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MCB Leaders

Are you new a prospective UIUC student, new to campus or to the MCB major? Do you have questions to ask experienced MCB upperclassman? 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 major. 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! Send an email to and feel free to request a specific person if someone stands out to you.

Academic Year '21 - '22

Bianca SavantName:Bianca Savant - President
Year in School:Senior
Major(s):MCB Honors Concentration
Hobbies/Activities:Music and volunteering
Favorite Place to Study:Starbucks at the Illini Union
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:DP Dough
Why you chose the U of I:The U of I is an incredibly large and diverse school. In my two years here I've met so many people with varying backgrounds, which has pushed and expanded my own perspectives. There are also so many opportunities for research, RSOs, and internships, which are even available to underclassmen. There are always events going on on campus and there are so many ways to get involved with the community and grow both academically and personally.
Favorite things about MCB:I love how the MCB major focuses both on equipping you with the proper skills and knowledge to be successful in biology-related fields, but also focuses on the application and technological aspects of science. There are also so many concentrations and elective classes that you can explore based on your personal interests in biology. And the professors are phenomenal!

Muskaan SawhneyName:Muskaan Sawhney - Vice President
Year in School:Senior
Major(s):MCB Honors Concentration
Minor(s):Chemistry and Psychology
Hobbies/Activities:I am an Executive Manager for Enactus, a Social Entrepreneurship organization, President of Delta Kappa Delta Service Sorority, and I work as a OMSA tutor. When on campus, I also volunteer in the Emergency Dept at Carle and am a research assistant in Dr. Holscher's Nutrition and Human Microbiome lab. To relax, I love to sing or listen to broadway music, listen to the podcast This American Life, watch Grey's Anatomy on repeat, or drink boba.
Favorite Place to Study:The Starbucks near Merry Ann's Diner or Tsaooca on 6th St.
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Bangkok Thai
Why you chose the U of I:As an out of state student, I felt UIUC was worth the distance. I wanted to be able to pave my own path with clubs and classes that matched my interests and the variety and options at UIUC allowed me to do just that. Additionally, the rigorous environment here is one where faculty and peers push each other to be our best selves. Here, your college experience is whatever you want to make out of it and that freedom is empowering.
Favorite things about MCB:The opportunities and vast amount of knowledge that MCB provides is a rigorous and rewarding experience. I learnt how to not memorize, but understand and apply the knowledge to any setting. The classes cover such a broad range of topics in such depth that you are bound to find a bio topic that interests you. Pairing classes with seminars, research, and workshops helped me further explore my classroom interests and connect them to my goals.

Imadh KhanName:Imadh Khan - Secretary
Year in School:Senior
Hobbies/Activities:I love tennis, ping pong, hiking, reading, and watching movies with my friends!
Favorite Place to Study:Business Instructional Facility (BIF) and Everitt
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Bangkok Thai
Why you chose the U of I:I chose this school for several reasons: the closeness to home, the quality education, and the large variety of activities and student organizations available. Coming in I knew this meant I would be able to find the right place for me surrounded by people that have similar goals and interests to me. Thankfully I can say UIUC has not disappointed me!
Favorite things about MCB:I enjoy MCB for the challenge it presents and the content we learn. Being pre-med my main interest has always been biology, even through high school, so MCB was a natural choice for me. And by being in the rigorous MCB academic environment I've learned a lot about time management and studying techniques so I could have time for other fun things on campus!

Maaz HajiName:Maaz Haji - Treasurer
Year in School:Senior
Major(s):MCB Honors Concentration
Hobbies/Activities:Card Magic & Cardistry
Favorite Place to Study:Grainger Library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Bangkok Thai
Why you chose the U of I:I chose the University of Illinois because I knew that they had a great biology program that would eventually prove to be very relevant to me and my career goals as a physician. Additionally, being part of a huge student body would provide me with access to many resources and opportunities that I otherwise may not have had!
Favorite things about MCB:One of my favorite things about the MCB major is that it first allows students to learn the many fundamental concepts of molecular biology and then gives them the freedom to pick the courses that they are most interested in. The MCB major also has excellently integrated undergraduate research into their program by allowing students to not only get the experience of being in a research lab but also get course credit as well!

Angela CabreraName:Angela Cabrera - Social Outreach Chair
Year in School:Junior
Major(s):MCB Honors Concentration
Hobbies/Activities:I am a member of the International Medical Fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon, a past board member of the Philippine Student Association, and a member of the Vietnamese 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:Everitt Laboratory and UGL
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!

Fiza BukhariName:Fiza Bukhari
Year in School:Senior
Hobbies/Activities:On campus, I'm president of the Avicenna Community Health Center RSO and am assistant chief-editor for a student-run neuroscience journal called "Brain Matters." I also work as an intake volunteer at the Avicenna Community Health Center off campus. Outside of class, working out helps me relax and maintain my obsession for ice cream and sushi!
Favorite Place to Study:Grainger Engineering Library and Caffe Bene
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Sakanaya
Why you chose the U of I:I chose UIUC because of its biology curriculum - I love how the university distinguishes MCB from IB! While applying to colleges I knew I wanted to be pre-med and learn biology on a microscopic scale rather than studying bigger topics like population genetics and environmental science. Nonetheless, even if I had a change of heart for the pre-med profession, I would still have great, alternative options and support at my fingertips.
Favorite things about MCB:The MCB major is structured so that intro classes cover broad topics with much depth. Gradually, classes become more niche so students can delve into their topics of interest. MCB is also quite versatile. The distinction between MCB and IB initially attracted me to UIUC but I was pleasantly surprised by how much MCB is applicable to IB material, and other fields! The MCB major offers many resources and support for its students.

Laura KilikeviciusName:Laura Kilikevicius
Year in School:Senior
Minor(s):Food Science
Hobbies/Activities:I'm a research assistant in Dr. Robinson's lab and am the Chief Editor of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Journal at UIUC. I also serve on the executive board of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Society, am a member of Bioscience Journal Club, and in the fall, I continue my role as an Orientation Leader. In my free time I like to ride my bike, learn fun facts about random things, and spend time with friends.
Favorite Place to Study:The Undergraduate Library (UGL) or ACES Library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Bangkok Thai
Why you chose the U of I:I chose UIUC mainly because of the great opportunities it was able to provide with research and the MCB program! The big campus and amount of support from staff and students also drew me in, and I love meeting new people and finding ways to get involved. Despite the size of the school. UIUC has become a home for me over these past few years and I'm very happy I came here!
Favorite things about MCB:Some of My favorite things about being in MCB are that it's great for getting the knowledge you need/want to succeed in the future. The professors and advisors are very helpful with questions you have and the community for MCB is something I'm really glad to be a part of. There's a broad range of topics covered that will help you understand more of how the world works.

Ivie OsagiedeName:Ivie Osagiede
Year in School:Senior
Minor(s):French and Chemistry
Hobbies/Activities:Traveling, growing plants, watching Netflix, cooking
Favorite Place to Study:Da UGL (Undergraduate Library)
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Burrito King
Why you chose the U of I:There are several reasons why I chose UIUC: it's not too close or too far away from home, it has a distinguished biology program, and it offered me a generous financial aid package. All these factors and more made UIUC the clear choice for me!
Favorite things about MCB:The MCB major has a community of students like no other. We are all tied together by our passion for biology, our common struggles, and our career goals. I appreciate the rigor of MCB courses because each time I get an A, I feel like I actually earned it. I enjoy learning the concepts taught in MCB, and I like impressing people when I tell them my major.

Anneliese PatonName:Anneliese Paton
Year in School:Junior
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.

Will ReiserName:Will Reiser
Year in School:Junior
Major(s):MCB Honors Concentration
Hobbies/Activities:On campus, I am a Block I Executive Chair 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:Burrill Hall
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Wingin' Out
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.

Arman SandhuName:Armand Sandhu
Year in School:Junior
Minor(s):Disability Studies
Hobbies/Activities:On campus, I am involved in Professor Pamela Martinez's lab, work as a personal assistant at Beckwith, and volunteer at Avicenna and Carle. In my free time, I enjoy playing basketball, spike ball, and lifting weights, as well as watching all sorts of Netflix shows and movies.
Favorite Place to Study:Quiet area in UGL
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Seven Saints. My wallet hurts every time but its so worth it.
Why you chose the U of I:I chose UIUC because when I visited during spring break of my senior year, I loved it here. There is a diverse campus in a small college town, which was great to meet new people and grow as an individual. On the academic side, UIUC is known as a great school with many opportunities of Research, volunteering, and other experiences to help students with their future careers.
Favorite things about MCB:Some of my favorite things about MCB is its uniqueness, the students, and the staff. MCB is a unique major that helps prepare its students in all areas of their future careers. The students and staff in MCB are very helpful and nice. They offer good advice and just want to see everyone succeed by being the best version of themselves.

Vraj ShahName:Vraj Shah
Year in School:Senior
Hobbies/Activities:I love watching and playing basketball. Sadly, im better at watching it. I am currently a part of APO( a service fraternity), participate in Professor Best's research lab, and work as an MCB Prep staff!
Favorite Place to Study:My favorite place to study on campus has to be Cafe Bene. It has a great vibe and the drinks are really good!
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:El Toro
Why you chose the U of I:I chose UIUC because of its exceptional education and social life balance. UIUC is a perfect fit for everyone as it offers so many different opportunities for almost every niche. There are countless RSO's and extracurricular activities which you can take part in. UofI is an exceptional school that pushes its students to be great. I am extremely grateful for U of I and all that it has taught me!
Favorite things about MCB:My favorite thing about being an MCB major is the grit and grind that comes with it. As an incoming freshman, I was unsure of what to expect of MCB's rigorous curriculum. Many classes really challenged me and pushed me and sharpened my critical thinking skills. I learned different ways to study that compliment the way I learn. UofI's MCB program is exceptional and fosters future medical professionals, biologists, and professors!

Amelia (Ji Ji) SteinleinName:Amelia (Ji Ji) Steinlein
Year in School:Junior
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!

Zeena ThakkarName:Zeena Thakkar
Year in School:Senior
Hobbies/Activities:I love binging movies on Netflix, playing board games, and listening to music. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I'vee also begun to appreciate spending more of my time outside doing things like painting, eating, or trying my best to kill it in a game of Spike Ball! On campus, I am the social chair of the pre-health fraternity Alpha Epsilon Delta and a member of the Golden Zonta Club. I also enjoy staying connected with the community in as many ways as I possibly can through volunteering.
Favorite Place to Study:Noyes Lab Library (Chemistry)
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Spoon House
Why you chose the U of I:UIUC has a variety of resources offered by the passionate and knowledgeable faculty. Some of these resources include the MCB Advising Office, professor office hours, the Career Center, etc. With such a diverse campus, I’ve come to enjoy the RSOs offered at UIUC. I've met so many like minded individuals! Overall, I chose UIUC because it prepares students for success by providing excellent academic resources and various opportunities!
Favorite things about MCB:I've always had a natural curiosity for biology. The MCB major has allowed me to explore biology at an incredible depth. The rigor of MCB courses have challenged me in the best ways possible and I am grateful. The best part about being an MCB major is the application of MCB coursework to real life. After being in the MCB major, I've begun to appreciate small, natural occurrences, as I recognize the molecules, reactions, and pathways!

Nikki YapName:Nikki Yap
Year in School:Senior
Major(s):MCB and Chemistry
Hobbies/Activities:Illini World Taekwondo President, Phi Chi Pre-Medical Fraternity PR Chair/Member, Stress Management Peers, Philippine Student Association, Asian American Association, Donovan and Mackie Laboratory Undergraduate Student Researcher. Some general likes are kpop, fashion, photography, and baking.
Favorite Place to Study:Architecture Building or Natural History Building
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Too many to choose! Yogi on campus is really good and Star Karaoke and Moki Sushi have pretty great food but they're off campus.
Why you chose the U of I:I chose UIUC because it was far away enough that I was able to grow independently but close enough to be able to see my family whenever I missed them. The huge amount of resources and immense diversity of the people at UIUC is also something that I truly considered when choosing where to go. The vast amount of connections and lasting friendships I've made here is something I will never regret. You make friends that both support and challenge you.
Favorite things about MCB:I love how the MCB major really pinpoints what you need to know very early on in your academic career. Every class builds off the foundations made in your early classes, you never forget what you learned previously. Even better, you have a multitude of people-- professors, advisors, fellow classmates-- who push you to do the best you can while simultaneously celebrating your achievements. MCB is a major that genuinely encourages your success!

Faisal ZaidiName:Faisal Zaidi
Year in School:Junior
Hobbies/Activities:I am the Director of Philanthropy for the Illini Thaakat Foundation and a member of the McKinley Health Center Student Advisory Board. I am involved in research in Dr. Steven Blanke's microbiology lab. When on campus, I volunteer at the Carle Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Clinic. 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:Undergraduate Library (UGL)
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Shawarma Joint
Why you chose the U of I:I chose the University of Illinois because of the plethora of opportunities and resources that are available to its students. With UIUC being such a diverse campus, students can learn from their peers who have different perspectives and experiences. Additionally, every student has the chance to be involved through numerous RSOs.
Favorite things about MCB:My favorite aspect about the MCB curriculum is how invested professors are in helping their students achieve success both inside and outside the classroom. Whichever career path the student chooses, the MCB's curriculum provides excellent preparation and opportunities to its students.