Undergraduate Galileo Circle Scholars for 2024

May 2, 2024
2024 Undergrad Galileo Circle
Congratulations to the Galileo Circle Scholars for 2024! Our undergraduate students are passionate, and we invite you to read further on their current paths, research, and plans after graduating!

Janelle Amegatse
"Hello, my name is Janelle Amegatse! I’m a junior majoring in chemistry, minoring in Spanish, and a member of the W.A. Franke Honors College. I work in the Gianetti lab, whose research interests encompass grid-scale renewable energy storage, photocatalysis, and frustrated Lewis pair chemistry. Specifically, I’ve enjoyed working on the characterization and synthesis of organic, carbocation-based electrolytes for our redox flow battery project. Outside of the lab, I love baking, interior design, and traveling. I’m so grateful to the CBC department and the generous Galileo Circle patrons for being selected for this honor!"


Gavin Arnold – Selected by UBRP
"My name is Gavin Arnold and I am a sophomore majoring in Biochemistry with minors in Neuroscience and One Health. Throughout my time as an undergraduate, I have become involved with a variety of organizations through the University of Arizona, including serving as President of the Chemistry Club, Vice President of the Undergraduate Biology Research Program, Philanthropy Chair of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Professional Honor Society, a Pre-Health Ambassador, a CBC Ambassador & Peer Mentor, and a Preceptor for CHEM 162 (Honors General Chemistry).

I've also had the opportunity to work in multiple research labs, including most recently the Brain Imaging & Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Laboratory with Dr. Ying-Hui Chou where I received grant funding to investigate the synergistic effects of multiple kinds of brain stimulation to help improve memory and cognition. Beyond these roles, I work as a Community Garden Manager for the University of Arizona Office of Sustainability as well. After completing my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, I aspire to pursue an MD/PhD dual degree program and work as a physician-scientist."


Sean J. Chen
"I am a third-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 T. Cronin
"Hello, I am Momoko Cronin and I am a sophomore majoring in Chemistry. I have been doing research in Dr. Gianetti's lab since graduating high school and it has been the highlight of my university experience! I really enjoy chemical synthesis and organic chemistry has been a blast."


Luke Fasse
"I'm Luke Fasse, a sophomore chemistry major with a physics minor. I am a W.A. Franke Honors student and member of the Gianetti Group. I've been doing research for a year and a half, with a focus on organic synthesis. I'm planning on pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry following the completion of my undergraduate degree. I am honored to be selected for the Galileo Circle Scholarship; thank you!"


Jacob Fredman
"Hello, my name is Jacob Fredman I was born and raised here in Tucson. I currently work as an undergrad researcher in Dr. Robin Polt’s lab. I work on the synthesis of protected amino acids that will be used in peptide drug candidates. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and mountain biking."


Caleb Konecek – Selected by Molecular and Cellular Biology
“Hello! My name is Caleb Konecek. I am currently a sophomore pursuing majors in biochemistry, molecular & cellular biology, and Spanish with minors in professional & technical writing and classics. I am working part-time as an undergraduate student researcher in the Charest lab where I am investigating the role of the small GTPase Rap1 in the regulation and localization of the mTORC2 protein complex. I am looking forward to engaging in full-time research this summer as part of the MARC Program. Following graduation, I intend to travel abroad to pursue a master’s degree in biotechnology before eventually earning a Ph.D. and engaging in post-doctoral research.”


Isaac Kailat – Selected by UBRP
Isaac is a Tucson native double majoring in Bioinformatics and Biochemistry and is part of UBRP. Isaac is in the Michael Taylor Research lab in Chemistry and Biochemistry.


Ika Lin
"Hi! My name is Ika Lin, and I am a junior studying Biochemistry. Last summer, I joined Dr. John Jewett’s group as an NIH Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) trainee, where I currently explore synthetic routes for fluorogenic diazonium ion probes. I have presented my work through abstracts, posters, and oral presentations, earning a Presentation Award at ABRCMS 2023. Motivated by my interests in public health and analytical chemistry, I intend to pursue a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences.

On campus, I volunteer as an EMT with the University of Arizona Emergency Medical Services (UAEMS) and serve as Clinical President of Flying Samaritans, directing monthly medical/dental clinics in Agua Prieta, Mexico. I am committed to expanding access to STEM education and have worked as a general chemistry preceptor, learning assistant, Think Tank tutor, and CBC ambassador/peer mentor. This summer, I am excited to conduct research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as a Vivien Thomas Scholar and DSIP intern. Above all, I am incredibly grateful for my peers and mentors in the CBC department for their support."


Jacquelyn Lo Bianco – Selected by Molecular and Cellular Biology
"I'm a double major in Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology and a minor in Creative Writing. I'm currently participating in Dr. Largent-Milnes' research lab as an undergraduate assistant. Something fun that I like to do is go to concerts because I really like music. After graduating from undergrad, I plan to attend medical school to pursue my dream of being a doctor."


Ethan McNew - Selected by Molecular and Cellular Biology
"I am a rising senior studying Molecular and Cellular Biology, Biochemistry, and minoring in Spanish. I am a new member to the Gurtner lab at the College of Medicine-Tucson, but over the past year I took part in biochemistry research at the Horton lab through the MCB department. I am also a premedical student; I was recently elected president of the Minority Association of Premedical students, and I look forward to soon applying to medical school. In my free time, I enjoy hiking around Tucson and visiting national monuments across the southwest."


Sarah Nielsen
"I am a third-year undergraduate student majoring in biology and biochemistry. My research interests lie in the field of astrobiology, specifically the origins of life. As part of Dr. Dante Lauretta's team for the OSIRIS-REx mission, I learned what it takes to be a skilled researcher -- lots of patience and perseverance. When I am not working at the lab, I enjoy drawing, reading, and archery."


Natalie Rawlings – Selected by UBRP
"My name is Natalie Rawlings, and I am a current sophomore at the W.A. Franke Honors College majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Biochemistry and minoring in Business Administration. I'm coming up on almost two years of research with the Capaldi lab, where we employ various biochemical techniques to study the TORC1 pathway in brewer's yeast! Outside of my interest in molecular/biochemical research, I am involved in Campus Health as a CAPS Peer Counselor and I will be a Lead Wellcat in the fall, where I will work with an amazing team to promote health and wellness resources on campus!

My goal after graduation is to matriculate into an MD/PhD program so that I can continue to study the molecular basis of disease. One day I would like to manage my own clinic that studies patients' conditions at the molecular level and uses precision medicine to alleviate said conditions. Outside of school and research, I enjoy baking sourdough bread, hiking, and doing CrossFit."


Jake Shaw – selected by Molecular and Cellular Biology
"I'm double majoring in molecular and cellular biology and biochemistry. After graduation, I plan to complete a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics for a career in pharmaceutical research and discovery. I'm currently researching metals in cancer through the lab of Dr. Elisa Tomat where I will continue over the summer. Something fun about me is that I have a home garden where I grow herbs and vegetables to try new recipes with."


Ashley Wellik
"I have engaged in organic synthetic research alongside Dr. Jon Njardarson since the Fall of 2022, where our current focus has been directed toward harnessing artificial intelligence within the world of organic chemistry. Post-graduation, I intend to pursue my passion for chemistry by attending graduate school to specialize in organic synthetic research. In my spare time, I can be found at the tennis courts, enjoying a movie, or browsing a record store."


Forrest Zepezauer – selected by Molecular and Cellular Biology
Forrest is seeking a double degree in Biochemistry, Biology, and Molecular Cellular Biology. She is currently in Dr. Andrew Capaldi’s research lab.