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Meet our Organizers

  • Dr. Sonya Neal

    Dr. Sonya Neal

    Co-Founder, Faculty Advisor

    I'm an associate professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at UCSD. I'm a Black in STEM, first generation college student and proud mother of two. My research strives to understand the basic biology of protein homeostasis and how organisms use quality control pathways to mitigate this universal biological stress. I enjoy mentoring, outreach, spending time with family, running, and watching basketball and football.

  • Dr. Tara Drakes

    Dr. Tara Drakes

    Co-Founder

    Hello friends! I am a Technical Advisor at Rum and Sargassum, Inc. (Barbados) and former Ph.D. student at UCSD. I grew up in Antigua and Barbuda, was a first-generation college student and was the first in my family to obtain a Ph.D. My research focuses on understanding the microbial communities associated with Sargassum in the Caribbean for the optimization of biofuel production and alleviation of Sargassum along the coastline. When I am not in the lab, I am colouring, baking and cuddling my pup, Mecca.

  • Sumedha Ravishankar

    Sumedha Ravishankar

    Co-Founder, Chair

    Hi! I’m a 6th year Ph.D. student in Dr. Cressida’s Madigan’s lab at UCSD. I study bacterial infections that affect the nervous system, such as bacterial meningitis, using zebrafish as a model organism. I’m from Tucson, AZ, but got my bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley. Go Bears! I then spent two years as a research scientist at the University of Washington before beginning my graduate work. In my free time I love watching baseball/playing fantasy baseball, cooking, running, and spending time with friends!

  • Eric Jordahl

    Eric Jordahl

    Mentorship Chair

    Hello! I am a 2nd year Ph.D. Student in Biology at UCSD! I am currently rotating in labs around the department and have interests broadly in Cell and Molecular Biology with specific focuses on protein quality control and protein kinases and regulation. I grew up in Montgomery County, PA (Near Philadelphia), and received my bachelor’s in molecular biology at the University of Pittsburgh. When I’m not in lab, I love spending time with friends, juggling, baking, and playing with my cat, Artemis!

  • Ivy Fernandes

    Ivy Fernandes

    Founding Board, Finance Chair

    Hi! I am a 6th year Ph.D. student in Dr. Deborah Yelon's lab at UCSD, where I research heart development using zebrafish as a model organism. I was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. I attended Santa Clara University for my bachelor's degree in bioengineering. During my free time, I love baking, running, and trying various DIY projects.

  • Devanshi Agarwal

    Devanshi Agarwal

    Finance Co-Chair

    I'm a 2nd year Ph.D. Student at UCSD. I'm originally from Chennai, India, and I received my B.S. in biochemistry with a minor in art history from UCLA. I'm the first in my family to pursue a Ph.D. and wouldn't be where I am without the mentors I've had along the way, which is why I resonate with BUMMP's mission. Outside of lab and mentorship, I enjoy going to the beach, visiting art museums, trying new restaurants, and watching reality TV! 

  • Megan Hayes

    Megan Hayes

    Founding Board, Event Committee Chair

    Hello! I am a 6th year Ph.D. student in Dr. Cressida Madigan’s lab at UCSD. I grew up in Tucson, AZ, and received my bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Arizona. Now, as a graduate student in Dr. Cressida Madigan’s lab, I study tuberculosis meningitis in a zebrafish model. Outside of lab, I enjoy spending time outdoors, crafting, and playing with my dog!

  • Alexandra Stream

    Alexandra Stream

    Event Committee Co-Chair

    I am an MD/PhD graduate student in the lab of Dr. Victor Nizet. My research focuses on autoimmunity, vaccine immunology, and immune correlates of protection relevant to the leading human pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS) and the important post-infectious autoimmune complication of rheumatic heart disease. I went to UCLA for undergrad and then spent two years doing research at the NIH in Bethesda, MD before starting grad school. When I'm not in lab, I love going to musicals, singing a cappella, paddleboarding, and trying new foods around San Diego.

  • Claire Chapman

    Claire Chapman

    Event Committee Co-Chair

    Hi everyone, I am a 3rd year Ph.D. student at UC San Diego! I am a member of the Rivera-Chávez lab where I study host-pathogen interactions of Vibrio cholerae. I grew up near Sacramento, California, and attended UC Davis where I earned a bachelor's degree in Global Disease Biology and minors in Public Health and Medical Entomology. When I am not in lab, I love baking, reading, fly fishing, and watching football and baseball.

  • Chloe Welch

    Chloe Welch

    Events Committee Chair

    Hi everyone! I am a 3rd year PhD student in the biological sciences program here at UCSD where I study neurodevelopment in the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. I grew up in the Sacramento area and earned my bachelor’s from Sac State in cell and molecular biology and minored in chemistry. I then received my master’s in stem cell biology from a joint program between Sac State and UC Davis. My mentors are one of the main reasons I’ve gotten to where I am today, so I am excited to be a BUMMP board member and connect students with opportunities for growth. In my free time, I enjoy going to the gym, the beach, reading, and exploring new places!

  • Jennifer Swindlehurst Chan

    Jennifer Swindlehurst Chan

    Finance Committee Chair

    I am a BioSci PhD student in the Lovett-Barron Lab at UCSD. My research focus is in neuroscience using zebrafish as a model system. I was born and raised in San Diego and am happy to be back here for graduate school. I got my BA in Neuroscience & Behavior and Biology at Wesleyan University. Outside the lab, I love to snorkel, scuba dive, ski, and hike!