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The School of MCB offers incoming first-year students in biology and MCB the opportunity to be matched with a current student who will mentor them towards 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. 

Applications for the Fall 2022 undergraduate peer mentor program have closed. 

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

Meet MCB's 2022-2023 Mentors
Block Reference
Meet Maaz Bashir

Hey everyone! My name is Maaz Bashir, and I am a junior majoring in MCB Honors with a minor in Business. I am currently on the pre-medical track, and I am also a board member for two RSOs. I am the treasurer of the Avicenna RSO, an RSO that helps students learn more about the free healthcare clinic for the uninsured and the underinsured. I am also the screening coordinator for the Illini Medical Screening Society, an organization that provides free medical screenings to the Urbana-Champaign Community. I am also a part of many other organizations including the Pakistani Student Association… more

Meet Amber Salmon (she/her)

Hi everyone! My name is Amber Salmon, and I am a junior majoring in MCB with a minor in Chemistry. I am currently on the pre-dental track hoping to pursue a career in oral surgery. My activities include being a Merit TA for Chemistry 101 with Professor McCarren. I am also the PR chair for Beta Psi Omega, a professional biology fraternity, a member of Pi Beta Phi, a social sorority, and am a member of UIUC's Pre Dental club. In my free time, I love to spend time with friends, talk about music, and go thrifting. I also love traveling and seeing new places. A fun fact about me is that I've… more

Meet Joel Ryan (he/him)

Hello! My name is Joel Ryan, a junior 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 this 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 teaching as a CHEM… more

Meet Faisal Zaidi (he/him)

Hey everyone! My name is Faisal Zaidi, and I am a senior majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology. I am currently on the pre-med track and hope to pursue a career in Cardiology or Neurology in the future. Currently, I conduct research in Dr. Steven Blanke's Microbiology lab. I am the Director of Philanthropy for the Illini Thaakat Foundation, a member of the McKinley Health Center Student Advisory Board, and a volunteer at the Carle Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic. I think the most impactful activity that I have been involved in so far has been my research lab because it trains you… more

Meet Julie Mathews (she/her)

Hi guys! My name is Julie Mathews and I am a junior majoring in MCB Honors with a minor in Psychology. I intend to pursue a career in health care, and I am specifically interested in pediatrics. On campus, I'm on the executive board for Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-health 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 Anneliese Paton (she/her)

Hi everyone! My name is Anneliese and I am a senior majoring in the MCB Honors Concentration and minoring in Music Performance. I am currently on the pre-med track hoping to pursue an MD/MPH dual degree. I am currently involved in research with Dr. Spinella's lab where we are looking at the molecular mechanisms of cancer therapeutics and chemoresistance in testicular cancer. Outside of the classroom, I am involved in a lot of activities on campus including: Block I/Illini Pride which is the group that organizes the card stunts at the Illini football games; Alpha Phi Omega, a volunteer… more

Meet Shreya Rao (she/her)

Hi everyone! My name is Shreya Rao, and I will be a senior. I am a pre-med MCB Honors major, and am pursuing a minor in Chemistry along with a certification in neuroscience. During the past three years at UIUC, I have been involved with Carle Volunteering and the student organization FIMRC. Through the latter, I have been able to volunteer at the local food pantry and I also aim to help educate children at local schools about hygiene and first aid. Additionally, I will be a project lead at Neurotech, which is a student organization aimed at bridging the gap between neuroscience and… more

Meet Matthew Kim (he/him)

Hi everyone! My name is Matthew Kim and I'm a senior majoring in MCB Honors and minoring in Business and Chemistry. My major involvements on campus include undergraduate research at the Sokac Lab in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. The work we do centers around gaining a better understanding of how structural components of a developing embryo like actin filaments affect later processes like embryogenesis and gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster. I've found my experience in the Sokac Lab to be really fulfilling as I have had the opportunity to get a lot of hands-on… more

Meet Monishaa Murali (she/her)

Hi everyone! My name is Monishaa Murali, and I am a sophomore 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. Over the summer, I've 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 Journal Club Director… more

Meet Andy Nisipeanu (he/him)

My name is Andy Nisipeanu and I am majoring in MCB in the honors concentration. On campus I play the oboe in the UIUC Wind Orchestra and have also been in the Philharmonia. I am involved in research in Martha Gillette's lab. Our main research goal is to understand the signals that engage the circadian clockwork in the brain, sub-cellular microenvironments that shape neuronal dendrites in development and repair, and emergent behaviors of integrated neuronal systems. I also work in the MCB lab prep staff for MCB 101 and MCB 301. We help make sure the microbiology labs are prepared before… more

Meet Will Reiser (he/him)

Hello everyone! My name is Will Reiser. I am a senior majoring in the MCB Honors Concentration. As a fourth generation Illini, I bleed orange and blue! I am on the pre-M.D. track, and I hope to focus on clinical medicine and healthcare disparities in my future career. On campus, I am the Vice President of Block I, as well as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Brooke's virology lab. In the lab, I work with the influenza A viral cycle as well as bioinformatics. I love learning new things, and I enjoy broadening my horizons in many different topics, from coding to playing the piano. I enjoy… more

Meet Emily Davis (she/her)

Hello! My name is Emily Davis, and I am a junior majoring in MCB Honors. I am also a LAS James Scholar and would be glad to answer any questions or give advice about the point system. My long-term goal is to do research, so I am currently participating in undergraduate research in Dr. de Mejia's lab. We primarily work with legumes and pulses to study various bioactive proteins and how those proteins affect the health of different kinds of cells, such as through the level of cholesterol, inflammation, and lipogenesis. Even though I'm a junior, I'm still exploring my nonacademic interests… more

Meet Jacqui Nguyen (she/her)

Hi everyone! My name is Jacqui and I am a junior majoring in MCB with an Honors Concentration and minoring in Philosophy. Entering college during the pandemic was not an easy transition for me, but I am grateful for the people I have met within and outside of the MCB department who have helped along the way. On campus, I am a staff writer for the Features section of The Daily Illini where I write stories about events and organizations in the Champaign-Urbana community. I am also a graduate chair for a premedical fraternity and a project director for Volunteer Illini Projects. I am… more

Meet Zainab (Zee) Umardeen (she/her)

Hello everyone! My name is Zainab, but many people call me Zee. I am a senior majoring in MCB Honors concentration with a minor in Psychology. I am on the pre-med track. I recently started as an undergraduate researcher in the BAGCHI laboratory where I will be helping with the histology and investigation of hormone signaling mechanisms during implantation and early placentation which are related to pregnancy failure and infertility. I work in the MCB prep staff and prepare solutions and chemicals for MCB labs. Simultaneously, I work as a CNA - monitoring and caring for patients On campus,… more

Meet Leena Lukose

Hi everyone! My name is Leena Lukose and I am a senior double majoring in MCB and Psychology with a minor in Chemistry on the premed track. I am concentrating in Behavioral Neuroscience in Psychology while also gaining the Neuroscience certificate in MCB. I deeply enjoy and value gaining clinical healthcare experiences. I have been a Phlebotomist/EKG tech at Christie Clinic for over a year while also a Medical Assistant at OSF OnCall Urgent Care! Both experiences have connected me to the Champaign-Urbana community and provided me with a platform to… more

Meet Joey O'Brien (he/him)

Hey everyone! My name is Joey O'Brien, and I'm a junior in MCB pursuing a certificate in microbiology. I am also on the pre-med track. I transferred to UIUC for my sophomore year from another four-year institution where I spent my freshman year. I currently work as an undergraduate research assistant at the National Soybean Research Laboratory here on campus. I work under a USDA researcher studying plant pathology, specifically the effects of insects called aphids on soybean plants. I love this lab because it is out of my comfort zone and yet I have applied many techniques that I've… more

Meet Emily Tung (she/her)

Hey everyone! My name is Emily Tung, and I'm a junior majoring in MCB and minoring in computer science and chemistry. My career goal is to become a physician-scientist. I conduct research in the UIUC Comparative Bioscience department, investigating the roles of hnRNPI/PTBP1 under Wenyan Mei. Outside of class and research, I volunteer as a Carle Student Leader and Champaign County Christian Health Center Hospitality Volunteer/Fundraising Associate. Outside of academics, I like to cook, spend time with friends, and exercise (running, biking, etc.).  I remember how exciting and confusing… more

Meet Angela Cabrera (she/her)

Hi all! My name is Angela Cabrera and I am currently a senior on the Pre-Med track, majoring in MCB Honors and minoring in Psychology. I also came from a small high school, with a graduating class of 23 students! As a freshman, I didn't know if I truly wanted to become a doctor--the whole process was too daunting, especially because I thought I had to navigate through college by myself. However, I was soon relieved to know that I was never alone! I joined many RSOs, found guidance from mentors and advisors, and was welcomed into the supportive MCB community. My courses, campus involvements… more

Meet Grace Home (she/her)

Hey everyone! My name is Grace Homa, and I am a senior majoring in the MCB Honors Concentration and minoring in Chemistry. I am part of the Connect Lab assisting Dr. Sepideh Sadaghiani on a simultaneous EEG fMRI study. Along with my academics, I enjoy serving the community. I work as an EMT on an ambulance for Advanced Medical Transport in Champaign-Urbana and Peoria. I am also a volunteer tutor for Parkland's Project READ Program, which provides free tutoring to adult learners who seek to improve their basic reading, writing, math, and English skills.  I am a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta… more

Meet Amelia (Ji Ji) Steinlein (she/her)

Hi everyone! My name is Amelia but most of my friends and family know me as Ji Ji! I am a senior majoring in MCB Honors and minoring in psychology. On campus, I am involved in undergraduate research through Dr. Rachel Whitaker's microbiology lab where I work with Pseudomonas aeruginosa in both a bench and bioinformatic approach. I am also an active member in Beta Psi Omega, a professional biology fraternity, and Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity. This past spring semester, I studied abroad in Stockholm, Sweden through an MCB abroad program and was able to receive advanced MCB… more

Meet Sarah McGowan (she/her)

Hi, y'all! I'm Sarah, a senior majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology. I was born and raised in Naperville, Illinois. After graduation, I hope to pursue a Master of Science in a Pathologists' Assistant program. I never knew how amazing UIUC was until my first visit when I was a junior in high school; I absolutely fell in love with this place. My excitement grew when I learned about the MCB program here - clear, unique, and fascinating. I couldn't wait to take classes about microbiology, pathology, and immunology. On campus, I'm involved in the Student Alumni Ambassadors and will be on… more

Meet Vani Sharma (she/her)

Hi Everyone! My name is Vani Sharma. I am a sophomore majoring in the MCB Honors Concentration and minoring in Public Health on the pre-med track. On campus, I am the President & Co-Founder of Positive PreMeds, an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta Preprofessional Medical Fraternity, Outreach Chair for the Foundation for International Medical Relief, Graphics/PR Chair for MannMukti, a member of the American Medical Women's Association, and an LAS Honors Peer Mentor. Additionally, I have worked as a personal care assistant with Beckwith Residential… more

Meet Edward Andrews (he/him)

Hello!  I am Edward Andrews, a third-year pre-medicine student majoring in MCB Honors with a certificate in microbiology and a minor in chemistry.  On campus, I am passionate about research and currently work in Dr. Whitaker's laboratory, where I study the mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance.  This past year, we examined several E. coli samples isolated from pigs on a farm to gain insight into how AMR genes spread throughout a population.  Previously, I worked for several years at USDA NCAUR in Peoria under Dr. Behle and Mrs. Goett.  With a focus on crop bioprotection, I assisted in the… more

Meet Arman Sandhu (he/him)

Hey everyone! My name is Arman, and I will be a senior majoring in MCB and minoring in Disability Studies on the pre-med track. I do research with Dr. Laura Rice in a Kinesiology lab on a project called Find-Wheels where we designed an app to detect falls for wheelchair and scooter users. I also work as a personal assistant for residents at Beckwith Residential where I help disabled residents with activities of daily living, something I really enjoy since I have become close friends with most of the residents there. I will be co-director of the Pharmacy Department at the local free health… more

Meet Shreya Jeyakumar (she/her)

Hi! My name is Shreya Jeyakumar and I am senior majoring in MCB and minoring in Informatics. I am super involved in volunteering and working in healthcare, research in bioinformatics fields, and working in community service/public health projects. A fun fact about me is that I have a dog named Sherlock.

Meet Shivang Bhaskar (he/him)

Hey everybody! My name is Shivang and I am a junior in MCB Honors. I am the Vice President of Programs on the Illini Union Board, which is an organization that plans and hosts events for students from all over campus. I am also a site supervisor in the Illini Mentoring Program, which is a program for university students to mentor elementary school students in the Champaign-Urbana community. Additionally, 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-… more

Meet Abdullah Mubarik (he/him)

Hello everyone! My name is Abdullah Mubarik. I am a senior majoring in the MCB Honors Concentrations with a minor in Chemistry. I am on the pre-med track and hope to be a cardiologist in the future. During the school year and over the summer, I research at the Mitchell Lab, a chem-bio lab. My research is focused on the discovery and characterization of RiPPs, or post-translationally modified peptides. Since I thoroughly enjoy chemistry, I hope to pass on my enthusiasm to other students and help them along the way as a Chemistry TA. I am also a board member of the Muslim Student Association… more