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MCB Leaders

Are you new to campus or to the MCB major? Do you want to get your questions answered by an experienced 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 mcbleaders@life.illinois.edu and feel free to request a specific person if someone stands out to you.

Academic Year '17 - '18


Ryan Emmanuel Name: Ryan Emmanuel, President
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology with a certificate in Neuroscience
Minor(s): Business
Hobbies/Activities: I am an undergraduate researcher for the Chen lab. When I am free, I love to play basketball and discover new music. Also, I recently picked up learning the guitar.
Favorite Place to Study: Anywhere that is quiet and has cubicles.
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Zorba's
Why you chose the U of I: I chose UIUC becuase I was undecided about my career path and I knew that if I came to U of I I could change paths and still be in a great program without transferring colleges. Also, I knew that there is a great sense of unity here at UIUC.
Favorite things about MCB: My favorite thing about MCB is that there is so much freedom in choosing advanced courses. Each MCB student can actually come out having a different background in Biology than another. In addition, it is simply amazing to learn about various processes that are always occurring in your body.


Agilda Dema Name: Agilda Dema, Vice President
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB, Psychology
Minor(s): Chemistry
Hobbies/Activities: Aside from performing research at the Beckman Institute and volunteering at Avicenna Medical Clinic, I enjoy traveling, binge-watching Grey's Anatomy, and spending time with family and friends.
Favorite Place to Study: Grainger Engineering Library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Manolo's
Why you chose the U of I: My favorite part about the U of I is the diversity of people. I came from a pretty small high school and people were roughly of the same demographic. At the University of Illinois, I've gained a lot of perspective from the people I've met. I also love the opportunities that are available. You have the ability to get involved in research, get an internship, study abroad, join one (or more) of over 1,400 student organizations, and the list goes on and on. These variety of opportunities allow you to explore the things you're passionate about.
Favorite things about MCB: MCB is a major that allows you to explore biology in greater detail than you have before. I've sat in class before listening in awe about the different factors that contribute to the diversity of an organism. One of the multiple reasons why I picked MCB as my major is because it is very applicable. Professors do a great job relating lectures to relevant topics such as cancer, advancements in medicine, diseases, etc. This applicability is a great asset if you are considering a pre-health track. MCB also provides many opportunities for research. There are a variety of different labs for MCB students so it's not difficult to find a topic that you're interested about.


Terra Scranton Name: Terra Scranton, Secretary
Year in School: Senior
Major: MCB Honors Concentration
Minor(s): Chemistry and Informatics
Hobbies: In my free time, I love to watch Cardinals baseball, play Halo 5 on the Xbox One, watch Netflix/HBO Go/YouTube videos, and play intramural volleyball.
Activities: Secretary for Phi Eta Sigma, President of the James Scholar Student Advisory Board, Secretary for Illini for Alzheimer's, Co-Coordinator for MCB Peer Advisors, Volunteer Research Assistant for Catherine Christian, LAS 122 intern
Favorite Place to Study: Burrill Hall and the ACES Library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Papa Del's
Why you chose the U of I: The faculty and students at the University of Illinois are welcoming, inspiring, and encouraging. You can always find someone with common interests and goals who will push you to succeed. At the same time, you are constantly exposed to a diverse population of people who are innovating and researching in many different fields. The University of Illinois allows me to grow academically and personally every day, in many ways.
Favorite things about MCB: Being able to learn how amazingly fragile the systems and pathways in our bodies are truly gives me an appreciation for life and how delicate it is. I love being able to study in a field where I am constantly learning how our bodies operate and I know that this major is preparing me very well for my future healthcare career goals.


Sneha Adusumilli Name: Sneha Adusumilli
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): MCB Honors and Classics (concentration in Latin)
Minor(s): Chemistry
Hobbies/Activities: I am an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Supriya Prasanth's lab and a volunteer at Carle Foundation Hospital. In my spare time, I enjoy watching TV, keeping up with the news, scrapbooking, card making, and most of all hanging out with my friends.
Favorite Place to Study: Grainger Engineering Library, fourth floor
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: The Courier Cafe
Why you chose the U of I: I chose U of I because of its diverse population of students, its reputation for research, and its ability to cater to the needs of every type of student.
Favorite things about MCB: I enjoy the diversity of students and teachers in MCB a well as the diversity of the curriculum itself. The MCB major allows students to explore many different fields which build upon similar foundations of information. Whether you are interested in scientific research, medicine, or a career in industry, studying MCB can provide many benefits. Additionally, the emphasis on problems affecting humans and the dynamic nature of the subject keep the topics in MCB exciting.


Sai (Sri) Kondabattula Name: Sai (Sri) Kondabattula
Major: MCB Honors, business minor
Year: Senior
Hobbies/Activities:Playing my violin and creating my own covers/compositions from the diverse genres of music that I have been collecting for about 10 years. I personally enjoy a nice game of badminton and regularly play tough matches with my mom, an ex-superstar in badminton herself!
Favorite Place to Study: Illini Union Computer Lab
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana:Basil Thai
Why I Chose the U of I:Great education and amazing "work hard, play hard" attitude. I used to live in Illinois a long time ago and when I moved out, I knew in my mind that U of I could be a school that I would have no hesitations of attending. And sure enough, here I am!
Favorite thing about MCB: The enthusiastic professors and the mighty relevant course curricula (for tests like the MCAT). Also, the diverse and dynamic student body. I would say MCB has taught me to approach key technical courses (i.e. biochemistry and cell biology classes) with a more analytic, critical thinking sort of perspective rather than just rote memorization.


Eddy AguilarName: Eddy Aguilar
Year in School: Senior
Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Minor: Spanish 
Hobbies/Activities: I enjoy spending time with friends and going to the gym whenever I can. I enjoy watching many sports, with Barcelona being my favorite soccer team. I enjoy actively serving the Champaign-Urbana community through volunteering efforts with my fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon.
Favorite Place to Study: Empty rooms in Lincoln or English Building 
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Bangkok Thai - can’t go wrong
Why you chose the U of I: Being somewhat far away from home, with the opportunity to become more independent really caught my eye. I also wanted to go somewhere that could both challenge me but also give me the opportunity to enjoy the college life and make great memories. Another thing was the diversity that would allow me to meet people with distinct backgrounds and cultures. 
Favorite things about MCB: I chose MCB because of how challenging and beneficial many claimed it to be. I wanted a challenge so that I could better prepare myself for the career I wanted, and to strengthen my reasoning and problem solving skills. Also, MCB puts emphasis on how if one truly wants to understand something, they must start from the smallest detail then work there way up, microscopically to macroscopically. 


Mary CasagrandeName: Mary Casagrande
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology
Minor(s): Chemistry and Political Science
Hobbies/Activities: I enjoy movies, being with family and friends, and am on the executive board for the Chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma.
Favorite Place to Study: The Union
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Sakanaya
Why you chose the U of I: I loved the campus and all of the opportunities that I could get here!  Plus, it isn't too far from home.
Favorite things about MCB: All of the research possibilities and all of the different ways that microorganisms can evolve.  It is so interesting to me how these really complex systems can achieve so much, and they have only arisen from the process of evolution!


Andrea ColinName: Andrea Colin
Year in School: Senior
Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Minor: Spanish
Hobbies/Activities: I love to play sports! I am the VP for club basketball team here at Illinois and I am currently training for a full marathon. I also do a lot of puzzles, crafts, and watch a lot of movies! Over breaks, I enjoy traveling to different countries and experiencing different cultures. I even studied abroad in Peru for one summer! 
Favorite place to study: I like to study in Loomis because there is a lot of natural light!
Favorite Restaurant on campus: Mia Zas
Why I chose Illinois: I wanted to go to a big school with a lot of opportunities. From clubs and events to classes and career opportunities, there are so many options for students here. My favorite part about UIUC is that even though we have 40,000 students here, each one has a unique experience. 
Favorite thing about MCB: All of the courses we get to take! When you get to your junior and senior year you get to choose between amazing advanced classes including cancer cell biology, developmental biology, neuroscience, pathology and more! 


Martin MalikName: Martin Malik
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology
Minor(s): Chemistry
Hobbies/Activities: Tennis, soccer, skiing
Favorite Place to Study: Grainger library
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Cafe bene
Why you chose the U of I: Simply because U of I is a great school! There are lots of exciting classes and research opportunities available for students here. Outside of class, U of I has a lot to offer from sports clubs, to RSO's, and Greek life. I knew there would always be something to keep me busy.
Favorite things about MCB: Although it can be challenging at times, the MCB program has excellent professors and academic advisors that help students along every stretch of the way.


Diana MasolakName: Diana Masolak
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology
Minor(s): Spanish
Hobbies/Activities: I really love cooking international foods and finding new recipes. I am also very into running/weightlifting, serving on the executive board of my sorority, and the immunology research I am involved in.
Favorite Place to Study: Empty classrooms, usually in the Armory!
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Dos Reales - and the fajitas. 
Why you chose the U of I: On my first visit I felt like the faculty really personally wanted me to enjoy my day here, and their love for the school was obvious. I could see myself in the shoes of the students I spoke with and I had not felt that way at any other university. 
Favorite things about MCB: Constantly being challenged to think outside of the box always keeps my attention in class, as well as vibrant professors who show me how all of the fascinating processes in our bodies work together to keep us alive. Biology is a field where new information is constantly being discovered and being a part of that is an incredible feeling. 


Aeshaa PathakName: Aeshaa Pathak
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology (certificate in neuroscience)
Minor(s): Chemistry
Hobbies/Activities: I am an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Tsai’s lab and a volunteer at Carle Hospital and Avicenna Medical Clinic. I’m also working on starting my new RSO, Medical Mentors! When I have time to spare, I enjoy spending time with my friends, binge watching shows on Netflix, and trying new restaurants in the area. 
Favorite Place to Study: President’s Lounge 
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: The Himalayan Chimney 
Why you chose the U of I: I chose the U of I because it forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I come from a pretty small high school so coming here was nerve wrecking, but so worth it! There are so many opportunities to grow here- from both a personal and professional standpoint.
Favorite things about MCB:. My favorite thing about being an MCB major is how diverse the curriculum is. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just 4 years of biology. By the time you graduate, you will have learned psychology, sociology, physics, organic chemistry, and much more! On top of that, I’ve always had time each semester to take a class that interests me outside of the sciences such as philosophy, law, art, dance, etc.


Jennifer RodriguezName: Jennifer Rodriguez
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology Honors
Minor(s): Psychology 
Hobbies/Activities: I’m an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Spinella’s lab and a Chemistry Merit TA. I am a member of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity and a SHP educator. In my spare time, I enjoy drawing, baking, watching movies, and spending time with my friends.
Favorite Place to Study: Grainger Library or friend’s dorm lounge
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Sakanaya
Why you chose the U of I: I chose U of I because of the opportunities this university presents. I knew this university would help prepare me for the career I chose. There are plenty of resources on campus one can take advantage of. It also was not too far from home but just right where I needed it to be in order to step out of my comfort zone. 
Favorite things about MCB: I love that MCB challenges me. I look forward to learning everything this major has to offer. MCB never fails to astonish me because it is a field where new knowledge is constantly being brought to light. For this reason, there is always an opportunity to learn something new. 


AJ ThomasName: AJ Thomas
Year in School: Senior
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology
Minor(s): Chemistry
Hobbies/Activities: I really enjoy going on motorcycle rides with my roommates, watching movies in our apartment theater we built, and going to the gym.  I also actively participate in IEMS, which allows me to work all events on campus and grow as a healthcare provider.
Favorite Place to Study: Beckman Institute
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Kofusion
Why you chose the U of I: I chose U of I for the availability and opportunity.  There are so many great resources throughout the university that allow you to do whatever you choose whether it be research, intramurals, or clubs.  Within all these clubs, there is a lot of room for personal and professional growth allowing you to leave school as a better, more well rounded person.
Favorite things about MCB: My favorite thing about MCB is the vast amount of information that continues to grow.  There is always opportunity to learn something new and the professors that teach are enthusiastic to present this newfound information to you.


Danica VendiolaName: Danica Vendiola
Year in School: Junior
Major(s): Molecular and Cellular Biology Honors
Minor(s): Spanish Language
Hobbies: In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with my friends and family, catching up on my Netflix movies or TV shows, baking, and playing the alto saxophone.
Activities: I'm an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Llano's lab. I'm a resident assistant at Busey-Evans Residence Hall, a member of Philippine Student Association as well as Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity. 
Favorite Place to Study: Grainger Library or in the lobby of Busey-Evans
Favorite Restaurant in Champaign/Urbana: Azzip Pizza
Why you chose the U of I: My sister graduated from UIUC, so when it was my turn I was already biased and knew I wanted to go to U of I! Aside from that, I knew that the University's plethora of resources was going to help me grow as a student. Going into my third year now, I've met the most amazing people who have shaped me and helped me through every trial and tribulation that I have faced. I have no regrets!
Favorite things about MCB: How challenging it is; the courses I've been taking as an MCB major have truly challenged me and help me become a dynamic student - I love the rewarding feeling from doing well in such rigorous courses, knowing that I've put all my effort into each class. Additionally, I'm so appreciative of my classmates and professors who I've met along the way