2023 CBC Undergraduate Student Awardees

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

cbc undergraduate student bonnie galiga

Congratulations to Bonnie Galiga who was selected as the 2023 ACS Undergraduate Awardee in Analytical Chemistry!

Bonnie is a junior majoring in chemistry and is originally from Pflugerville, TX. This semester she started working in the Gianetti lab. She is also a member and officer of the archery club.

When Bonnie is not in lab or at archery practice, she enjoys studying at Scented Leaf and gardening.

ACS Hach Scholars Meghan Davis and Aidan Conner

Congratulations to the 2023 – 2024 ACS Hach Land Grant Scholars Meghan Davis and Aidan Conner!

Click here to read their bios!


Scholars smiling

Congratulations to the Charles Y. F. Hoyt Scholars Heather Kwapiszeski and Caroline Coppinger!

Click here to read their bios!

Wesley Chieu (left) and Eric Primack

Congratulations to the 2023 CBC Outstanding Peer Mentors Wesley Chieu and Eric Primack!

This award is  given to CBC Mentor(s) deserving of recognition of his/her contributions in assisting new students with academic and professional development.

Click here to read their bios!

Photo of all three outstanding seniors side by side

Congratulations to the 2023 Outstanding Seniors!

3 photos set side by side of the CBC Outstanding Students of 2023

(left to right) Gal Melman, Jackson Taylor, and Momoko Cronin

Congratulations to the 2023 CBC Outstanding Junior, Sophomore, and Freshman! 

  • Gal Melman, Outstanding Biochemistry Junior
  • Jackson Taylor, Outstanding Biochemistry Sophomore
  • Momoko Cronin, Outstanding Chemistry Freshman

Click here to read their bios!


Congratulations to CBC Undergraduates Meghan Davis and Alexis Gomez who were selected as the 2023-2024 Dr. Thomas M. and Candace C. Grogan Scholars!

Meghan Davis

"I am from a small town in southern Illinois. My mother moved to Arizona in 2019 when I started College. I am the youngest in my big blended family, one of only two girls. There are 8 kids and 4 parents total.

"I chose to attend UArizona because the school is known for its stem programs and I really liked the campus when I first visited. This scholarship has made a difference in my life by giving me the chance to focus on school work and less on where the money for classes will be coming from.

"Before receiving this support, I was worried I wouldn't have enough time to join a research group and also work part-time, but now I'm able to start looking for a group without fear of missing out on being able to pay bills.

"My biggest aspiration is to become a college professor, I would love to teach the younger generation and give them the same drive for science that I have. This scholarship helps me achieve these goals by giving me the opportunity to pay for the classes I need."


Alexis Gomez

"Hi, my name is Alexis Gomez and I am a first-year, first-generation student at the University.

"I am currently majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Spanish. After obtaining my degree I plan to attend medical school to become a physician!"

Excellence in biochemistry awardee photos side by side

Left to right: Sean Chen, Caroline Coppinger, and Heather Kwapiszeski

Congratulations to the 2023 Excellence in Biochemistry awardees!

  • Sean Chen
  • Caroline Coppinger
  • Heather Kwapiszeski

Sean Chen

I am a second-year undergraduate student, studying biochemistry. My research involvement has been focused on studying the protein rhodopsin and its role in vision. Through my work in Dr. Michael Brown's research group, I have gained valuable experience in experimental techniques and data analysis. When I'm not in the lab, you can find me at the gym lifting weights or indulging in my love for food.

Caroline Coppinger

Caroline is a rising senior majoring in Biochemistry. Her research interests include genetics, medicinal chemistry, and drug design. She currently works in the Xiong Lab developing a novel vaccine delivery system for SARS-CoV-2 using plant viral vectors. She is the first author of a review article published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics about the use of PCSK9 inhibitors in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Outside of academia, Caroline loves to swim, hike, spin fire, and do ceramics. She was the treasurer and vice president of the Ceramics Club at Pima Community College during her two years there. She is also a peer mentor for the CBC department and cherishes being able to orient students and help them adapt to their new surroundings. She spent several years living in Mexico teaching English to underprivileged adults and loves giving back to the community in any way she can. In regard to career aspirations, she hopes to be a research scientist for the rest of her life.

Heather Kwapiszeski

Heather Kwapiszeski is double majoring in Biochemistry and Neuroscience/Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona. She finds the idea that minute changes in biological processes can cause such drastic phenotypic effects fascinating. Heather’s future goals are to pursue higher education within the sciences. She wants to stay connected to research and the environment of intellectual curiosity. 

Heather is involved in Nu Rho Psi, Kappa Alpha Theta, St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center, NSCSAS peer mentoring, Financial Freedom Club, and other clubs on campus. Through these activities, Heather enjoys connecting with peers and having new experiences. Outside of class, she will take any opportunity to be outdoors and in nature, through intramural sports and hiking.  She would like to thank the faculty and staff of the Chemistry and Biochemistry department for their support and encouragement.

side-by-side photos of the Excellence in Research winners

Congratulations to the 2023 CBC Excellence in Research awardees!

Side-by-side photos of the Galileo Circle undergraduate winners

Congratulations to the 2023 Undergraduate Galileo Circle Scholars!

  • Sean Chen
  • Momoko Cronin
  • Michael Foster
  • October Owen
  • Sinhye Chloe Park
  • Vara Vungutur
  • Michelle Wei

Sean Chen

I am a second-year undergraduate student, studying biochemistry. My research involvement has been focused on studying the protein rhodopsin and its role in vision. Through my work in Dr. Michael Brown's research group, I have gained valuable experience in experimental techniques and data analysis. When I'm not in the lab, you can find me at the gym lifting weights or indulging in my love for food.

Momoko Cronin

Hello, I am Momoko Cronin, and I am a freshman majoring in chemistry. I graduated from an extremely small high school and going to the University of Arizona has been extremely different but amazingly fun! I had the honor of joining the Gianetti lab last summer through the KEYS research internship. Our project's goal is to improve metal photocatalysts by adding an organic component, making it more versatile and financially and environmentally sustainable. I've really enjoyed doing research, and everyone in the lab is so kind and always willing to explain new concepts to me!

Michael Foster

My name is Michael Foster, I was born and raised in north Phoenix and am now studying biochemistry at the University of Arizona. I am currently doing research on drug design with the Njardarson Group. My work involves designing, testing, and optimizing new routes for creating a drug platform to treat neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. I love literature (Joyce is my favorite author) and in my free time enjoy playing classical piano, mostly Bach. After I graduate, I am looking forward to attending medical school and specializing in neurosurgery.

October Owen

October is the oldest of four girls and is the first of her sisters to attend a university. She followed in her parents’ footsteps by choosing to attend the University of Arizona, drawn by the prominence of research at the U of A and by the promising chemistry program. Her parents are not able to provide much of the monetary support she needs to attend this institution, so the Galileo Circle Scholarship will be a crucial resource that allows her to focus on excelling as a student so she can become a valuable contributor to the work force as a chemist. Her studies consume most of her time, so she is incredibly grateful for the contribution from the Galileo Circle Scholarship. She is currently part of Dr. Michael Marty's lab, where she studies membrane proteins using mass spectrometry.

Shinhye (Chloe) Park – Selected by UBRP

Shinhye “Chloe” Park is an undergraduate majoring in biochemistry at the University of Arizona. After becoming a part of the CBC department, the increasing interest in research lead to Chloe joining the Koshy lab as an undergraduate research assistant through the Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP). The Koshy lab studies the obligate intercellular parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, and specifically its effects and life-long persistence in the central nervous system (CNS). She is currently studying to understand the parasite's unique mechanisms to avoid the brain's complicated immune system. Chloe hopes to continue studying the fascinating human body by pursuing her career path as a physician-scientist. Outside of school and work, she enjoys exploring new food places with her friends, swimming, and painting.

Vara Vungutur

Hello, my name is Vara Vungutur and I am currently a junior majoring in biochemistry and minoring in computer science. I have been in Dr. Ningning Zhao’s lab in the Department of Nutrition since the spring of my freshman year where I am currently studying manganese metal transport proteins and their mechanisms to gain insight into manganese related disorders like Parkinsonism. On campus, I am involved with CBC ambassadors, the Biochemistry Club, and the  KEYS Research Program. Outside of research and school, I really like exploring Tucson with my friends, singing in the UofA’s Collegium Musicum Choir, and volunteering at Banner Hospital. In the future, I hope to go to medical school as well as continue with research.

Michelle Wei

Michelle is a junior majoring in math and biochemistry. She does computational biology research in the Yao lab, with a focus on cellular quiescence. Outside of school, she likes to play the pipa (Chinese lute) and performs regularly at clinics and senior centers. In the future, she would like to attend medical school and become a physician.

separate photos of Vanessa Addison and Hillary Schiff placed side by side

Congratulations to the 2023 Michael A. Wells  Research in Biological Sciences Scholars:

side-by-side photos of the 2023 CBC Outstanding Thesis winners

CBC is thrilled to announce the 2023 CBC Undergraduate Outstanding Thesis Award Recipients!

  • First Place, Vanessa Addison (Ross Buchan research group)
  • Second Place, Allison Steedman (Felicia Goodrum research group)
  • Third Place, Terese Kulangara (Richard Simpson research group)

Read their bios here!

side-by-side headshots of both Patrick M. Hefferan Memorial Scholar awardees

Congratulations to the Sophye Carrizales and October Owen who were selected as the 2023 Patrick M. Hefferan Memorial Scholars!

Read more here!

CBC Wildcat Spirit Awardees photos side by side

Congratulations to the 2023 Ronald Gonzalez Wildcat Spirit Awardees Vanessa Addison, Sean Chen, Alejandra Carreon, Nick Mortimore, and Kristen Roehling!

We recognize students that go above and beyond in supporting CBC and become an important part of the CBC community. These students are the type of people that make a genuine impact by the support they provide. This award was initiated by the CBC Advising office in Spring 2015 in recognition of Ronald Gonzalez, who made this award possible.

Click here to read more!


Side-by-side photos of winners Sean Chen and Momoko Cronin

Congratulations to Sean Chen and Momoko Cronin for being awarded the 2023 Royal Society of Chemistry Certificate Undergraduate Excellence Award

Read their bios here!