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2014 Honor Society Inductees Q-S

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Alyssa Savarino

Alyssa SavarinoAlyssa has been interested in science since a young age, participating in a number of science fairs in elementary and middle school.  Her first experience with research at the Naval Medical Research Center in high school left her wanting more from the sciences.  She began her undergraduate research in a Molecular Biology lab as a freshman at Wesleyan University.  Aside from research, Alyssa swam for Wesleyan’s Varsity Swim Team for four years, served as captain for the women’s team her senior year, was a teaching assistant for the organic chemistry labs, tutored local high school students in the sciences and math, and volunteered at the local hospital in Middletown.  During this past summer, she studied abroad in South Africa focusing on global health issues.  

Alyssa will be staying at Wesleyan for another year to complete her Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry studying an epigenetic problem in the olfactory system.  Her undergraduate and master’s research will culminate with a thesis on the characterization of lysine-specific demethylase 1 in olfactory sensory neurons investigating whether this enzyme is a potential epigenetic regulator with a role in the differentiation of olfactory receptors.  Her involvement in the UAN led her to the ASBMB Annual Conference in 2013 where she met a number of interesting scientists that confirmed her desire to pursue research in her career.  After finishing her master’s at Wesleyan, Alyssa hopes to enroll in an MD/PhD program to become a physician-scientist specializing in pediatrics and genetics.  


Naomi Schwartz

Naomi SchwartzNaomi Schwartz has been passionate about science since preschool when she would skip naptime to watch science shows like the Magic School Bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy with her older cousins. Now a Molecular and Cellular Biology major at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University, Naomi has been able to pursue her passion without having to pretend that she is napping. As the president of Stern’s Biology Club and the founder and chapter leader of Yeshiva University’s UAN chapter, Naomi hopes to spread her appreciation of Biology to the general student body, and to provide opportunities for students to stimulate their intellectual curiosity and professional growth. Naomi is also the vice president of Yeshiva University’s Student Holocaust Education club because she believes that it is important that the memory of the Holocaust is not lost with the last of its survivors. 

Naomi enjoys participating in science outreach and does so through Yeshiva University’s Project START! elementary school science outreach club and through New York Cares “For the Love of Science!” events. She also enjoys volunteering at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City where she visits hospice patients weekly. After graduation, Naomi plans on applying to medical school and hopes to become a doctor.  


Nickie Seto

Nickie SetoNickie’s interest in science began the summer of her junior year in high school in the Yan laboratory studying the Tus-Ter binding complex where she realized the value of biochemical techniques in understanding her surroundings.   

Currently, Nickie is in Dr. Randy Bogan’s reproductive physiology laboratory studying the molecular mechanisms controlling genes and proteins involved in the uptake and efflux of cholesterol in the corpus luteum. The goal of the laboratory is to understand and reduce the large number of pregnancies that are lost due to inappropriate regression of the ovarian corpus luteum during early pregnancy, as well as investigating the links between ovarian processes and coronary heart disease risk factors. As a part of her biology major, Nickie is also writing a senior thesis on the research she did this past summer in Japan focusing on the effect of polyphenol concentration within sawtooth oak leaves on the feeding selection of Japanese giant flying squirrels.

Outside of research, she enjoys hiking, biking, spending time with friends, and listening to music. Nickie is also an ambassador for the Chemistry and Biochemistry department, the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department, the College of Science, and the Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP). For most of these activities, scientific outreach is an important aspect. One of the UBRP ambassador’s recent activities includes airing weekly on a local radio station in a segment entitled “The Thesis.” After graduation, Nickie plans to pursue an MD/PhD in Biochemistry. 


Commodore St. Germain

Commodore St. GermainCommodore has always been interested in science since he was very young. His parents bought him a beginner's microscope kit when he was 4 years old and he was hooked ever since. His mother regretted it at first because Commodore used to ask her all the time to take him to the park so he could get pond water to put in his slides. A few years later, he asked for a telescope and was very happy to get one for Christmas. Now many years later, Commodore is graduating Magna Cum Laude from San Francisco State University with a BS in biochemistry and a BA in chemistry. He is very excited to be starting the BMCDB program at UC Davis in the fall. After graduate school, he hopes to work in academia where he can pursue the research he enjoys while mentoring new scientists. UAN has been a great experience as it has connected Commodore with other young scientists and with veterans of the scientific community that have helped him along his path to where he is now. He hopes the opportunity presents itself for him to return the favor to other new scientists.


Sophia Stone

Sophia StoneSophia Stone, 20, is a senior at Mary Baldwin College in the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted. Her early academic interests were in psychology, but as she developed interests in the biochemical bases of human—and ultimately neurological—behavior, she added majors in biology and chemistry to her psychology degree. 

Her first research project (studying the acquisition of neuron-like traits in prostate cancer cells with Dr. Paul Deeble) sparked her interest in a research career. Currently her work in his lab aims to evaluate the role of an antimicrobial peptide in prostate cancer. In her psychology research, Sophia is working with Dr. Louise Freeman to characterize neural sexual dimorphism in the Asian musk shrew, and she has also been responsible for the caretaking of the shrew colony at MBC since her freshman year.

Outside the lab, Sophia is likely to be found miles from campus running the hills of the Shenandoah Valley. Athletic competition has been an important part of her undergraduate experience and has earned her honors as a two-time All-American in NCAA DIII cross country. An avid runner, Sophia has even taken her running to the lab, studying exercise in a rat model as part of a summer project under Dr. Kathleen Curtis.

Sophia plans to enter a Ph.D. program in neuroscience with the intention of pursuing a career in academic biomedical research. She hopes to lead a research team one day that emphasizes interdisciplinary efforts and instills a passion in students for scientific research.