Current Peer Mentors


Jazmin Campos

Jazmin Campos is a junior at Emory majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology with a minor in Anthropology. Currently, she conducts research in Dr. Andrew P. Kowalzcyks lab in the Department of Cell Biology at Emory’s School of Medicine. She studies the role of Vascular Endothelial (VE)-cadherin endocytosis in endothelial cell migration and vascular patterning. Jazmin is also one of the founding members of Emory’s first SACNAS chapter, an organization that promotes the advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in science. In addition, Jazmin is a founder and executive board member of the Recognizing, Empowering, and Affirming Latinas Conference where she advocates for science education and Latinas in science.


Ryan Chin

Ryan Chin is a fourth-year undergraduate student in Emory College majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Applied Mathematics. His area of research lies within the field of neuroscience and anesthesiology with a focus on stroke and traumatic brain injury therapies. Ryan is mentored closely by Dr. Zachory Wei with the encouragement of Dr. Ling Wei and Dr. Shan Ping Yu. Given his mathematical background, Ryan is applying novel mathematical modeling to further study recovery and cell regeneration. He hopes to one day conduct pediatric clinical trials and translate current technologies to benefit human well-being. Outside of research, Ryan holds interests in mechanics, photography, piano, and running with his Shepherd mix.


Jessica Cifuentes

Jessica Cifuentes is a rising sophomore at the Emory College of Arts and Sciences with ambitions to become a materials science engineer. Jessica was born in Fullerton, California, raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but has a Hispanic ethnic background from Guatemala. In her high school experience, she attended a technical school for Biomedical Sciences and won an international competition for parliamentary procedures as the president of her team. She works as an undergraduate research assistant to Dr. Michael Heaven working with graduate students in physical chemistry experiments involving the element Beryllium. Her research investigates the fundamental bonding properties of molecules that contain Beryllium using the Velocity Map Imaging technique through laser spectroscopy. Jessica enjoys playing soccer, reading fantasy novels, listening to electronic dance music, and being a part of the Bread Coffeehouse ministry on campus in addition to her research.


Nathaniel Cox

Nathaniel Cox is a junior at Emory University studying theater and psychology. He is currently pursuing authorship of an honors thesis on the role of Georg Buchner’s 17th century play, Woyzeck, and its effect on the advent of psychology as a subject of scientific study. Nathaniel has also worked at Emory as an assistant stage manager on Theater Emory productions as well as a research assistant in Dr. Irwin Waldman’s behavioral genetics lab. Nathaniel is cross-enrolled with the Georgia Institute of Technology for Army ROTC, and hopes to enter graduate school in clinical psychology so that he may become a psychologist and help combat the PTSD epidemic currently faced by military veterans.


Alana Ferreira

Alana conducts research in the Koval lab where they look at different drug delivery systems in cells and how they are affected by the activation of different proteins and receptors. She chose to be a Peer Mentor because she loved how the Research Partners Program broadened her understanding of what research means and she wanted to help others reach that greater appreciation for research and inquiry that goes beyond the popular definition of research. Her role as a Peer Mentor is incredibly rewarding because she gets to help students overcome similar challenges that she faced myself. In addition, she loves watching students develop and grow throughout the semester and change the way they think and behave towards adversity especially in regards to research. She has learned so much through being a Peer Mentor, because by helping others she is often exposed to scenarios that help her develop critical thinking skills. Also, through the weekly development workshops she has become better able to comprehend and retain the teachings by interpreting the lessons differently than when first exposed to them as a Research Partner. Outside of serving as a Peer Mentor, she is also involved in Global Medical Brigades, She's The First, and Residence Life. A fun fact about her is that she was born in Brazil! 


Sydney Hwang

Sydney works in the Liu Computational Neuroethology Lab investigating neural mechanisms underlying natural social behaviors. Her research focuses on visualization of brain activity during social bonding in prairie voles. As a former SIRE fellow who faced challenges in the process of growing as a researcher, she became a peer mentor in hopes of helping students cope with similar problems. She also wanted to make sure that students would get the most out of the program by encouraging them to grow and learn during the fulfilling research experience. Outside of conducting research, Sydney loves drawing and painting. She is also part of ChEmory, the undergraduate chemistry club.


Jacob Kasel

Jacob Kasel will be a third year undergraduate student at Emory University during the fall of 2017, majoring in Spanish and Portuguese and Comparative Literature. During his time at Emory, Jacob has particularly focused on studying Latin America and the Lusophone world, with a particular emphasis on the historical, cultural and literary links between Portugal, Brazil, and Lusophone Africa. In May of 2017, Jacob worked on a research project in São Paulo Brazil concerning how Brazilian literature of the 1930’s depicts concerns of gender, health, and urban development in the milieu of the respective city. While at Emory, Jacob has organized departmental events related to Portuguese (including film screenings and weekly conversation hours) and is a member of the IDEAS Fellowship, in which he examines the role that interdisciplinary course work and the liberal arts can have on the Emory’s campus. On this free time, Jacob is an avid reader of literature and philosophy and learner of languages and has a passion for traveling and learning all that he can about different cultures. Jacob hopes to channel these interests into a career that allows him to simultaneously continue learning about the complexity of varying cultures while actively working to solve problems that arise surrounding cultural differences. 


Kaela Kuitchoua

Kaela Kuitchoua is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She joined Mar Sanchez’s lab at Yerkes her third year and participated in the SIRE Research Partner’s Program. She enjoyed the lab experience and enjoyed making and presenting her own poster. She continued in her lab over the summer through the SURE program. This year she will be a SIRE peer mentor while working on an honor’s thesis studying the effects of maternal care on brain and behavioral development. Kaela is also an RA for Clairmont campus and is on the executive board of Emory’s African Students Association.


Lokita Rajan

Lokita does auditory research in the Emory Department of Neurology. She chose to be a Peer Mentor, because when she was a part of the Research Partners Program, her peer mentor was an incredible source of guidance for her in and outside of her research space. She wanted to provide that guidance and mentorship for more undergraduate researchers. Further, she enjoys using her experiences with research and time management to help students set the best goals and choices for their intellectual and personal needs. Being a peer mentor is incredibly rewarding and has helped her connect with students with a wide variety of scholarly interests. Outside of conducting research and being a peer mentor, she is a part of Suri, Bollywood A Capella and Residence Life at Emory.


Faraz Sewani

Faraz Sewani is a third year undergraduate student in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences from Long Island, New York participating in biochemistry research as a member of the Pallas Lab. His research focuses on the role a specific protein phosphatase (PP2A) plays in many pathways in cell cycle, morphology and development. Specifically, Faraz studies the importance of the loss of LCMT-1, the protein methyltransferase that catalyzes the methylation of PP2A, in liver cells of global knockout mice. The purpose of this research is to learn more about the role of PP2A in cellular pathways, and to see if it can be a viable target for therapeutic cancer drugs in the future. When not in lab, Faraz enjoys remaining active by playing sports and weightlifting, and spending time with friends. Some other of his interests include cooking, reading, and travelling.