The School of MCB offers incoming first-year students in biology, MCB, biochemistry, and neuroscience the opportunity to be matched with a current student who will mentor them toward success. Our peer mentors are successful MCB Leaders, MCB Peer Advising interns, and MCB Honors students who are prepared to talk with you about courses, career goals, research, campus activities/organizations, and general questions about navigating the campus. 

*Please note: this mentorship is not intended to replace an academic advisor, but instead to provide you with a friendly, knowledgeable face on campus. 

Interested in being matched with an undergraduate peer mentor for spring 2024? Fill out this application form by Friday, February 16 at 5:00 PM CT. Application responses will be used to help make an appropriate mentorship match. On the application, you may select up to 3 MCB mentors of interest, and we'll do our best to match you with one of those choices. Please look over the mentor bios below before filling out the application form. Once a match is made, you will receive an email introducing you to your mentor and the two of you may begin scheduling meetings. We suggest meetings once or twice per month, but you are welcome to contact each other more frequently.

Meet MCB's 2023-2024 Mentors
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Meet Rujuta Chikodikar

Hi everyone, my name is Rujuta, and I am a senior majoring in MCB Honors! I am from Bangalore in India, so I have experienced the process of transitioning into college from a different country. I will be happy to give advice on making this transition easier! I am on the pre-medical track. Outside of class, you would mostly find me conducting research in Dr Huanyu Qiao's lab at the College of Veterinary Medicine. I am working on a project that studies the mRNA expression of oocytes at different stages of development. I also volunteer at the Avicenna Community Health Center and Carle… more

Meet Vani Sharma

Hi! My name is Vani Sharma (she/her), and I am from Mount Prospect, IL. I am a junior majoring in MCB Honors and minoring in public health while pursuing a neuroscience certificate on the pre-medical track. On campus, some of my involvements include AED, Positive Pre-Meds, Illini Strings, conducting research in a women's health & metabolism lab, serving as an undergraduate research ambassador, and being a teaching assistant for chemistry. I am a huge advocate for mental health advocacy. With that being said, I know the transition to college can be difficult as well as going down… more

Meet Jamie Bernal

My name is Jamie Bernal and I am currently an MCB Honors senior on the pre-med track. I am a research assistant working in the Sweeney Research Lab where I study the neural circuitry regulating feeding and emotion. I am also a research intern at Northwestern's Center for Food Allergy and Asthma Research. In addition to this, I am currently one of UIUC's Philippine Student Association "Filipino Americans Coming Together" Conference coordinators. In my free time I love to draw, play guitar/ukulele, and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

Meet Cameron Max

Hello everyone, my name is Cameron Max and I am a junior majoring in Honors MCB. I am currently on the pre-med track. I know how hard of an adjustment it can be to come to college as an MCB major, and I'd be happy to give my advice or answer any questions! Outside of school, I spend a lot of time volunteering at OSF Hospital where I offer assistance to patients to make their stay as enjoyable as possible. Volunteering is a great way to learn more about the medical field and get comfortable working with patients! I am currently the Lead Volunteer and work in all departments of the hospital… more

Meet Monishaa Murali

Hi everyone! My name is Monishaa Murali (she/her), and I am a junior majoring in the MCB Honors Concentration. Here's a little bit about me: Off campus, I volunteer in the Carle Foundation Hospital where I've worked with a broad age group of pediatric patients. I've also worked as a Science instructor for the YMCA summer camps. I really enjoying spending time and working with children as I feel they are so genuine and there's a lot to learn from them! On campus, I do research with Dr. Oldfield where we are working on combatting antibiotic resistance. I'm also the President of the… more

Meet Grace Tolentino

Hi everyone! My name is Grace Tolentino. I am a senior majoring in MCB pursuing a Certificate in Infection Biology and minoring in Public Health. I would like to become a PA or a nurse. I am also interested in working in public health at some point in my career because I am very interested in reducing health disparities and improving population health. I am part of Dr. Sarah Geiger's lab and assist with epidemiology research about the environmental health of children. On campus, I am a member of the Harm Reduction Peers and the Special Populations Peers. I am a board member for the… more

Meet Joseph Jung

Hello everyone! My name is Joseph and I am a junior majoring in MCB Honors with a minor in chemistry. I am an out-of-state student from the Bay Area in California. On campus, I am involved involved in undergraduate research in Dr. Hee Jung Chung's lab, studying the STEP protein and its role in regulating excitatory transmission in the brain during epilepsy. Over the summer, I was able to research extensively through the SURF program from the SMCB. Aside from research, I am also a volunteer at Carle Foundation Hospital in the Emergency Department, and am involved in Carle RSO. Some things I… more

Meet Tyler Stritzel

Hello, I'm Tyler and I'm from Carbondale, Illinois! I'm a junior studying MCB with a minor in Public Health with aspirations to become a Physician Assistant. I am the Assistant Clinic Manager of Avicenna Community Health Center in Champaign, which provides free medical care to uninsured and homeless individuals in our community. I am also the Membership Chair for AED, a preprofessional fraternity for students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare. I also work as a Healthcare Technician at Carle Foundation Hospital. In my free time, I enjoy watching & playing volleyball, trying… more

Meet Maya Raviv

Hey all! I’m Maya (she/her), a senior in MCB Honors with minors in Chemistry and Creative Writing. Freshman year is when I decided to hop onto the pre-medical track, and now I’m finally applying to medical schools! On campus, I’m a research assistant at Dr. Brieher’s cell biology lab, where I conduct my own project about the relationship between tyrosine kinase signaling, actin polymerization, and cell adhesion. My lab is awesome, I can talk about it for hours! I’m also the social chair of MEDLIFE, a health volunteer organization, where I’ve met many, many of my friends. I work as an… more

Meet Zoe Daniel

Hello all! My name is Zoe Daniel and I am a junior in MCB. My major campus involvements include undergraduate research in Dr. Kehl-Fie's lab, where we study Staphylococcus aureus and how pathogens overcome resource starvation during infection. I am also a campus tour guide and I love showing prospective and admitted students how much this amazing university has to offer. As for my involvement in clubs on campus, I am a part of both GeoClub and the Polish cultural club. My other hobbies include playing cello and reading. I am also a huge fan of the great outdoors and I have… more

Meet Lauryn Pickerill

Hi everyone! My name is Lauryn Pickerill, and I'm a senior in MCB with a minor in psychology on the pre-med track. On campus, I am an undergraduate research assistant in the Physical Activity and Neurocognitive Health Lab, which studies the effects of physical activity and sedentary behavior on cognition and brain health. I am also the Membership Director for Phi Chi Premedical Fraternity. Last summer, I worked as an MCB Peer Advisor and really enjoyed getting to know the incoming students in biology! Additionally, I am in a social sorority, volunteer at the student-run Newman Shares Food… more

Meet Edward Andrews

Hello! I am Eddie Andrews (he/him), a senior majoring in MCB Honors currently applying to MD/PhD programs. I am also earning a certificate in microbiology and a minor in chemistry. On campus, I am passionate about research and work in Dr. Whitaker's laboratory, where I study antimicrobial resistance and the co-evolutionary dynamics of microbes and their mobile genetic elements. This past year, we examined several E. coli samples isolated from pigs on a farm to gain insight into how plasmids and AMR genes spread throughout a population. I have also worked for several years at USDA… more

Meet Bushra Azhar

I'm currently a member of Alpha Chi Sigma fraternity, where I engage with individuals from various majors. I actively participate in pledge, social, and professional meetings, and I've contributed innovative ideas for fundraising initiatives. I also have the opportunity to interact with professors during their talks and discussions. In addition, I dedicate time to mentor and assist new members who join the fraternity, providing guidance in their chemistry-related inquiries and other areas. Currently, I'm also a member of the PreDental Club, attending club meetings and engaging with dental… more

Meet Maaz Bashir

Hey everyone! My name is Maaz Bashir and I am a senior studying molecular and cellular biology with a minor in Business. I am currently on the pre-medical track, and outside of school, I am involved in the Illini Medical Screening Society, an organization that provides free medical screenings to the Urbana-Champaign Community. I have also been a volunteer at Carle Hospital and Avicenna, along with a few other hospitals, and I am involved in research. In my free time, I like to workout and hang out with friends/family. I remember when I was a freshman/sophomore and having a mentor… more

Meet Natalie Taylor

Hi everyone! My name is Natalie and I am a senior majoring in MCB with a minor in psychology and a certificate in neuroscience. I serve on the executive board for the Pre-Genetic Counseling Club and plan to go to graduate school for genetic counseling. I would like to specialize in pediatrics and potentially neuroscience. I work as an LAS 101 Intern and am also a member of the DRES student advisory committee. I play trumpet in the University Band and enjoy reading and playing tennis in my free time. Please reach out with any questions. I know the transition to college can be difficult and… more

Meet Emily Davis

Hello! My name is Emily Davis (she/her), and I am a senior majoring in MCB Honors. I am also an LAS James Scholar and would be happy to answer any questions or give advice about the point system. My long-term goal is to do research. That is why I am planning to apply to PhD programs, and I've been doing undergraduate research for the last two years. My lab is in the Food Science and Human Nutrition department, where we primarily work with beans to study the different bioactive proteins and how those proteins affect the health of different kinds of cells, such as through the level of… more

Meet Kunaal Venugopal

I am Kunaal, a junior in the MCB program. I am interested in pursuing a career in medicine. Currently, I am involved in research on campus in a neuroscience lab, a topic I am particularly interested in. I am a volunteer at Carle Foundation Hospital. Additionally, I work as a Peer Advisor in the MCB program.

Meet Manas Gajjela

Hi everyone! My name is Manas Gajjela and I am a rising senior studying in the MCB Honors Concentration with minors in Classical Civilizations and Chemistry. Outside of being an aspiring pre-med, some things I am also involved in at UIUC are Teaching Assistant for Chem 103, MCB tutor, research assistant, UIUC Udaan, and Action Against Hunger. In my free time I love to read, hang out with my friends, cook, work out, and run, I am currently training for the Chicago marathon! UIUC is an amazing university that has changed my life for the better, the memories you make and the people you meet… more

Meet Julie Mathews

Hi guys! My name is Julie Mathews (she/her) and I am a senior majoring in MCB Honors with a minor in Psychology. I intend to pursue a career in medicine and am on the pre-medical track. On campus, I'm the president of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-health professional fraternity, and the Illini Mentor Program, which is a RSO where UIUC students mentor elementary school students in the Champaign-Urbana community. I'm also a research assistant in the Nutrition and Human Microbiome Laboratory, which examines the effect of nutrition on the human microbiome and human health, with a focus on… more

Meet Shivang Bhaskar

My name is Shivang (he/him) and I am a senior in MCB Honors. I am a director on the Illini Union Board, which is an organization that plans and hosts events for students on campus. I am also a site supervisor in the Illini Mentoring Program, where I help mentor youth in the Champaign-Urbana community. In addition, I am the president of University Vegetarians, which is an RSO for all students interested in plant-based living. I'm conducting research in the K. V. Prasanth Lab, where I am studying non-coding RNA by using techniques such as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). I've… more

Meet Justus Omowumi

Hi, I am Justus Omowumi (he/him) and I’m a sophomore in LAS, majoring in Neuroscience. I aspire to become a Neurosurgeon as I am very interested in Neuroscience and its related fields. I have worked as a pre-calculus tutor at the SSC for a year and a half. I’m also involved in REACT, a program that offers undergrads the opportunity to present awesome chemistry experiments to elementary, middle, or high schools to get the students there interested in chemistry. I’m on the board of a relatively new pre-med organization on campus called LinguaMed, which aims to educate its members on… more

Meet Joel Ryan

Hello! My name is Joel Ryan (he/him), a senior double majoring in MCB Honors and Chemistry with a minor in Psychology and a certificate in Neuroscience. I currently work in a behavioral neuroscience lab under Dr. Nu-Chu Liang where we are investigating the effects of social isolation on the food intake of rats. I have also researched in a past summer for SIU under Dr. Ben Richardson performing behavioral assays on mice. Furthermore, I did a two-week study abroad program in Costa Rica where we conducted natural products research at Universidad de Costa Rica. On campus, I spend my time… more

Meet Ramiya Shanmugam

Hello! My name is Ramiya Shanmugam and I am a junior majoring in MCB with a minor in Public Health and Chemistry. Currently, I am on the pre-med track hoping to apply to medical schools soon. On campus, I am the treasurer of a dance team, Illini Bhangra, and a part of a Professional Fraternity, AED. I also work in the Office of Minority Student Affairs as a tutor as well as volunteer as a tutor for Dr. Axelson in Organic Chemistry. As for research, I am a part of PNC research lab which studies the relationship between aspects of kinesiology and cognitive functions. Lastly, I volunteer at a… more

Meet Neha Bashir

Hi guys! My name is Neha Bashir! I am a junior majoring in the MCB Honors Concentration and double minoring in business and chemistry on the pre-med track. On campus I am the treasurer of the Illini Medical Screening Society, where we work to provide free medical screenings to the underserved and underinsured in the Champaign-Urbana area. I also serve as a volunteer chair of Avicenna Clinic RSO, Fundraising Chair of the Pakistani Student Association, Mentorship Coordinator for the Muslim Student Association, and a writer for Brain Matters. I am McKinley Student Populations Health Program… more

Meet Gabby Nathan

Hi all! My name is Gabby Nathan, and I am a sophomore in the MCB Honors program. I am on the pre-medicine track and intend on going into oncology. My long-term goal is to perform my own cancer bioengineering research. I recently interned in the pathology lab at Ascension St Joseph - Chicago, where I worked under Dr. Marsha Apushkin and assisted with the gross processing of specimens. I also have experience in finding physician shadowing positions, and would be happy to answer any questions about my experiences in finding these opportunities. I am currently volunteering at Carle Hospital in… more

Meet Sofia Faillaci

Hi everyone! My name is Sofia Faillaci and I am a senior majoring in MCB honors with a minor in psychology. My future career goals are to become an orthopedic surgeon with a specialization in pediatrics, but I am looking forward to learning and immersing myself into all the careers the medical field provides. On campus, I am a part of the American Medical Student Association, Best Buddies, as well as Greek Life. I have spent a lot of time working with teenagers and adults that suffer from physical and intellectual disabilities, and it truly is one of my passions. Back home, I have spent my… more

Meet Mohammad Rashdan

Hi everyone! My name is Mohammad Rashdan, I’m currently a senior in MCB and I’m minoring in psychology. Outside of classes, I work as an ED healthcare tech at Carle, tutor MCB, and participate in Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund. In my free time, I like playing table tennis and lifting weights. After college, I plan on doing research in my gap year before going to medical school. I remember how tough and overwhelming it was as an underclassman to do well in classes and balance extracurriculars. I struggled a lot in the beginning of college and if it weren’t for my older peers helping me… more

Meet Cesar Maldonado

Hello everybody! My name is Cesar Maldonado. I am a junior majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology Honors on the pre-med track. I am also a James Scholar and part of the Campus Honors Program. I am on the exec board as the Director of Medical Education for a pre-health RSO called Global Medical Training, an organization dedicated to providing free medical service through service trips to underserved communities throughout Latin America. I'm also a member of two other pre-health organizations called the American Medical Student Association and Illini Medical Screening Society. I am… more

Meet Kendall McFarlin

Hi! My name is Kendall McFarlin, and my pronouns are she/her. I’m a junior majoring in molecular and cellular biology honors and minoring in music. I’m hoping to become a doctor someday! I love working with kids, so I’m currently leaning towards pediatrics. I’m a CNA, which is a great way to see the medical field from an up-close perspective. I worked in Dr. Mahoney’s comparative bioscience lab for a year and I currently work at the MCB Advising Office and the Sousa Archives. I’ve played trumpet in lots of bands on campus, including both athletic bands and concert ensembles. I'm also… more

Meet Ritika Jawale

Hello! My name is Ritika Jawale, and I am a junior majoring in biochemistry and minoring in chemistry. After graduation, I want to pursue a career in the biotech industry. I have experience working in a biochemistry lab on campus, and have learned many laboratory techniques as well as life skills. Being part of a lab has helped me find my love for research, and I can see the concepts that I have learned in class be applied to real life situations. In my free time, I like going on walks, baking, and painting. I love spending time outside, especially sitting on the quad. I understand… more

Meet Saniya Zaidi

Hi guys! My name is Saniya Zaidi and I am a Junior majoring in MCB with a minor in Public Health. I'm currently on the Pre-Med track, and have a huge interest in the field of oncology. On campus, I am a research assistant in a Comparative Biosciences lab where we study infertility and germ-cell development. Along with that, I am the President of a non-profit organization called the Illini Thaakat Foundation, a Student Leader at Carle Hospital in the OB Services Department, and a volunteer in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. In my free time, I like to cook, watch movies, or hang out with my… more

Meet Ryan Marsh

Hello my name is Ryan Marsh. I am a sophomore majoring in MCB Honors. Following college, I plan on going to medical school because I aspire to be a surgeon. I am from Monee, Illinois which is one of the southernmost suburbs of Chicago. I am currently a member in HEARTs which is a premedical student organization focused on student volunteering and fundraising. I am also a member of Doctors Without Borders which is an RSO on campus with a similar mission. This semester I will be pursuing membership in the Illini Medical Screening Society and Global Medical Training UIUC. I also hope to find… more