• Executive Leadership Team

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    Carlo Maley, PhD
    Director, Arizona Cancer Evolution Center

    Prof. Maley is a cancer biologist, evolutionary biologist and computational biologist, working at the intersection of those fields. His lab uses genomic data mining, phylogenetics, computational modeling, as well as wet-lab techniques to develop better methods to prevent cancer and improve cancer management. For more information, please visit Dr. Maley's profile here.

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    Gissel Marquez Alcaraz
    Co-Director, ACE Scholars Program

    Gissel is an evolutionary biologist and wet lab scientist at ASU, working on a Ph.D. in Evolution. Gissel has been conducting research since 2018 and has been a member of ACE since 2021. Her research covers various topics, including kombucha, the microbiome, and cancer evolution.

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    Harley Richker
    Co-Director, ACE Scholars Program

    Harley is a Ph.D. student interested in understanding the evolutionary mechanisms behind adaptive cancer therapy. He holds a bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences and a Master's in Molecular and Cellular Biology.

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    Cristina Baciu, EdD
    Co-Founder & Former Co-Director, ACE Scholars Program

    Cristina is a mentoring expert and research program manager working with interdisciplinary teams at the intersection of cooperation and cancer evolution research at Arizona State University. She holds bachelor's degrees in economics and psychology, and a doctorate in educational leadership in higher education. Both practice and research-wise, Cristina is interested in mentoring undergraduate college students, barriers to students’ success, and the intersection between technology and higher education. For more information, visit Cristina's website here.

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    Zach Compton, PhD
    Co-Founder & Former Co-Director, ACE Scholars Program

    Zach received his undergraduate degree in Genetics, Cell, and Developmental Biology and is currently a doctoral candidate in Evolutionary Biology at Arizona State University. He is interested in all of the intersections that cancer biology makes with evolutionary theory, particularly comparative oncology - the study of cancer across the tree of life. Zach is passionate about bringing evolution into the cancer clinic, as well as the community.

  • Undergraduate Leadership Team

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    LaShaunta Anderson

    Shauna is a post-bachelor student who went to Law School and then realized her passion is in biology. Now she majors in Neuroscience and plans to attend Medical School next Fall. Shauna also is a veteran of the Armed Forces and has focused her research on the co-morbidity between PTSD and TBI.

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    Lindsay Gann

    Lindsay Gann is an undergraduate student at Arizona State University, majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in anthropology. She holds a previous bachelor's degree in English and looks forward to putting her experience in publications to use in her future career in science. Lindsay is interested in cancer research as it relates to the rise in non-infectious disease and uncovering the links between metabolic dysfunction and cancer. She is a military spouse and a mom, and enjoys reading, gardening, and hiking in her free time.

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    Manasa Iyer

    Manasa recently graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from Arizona State University, where she is currently working towards attaining her M.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She has pursued projects in comparative oncology, cancer outreach, and adaptive therapy preclinical studies alongside ACE since 2020. Manasa and her team currently analyze the relationships between human reproduction variables and their respective conferral of lifetime reproductive cancer risk. With aspirations to attend medical school in the future, Manasa’s ultimate goal is to utilize her research findings to optimize currently accepted medical standards of care to improve patient outcomes.

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    Aliyah Jenkins

    I am majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Data Science. My career goals are to obtain my Master's in Material Science and Engineering with a focus on Nanotechnology. I wish to create nano materials to help improve the medical field, mainly in the areas of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

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    Amanda Le

    Amanda is a sophomore at Arizona State University studying Biomedical Sciences, Asian Pacific American Studies, and Evolutionary Medicine. This past fall, Amanda began her first semester in the ACE Scholars Program as a part of the Metaphors of Cancer team. Amanda has prior research experience as an undergraduate researcher working on a population genetics project. Additionally, she enjoys assisting students as an Undergraduate TA for Genetics. Amanda hopes to further explore her research interests in cancer treatment with like-minded individuals and raise greater awareness of cancer evolution to the public.

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    Walker Mellon

    Sophomore at ASU studying Computer Information Systems and Economics. Currently team lead for the Phylogenetics team, which aims to understand the evolutionary rate of cancer across the phylogenetic tree.

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    Erica Williams

    I am a Biomedical Sciences major with one semester left in my degree, after which I will be applying to medical school. I am a member of Barrett, the Honors College at ASU, and a Team Lead for the ACE Scholars program. My research with ACE focuses on supporting and educating recently diagnosed cancer patients. The intention of this research, titled the Patient Guidance Project, is to deliver information to patients in a way that is easy to understand and provide them with resources to aid them through their journey with cancer.

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    Bryan Yavari

    Bryan is a senior with a major in Neuroscience and a certificate in Evolutionary Medicine. He serves as the Team Leader for the Language of Cancer research group, focusing on the study of cancer communication between healthcare professionals and the general public. Bryan is also a member of the Adaptive Therapy team where he researches colorectal cancer and Adaptive Therapy strategies. His goal is to research cancer in an interdisciplinary landscape from communication to its treatment. Bryan currently leads Project Koyash, a nonprofit that is dedicated to providing solar powered air filtration to families in Mongolia. In his free time, Bryan enjoys running, reading, and hiking.

  • ACE Scholars Team Members

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    Melanie Aldridge

    Melanie is an undergraduate student at Arizona State University, due to graduate with a B.S. of Biochemistry in Spring 2023. Upon graduation from ASU, she plans to attend graduate school in pursuit of clinical research and development. The main motivation that fuels her passion for the ACE Scholars program is her inherent desire to make this world a better place. “I desire to be a part of something larger than myself. Cancer research has profound results on living creatures; the more we study it, the more we learn ways to prevent it. Where we cannot prevent it, we learn to intercept it, and research like this makes that possible."

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    Nilofar Kolbehdari

    My name is Nilo Kolbehdari, and I recently graduated from ASU with my Bachelor's in Science in Medical Studies. I plan on applying to medical school in the spring of 2023, fulfilling my lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. Until I go to medical school, I am working full-time as a clinic medical assistant at a Dermatology clinic here in the valley. Although I plan on pursuing a career in the field of dermatology, I have both a personal connection and long standing interest in cancer research. Because of this, I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the ACE Scholars Lab for the last two years.

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    Brian Martins

    A Sophomore Student diligently studying BioMedical Sciences and Psychology to better understand the Human condition. Using novel research in the field of comparative oncology, I hope to better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of animals and human beings, as well as the development, proliferation, and phylogenetic history of cancer in order to apply the findings to improve translational medicine and evolutionary medicine.

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    Shivangi Sarkar

    Hello, I am an undergraduate student majoring in Biomedical engineering. I am very passionate about oncology and cancer research. Currently, my peers and I are focusing on reproductive cancers with respect to life-history traits. In my free time, I enjoy playing with my dog and exploring new restaurants.

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    Sushil Sudhakar

    I'm currently a junior pursuing a double major in biochemistry and Spanish, and I will be applying to medical school in the spring. I am part of the aging team as a part of the ACE Scholars Program, and I am also part of an A Capella group at ASU called the TEMPEtations.

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    Dustin Nguyen

    I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Currently, I am a freshman undergraduate student at Arizona State University seeking a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering; in addition, I am currently interested in applying to medical school later on. This will be my first semester in the ACE Scholars Program working with the Palliative Care Team. I've also been interested in doing biomedical research so I am very excited for this opportunity. In my free time, I enjoy playing table tennis and chess, as well as relaxing with my family.

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    Kristen Krip

    Kristen is an undergraduate student majoring in biochemistry and completing her final year at Arizona State University. She recently completed a 10-week summer internship studying multiple myeloma at MaineHealth Institute for Research. She is excited to be working in the Marquez Alvarez lab, combining her passion for the microbiome with her background in cancer research. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a doctoral program studying the effects of the human gut microbiome on health and disease.

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    Megan Langella

    From Queens, New York, I am a sophomore studying Biomedical Sciences at ASU. This fall, I'll be starting my work as an ACE scholar, studying the progression of Barrett's Esophagus to esophageal adenocarcinoma. In the future, I hope to explore how music therapy affects both the psychological and physiological development of cancer and dementia patients.

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    Leon Harrison

    I am a senior at ASU studying Biological Sciences (Conservation Biology & Ecology). I also have a previous bachelor's degree in Statistics. In the future, I plan to continue doing research work and possibly pursue graduate school. Currently, I am a member of the phylogenetics team.

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    Nicholas Howell

    Nick is a junior studying Biological Sciences (Cell, Genetics, and Developmental Biology) and Computational Mathematics in his first semester as an ACE Scholar.

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    Haarika Atluri

    My name is Haarika Atluri, and I am currently an Undergraduate student studying Biological Sciences at Arizona State University with an interest in becoming a Pediatrician. I joined the ACE Scholars Outreach team in the Fall of 2022. Along with being part of the ACE Scholars program, I am also an ER Medical Scribe, a UGTA for Digital Design, and I am interested in learning about various fields and how they may relate to medicine. I have also always loved observing how much information can be obtained from a small sample and am equally interested in wet lab research as I am in clinical research. Outside of my academic life, I have always had a passion for music and love reading books and watching movies!

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    Alexandra Perazzo

    My name is Alexandra Perazzo and I'm a senior living in New York City, attending Staten Island Technical High School. I've had the privilege of being a part of the ACE scholars team since June of 2021. As part of the patient guidance team, I hope to directly impact the lives of cancer patients for the better. In previous semesters, I did work on the cancer by type and sex bias team, so this year I switched to an outreach focused project. Currently, I'm interested in evolutionary biology and oncology. In the long term, I want to go to medical school and pursue research as well.

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    Eden Kim

    Eden is a Barrett honors sophomore studying Biomedical Sciences with a Psychology minor at Arizona State University in Tempe. She is on the Palliative Care team, excited to be starting her first semester in the ACE Scholars Program and studying oncology and its different intersections. Eden is also passionate about women's health and hopes to bridge health inequities in gender in medicine and medical practices through different organizations.

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    Giavonna Sabatini

    I’m Giavonna Sabatini, a junior studying Medical Microbiology with a minor in Military Sciences and a certificate in Evolutionary Medicine. I aspire to serve the United States Air Force as a Flight Surgeon or Medic of a specified field. I am looking forward to working with the coding program R and become more efficient working with my team!

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    Gabrielle Feldman

    I am currently pursuing a concurrent degree in Biomedical Sciences and Global Health at ASU. Additionally, I am also a member of Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. This is my first semester as an ACE Scholar and I am pleased to be working with the Human Reproductive Study Team. In the future, I plan to pursue a masters here in Germany in either epidemiology, biophysics, or bioengineering. Currently, I work as an assistant engineer, automating laboratory and medical devices. Additionally, I love learning languages, journaling, and hip hop dancing.

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    Hannah Human

    Hi! My name is Hannah Human and I am a current first-generation undergraduate student, majoring in Neuroscience, Chemistry, and French. I plan to become a pediatric neurosurgeon after attending medical school. Other than volunteering in the ED at my local hospital, conducting research in multiple labs at ASU, and cramming for the MCAT, I love to cook, read, take care of my plants, and interior decorate! I am super excited to start my first semester as an ACE Scholar!

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    Jacob Benevento

    Jacob is an ASU alum and staff member who has returned to earn a second bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences after realizing his passion for physiology and medicine. Upon completing his degree, he plans to continue his education with a focus on immunology or molecular biology. When he’s not studying or at work, he enjoys reading/watching fantasy fiction, exercising, and spending time with friends and family.

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    Myka Williams

    Myka is a sophomore undergraduate student at Arizona State University studying Biomedical Sciences and pursuing minors in Global Health and Business. At the ACE Scholars Program, she is working in the Human Reproductive Study group. In the future, she aspires to attend Medical School and become a physician. She is excited to work with the program to raise awareness for cancer evolution and educate the public about possible risk factors!

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    Rebecca Taylor

    My name is Rebecca Taylor, and I am an undergraduate majoring in Biological Sciences (Biomedical) and Health Sciences. This is my first semester as an ACE scholar on the Science Communication and Outreach Team. Once I graduate, I plan to go to medical school and specialize in oncology.

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    Ritika Anand

    My name is Ritika Anand, and I am currently an undergraduate student at the Barrett Honors College here at ASU! I have a passion for medicine and science, and am currently studying Biological Sciences with a minor in Global Health in hopes of one day becoming a doctor. I joined the ACE Scholars Cancer Across Vertebrates Team in the Fall of 2022, and absolutely enoy the interdisciplinary perspective that ACE brings to the study of cancer. Outside academics, I absolutely love to travel and explore new places, whether that be in Arizona or abroad. COVID also allowed me to reconnect with my passion for baking, and I absolutely love to experiment with and try new deserts.

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    Perla Luna

    Perla is an undergraduate student majoring in Microbiology. She loves microbes! After

    completing her degree, she hopes to attend Medical School and become an OB/GYN. But first

    she plans on traveling through Europe during her gap year. She has always had an interest in

    learning to code, so joining the Barrett’s Esophagus team was truly fate. When Perla is not

    volunteering at her local clinic, she is wandering through the largest Ponderosa pine tree forest

    in the world with her quarter horse and trains for horse shows.

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    Enycé Fairbanks

    My name is Enycé Fairbanks, and I am pursuing a BS in Biological Sciences at Arizona State University. I will complete my studies in Fall 2023 and plan to enter an NIH PREP program in Fall 2024 in preparation for pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. Within the ACE scholars program, I am conducting research on the effect of the microbiome on colorectal cancer and the use of microbes as adaptive therapy. Outside of academics, I am VP of Communications for an online STEM club named IDEAS and am learning pottery.

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    Matthew Marx

    Matthew Marx is a non-traditional medical school applicant for the 24-25 cycle. He is a private tutor for mathematics for middle school students in Arizona and chemistry / orgo in kansas in person. He has a very strong stem background and is determined as they come. Fun fact: he has a four legged reserach assistant, a Shiba Inu doggie named "Potato"

  • Alumni

    Former ACE Scholars

    Former team leads

    Clarissa Chang
    Zaid Nour
    Yasmin Silva
    Selin Aksoy
    Patrick Little

    Harshini Darapu

    Ashley Peraza

    Former team members

    Ethan Michael
    Mané Sargsyan
    Nellisabel Coira
    Cameron Chew
    Lucia Ramirez
    Sheba Philip
    Savannah Nelson
    Mohammad Hasan Kattan

    Ryan Kilinski

    HD Cross

    William Levi Shelton

    Kaley Norris