• Executive Leadership Team

    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.

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

    Cristina is a research program manager working with interdisciplinary teams at the intersection of cooperation and cancer evolution research at Arizona State University. She holds two bachelor's degrees (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.

    Zach Compton,
    Co-Founder & 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

    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.

    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.

    Harley Richker

    Harley recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences and is now pursuing a masters degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology as part of the 4+1 program at Arizona State University. He joined the Arizona Cancer Evolution Center in the Fall of 2021 and became team leader for the Expression team in January 2022. With the help of his team, Harley uses gene expression data to understand the evolutionary mechanisms behind adaptive cancer therapy.

    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.

    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.

    Ashley Peraza

    My name is Ashley Peraza. I was born an raised in Los Angeles and I am a first-generation college graduate. In May 2021, I was awarded my Bachelor's of Science in Biomedical Sciences. I couldn't be more exhausted and proud! I am currently working on achieving my goal of becoming a physician. My favorite thing to do outside of academia is cooking.

    Gissel Marquez Alcaraz

    I am an evolutionary biologist and wet lab scientist at ASU, working on attaining my Ph.D. in evolutionary biology. During my undergrad, I studied biomedical sciences and began researching in 2018. My research focuses on cooperation across different topics such as kombucha, the microbiome, cancer, and mental health.

    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.

    Abhinav Chede

    Abhinav is a high school senior attending BASIS Chandler who is interested in employing computational tools to research and understand biology, hoping to one day become a cancer researcher. At the ACE Scholars Program, he is currently the modeling team lead, where he and his team will investigate how cellular processes/ interactions like apoptosis and senescence led to the development of multicellularity. Aside from research, he is currently applying to undergrad with the intention to major in bioinformatics or cellular biology.

    Harshini Darapu

    I graduated from Arizona State University with a major in neurobiology. I currently co-lead a team that focuses on human reproductive cancers. Outside of research, I am in the process of applying to medical school and gaining more experience in the clinical field. In my free time, I enjoy classical dancing, cooking, and volunteering in the education and mental health fields.

    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.

  • ACE Scholars Team Members

    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."

    Ryan Kilinski

    Ryan is currently pursuing his dream career in physics/astronomy while running his beekeeping business. Utilizing his past work experience and degree(s) to focus on continuing education with a strong emphasis on coding, data science, mathematics, and physics in research or applied science within astronomy, aerospace, or environmental protection industries. His goal will be to become a well-rounded data scientist for support roles in ongoing, and up-and-coming projects that will change how we view ourselves, the Earth, and the Universe.

    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.

    HD Cross

    I have a previous degree in Forensic Biology and have worked as a Genetic Data Analyst for 8 years. I have also been in multiple research and clinical genetics labs over the past 15 years. I am getting a second degree in Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology with the hope of going to graduate school for Computational Biology/ Bioinformatics.

    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.

    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.

    Kaley Norris

    Kaley is from Chandler, Arizona, and is seeking a degree in Biological Sciences. She is a returning member of the ACE Scholars Program as part of the reproductive cancers team. Kaley has studied previously at Grand Canyon University where she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. After graduating in December of this year, she hopes to combine her love of writing and science by beginning a career in research.

    William Levi Shelton

    I’m a senior at ASU majoring in biochemistry with a minor in spanish and I plan to apply to medical school in 2022. I’m also a LEAP scholar and an ACE scholar, completing research through both programs. Through ACE, I help with comparative oncology research centered in reproductive and mammary cancer.

    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.

    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.

    Amanda Le

    Amanda is a sophomore at Arizona State University studying Biomedical Sciences, Asian Pacific American Studies, and Evolutionary Medicine. This fall, Amanda will be starting 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 and to work with like-minded and passionate individuals in the ACE Scholars Program.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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.

    Bryan Yavari

    Bryan is a Junior studying Neuroscience. He is doing research in both the ACE scholars program and the Cooperation and Conflict Lab. He is interested in studying how all of the different parts of the body interact in relation to cancer. His goal is to understand cancer in an interdisciplinary landscape from its evolution to its treatment.

    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!

  • Alumni

    Former ACE Scholars

    Former team leads

    Clarissa Chang
    Zaid Nour
    Yasmin Silva
    Selin Aksoy
    Patrick Little


    Former team members

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