Current Research Ambassadors


Abdulaziz Aldakhel

Hailing from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Aldakhel is a senior at Emory University studying Economics and Political Science. His current research project with Professor Caroline Fohlin focuses on financial money markets and daily loan rates in the early 20th century. He examines the daily fluctuations of interest rates in the New York Money Market between the 1900s and 1930s. The main goal of this research project is to determine which factors influenced the call money market before the Great Depression. Aziz strives to make research more appreciated and engaging, allowing people to contribute and gain a deeper understanding of what research and its processes can offer. In his spare time, Aziz enjoys going on long bike rides, traveling, and making short films. 


Omer Ashmaig

Omer is a junior working in the Gross Translation Neuroengineering Labs. His research focuses on developing a novel therapeutic treatment for epilepsy, closed-loop neuromodulation, in the rat model as well as running behavioral experiments for this method. This type of treatment helps to stimulate the targeted area of the brain in real-time. For Omer, the feeling of helping individuals with certain challenges that arise within the research journey has provided him with a sense of fulfillment and personal growth. Last year, being a Peer Mentor has helped him gain valuable mentoring experience, reinforce skills associated with research (e.g. problem-solving) and improve personal skills. Outside of research, his interests include being outdoors, cooking, and biking. Fun fact about Omer is that he has never had a pet!


Imani Brooks

Imani is a sophomore in the College studying International Studies and Global Health. She currently researches alongside Dr. Subha Xavier of the French and Italian Studies Department. Their projects aim to unpack the complexities of gender based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Marking the completion of their first phase of research, Imani’s “Les Voix Des Congo” poster won the Sustainability Prize at the 2017 Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium. Imani is now undergoing the second phase of her research which includes conducting interviews with Congolese women betweens the ages of 18-60 about their understanding and experiences with gender-based violence in the Congo. They hope to obtain enough evidence to foster an alternative perspective to the problem of gender-based violence which favors ongoing efforts by women to counter this form of injustice. Imani has also pursued research as a Emory Global Health Institute Multidisciplinary Team Field Scholar and traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to complete a global health project titled “Sex Work and Stigmatization: The Impact of Criminalization on Health, Knowledge and Empowerment.” Her findings will be presented at the Global Health Institute Scholars Symposium. When Imani is not engaged in research, she is leading Emory’s Black Student Alliance as president, serving as a member of the Omicron Xi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and tutoring in the Emory Writing Center.


Brandon Chen

Brandon is a junior at Emory majoring in biology. He was originally from San Diego, CA but moved to Taipei, Taiwan after middle school and lived there until coming to Emory. After spending 2 years at Oxford college of Emory conducting triple negative breast cancer research with Dr. Latonia Taliaferro-Smith, he came to the Atlanta campus to continue research at the Boise lab at Winship Cancer Institute looking into multiple myeloma and the Bcl-2 apoptotic protein family. At his time at Oxford, Brandon has worked closely with biology faculty members to increase research exposure to students interested in biological sciences and will continue here at the Atlanta campus as a research ambassador. Out side of academics, he has served as the president of Oxford Taiwanese American Student Association and an orientation leader (OL). In addition, he has participated in an NSF funded summer program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology called MSRP, and would most likely continue his research the following summer. For long term goals, Brandon plans to pursue a graduate degree in cellular or cancer biology and aim for a career in academia such as a professor or principal investigator.


Olivia Fogel

Olivia is a double major in Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) with a concentration in behavior and psychology, and Business Administration. She is from Warren, NJ and is interested in research, organizations, and the applications of behavior modification studies. Olivia is the Luminaria Committee Chair for Relay for Life, Co-President of the Eagle Row Association for Residence Hall Association (RHA), a volunteer trip leader for the Emory Autism Center, and a former Orientation Leader (OL). Last year, she participated in the Research Partners Program. Olivia worked in a lab in the Goizueta Business School under the advisement of Dr. Jill Perry-Smith. This year, she is working with Dr. Steven Nowicki in the Psychology department on a project focused on the locus of control.


Kenny Igarza

Kenny is a B.S. and B.A. candidate in Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology and International Studies at Emory College. As an undergraduate research fellow in the Gary Miller lab at the Rollins School of Public Health, Kenny has investigated dopamine packaging and release and agents that affect its efficiency as it pertains to Parkinson’s disease. After a summer research project in the Richard Axel lab at Columbia University examining the neural circuitries involved with the Drosophila courtship behavior, Kenny has become fascinated with the pursuit of basic questions in neuroscience. He hopes to pursue these questions while, hopefully, pursuing an MD/PhD joint-degree. Kenny hopes to one day bring his passion for science in the international political setting to push forward legislation that encourages research and scientific advancement.


Branca Sanchez

Branca is currently working with Dr. Perry-Smith in the Organization and Management department at the Goizueta Business School. The research project explore the roles of Chief Innovation Officers in different organizations. Previously, she conducted research with a Sociology professor at Emory, looking at the experiences of Latinx/Hispanic-middle class-immigrant families in Atlanta.  Branca believes that she had a unique and positive experience in the Research Partners program, which helped her gain important analytical and technical skills. Branca has previous experience as a Peer Mentor. She feels that her role in the Research Partners Program is to be a reliable resource for students interested in research at Emory. In addition to guiding students through their first research experience, Branca enjoys learning about student research in fields varying from theater to economics to medicine. Outside of research, Branca served as a legislator in student government, is Vice President of the Emory ALPFA chapter, and has volunteer experience working with Project SHINE and the Conversation Partners Program. A fun fact about Branca is that she has dual citizenship-Portuguese and Ecuadorian!


Marina Stephens

Marina Stephens is a third-year undergrad in the college studying International Studies. She has spent the past two years working in the Department of Art History with Dr. Bonna Wescoat doing archaeological research on the ancient site The Sanctuary of the Great Gods in Samothrace, Greece. Her first year she researched the water systems throughout the site and presented her findings at the undergraduate research symposium. Her past year has been spent studying the architecture and design of the ancient buildings, including using 3D printing to reconstruct parts of the ancient stoa. She just finished her trip to the field, working on site in the beautiful Samothrace for 5 weeks with a team of experts to learn more about the ancient ruins and original construction of the site. She plans to continue this research during her remaining time at Emory and to help get others involved in research like this through her position as a Research Ambassador.


Megan Withers

Megan (Meg) Withers is a third-year undergraduate student in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences. She is double majoring in Biology and Environmental Science and has worked under Dr. Tracy Yandle since freshman year. In that time, she has researched possible management techniques to curb the invasive population growth of lionfish in the Caribbean. She also interned at the University of Victoria in the summer of 2016 to assist with gray and killer whale research. This year she looks forward to assisting with Dr. Yandle’s new project, which focuses on policies concerning Georgia’s oysters. In her spare time, Meg enjoys singing in the University Chorus, running in Lullwater Park, and (whenever possible) scuba diving with her dad.