steak kababs are amazing!
Why you chose the U of I: I wanted to attend a large University that was distant but also close to home and UIUC gave me that. I also wanted to attend an institution with a ton of opportunities and a community where I could grow and thrive with the students and faculty, and UIUC has provided me with this and much more.
Favorite things about MCB: MCB brings together many different scientific fields. It is a small-scale look into the world, and there is great machinery and processes to be studied and observed on a macro scale and can be applied to real-world applications in every human. MCB is a close-knit community at UIUC with amazing student leaders and staff which is very unique. This allows for us to grow, explore, and thrive as students.