2023-2024 FERBS Fellows

Jada Asamoah

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Mathijssen Lab, Department of Physics and Astronomy

A proud native of The Bronx, New York, Jada is no stranger to city life. She is the youngest child of two Ghanaian immigrants determined to start over in The Big Apple, and a first-generation college student. She is currently enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, where she seeks to explore the intersection between physical and life sciences as a Biophysics major on the Pre-Med track, while obtaining a minor in History to learn about the people lost in the margins of textbooks. In her spare hours she can be found crocheting, strumming a guitar, or with her nose in a book

Salimatou Bah

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Zhu Lab, Department of Microbiology

Salimatou’s dynamic journey began in the heart of Bronx, NY. Born in the United States, she spent a transformative childhood in Guinea, returning to embrace New York City a decade ago. As the youngest of five and aunt to three girls (to whom she is a role model to), Salimatou aspires to major in Biology on a pre-med track in the College of Arts and Science. Beyond academics, she dedicates her free time to volunteer work at a local hospital, embodying a commitment to community well-being. On Sunday nights, you’ll find her catching up on the latest episodes of “90 Day Fiancé” on TLC. In her culinary adventures, Salimatou reveals a spicy twist as a hot sauce fanatic, adding zest to every dish. Her dreams extend beyond borders, aspiring to travel the world, learn about diverse cultures, all while steadfastly maintaining her envisioned role as a future physician-scientist.

Fatimah Bisiriyu

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Ding Lab, Department of Biology

Fatimah is a Nigerian-American who is native to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is planning to major in Neuroscience with intentions to pursue a career in veterinary science as her love for animals runs deep. In fact on her off days you can find her volunteering at Penn Vets’ Working Dog Center (PWVC). Her interests outside of the sciences include art (painting and drawing in specific), learning new languages and finding any opportunity to travel. She is hoping that with her career she can be flexible enough to travel the world with it.

Derene Darkwah

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Mir Lab, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

Derene Darkwah calls New Jersey and Ghana home. Her passion for the biological sciences began when she was young as a caretaker. Since then her interest in science has only grown. Now as a freshman, she plans to major in Neuroscience and minor in Chemistry and Bioethics on the pre med track. Her passion does not only focus on biology, but spans across other areas in STEM like math. She hopes to become not only a scientist and doctor but someone who leaves a positive impact on the world and tackle health disparities that currently plague us. Derene’s hobbies include drawing, writing, and watching movies with friends and family

Mamycoumba Diagne

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Wood Lab, Department of Biology

Mamycoumba, a vibrant New York City native, proudly carries the rich heritage of her Senegalese immigrant parents as their eldest daughter. She plans on studying cognitive science with a focus on neuroscience, fueled by her zest for life and exploration. Beyond her academic pursuits, she finds joy in traveling, crocheting, and discovering the diverse corners of Philadelphia. Her fascination with science ignited early in life, sparking her desire for a medical career. Drawn to both mental and physical health, she envisions a future in areas such as oncology and psychiatry, aspiring to give back to her community. This bright and curious soul thrives on unraveling the mysteries of the mind and the world, weaving a unique tapestry of experiences from her heritage and her explorations.

Chigozie Ekeabu

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Lampson Lab, Department of Biology

Chigozie was born in New Jersey, however, he grew up in Nigeria for the first thirteen years of his life. He is the third of four children, but the tallest in the family. He plans to pursue a major in Biology with a concentration in Molecular & Cell Biology. His current research interests include better understanding cell division and genetics with the goal of someday helping to advance research in xenotransplantation. Chigozie’s hobbies including watching fantasy tv shows and movies, and is strong believer that Avatar the Last Airbender is the best tv show of all time. Most importantly, Chigozie enjoys spending time with family and friends as they are parts of him that he does not want to lose.

Mmachi Ezigbo

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Tishkoff Lab, Department of Genetics and Biology

Having moved six times in her life, everywhere from the grassy plains of South Dakota to the rolling hills of Virginia, Mmachi has no one place to call her hometown. Amidst every change, her Nigerian-American heritage has grounded her, flavoring the foods she eats and the stories she shares. It was through books that she first uncovered her passion for neuroscience. Chalk-full of complexities, the brain is a mystery she is eager to further dissect. With plans to pursue a major in Neuroscience and a minor in Creative Writing, Mmachi aims to examine the mind through a variety of lenses, exploring the brain’s role in the art of human expression and investigating the interplay between genetics and neurodegenerative diseases.

When she’s not getting lost on her way to class, Mmachi can be found losing herself in a mystery novel or even attempting to draft one of her own. She is excited to navigate this new chapter of her life in Philadelphia.

Lauren Hamlette

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Moustafa Lab, CHOP Department of Pediatrics

Lauren is originally from Maryland. She plans on majoring in Biology on the Pre-Med track. Lauren is interested in researching genetics. In her free time, she likes drawing, baking and spending time with friends and family.”

Miguel Angel Huerta

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Chanaday Lab, Department of Physiology

Hailing from New York, Miguel’s upbringing immersed him into a world of diverse music, sparking a profound connection between his love for music and scientific inquiry. Physics became one of his greatest passions as it became his gateway to understanding the grandeur of the universe and its seamless intersection with chemistry and biology. Exploring the history of the atom in chemistry reinforced the idea that scientific progress thrives on learning from past mistakes. Amid the pandemic, his scientific endeavors shifted to neuroscience, where he conducted research on using musical therapy to prevent neurological impairments caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This exploration aimed to scientifically validate musical therapy as an alternative to traditional pharmaceutical treatments, embodying his commitment to bridging the realms of science and art in the ever-evolving tapestry of human understanding. Miguel hopes to one day become a neurosurgeon after completing his MD-PhD. Outside of the classroom, Miguel likes playing the guitar, hanging out with friends to eat tacos al pastor, and going to the gym.

Tony Le

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Wagner Lab, Department of Biology

Tony is a first generation immigrant from Vietnam who settled in Tulsa, OK. He intends to major in Neuroscience. During high school, Tony was mainly engaged in Youth advocacy for mental health services after he learned about the poor infrastructure for mental health at this high school, the largest public school in Oklahoma. Along with youth advocacy, Tony enjoyed his experiences volunteering in the hospital and the insight it gave him about the realities of medicine, whether it be surgery, ER, or geriatric care. Now, as a FERBS fellow, Tony has been given the chance to continue helping others in a novel approach. Outside of his schoolwork, Tony enjoys cooking, climbing, and narrowly avoiding the drivers of Philly on his bike.

Oscar Mendez

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Marmorstein Lab, Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics

Oscar Mendez is a first-year, first-generation college student in the College of Arts and Sciences. His personal experiences with neurodegenerative disorders within his close family have led him to develop an interest in the fields of both neuroscience and technology. His goal is not only to enhance the quality of life for those affected by these disorders but also to gain a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of our minds. When not at the gym or doing homework at the Van Pelt Library computers, you can typically find him ordering a drink at Starbucks or listening to music as he takes a break from a long weekend.

Abieyuwa Osunde

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Barott Lab, Department of Biology

Abieyuwa is originally from Chicago. She is interested in concentrating in computational biology. For hobbies she likes running, reading, and drawing.

Nehemias Abundo Quiroz

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Wood Lab, Department of Biology

Nehemias Abundo Quiroz was born in Lima, Peru before immigrating to the United States at the age of eight. His initial chapters unfolded in Jersey Shore, shaping the foundation of his American experience in the Atlantic City area. Now, living in the city of Philadelphia, Nehemias’s academic compass points towards a dual major in Mathematics and Neuroscience. As an active participant in the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project and in Matriculate, Nehemias enjoys investing his time in volunteering opportunities. Beyond academics, Nehemias loves reading, running, and streaming content online, finding solace and enrichment in learning more about the world. Philadelphia has become more than a city for Nehemias—it’s a home he loves. Fueling his love for exploration, he finds joy in discovering the diverse and cozy cafes that dot the cityscape. With a steadfast gaze fixed on the future, Nehemias envisions a career in research, driven by a desire to contribute to the ever-expanding frontier of knowledge. His journey is not just a personal pursuit but a commitment to making meaningful contributions to the world of academia and beyond.”

Charity Robbins

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Holzbaur Lab, Department of Physiology

Charity Robbins, a proud Philadelphia native, wears her heart on her sleeve for the city’s sports teams and holds a special place in her palate for authentic Philly pretzels. Currently enrolled in the School of Arts and Sciences, she plans to pursue a major in Chemistry with a minor in Africana Studies. Her scientific passions span the realms of chemistry, cell biology, and imaging techniques, igniting her ambition to enhance treatment options for rare medical conditions through drug design and development in the future. Committed to not only becoming a great scientist but also a skilled communicator of her science, she aims to make it more accessible to all. She’s passionate about exploring the dynamic interplay of social justice and scientific progress, striving to dismantle barriers and amplify underrepresented voices in the field, especially for Black women. Beyond her studies, Charity finds joy in the art of thrifting, is serenaded by her favorite tunes, and cherishes moments spent with her friends and family.“

Mekhi Sappleton

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Gregory Lab, Department of Biology

Mekhi Sappleton, from Port Saint Lucie, Florida. His roots extend to the rich tapestry of Jamaican heritage, contributing a layer of cultural sophistication to his persona.

On the academic front, Mekhi is not just a scholar but a connoisseur of diverse extracurriculars. Actively engaged in campus life, he lends his time to figure skating, where precision meets artistry, navigates the intricacies of Black Wharton, and delves into the innovative realm of the Penn Undergraduate Biotech Society.

In the symphony of his pursuits, the oboe takes center stage during his free moments. Mekhi plans to major in Computational Biology and to minor in Japanese, a testament to his commitment to a comprehensive intellectual journey.

Under the mentorship of Dr. D’Elia at Indian River State College, he undertook the intricacies of genome annotation, paving the way for a scholarly path marked by rigor and discovery. As he eagerly anticipates the next chapter, the research journey continues in the esteemed lab of Dr. Gregory, where Mekhi is set to unravel new dimensions in the ever-evolving landscape of scientific inquiry.

Sneha Shirhattikar

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

You Lab, Department of Microbiology

Sneha Shirhattikar is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences from New Jersey. She intends to double major in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies on a pre-MD/Ph.D. track. Additionally, Sneha is interested in exploring the interplay between oncology research and its impact on individuals, with a goal to improve the quality of life for those battling cancer. She is driven to promote equity in research and healthcare access especially for queer people of color. Her goal is to create a more inclusive and equitable healthcare system where every individual has the opportunity to receive the care they need, regardless of their cultural background, sexual orientation or gender identity.  Through this, she plans to pursue a career as a physician scientist with a focus in oncology. Outside of the classroom, Sneha enjoys dancing with the PENNaach team, experimenting with makeup, reading, and trying new foods.

Hannah Srey

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Zackular Lab, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Hannah has spent the majority of their life in Philadelphia but also has connections to their second home, Sacramento, California. They are quick to recommend South Philly for all the best Asian food, and is constantly craving some form of noodle soup. Hannah’s aspirations include (but are not limited to) pursuing a career in immunology and bridging the gap for Southeast Asians’ access to equitable healthcare. Hannah is dedicated to enhancing healthcare accessibility and advancing health equity, with a particular emphasis on addressing disparities in access and outcomes for underserved communities. They hope to pursue a major in Biology with a concentration in Mechanisms of Disease, and a minor in Sociology. Their scientific passions encompass the relationship between public health and epidemiology, herd immunity, and antimicrobial resistance. Beyond their interest in the sciences, Hannah is an avid concert-goer, baker, napper, and lover of their two cats. (Seriously, ask them about their cats).”

Snit Welde

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Brodsky Lab, PennVet Department of Pathobiology

Snit Welde is born and raised Indiana but never fails to call Eritrea her home. She is a Student at the College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a major in Biology with intention on being a doctor. Snit also has a growing interest in Health and Societies because she believes learning about public health is important because scientific practices go past the lab area.  While Snit is mainly interested in health care, she is not limited to these options as she hopes to explore the realm of science as a whole. Snit is intrigued by how every part of a cellular process is essential and one slight change can impact the function of the whole. She hopes to study these mutations and discover what causes certain mutations. Outside of academics, Snit likes to run and was a cross-country athlete in high school. She is someone who likes a good time and often enjoys hanging out with friends, family, and watching movies in her free time.

Brooke Weller

FERBS Fellow 2023-24

Betley Lab, Department of Biology

Brooke is a first-generation college student originally from the picturesque mountain town of Bishop, California, before she ventured to the more urban Orange County in recent years.

Intellectually, Brooke plans to pursue a degree in neuroscience in the College of Arts and Sciences. Through FERBS, she has a position in the Betley Lab. Here, she will work with mice to research the realm of neural control of adaptive behavior. This will serve as a stepping stone toward her goal of earning a Ph.D. in neuroscience, seeking to push the boundaries of the scientific world.

Away from the lab, one of Brooke’s passions lies on the ice, where she is a dedicated member of Penn’s Women’s Club Ice Hockey Team. Wheels alike, she also engages in the fast-paced game of roller hockey for the school club. Whether on ice or wheels, Brooke’s enthusiasm for the sport is palpable. In her spare time, she enjoys engaging in intense ping pong matches all around campus.