BHRI Undergraduate Fellows 2022

Summer 2022 BHRI Undergraduate Fellows cohort includes eleven fellows from six different majors such as neuroscience, psychology, biology, medical technology, speech pathology and audiology, criminology and justice studies, and 4 students with a pre-medicine concentration. The Fellows worked directly with BHRI faculty in their labs throughout the summer and gained valuable, mentored hands-on experience researching their topics of interest.

This year’s Fellows areas of research include: effects of spinal cord injuries on sexual and bladder functions, impact of hemoglobin expression on epigenetic mechanisms responsible for the regulation of mitochondrial gene transcription, research on multiple sclerosis, PCOS research, neuroendocrine control of reproduction, adolescent auditory perception, and others.


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Name: Alaya Kiser

Major: Neuroscience

Hometown: North Benton, Ohio

Mentor: Dr. Lique Coolen, Professor and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, BHRI Assistant Director, BHRI Undergraduate Fellows Program Director



I am Alaya Kiser, I am an upcoming sophomore neuroscience student from North Benton, Ohio. This summer, I will be working under Dr. Coolen on a pre-clinical model, studying the effects of spinal cord injuries on sexual and bladder functions. I am interested in Dr. Coolen's research as it relates to the dysfunction and potential correction of the nervous system. I ultimately find research exciting because it is the backbone of medicine and science. Clinical studies create treatments that give people a better quality of life in light of a difficult diagnosis.

Outside of academics, I am involved in Phi Delta Epsilon Pre-Medical Fraternity as well as American Medical Student Association as their Social Media Coordinator. I currently volunteer at Alliance Area Domestic Violence Shelter along with University Hospitals Portage Medical Center. In my free time, I like to travel, make music, see nature, and spend time with the people that I love!


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Name: Mariam Awad

Major: Biology (Pre-Medicine)

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Mentor: Dr. Ernest Freeman, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences





My name is Mariam Awad, and I am from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a first-generation college student and a junior biology pre-med major. I believe that an important part of my professional and personal growth is to participate in research. Research expands your knowledge, and helps you gain new skills, while strengthening old ones.

This summer I will be working with Dr. Freeman, researching the impact of hemoglobin expression on epigenetic mechanisms responsible for the regulation of mitochondrial gene transcription, translation, and respiration. I am very excited to be a part of this program to gain hands-on experience in a field I am so passionate about.

Aside from school, I enjoy working out, watching movies, and spending time with my family and friends.


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Name: Samantha Loar

Major: Psychology

Minor: Sociology

Mentor: Dr. Mary Himmelstein, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences





My name is Samantha Loar, and I am from Avon Lake, Ohio. I am a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. I am interested in the research experience to broaden my knowledge and to become a more qualified applicant when applying to grad schools.

My topic of research is the relationship between masculinity and rape myth acceptance to help understand and prevent sexual assault.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, playing video games, shopping, and watching TV. 


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Name: Zoha Shaikh

Major: Medical Technology

Hometown: Streetsboro, Ohio

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





My name is Zoha Shaikh, and I am a junior clinical laboratory science major from Streetsboro, Ohio. I am looking forward to participating in the BHRI Undergraduate Fellows Program because I will continue my research on multiple sclerosis and gain valuable hands-on experience for my major of study.

My topic of research is understanding mechanisms involved in mitochondrial impairment in neuro-degenerative disease and identifying potential therapies in Dr. McDonough’s Lab. I will observe how diet can alter epigenetic changes to histones and can support energy metabolism in mouse models of neuro-degeneration.

In my free time, I enjoy exploring new places, volunteering at the hospital, and spending time with my friends and family. 


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Name: Samantha Zaborowski

Major: Psychology and Neuroscience

Hometown: Cable, Ohio

Mentor: Dr. Clarissa Thompson, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology




My name is Sam Zaborowski, and I am a senior undergraduate student from Cable, Ohio.

I am double-majoring in psychology and neuroscience. I am interested in the BHRI Undergraduate Fellows Program research experience because of the opportunity it will provide to learn and perform research in a more in-depth capacity than normally for an undergraduate student.

My topic of research this summer is how elementary school kids learn about fractions larger than whole numbers, and how procedural and conceptual learning methods affect understanding. Outside of research, I really enjoy listening to podcasts, hiking, knitting, drawing, DND, playing games, and spending time with the people I love.


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Name: Kendra Dillon

Major: Neuroscience

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Mentor: Dr. Aleisha Moore, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology


My name is Kendra Dillon and I am a second-year neuroscience major from Columbus, Ohio. I first became interested in the BHRI Undergraduate Fellows Program when I was given the opportunity to volunteer in the lab of Dr. Aleisha Moore.

This summer, I seek to gain a better understanding both of laboratory skills and of the reproductive system specifically relating to fertility. To do so, I will be investigating whether interactions between KNDY cells, GnRH neurons, and the pulsatile release of luteinizing hormone (LH) are responsible for the prenatal development of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in mouse models.

I enjoy playing with my two guinea pigs, baking, discovering new coffee shops, and hiking in my spare time.


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Name: Sophie Balcom

Major: Biology and Criminology and Justice Studies

Hometown: Canton, Ohio

Mentor: Dr. Michael Lehman, Director of the Brain Health Research Institute, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences




My name is Sophie Balcom, I am a junior, and I double-major in biology and criminology and justice studies. I am from Canton, Ohio. I am interested in researching neuroendocrine control of reproduction with Dr. Lehman and Dr. Coolen to further enhance my laboratory skills, learn more about neuroscience, and participate in research that makes an impact on people’s lives.

My hobbies include reading, listening to music and podcasts, and horseback riding.


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Name: Aidan Wade

Major: Neuroscience (Pre-Medicine concentration)

Minor: Physics

Hometown: Barberton, Ohio

Mentor: Jeff Mellott, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Graduate studies, NEOMED




My name is Aidan Wade, and I am a sophomore pre-med neuroscience major with a minor in physics and I am from Barberton, Ohio. I am joining the Mellott lab at NEOMED so that I can gain some preliminary research experience in the field. I will be working on the project looking at changes in the auditory midbrain across different age groups in rats. I enjoy reading, walking in nature, and climbing.


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Name: Evelynne Morgan

Major: Biology (Pre-medicine concentration)

Hometown: Medina, Ohio

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






My name is Evelynne Morgan. I am a sophomore, majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-medicine. I was born in China, and currently live in Medina, Ohio. Camping, traveling, and playing with my dog are some of my favorite things to do.

This summer, I will be analyzing and researching phosphorylation patterns of kinomes and how they change when rats are exposed to predator threats. I am interested in research as it will help improve my computational skills as well as expand my knowledge in biology.




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Name: Gabrielle Williams

Major: Speech Pathology and Audiology

Minor: Early Intervention

Hometown: Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Mentor: Dr. Julia Huyck, Associate Professor, Health Sciences, SPA Program Coordinator




My name is Gabrielle Williams. I am from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, which is twenty minutes outside of Pittsburgh. I am a speech pathology and audiology major, with a minor in early intervention.  I am going into my senior year at Kent State University. I am interested in the BHRI research experience because it will help me understand my field of study better, and the topic of research is one that I am interested in. The topic of research is adolescent auditory perception.

My hobbies and areas of interest are reading, watching TV, musical theatre, and true crime. A fun fact about me is that I attended a performing arts charter school as a musical theatre major from seventh grade until I graduated from high school. 



Name: Autumn Redd

Major: Neuroscience (Pre-Medicine Concentration)

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Mentor: Dr. Lique Coolen, Professor and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, BHRI Assistant Director, and BHRI Undergraduate Fellows Program Director




My name is Autumn Redd, and I am from Cleveland, Ohio. I am entering my sophomore year as a neuroscience major with a pre-medicine concentration. I am interested in the BHRI Undergraduate Fellows Program Research Experience because I would not only like to gain laboratory experience, but I would also like to build relationships with the fellows and mentors!

This summer I will be working under Dr. Coolen, researching how spinal cord injuries disrupt neuropeptide and neurotransmitter expression in key neurons in the spinal pattern generator for urogenital reflexes. I will conduct bench-studies to visualize gene expression in the spinal generator, using molecular techniques and microscope imaging. This is a new experience for me and I look forward to assisting Dr. Coolen.

In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, baking, cooking, watching movies, spending time with family and occasionally, reading. I love animals, especially dogs. I am currently a Student Success Leader (SSL) at Kent State University!