Posts classified under: 2020

Andrew Wrench

Year in program: 2020

UCLA Mentors: Dr. Alicia Izquierdo


Current Institution: Howard University

Andrew is a student researcher from a suburb outside of Detroit, Michigan, which has historically been home to many industries, social movements in response to social inequalities, and art. The brain, and understanding how basic processes lead to complex behaviors fascinates him. Andrew’s passion towards the intersection of social inequality, health outcomes, and environmental pollution has merged with his passions of understanding the brain’s function, and he now aims to participate in research on the impact of particulate matter on the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Tamia Carter

Year in program: 2020

UCLA Mentors: Dr. Alicia Izquierdo

HBCU Mentors: Dr. Alicia McClain


Current Institution: Norfolk State University

Tamia Carter is a junior biology major and chemistry minor in a STEM program at Norfolk State University located in Norfolk, VA. She is from Portsmouth, VA, but has also lived in a few nearby cities. Her career goal is to become a pediatric neurologist because she loves learning about the brain and working with children. She feels that with the proper knowledge and experience she can help families diagnose and treat their children correctly and effectively. Beyond this goal, Tamia would also like to use her experience to establish medical centers in areas that are limited in those resources as well. She hasn’t solidified her research interests yet; however, she is open to research in relation to music therapy and the effect of music on the brain particularly because she has a musical background in percussion.

Sonia Okekenwa

Year in program: 2020

UCLA Mentors: Dr. Ketema Paul

HBCU Mentors: Dr. Steven Damo


Current Institution: Fisk University

Sonia was born and raised in Nigeria, a country where scientific research was not at the forefront of the educational or the healthcare system. This was due to the lack of adequate facilities and infrastructure needed to perform any type of research. Moving to the United States for college in 2018, she was able to overcome the narrow-mindedness that limited her from gaining a diverse and hands-on research experience. Sonia became interested in health-related research and developed a curiosity for neurodegenerative disorders and their effects on the human body. She is interested in the causative agents of these disorders and their impact on the way of living of those affected. She wants to be able to gain knowledgeable insight on these disorders and share innovative ideas that could impact patient care.

Charles Smith

Year in program: 2020

UCLA Mentors: Dr. India Nichols

HBCU Mentors: Dr. Valerie Haftel


Current Institution: Morehouse College

Growing up in Tennessee, Charles always had a passion for understanding the mind. This led him to develop a keen interest in understanding how social, psychological and physiological factors alter a person’s ability to store and retrieve memories, as well as affect the learning process. His overall goal is to improve academic success by understanding how negative factors, such as stress, imposter syndrome, poor eating habits and sleep schedules, makes it harder for students to succeed. Outside of learning and memory-based research, Charles also enjoys spending time with his dogs, abstract painting and taking pictures of beautiful scenery.