2023 CBC Graduate Student Awardees

Congratulations to this year's amazing group of graduate student awardees. See the list of outstanding students below!

Congratulations Lilia Alexis Koelemay and Nick Lauta on being selected as winners of the Carl S. Marvel Memorial Scholarship Endowment for 2023-2024!

Lilia Alexis Koelemay smiling towards the camera, wearing black.

Nick Lauta smiling towards the camera, wearing a black shirt.

side-by-side photos of Andrea Hamilton and Anjalee Wijetunge

​Congratulations to the 2023 CBC Outstanding Graduate Award awardees!

Graduate student Ryan Williams




Congratulations to Ryan Williams who was selected as the College of Science Graduate Teaching Award for 2023!

"From the moment I began my undergraduate journey, I've been captivated by the prospect of pursuing a career in education as a teacher or professor. My experience as a teaching assistant for 243b has only served to reinforce and deepen my passion for joining the ranks of academia in the future."


Lindsey Holmen, smiling towards the camera in front of a dark background.

Lindsey Holmen





Congratulations Lindsey Holmen on being selected as the 2023 David F. O’Brien Graduate Fellow!

Read more on Lindsey here!

Graduate student Alessandra Fistrovich


Congratulations to Alessandra Fistrovich on earning the Dr. Wayne Cody Scholarship in Medicinal Biological Chemistry!

“My name is Alessandra Fistrovich, and I’m a rising 5th year in the Hulme lab. My research primarily focuses on the design and development of small molecule kinase inhibitors for the treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). GBM is a highly invasive stage IV brain cancer with a median patient survival rate of 15-18 months and has seen limited therapeutic development in the past 20 years.

“DYR726 (PO63/354,495) has demonstrated efficacy across multiple GBM cell lines, which is contributed to its unique poly-pharmacology against key GBM pathways and inhibition of the WNT signaling pathway.

“Additionally, there is a therapeutic window, which is not observed in any glioma drugs that are currently in clinical trials. DYR726 are undergoing in vivo evaluation in GBM models at the University of Dundee under Dr. Sourav Banjeree. Furthermore, DYR726 has added to the Cancer Research UK (Clinical Trials Unit, Glascow) portfolio as a potential upcoming drug candidate for Phase 0/1 clinical trial if found safe and effective in animals.”



Headshots of all 6 graduate Galileo Circle Scholars

Congratulations to Rachel Allen, Ananya Chakraborti, Beverly Feng, Andrea Hamilton, Hiruni Jayasekera, and Megan Laham! 

Rachel Allen

During my time as a graduate student at the University of Arizona, I have had the pleasure of working on a variety of projects under Dr. Jon Njardarson. One of my key projects has been to synthesize novel therapeutics toward a cure for the neurodegenerative disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). I have had the pleasure of collaborating with molecular and cellular biology groups and biotech companies on this project. I could not be more gratified to know that my research has the potential to have such a substantial impact on society but more so, that I have had the opportunity to work on research so near and dear to me.

I am beyond thankful to have received the Galileo scholarship and to my PI for nominating me for this award in the first place; it is humbling to know that others see the significance of the work I am doing here.

I hope to continue this trajectory of working on breakthrough pharmaceutical discoveries and potential drug candidates for cures for under researched diseases throughout my time left at the university and later in my career.

Ananya Chakraborti

I am a 5th year graduate student on “Team Heart” in the Schwartz group. I am originally from Kolkata in India. I have received my BSc.(Chemistry) degree from West Bengal State University, India and MSc.(Chemistry) degree from the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, India. Currently, my research focuses on employing various computational methods to the model and study the atomic changes in the dynamics of the cardiac proteins which are central to heart contractions as a result of cardiomyopathy causing mutations and drug-binding as well as using machine learning to predict pathogenicity of the generic variants in the cardiac thin filament. After graduation, I plan to establish my career in academia.

Apart from research, reading novels is my favorite thing. Mystery and Horror genres are always on top of my list, and I am a huge fan of Stephen King.

Beverly Feng

I'm a physical chemistry graduate student in Dr. Andrei Sanov's lab. My research is focused on electronic properties of anions via photoelectron imaging spectroscopy.

In my free time, I enjoy playing with my dog, rock climbing, pickleball, lifting weights, and drawing/painting.

Andrea Hamilton

Andrea works in the lab of Dr. M. Leandro Heien studying dopamine dynamics in the brain. She works on understanding how the variability of stimulation timing impacts the release of dopamine.

Andrea is also the PAWS president, a member of the CBC graduate student council, and a part of the Community of Graduate Students.

In her free time, Andrea enjoys outdoor activities and playing volleyball.

Hiruni S Jayasekera

Hiruni S Jayasekera is an analytical chemistry PhD candidate in the Marty lab. She was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka where she earned her BSc honors in Chemistry from University of Kelaniya. Motivated by her undergrad research on environmental chemistry, she proceeded to pursue her PhD in analytical chemistry at the University of Arizona. In the Marty lab, her research primarily focuses on developing methods to study membrane protein-lipid interactions using native mass spectrometry. Upon graduating, she plans to be a successful scientist who leads a multidisciplinary research team that can make an impact to upgrade the standards of modern living.

Outside of the lab she enjoys her time outdoors hiking and camping with her husband and little puppy. Moreover, she loves to play field hockey whenever she finds time, and she also likes to work and network with people from various backgrounds.

Megan L. Laham

My name is Megan, and I'm currently a third year graduate student in CBC. I am working in the Thatcher lab developing nonlipogenic ABCA1 inducers as Alzheimer's disease therapeutics.

I'm originally from Boston and went to Saint Anselm College for undergrad where I first started to work in an organic synthesis lab.

I'm happy to be continuing research and learning about the drug discovery process at the U of A!


YanLiang Smiling




Congratulations to Yan Liang who was selected as the 2023 Herbert E. Carter Awardee! 

My name is Yan Liang. I am a fourth year graduate student in biochemistry and in a biomedical engineering lab under the guidance of Dr. Jeong-Yeol Yoon.

My research lies in the development and application of biosensors and point-of-care testing for immunoassay and diagnosis of viruses, bacteria, and chemicals.

I have also gained skills in data analysis, machine learning, and neural networks, as well as general lab skills in biochemistry and molecular biology, to assist my science studies.

student smiling

Congratulations to Rajat Ravi for being selected for the 2022 Howard P. Klein Early Career Excellence in Research award!

I am a rising second-year graduate student in the Ziurys Group. I chose the University of Arizona because of its strong Interdisciplinary program. 

My research interest lies in the field of Astrochemistry. In my first year, I worked on SgrB2(N), which is a giant molecular cloud, where I focused on understanding the Aldehyde Chemistry going on in the molecular cloud. We saw the evidence of star formation activity responsible for the formation of Glycolaldehyde (simplest sugar) and the possibility of these sugars delivered to planets through meteors.

After my Ph.D., I would like to work in a National Lab where I can continue working in this field. This scholarship would help me attend conferences that will expose me to a wide range of research being done to answer the questions of Origin of Life.


natasha Cornejo



Congratulations to Natasha Cornejo who was selected as the 2023-2024 Kathryn K. and James D. Steele Scholar!


​Read more on Natasha Cornejo here!


Graduate student Jeffrey Groch





Congratulations to Jeffrey Groch, who was selected as the 2022-2023 Victor P. Thalacker Chemistry Fellow!

Click here to read Jeffrey's bio!

You can find the '23-'24 CBC graduate student award winners here!