Illinois logo MCB The Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology
MCB Undergraduate Peer Mentoring Program

MCB Undergraduate Peer Mentoring Program

MCB Leaders have started a new initiative to provide MCB and Biology underclassmen the chance to meet with an undergraduate student mentor during fall 2019. Your mentor would be an MCB Leader or MCB Honors student who is a successful junior or senior. You can talk to your mentor about courses, career goals, research, campus activities and organizations and anything that might help you better navigate campus. Please note, this is not intended to replace your advisor, but instead provide you with a friendly, knowledgeable face on campus.

If you are interested in being matched with an undergraduate peer mentor, please fill out this application form by August 23, so we may get a better idea of where your interests lie. We will work on making matches before the start of the new semester and will email you with information about the person you have been matched with.You may select up to 3 MCB mentors of interest in your application. Please look over the mentor bios on our web site before filling out the application form. In the event that we are not able to match you with your chosen mentor, we will provide alternative options based on your responses. After you have been matched with a mentor, you will be introduced through email and you may begin to set up mentoring sessions. While we suggest that you meet with your mentor once or twice a month, you are welcome to contact each other as frequently as you like.

Student Mentor Profiles

Mariam Arif

Mariam ArifMariam is a junior in MCB. She is premed and has worked in Dr. Supriya Prasanth's research lab in cell and developmental biology. Read Mariam's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Mariam's Bio: Hi my name is Mariam! I am a Junior and am majoring in the MCB Honors Concentration. Aside from classes, I enjoy researching the subject of DNA replication in Dr. Supriya Prasanth’s lab. I also like to spend my time volunteering at the local food pantry. Some of my hobbies include running, reading, and playing volleyball with friends!

Shiv Bajaj

Shiv Bajaj

Shiv Bajaj is a junior in MCB. He is interested in medicine and has worked in Dr. Cann’s research lab in MCB. Read Shiv's bio to learn more about what he can offer as a peer mentor.

Shiv's Bio: Hi, everyone! My name is Shiv. I am a Junior double majoring in MCB Honors and Psychology. I'm currently on the pre-med track, and I'm planning on taking a gap year post-graduation. Aside from my MCB and Psych courseload, I enjoy doing research in Dr. Cann's research lab at the Institute for Genomic Biology. Throughout college, I've been heavily involved in volunteering as well. Some of my hobbies include photography, baking, and taking naps. 

Stanley Fayn

Stanley Fayn

Stanley is a junior in MCB. He is premed and has worked in Dr. Dobrucki’s Experimental Molecular Imaging Laboratory at the Beckman Institute. Read Stanley's bio to learn more about what he can offer as a peer mentor.

Stanley's Bio: I am currently a Junior majoring in MCB on the pre-med track. On campus, I am part of MCB student leaders, the Foundation of Medical Relief of Children, and Carle student leaders. Two summers ago, I had the opportunity to do research at Northwestern University, and am currently part of Dr. Dobrucki’s Lab at the Beckman Institute. Also, I went on a global medical and dental brigade trip to Honduras this summer. I enjoy traveling, playing volleyball, listening to music, and reading books.

Megan Furukawa

Megan Furukawa

Megan is a junior in MCB. She is pre-med and has worked in a psychology lab, integrative biology lab, kinesiology lab and is now working in an MCB lab. Read Megan's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Megan's Bio: Currently I am involved in a microbiology lab working in Dr. Cann’s lab, and I am a Chemistry lab TA. I am also an active member of Alpha Phi Omega which is the largest service fraternity on campus. In my free time I enjoy playing tennis with friends and baking! This past summer I interned with Make A Wish Illinois, and next summer I plan to study abroad in Denmark. If you are interested in finding research, I could definitely help you with that since I’ve been a part of multiple labs on campus.

Harshini Gorijala

Harshini Gorijala

Harshini is a sophomore in MCB. She is interested in research as a career choice. Read Harshini's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Harshini's Bio
Hi, my name is Harshini! I am a sophomore majoring in MCB and minoring in Informatics. Outside of class, I am interested in learning more about immunology and bioinformatics. I also like to spend my time volunteering with Unicef, reading, dancing, and spending time with friends and family! 

Anand Haran

Anand Haran

Anand is a junior in MCB. He is premed and has conducted research in bioengineering. Read Anand's bio to learn more about what he can offer as a peer mentor.

Anand's Bio: Throughout my time at U of I, I have gotten the opportunity to engage in different opportunities such as being a medical scribe at Christie Clinic, conducting medical screenings for underserved populations in Champaign through Illini Medical Screening Society, and working in a Bioengineering lab (Experimental Molecular Imaging Lab) at the Beckman Institute as an undergraduate research assistant. Being a medical scribe has provided great clinical experience as I get to accompany the physician in the patient encounter rooms and help document the patient charts. Another awesome experience that I was able to be a part of was a Global Medical and Dental Brigades Trip. On this trip last May, we set up free medical and dental clinics to underserved rural populations in Honduras and engaged in public health projects in various communities. Outside of work/academic settings, I love to play and watch sports (Chicago Bulls and Chicago Bears fan) and hang out with friends. I love playing all types of sports such as basketball, football, soccer, tennis, and even ping pong. I am involved in the Orange Krush Organization, which acts as the student fan section for the University of Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball team as well as a philanthropy organization. I also enjoy working out, running races half marathons (every year I run the Christie Clinic Half Marathon), and teaching myself guitar when I have time!

Ritika Jain

Ritika Jain

Ritika is a junior in MCB. She is premed and has worked in a body composition and nutritional neuroscience lab with Dr. Naiman Khan in Kinesiology. Read Ritika's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Ritika's Bio: Hi everyone! My name is Ritika and I’m a junior double majoring in MCB and Psychology, with a tentative minor in Chemistry. One of my biggest interests is music; I play the guitar and ukulele, and I absolutely love to explore new music and share it with others. I also really enjoy traveling and have visited over 30 countries so far. My other interests (probably the most important) include food, coffee, and puppies. On campus, I’m involved in Be the Match on Campus, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness and registration for the national bone marrow registry. I also am an active member of Phi Delta Epsilon, the international medical fraternity on campus. I love meeting new people, making jokes, and sharing advice, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions! Whether it’s about double majors, graduating early, getting involved, pre-med related, or just how to survive on a day to day basis in college, I’d love to help!

Samrudhi Joshi

Samrudhi Joshi

Sam is a junior. She is premed and has worked in Dr. Supriya Prasanth's research lab in cell and developmental biology. Read Sam's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Sam's Bio: My name is Samrudhi Joshi, but I go by Sam. I am currently a junior in MCB Honors Concentration with a minor in Chemistry and Psych, and I am also on the Pre-med track. When I am not studying or binge-watching Netflix shows, I am involved in the Illini Mentor Program, PhiDE, and FIMRC, and I am also a tutor at Irwin Academics Center. Currently, I am also in Dr. Supriya Prasanth’s Research lab, and this summer, I was given the opportunity to do my own research project regarding RNF126, an E3 ligase that is involved in the ubiquitination of the origin replication complex, through the MCB Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. For fun, I enjoy learning Bharatanatyam, a traditional Indian dance, trying new restaurants, playing badminton, and cooking. Please feel free to contact me for any potential questions you may have about the Pre-Med track, classes, or even different restaurants on campus!

Peter Kolyvas

Peter Kolyvas

Peter is a junior in MCB. He is premed and has worked with Dr. Sayee Anakk's lab in molecular and integrative physiology. Read Peter's bio to learn more about what he can offer as a peer mentor.

Peter's bio: I am a Junior in the MCB Honors Concentration with plans of going to Medical School in the near future. I have been involved in many events and organizations here at UIUC and so I am confident that I can help guide you as you start your college journey. I am currently involved in research in Dr. Anakk’s Molecular and Integrative Physiology Lab, I volunteer my time at Carle Hospital as a Carle Student Leader, and I serve as the Academic Chair of the Pre-health honor society Alpha Epsioln Delta. Additionally, I am involved in the Chemistry React program, Global Medical Brigades, and have completed the Illini Leadership Program. I like to spend my free time with friends, golfing, or watching my favorite shows, “The Office” or “Game of Thrones”. I also love backpacking, traveling, and the outdoors in general. A personal goal of mine is to backpack in every U.S. National Park (only 49 parks to go).

Rahul Maini

Rahul Maini

Rahul is a junior in MCB. He is premed and works in a comparitive biosciences research lab in Veterinary Medicine. Read Rahul's bio to learn more about what he can offer as a peer mentor.

Rahul's Bio: I am a dedicated student on the path to medicine and want to help everyone in MCB reach their fullest potential.I am currently involved with the medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon, AMSA (american medical student association), treasurer of ASBMB, and I work at Dr. Yang's lab at Veternary Medicine Building. I am an MCB honor major which I highly reccommend everyone join to understand how the field of biology is evolving in the current world. Shawna Naidu is the coordinator of this program and has given me critical advice for my path to becoming a medical professional. Besides my extracurricular, I would describe myself as organized, ambitious, and hard working. I love interacting with people and helping them out and if you have any organic chemistry questions I can definitely answer them and give advise on the class a Merit TA for the class. I hope that I will be able to help give an nuture the future MCB major students for the future.

Eleanor Marcet

Eleanor Marcet

Ellie is a junior in MCB. She is premed and has conducted research in Dr. Jie Chen's lab in cell and developmental biology. Read Ellie's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Ellie's Bio: Hello! My name is Ellie Marcet, and I am involved in LAS Leaders, FYCARE, and the student government here on campus. I work in a CDB lab and am pursuing a certificate in Cell and Developmental Biology, as I find concepts such as stem cells and regenerative medicine fascinating! Additionally, I am pursuing a double major in Spanish. I am also a Certified Nursing Assistant, which I enjoy because of the clinical experience it has allowed me to obtain. I am very passionate about women’s rights, particularly when it comes to healthcare administration. Consequently, one of my goals is to work as either a reproductive endocrinologist or as a gynecologist in the future. In my free time, I enjoy training for half marathons and just running in general. I also love to read and drink excessive quantities of coffee, often simultaneously.

Diana Masolak

Diana Masolak

Diana is a senior in MCB. She is premed and has worked in a neuroscience lab, looking at auditory cortex, tracing signals from the SC to IC. Read Diana's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Diana's Bio: A few of my interests include: cooking, snowboarding, hiking, and going to stand-up comedy shows! I also have a big soft spot for traveling and have been to many different countries where I got to experience incredible cultures and people. Besides finishing a Spanish minor, doing research on campus and volunteering at Carle, I had the great experience of being president of my sorority and being part of a pre-medical fraternity. I have gotten to work in several research labs throughout my summers here working in immunology and neuroscience. I have several ideas of what I want to do in medicine but I am currently very interested in Neurology and Psychiatry!

Ashley Mathews

Ashley Mathews

Ashley is a junior in MCB. She is premed and has worked in Dr. Vivian Tang's lab in Cell and Developmental Biology. Read Ashley's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Ashley's Bio: Hi everyone! My name is Ashley, and I am a current junior here at UIUC double majoring in MCB Honors and Psychology with a minor in Chemistry, and I plan on going to medical school in the future in order to become a pediatrician. Some of the RSOs I am a part of here on campus are Phi Delta Epsilon (a professional medical fraternity), The Arts Initiative, Global Medical Brigades, Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children, and I am a Pre-Health Ambassador for the university. I also volunteer at Carle Foundation Hospital (currently in the OB department), was a member of Dr. Vivian Tang’s lab in the department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, and I currently work as a peer advisor for the school of MCB. This past summer, I went on a medical missions trip to Honduras through Global Medical Brigades. Some of my other hobbies include playing musical instruments, binging amazing TV shows like Game of Thrones and Brooklyn 99, and watching basketball (go Bulls!!). If you have any questions about classes, clubs, being pre-med, double majoring, research, medical missions trips, or anything about college in general, feel free to ask me, I’m always happy to help!

Lauren Mazurkiewicz

Lauren Mazurkiewicz

Lauren is a junior in MCB. She is interested in research in industry and will be starting work in Dr. Stadtmueller's lab in biochemistry. Read Lauren's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Lauren's Bio: I am a junior majoring in the MCB Honors Concentration and minoring in German and chemistry. I hope to attend graduate school and pursue a career in pharmaceutical related research. I have been involved in 2 laboratories in the biochemistry department. In my free time, I enjoy playing the flute and am in the University band. I also teach private flute lessons at Urbana High School as a part of the RSO, The Arts Initiative. Some of my other hobbies include running, learning German and playing piano.

Mathias Morales

Mathias Morales

Mathias is a junior in MCB. He is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. and has worked in Dr. Kieffer’s HIV research lab in the department of microbiology. Read Mathias’ bio to learn more about what he can offer as a peer mentor.

Hello! My name is Mathias, and I am a current Junior in the MCB program with a concentration in Microbiology. Eventually, I’d like to become a research professor, so I plan on going into a Ph.D. program following graduation. Currently, I work in Dr. Kieffer’s Lab which works on HIV and it’s interactions with the host immune system. I participated in many research conferences now and have placed at the Illinois Summer Research Symposium. Aside from classes and research, I work closely with The Office of Minority Student Affairs as a science tutor and through their McNair program. I also participate and volunteer in Colleges Against Cancer and work closely with the American Cancer Society. Off the clock, I love to cook, play old video games, and watch a nice movie with some friends. Throughout all of college, I’ve been able to find better ways of organization and learned how to build meaningful relationships. It brings me so much joy to share my experiences in MCB, RSOs, and college life to anyone wanting to learn! 

Isaac Ngo

Isaac Ngo

Isaac is a junior in MCB. He is premed and has worked in Dr. Nguyen's lab in the department of civil engineering. Read Isaac's bio to learn more about what he can offer as a peer mentor.

Isaac's Bio: I'm currently a junior in MCB Honors with a minor in Chemistry! In my free time, I love spending time with my family and friends, especially going out to eat. My favorite foods are sushi and boba. I also like to bake and enjoy photography. On campus, I am an active member in the Vietnamese Student Association, the American Medical Student Association, and Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity. I also work as a private assistant at Beckwith Residential Support Services and am an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Nguyen’s lab in the Department of Civil Engineering. The project we are currently working on studies microbial water content in rural households of Nepal. With that, I had the great opportunity to travel to Nepal this past summer for 2 months, collecting samples and performing water filtration. Academically, I have discovered an aptitude for chemistry, which has helped me do well in my MCB classes that often integrate core chemistry topics. I also consider myself a very approachable and caring person, so I am always available to listen and help others talk through whatever is concerning them. With a prior history of tutoring both in high school and college, I find being a mentor/advisor a very rewarding experience.

Zach Sanders

Zach Sanders

Zach is a senior in MCB. He is a transfer student and plans to pursue a career in medicine. Read Zach's bio to learn more about what he can offer as a peer mentor.

Zach's Bio:Just a little bit about myself, I attended Eastern Illinois University for a couple years before joining the Illinois Air National Guard. After training for nearly a year with the Air Force, I transferred here to the University of Illinois. I have been here for a year and have been heavily involved with Illini EMS, or IEMS. IEMS is an organization that staffs sporting or Krannert events with EMTs, provides CPR courses, and holds an EMT course each semester. During my free time, I enjoy riding my motorcycle, going to the gym, and hanging out with friends.

Santosh Sudhakar

Santosh Sudhakar

Santosh is a junior in MCB. He is premed and works in Dr. K. V. Prasanth's lab in cell and developmental biology. Read Santosh's bio to learn more about what he can offer as a peer mentor.

Santosh's Bio: Hello, my name is Santosh Sudhakar, a Junior who is double majoring in MCB Honors and Chemistry. I have worked as an undergraduate research assistant in K.V. Prasanth Laboratory for 1.5 years, where I study study specific long non-coding RNA’s effects on targeted metabolic pathways and oncogenic-related processes. I work as a medical scribe at OSF-HMMC emergency department, where I assist medical providers by preforming all clerical aspects of their job. I have previously worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Heartland Healthcare, where I assisted those residents unable to independently preform Activities of Daily Living. Since my very first week of college, I have been actively involved in MEDLIFE, a service-oriented organization that works to empower low-income individuals worldwide. I am Executive of Research Studies for Helix, an undergraduate-focused research organization, where I help develop research projects done solely by undergraduates. Aside from these and other activities, I have a variety of hobbies and interests which are an important part of my life. I enjoy reading history and philosophy from a variety of times, and love discussing these topics with other people. Besides these outside academic interests, I enjoy playing tennis and chess whenever possible. My favorite movie is “A Beautiful Mind”, and my favorite TV shows are Friends, Frasier, West Wing, and I Love Lucy. These are just a few of the many things which describe me as a person.

Jasmine Thakkar

Jasmine Thakkar

Jasmine is a junior in MCB. She is premed and has worked in Dr. Mary Flaherty's Speech Recogniton Lab in Speech and Hearing Science. Read Jasmine's bio to learn more about what she can offer as a peer mentor.

Jamine's Bio: Hi guys I’m Jasmine! I’m currently on a pre-med track, majoring in MCB and minoring in Speech and Hearing Science. I’m not completely sure what kind of doctor I want to be but as of now I’m interested in neuro-otology or infectious disease. On campus, I'm the volunteering chair for Alpha Epsilon Delta a pre-health fraternity, a member of Alpha Phi Omega the largest service fraternity at UIUC, and I’m on the executive board of the REACT chemistry outreach program. I do a lot of volunteering on and off campus including medically related things as well as some other fun opportunities. If you're interested in finding places to volunteer long-term or anything of that sort I'd be happy to help! Aside from all of that, I’m a really big foodie, so I love trying new things and going to new restaurants. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about adjusting to college, finding volunteering opportunities, how to go about getting non-MCB research, or just want some advice for how to building your graduate school or professional school applications in general!