Current IMSD Undergraduate Scholars


Michelle Boamah

Bio coming soon.                                                                  

Gustavo Borjas

Gustavo J. Borjas is a 3rd-year student born in Venezuela and raised in Orlando, Florida. He is currently pursuing a double major in biophysics and biology at the college. He has been a research assistant in the Finzi lab for the past two years. His current research is in modeling Transcriptional DNA regulation through physical and computational methods such as atomic force microscopy and machine learning. Gustavo plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. to shift his research focus to translational medicine.

Brianna Brown

Brianna Brown’s hometown is Powder Springs, Ga. She has presented at both the Emory SURE Symposium (2018) as well as the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (2018). Currently, she conducts research in the Cell Biology Department up under the direction of Dr. Ken Moberg and Dr. Anita Corbett. Her project currently focuses on an RNA-binding protein that has been linked to an intellectual disability and its role in Dosage Compensation Pathway genes.

Lucas Encarnacion-Rivera

Lucas is currently a third-year neuroscience major in the college originally from Worcester MA. His primary research interests are in the cellular and physiological mechanisms of neurons. Despite this interest, he has taken the ‘scenic route’ through neuroscience research; investigating topics ranging from ion channel physiology, to computational and behavioral neuroscience. Currently, his work in the Hartzell lab in the department of cell biology deals with developing computational methods to automate analysis of muscle histology and investigating the role of a phospholipid scramblase in myoblast fusion.

Liz Enyenhihi

Liz Enyenihi is a junior from Knoxville, TN who is majoring in Chemistry. She has been working in the lab of Dr. Anita Corbett since her freshman year where she studies the RNA exosome, a protein complex that processes and degrades many classes of RNA. The goal of her project is to analyze the functional consequences of disease-linked amino acid substitutions in a particular exosome subunit using a budding yeast model system. After graduating, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Biochemistry to continue creating and applying knowledge to most effectively address biomedical problems.

Layan Ibrahim

Layan Ibrahim was born in Maryland and has lived in Maryland, Ethiopia, and Kenya before attending Emory University. She is a junior at the College majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology (NBB) and minoring in Applied Mathematics. Last year she participated in the Research Partners Program (RPP) at Emory University and conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. Claire-Anne Gutekunst and Manuel Hazim in Dr. Gross’s lab. Her research focused on epilepsy- particularly, cFos as a marker of seizure activity in a non-human primate model of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. Through Layan’s experience of living abroad for the majority of her life and through her research experience, she has been inspired to pursue an M.D/Ph.D. after graduation. 

Eric Juarez

Eric Juarez is a third-year student at the College who grew up in south Florida. Eric is pursuing a double major in Chemistry and in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. He is currently researching redox-active ligand chemistry with the MacBeth Lab. Eric’s current research project is to characterize the reactivity of novel ruthenium catalysts supported by redox-active ligands. After completing undergraduate studies, Eric plans to pursue an MD-PhD in biochemistry or neuroscience.

Darien McElwee

Darien “Penny” McElwee is a senior from Houston, Texas in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in psychology with a minor in quantitative sciences. She has served as a research assistant in various labs, including the Emory Brain Health Center’s Fuqua Center for Treatment-Resistant Depression, the Helen Mayberg Depression Biometrics Lab, and most recently, the Children’s and Mother’s Emotions Laboratory in the Department of Psychology. Her current research utilizes infant-gaze coding and electrocardiography to study infant's behavioral and physiological responses to positive and negative maternal effect. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in child clinical psychology.

Giovanni Mella

Giovanni Mella Velazquez is of Puerto Rican and Chilean background. As a third-year college student at Emory, he is pursuing a Biology and French double major. He has been a researcher in the UAEM Childhood Mortality Team at the Emory School of Medicine, and a laboratory research assistant in Dr. Gerardo’s Lab at the Department of Biology at Emory. He is currently working in Dr. Drissi’s Lab which is a part of the Department of Orthopedics at Emory University and the Atlanta VA Health Care System. There he focuses on improving the treatment of musculoskeletal diseases and injuries, particularly through the study of different factors which may influence osteoclasts differentiation.


 Leslie Mora

Leslie Mora is a fourth-year student at Emory University from Melrose Park, Illinois. She is double majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She was a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) fellow during the summer of 2018 and 2019. She has had multiple lab experiences during her time at Emory. As a second year, she was in an astrochemistry lab under Dr. Susanna Widicus Weaver where she worked on a project that looked at probing interstellar water ice analogues via submillimeter spectroscopy. As a third year, she worked under Dr. Victor Faundez where she explored the role of mitophagy in a Drosophila model of Menkes Disease. Her research interests include neurological and psychiatric disorders. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, with a focus on translational medicine.

Renata Rivera

Bio coming soon. 

Giveth Rocha

Giveth Scarlett Rocha is of Bolivian background and a fourth-year student at the College pursuing a major in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology with a minor in Ethics. She has participated in both the SIRE and SURE programs at Emory University and is currently a research assistant and lab mentor in the Ancient DNA- Lindo Lab. Her current research is utilizing genomics and population genetics to understand the deep ancestry of the indigenous people of North America in order to address different anthropological questions focused on their evolutionary histories. Scarlett plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Neurogenetics and focus on the evolution of learning and memory to further explore the intricacies of cognition.

Sara Saavedra

Sara Saavedra is from Nashville, Tennessee. She began conducting research at Yerkes National Primate Research Center in 2018. Sara is researching in Dr. Mar Sanchez's lab, where she is studying the social and neural development of infant rhesus macaques in order to determine early biomarkers for Autism Spectrum Disorders. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, and hopes to work in biomedical or biotechnological industries.

Emma Sharer

Emma Sharer is a fourth-year biology major and environmental science minor from Millstone Township, New Jersey. She has been a research assistant in the Brosi Lab since 2017. Her interests include the impacts of climate change and species interactions on community function in plant-pollinator communities. Emma is currently working on understanding how plant-pollinator networks respond to environmental change. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology to further explore her interests and find solutions to combat pollinator decline.

Jocelyn Stanfield

Jocelyn Stanfield is a third-year in the college from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is majoring in psychology planning to pursue a Ph.D. in either clinical psychology or neuropsychology. She began her research career her sophomore year when she served as a research assistant for Dr. Mayberg's Biometrics Laboratory. There, she investigated the neurological factors that contribute to types of major depressive disorder. This experience drove her to pursue research abroad assessing the empathy and aggression levels of school-aged children in Dundee, Scotland. Jocelyn is currently in the BUILD laboratory under the guidance of Dr. Patricia Brennan. Her research focuses on the biosocial approaches to psychopathology. She is a part of the baby microbiome project working with African American mothers and their infants studying the biological, environmental, and perinatal factors that lead to pregnancy complications. In addition to psychology, Jocelyn is very interested in biology. She is passionate about mentorship and ultimately hopes to become more involved in the field of education. 

Camila Suarez

Bio coming soon.

Naomi Tesema

Naomi Tesema is a senior at the College studying Anthropology and Human Biology. She works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Chandler Research Group. The lab is centered on studying HIV prevention interventions for Black women. Her current project involves utilizing technology and data collected on HIV- related behaviors to develop a mobile HIV prevention app for Black women. She enjoys participating in research for the critical skills she has gained and for the meaningful impact, it imparts on populations she cares about. Naomi plans to attend medical school and pursue graduate school with a Ph.D. in epidemiology, continuing to understand that various socioeconomic and cultural factors that affect the health of the most vulnerable.