Meet the Team


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Suchana Costa

My name means “introduction” in Bengali because my mom had just finished writing the introduction to her history exam when she went into labor.

I study how much nitrogen-fixing plants, like beans and peanuts, might be tastier for insects, compared to other crop plants.


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Gabriel Amador

Originally from Puerto Rico by way of Boston, I’m now a PhD student in Developmental Biology. My doctoral research focuses on plant stem cells and their regulation — especially the stem cells that give rise to the microscopic pores plants use to breathe. How do these stem cells make a pore? When and where on the plant body do they decide to make pores?

Vice President

Grayson Rodriguez.HEIC

A fun fact about me is that I learned to juggle when I was in the fourth grade!


My research involves engineering proteins for cancer therapies.

Grayson Rodriguez



Maggie Braunreuther

My research is focused on the dynamics and rheology of very dense colloidal suspensions and glasses. The ultimate goal of my work is to understand the role of glassy behavior in regulating metabolism in bacteria cells. I was on TV twice as an undergrad when they panned the crowd of Michigan football games. Go Blue!

Other roles: Program Ambassador + School Liason


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I work on bone marrow transplants for kids with blood disorders and immune disease.


Outside of the lab, I like to take photos, build LEGO towns, and recently taught myself how to play the ukulele.

Pui Yan Ho

Ask a Scientist


Griffin Glenn

I use powerful lasers to heat and squeeze matter to extremely high temperatures and pressures and see how it changes, helping us understand what might happen in comparable situations in space. We can also use these lasers to produce beams of particles that might one day be useful in treating cancer! When I'm not doing research, one of my favorite things to do is play the double bass and bass guitar!

Other role: School Liason

School Liasons

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Alyssa Benjamin

​​I use stickleback fish as a model system for studying evolution. Specifically, I'm interested in how fragile DNA regions (DNA sequences that break and mutate at high rates) contribute to adaptive traits in sticklebacks. A fun fact about me is that I like doing art and recently taught myself how to crochet!

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Nick Riley

Nick Riley

I work in Carolyn Bertozzi's group, where we study how secreted and membrane-bound glycoproteins govern cell surface interactions. I am interested in understanding their roles in promoting cancer cell metastasis. I love sports, music, traveling, cooking, and being outdoors. I have been to 41 states so far and am always looking for a new adventure to new places, both stateside and abroad.

Other role: Postdoc Liason

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My name is Rachel Ungar, and I am from Arkansas! I work with the Undiagnosed Disease Network to help find what gene is causing a disease, like a genetic detective! I also am interested in how males and females are similar and different by looking at DNA and RNA. I do this all by coding on the computer.

Rachel Ungar

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In the lab, I study the bacteria that live in our gut - specifically the bacterial metabolism that produces molecules that keep us healthy.


A fun fact about me is that I went to the same preschool as Taylor Swift. 


I’m from Queretaro, Mexico, which was voted the most beautiful word in Spanish in 2011.

My research in Dr. Howard Chang’s Lab involves studying the role of circular RNA in immune regulation and its potential for clinical applications.

Laura Amaya

Program Ambassador

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Arielle Keller

She is a neuroscience graduate student working in the Williams PanLab. She is investigating how the human brain directs attention toward its goals despite abundant distractions (squirrel!) and how it can become harder to concentrate with mental illness. Outside of science, Arielle loves reading, writing, procrasti-baking, and skiing all around Lake Tahoe.

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I went white river rafting in the mountains once and it was a super wild ride! I work in the Greenleaf lab studying genetics, epigenetics, and single-cell biology and we do open chromatin accessibility research on various diseases. In Stanford Penpals, I'm one of the School Liaisons so I work closely with a group in Seattle, WA connecting scientists to the youth!

Derek Chen 

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Mar Margalef

In the lab, I work with different microbes that live inside our bodies and I study how in some cases those relations result in human disease. Outside the lab, I try to maintain my other passion which is dancing. That's why I created a postdoc Bellydance group that I teach.


Patricia Lang

In the lab, I use timelines of historical plant samples collected up to 200 years ago until today, to study how plants are adapting to environmental change. Apart from being excited about all things plant-related in- and outside the lab, I love to read, write and climb.

Other role: Postdoc Liason

Mary DeFeo