Graduate Program in

Mathematical, Computational & Systems Biology

Current MCSB Students

Sousa

RACHEL SOUSA

Oregon State University

Hi! My name is Rachel Sousa. I grew up in Rohnert Park, CA and just graduated from Oregon State University with a B.S. in mathematics with an emphasis on mathematical biology and a minor in computer science. During my time at OSU, I worked on a variety of research projects. The topics included fairy circles (barren disks that form in arid grasslands), the use of metal-organic frameworks for gas sensor arrays, and cancer cell growth. While my past work varies quite a bit, I am mostly interested in using mathematics to study topics in the medical field. In my free time, I enjoy hiking with friends and going boating with my family.

MUHAMMED CELIK

Technical University of Munich

I am M. Hasan Celik. I grow up in Istanbul and finished my bachelor in computer science there. Then I moved to Munich to obtain my master’s degree from the Technical University of Munich.  My bachelor thesis is about the integration of metabolic data to genome scale metabolic models and publishes in IEEE. My current research interest is the application of machine learning on genomics. I co-authored a few papers about the subject during my master studies. More specifically, I wrote my master thesis about variant effect prediction for alternative rna splicing which I recently presented at the ISCB conference. Beside my academic work, I also worked in few software companies and start-ups. I like reading non-fiction books mostly about philosophy, economics, ethics, history, and psychology. Moreover, I like traveling, cycling, swimming, and camping.

Celik
Hussein

AMINA HUSSEIN

University of Minnesota

My name is Amina and I recently graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development. During my undergraduate, I worked for three years in the Gammill Lab, which investigates the molecular mechanisms of early neural crest development in chick embryos. I characterized the expression profiles of novel genes identified as possible cranial neural crest regulators. My research interests include embryonic patterning, gene regulation, and signaling pathways. Outside of lab, I enjoy crocheting, reading, and baking.

AHYEON HWANG

UC Berkeley

My name is Ahyeon Hwang and I graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Applied Mathematics. I conducted work at the intersection of machine learning and neuroscience as an undergraduate researcher at the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. I have also worked at the Salk Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and UCSF where I used statistical machine learning tools and neural networks to analyze clinical patient data. I am interested in fields including bioinformatics, machine learning, neuroscience, and precision medicine. Outside of research I enjoy reading, playing the piano, and taekwondo.

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Corrett

JOHN CORRETTE

Colorado School of Mines

Hello all! My name is John, but most people call me Jack. I’m from Brighton, CO and recently graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a M.S. in Computational Applied Mathematics, with a focus on computational fluid dynamics and PDEs. During my time at Mines, I worked for a year studying numerical simulation of Landau damping, two years in a research group studying the effects of using fluorogenic substrates for measuring enzymatic activity and developing a model for surface-dependent chemical reactions, both in the context of blood coagulation. I also worked a year at the United States Geological Survey developing and improving upon statistical models and data for fatality predictions from earthquakes. My main research interests span all areas computational biology, but especially those with direct medical applications, such as drug interactions with biochemical systems. Outside of research, I enjoy playing the trombone and tuba, performing street magic, watching movies, and hiking.

MINGYU DU

University of Michigan

Hello! My name is Mingyu Du. I received my M.S. degree in Biostatistics from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor recently. During this period, I conducted a research project aimed to capture the transcription factor co-binding process in human genome using deep learning methods. Currently, my research interests focus on biological data analysis using statistical methods, e.g. causal inference, sample survey and latent variable models. Moreover, I am interested in biostatistics with application to genomics studies. During my free time, I enjoy playing digital piano, hiking and photography.

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Heid

LESLIE HEID

CSU, Fullerton

Hello! My name is Leslie. I hail from the snowy North East, but have now lived in Southern California for 10 years. I’m happily married and have an adorable three-year-old daughter. I recently graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Applied Mathematics with a focus on Physics. Currently, I do spacecraft mission modeling for NASA’s Deep Space Network at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In the past, I worked in a cellular/molecular neuroscience lab at Temple University studying the Rohon-Beard cell in zebrafish. My current biology interests include systems biology, cell fate, and biomedical engineering. My favorite number is 41.

ERICA WARD

CSU, Fullerton

Hello, my name is Erica! I’ve lived in Southern California all of my life and I recently graduated from California State University, Fullerton with my BA in Applied Mathematics. I’ve worked on a few different research projects which include mathematically modeling a small-scale system with surface-tension-induced folding and, in the summer of 2019, I participated in an REU at Cornell University where I modeled an elastic rod manipulated by robotic grippers. My interests include developing mathematical models of a wide variety of topics that span from biophysical properties of living organisms to complex social phenomena and the neurological effects of addiction and mental illnesses. My personal interests include cooking, spending time with my friends and family, and going to the beach.

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Degen

ALEXANDRA DEGEN

UC Berkeley

Hello all, my name is Alexandra Degen. I spent my early childhood in Switzerland and Germany and moved to Irvine in the third grade. I recently graduated with my Bachelor’s in Chemical Biology from UC Berkeley. I spent two years working in a lab that studies Photosystem II, a protein complex involved in photosynthesis. My interests are in chemical biology and synthetic biology. Outside of academics I enjoy rock climbing, mountain biking, cycling, and anything that will get me out into nature. When stuck at home I enjoy baking and cooking.

STEFANY NUNEZ-ZAVALA

CSU, San Marcos

What happens when you combine your passion for biology, mathematics and computer science? You accept your offer into the MCSB program! My research experience at California State University San Marcos fueled my interest in these subjects. As an undergraduate I worked in a computational laboratory where I analyzed genetic data to understand recent signatures of natural selection in the CCR5 gene. I was also able to model the genetic diversity of two species under competitive and mutualistic interactions. After completing my B.S. in biological sciences, I decided to gain more research experience by participating in the NIH Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. During this time, I analyzed human microbiome metagenomic data to identify novel viruses. Now, as a PhD student I want to continue expanding my computational and mathematical skills to further understand how interacting species can influence their genetic makeup. When I am not working in the lab I enjoy watching the sunset, hiking, and learning how to roller skate.

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Bartas

KATRINA BARTAS

UC Santa Barbara

My name is Katrina but my friends call me Kat. I graduated with a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara. While I was there I worked as an undergraduate researcher in the Christoffersen lab, investigating the volatile profiles produced by wine yeast during fermentation. Since graduation, I’ve been working at a biotech startup, Lygos, in the metabolic and protein engineering department. I’m excited to return to academia and expand my knowledge - I’m hoping to move from researching microbes to studying more complex organisms - like humans! When I’m not working, you’ll probably find me outside hiking, swimming, or doing yoga.

YUEQI REN

University of Pennsylvania

Hello! My name is Yueqi (pronounced yu-eh chi), and I am a MD/PhD student who recently received her BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, I worked briefly in Dr. H. Isaac Chen’s lab on culturing cortical organoids for neurosurgical applications. I then joined Dr. Danielle Bassett’s lab and studied the interactions between language and multiple-demand systems in the human brain from fMRI data. In my final year at Penn, I transitioned to Dr. Brian Litt’s lab to focus on applying network neuroscience to iEEG data for epilepsy treatment. My current research interests broadly span computational neuroscience with a focus on clinical applications. Outside of research, I am passionate about mentoring pre-health students (and try to get more people interested in both medicine and research!). In my spare time, I enjoy drawing, reading, watching TV shows, hiking, and fawning over my new plants. Fun fact: I was on the speech and debate team in high school.

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