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! Feel free to request a specific person if someone stands out to you.

Meet the 2021-2022 MCB Leaders

Headshot of Amber Salmon in an MCB Leaders polo.

Name: Amber Salmon - Treasurer
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.

Headshot of Maya Raviv in an MCB Leaders polo.

Name: Maya Raviv - Social Outreach Chair
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.

Headshot of Edward Andrews in an MCB Leaders polo.

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.

Headshot of Maaz Bashir in an MCB Leaders polo

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. 

Headshot of Julie Mathews in an MCB Leaders polo.

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.

Headshot of Joey O'Brien in an MCB Leaders polo.

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.