BHRI Undergraduate Fellows 2021

The Summer 2021 cohort of BHRI Undergraduate Fellows includes thirteen students from six different majors who work directly with BHRI-member faculty from three different academic colleges at Kent State University.


Pic of Anna Anello

  Name: Anna Anello

  Major: Neuroscience

  Hometown: Copley, OH

  Mentor: Dr. Richard Piet, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences


My name is Anna Anello, and I am a junior neuroscience major from Copley, Ohio. I am interested in the BHRI Undergraduate Fellow program because it is a great way for me to continue the research that I have been working on and will allow me to learn more about my field. My topic of research this summer is to investigate the effects of various neurotransmitters on the regulation of female kisspeptin neuron activity. This research could help contribute to our knowledge of the brain circuitry that controls fertility in females. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, kayaking, and cooking.


Pic of Hunter Burkart

  Name: Hunter Burkart

  Major: Neuroscience

  Minors: Chemistry, Psychology

  Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

  Mentor: Dr. Eric Mintz, Professor, Biological Sciences and Associate Dean, Arts and Sciences

I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am majoring in neuroscience with minors in both chemistry and psychology. I will be a second-year Junior in Fall 2021. I am interested in the research experience because I will finally begin to dive deep into the field that has always captivated me. My topic of research this summer is the interaction between the circadian rhythm and endocannabinoid system. My hobbies are running, reading, and playing games.


Pic of Isabelle Delorme

  Name: Isabelle Delorme

  Major: Neuroscience (concentration: Pre-Medicine)

  Minor: Chemistry

  Hometown: Jefferson, OH

  Mentor: Dr. Woo-Yang Kim, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

I am Isabelle Delorme, a sophomore student with a neuroscience major with a pre-med concentration and chemistry minor. I'm from Jefferson, Ohio. I look forward to researching the molecular mechanisms behind autism-like behaviors in animal models this summer. Overall, research experience is a unique way for an undergraduate to contribute to the scientific field and ultimately better the lives of those around us. My hobbies include spending time outside, knitting, and working summers as a lifeguard at Lakeshore Park.


Pic of Destiny Ezeliora

  Name: Destiny Ezeliora

  Major: Neuroscience (concentration: Pre-Medicine)

  Hometown: Dayton, OH

  Mentor: Dr. Doug Delahanty, Professor, Psychological Sciences and Interim Vice President, Research 

My name is Chinanuekpere Destiny Ezeliora. I am originally from Nigeria, and I live in Dayton, Ohio. I am a junior neuroscience pre-med major. Research is important to me because there have been so many problems solved using the work done by researchers, and this is one of the ways I would like to help make my community better. This summer I will be recruiting child injury victims and their parents from Akron Children’s Hospital, with the intention of following them for six months with the aim of discovering risk factors associated with prolonged distress and poor functioning. During my free time I like to exercise by going to the gym or playing sports, and I also like to watch TV shows and movies and hang out with friends!


Pic of Sydney Frigm

  Name: Sydney Frigm

  Major: Biological Sciences

  Hometown: Taneytown, MD

  Mentor: Dr. Collen Novak, Professor, Biological Sciences


I am a senior biology major from Taneytown, Maryland. This summer I will be working with Dr. Novak to examine proteins associated with muscle thermogenesis and fuel uptake in muscle cells. Research is what drives science forward, and I am excited to be a part of it. When I am not studying or in the lab, you can find me hiking, reading, or at the gym.


Pic of Violet Hutchison Goldinger

  Name: Violet Hutchison Goldinger

  Major: Biology - Molecular and Cellular

  Hometown: Bolivar, OH

  Mentor: Dr. Helen Piontkivska, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

I am from Bolivar, Ohio. I am a junior majoring in molecular and cellular biology. I am looking forward to expanding my undergraduate symposium project which focused on comparative genomics of ADAR editing in human and mouse excitomes. I have a toy poodle named Missy, and I enjoy taking her on walks and to the library. I also love to read and watch movies with my sisters.


Pic of Sarah Kassis

 Name: Sarah Kassis

 Major: Psychology (concentration: Pre-Medicine)

 Hometown: Broadview Heights, OH

 Mentor: Dr. Lee Gilman, Assistant Professor, Psychological Sciences


My name is Sarah Kassis, and I am a junior studying psychology with a concentration in pre-medicine. I am from Broadview Heights, Ohio, and in my free time I enjoy painting, reading, and spending time outside. This summer I will be researching how diet changes in salt, sugar and fat contribute to psychological and metabolic changes, including responses to stressors through the melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH). I will also be investigating how the persistent transport of dopamine and serotonin by plasma membrane monoamine transporter (PMAT) may explain why some people do not experience a therapeutic effect due to antidepressants; this idea will be explored using genetically engineered mice with a reduced PMAT function. I look forward to this research experience as it helps bridge the gap in understanding between physical and emotional health, which is a subject I feel passionate about.


Pic of Hannah Kunzler

 Name: Hannah Kunzler

 Major: Biochemistry (concentration: Pre-Medicine)

 Minor: Spanish

 Hometown: Medina, OH

 Mentor: Dr. Lique Coolen, Professor, Biological Sciences and Associate Dean, Arts and Sciences

My name is Hanna Kunzler, and I am an upcoming junior in biochemistry/pre-medicine with a minor in Spanish. My topic of research this summer is the effects of spinal cord injuries on sexual and bladder function. I am interested in this research because I want to pursue a career in sports medicine, and Dr. Coolen’s research aligns with my career interests. I am so excited to engage in this groundbreaking research. Besides school, I am on the track and cross country team at Kent State and am involved in Phi Delta Epsilon Pre-Medical Fraternity, the KSU Anti-Racism Task Force, and am a University Hospital Portage volunteer. 


Pic of Danielle Robusto

 Name: Danielle Robusto

 Major: Speech Pathology

 Minor: Psychology

 Hometown: Twinsburg, OH

 Mentor: Dr. Mike Lehman, Professor, Biological Sciences and Director, Brain Health Research Institute

My name is Danielle Robusto, and I am from Twinsburg, Ohio. I am currently a fifth-year speech pathology major with a minor in psychology. Here at Kent State University, I am a cheerleader for both basketball and football. I am interested in furthering my education through this research experience while also expanding my laboratory skills through laboratory work. This summer I will be conducting research on the neuroendocrine regulation of female reproductive function. I am very excited and grateful for the chance to be a part of the BHRI Undergraduate Fellows Program this summer.


Pic of Sydney Severt

 Name: Sydney Severt

 Major: Neuroscience (concentration: Pre-Medicine)

 Hometown: Diamond, OH

 Mentor: Dr. Devin Mueller, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences


My name is Sydney Severt, and I am from Diamond, Ohio. I am a junior neuroscience major with a pre-med concentration. I love translational research and am excited by the idea that the things I work on in the lab could one day become viable therapy options. My topic of research this summer is astrocytic gap junctions and their role in addiction memory retrieval. My hobbies include kayaking, hunting, backpacking, and caring for my multitudes of indoor plants.


Pic of Zoha Shaikh

 Name: Zoha Shaikh

 Major: Medical Technology

 Hometown: Streetsboro, OH

 Mentor: Dr. Jenny McDonough, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

My name is Zoha Shaikh, and I am a first-year medical technology major from Streetsboro, OH. I am interested in participating in the BHRI Undergraduate Fellow program to gain valuable hands-on research experience to prepare myself for my fourth year of clinicals. My research topic is understanding mechanisms involved in mitochondrial impairment in neurodegenerative disease and identifying potential therapies. I will observe how diet can alter epigenetic changes to histones and can support energy metabolism in mouse models of neurodegeneration. In my spare time, I enjoy working out, hiking, cooking, and exploring new places. I am so excited to be a BHRI Fellow for 2021!


Pic of Emma Smith

 Name: Emma Smith

 Major: Psychology

 Minor: Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology

 Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

 Mentor: Dr. Joel Hughes, Professor, Psychological Sciences

I am currently a senior psychology major with a minor in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology. I am from Pittsburgh, PA. I am interested in this research experience because it will allow me to expand my practical research skills and to work closely with a faculty mentor to develop research that I am highly interested in. This summer I am studying the effects of mediators of exercise frequency in college students during the COVID-19 pandemic. For fun I really like to cook/ bake and listen to podcasts. I hope to compete in my first powerlifting competition at the end of this summer.


Pic of Melani Whitmyer

 Name: Melani Whitmyer

 Major: Biology (concentration: Pre-Medicine)

 Hometown: Hartville, OH

 Mentor: Dr. Angela Ridgel, Professor, Exercise Science


My name is Melani Whitmyer, and I am from Hartville, Ohio. My major is biology with a pre-medicine concentration, and I will be in my fifth year of college during the 2021-2022 academic school year. I am interested in the BHRI Undergraduate Fellow program because I believe it will be a great chance for me to improve my research skills and to receive invaluable one-on-one time with a faculty member that shares the same medical interests. This summer Dr. Ridgel has given me the opportunity to work with her on data collection for the Speed Manipulated Adaptive Rehabilitation Therapy (SMART) bike and the SPARX3 clinical trial. Both studies have a goal of improving and slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and its symptoms. I am very excited about this opportunity to work with Dr. Ridgel and look forward to using what I learn from this experience throughout medical school and my future career.