Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Program Alumni

2022-2023 Scholars

Alexia Collier, BAAlexia Collier, BA

Undergraduate Institution: Hampton University 
Graduate Institution: UT Health San Antonio
Current position: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX (Cancer & Cell Biology PhD Program)
Research: ERX-41, a novel therapeutic agent for ovarian cancer
Mentor: Ratna Vadlamudi

Highlight: Alexia is co-author on article Novel LIPA-Targeted Therapy for Treating Ovarian Cancer



Juliet Garcia Rogers, BS

Juliet Garcia Rogers, BS

Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, TX 
Graduate Institution: UT Health San Antonio
Current position: UT Health San Antonio (IBMS PhD Program)
Research: Phenotypic analysis of PLCγ2 variants within novel late-onset Alzheimer’s disease mouse model
Mentor: Sarah Hopp & Juan Pablo Palavacini

Highlight: Juliet recently co-authored an article in the BioRxiv journal on the topic of "Multi-omics analyses reveal novel effects of PLCγ2 deficiency in the mouse brain."


Angel Martinez, BS

Angel Martinez, BS

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
Graduate Institution: UT Health San Antonio
Current position: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, IL (MS, Animal Sciences)
Research: Novel drug derivative study on male and female Schistosoma species
Mentor: Phil LoVerde



Raechel Tittor, BS

Raechel Tittor, BS

Undergraduate Institution: Missouri Western State University, MO
Graduate Institution: UT Health San Antonio
Current position: UT Health San Antonio (Non-Degree Seeking student, GSBS)
Research: Identifying potential molecular mechanisms by which dietary fats affect health 
Mentor: Adam Salmon



Meagan Ybarra, BS

Meagan Ybarra, BS

Undergraduate Institution: Jarvis Christian College, TX
Graduate Institution: UT Health San Antonio
Current position: UT Health San Antonio (IBMS PhD Program)
Research: Identifying novel treatments for pancreatic cancer
Mentor: Pratap Kumar



2021-2022 Scholars

Simon Emtage, B.S.

Simon Emtage, BS

Undergraduate Institution: University of California at Berkeley, CA
Graduate Institution: University of Victoria, Canada
Current position: Graduate student in the Immunotherapy Program, Deeley Research Centre, University of Victoria, Canada  
Research: Testing the effects of constitutive autophagy on thymus size, viability and T-cell subsets with aging
Mentor: Ann Griffith

Highlight: Simon is a co-author on a publication, “Redox status regulates autophagy in thymic stromal cells and promotes T cell tolerance in PNAS (IF: 12.77), with his PREP mentor, Dr. Ann Griffith. 

Quote: The UT Health LINK PREP program was an incredible opportunity for me to improve my abilities as a researcher, while also providing excellent insight into the structure and rigor of PhD programs. The help I received in all aspects of my career, ranging from CV preparation, to writing practice, to both understanding and writing scientific works has, and will continue to be invaluable to me.

Zainab Hakeem, B.S.

Zainab Hakeem, BS

Undergraduate Institution: University of Pittsburgh, PA
Graduate Institution: University of Georgia
Current position: PhD student in the Integrated Life Sciences program at Franklin College of Arts and Science, University of Georgia 
Research: Impact of PD-L2 on B cell differentiation
Mentor: Zhenming Xu

Highlight: Zainab was selected for the Gateway to Graduate School Program at UGA. 

Quote: This program helped immensely with the transition to graduate school. I was able to improve my time management skills, as well be prepared for doing research full-time while also having to take classes. 

Jordan Ortman, B.S.

Jordan Ortman, BS

Undergraduate Institution: Old Dominion University, VA
Current position: PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Central Florida.
Research: Improving the efficacy of empirically supported psychotherapies for PTSD, tinnitus, and traumatic brain injuries
Mentor: John C. Moring

Highlight: Jordan received a “Best Poster” award at ABRCMS 2021 . 

Quote: "UT Health Link PREP provided me the opportunity to further develop my research and professional skills. Through this program I was able to connect with some of the top researchers in their respective fields. With the help of their mentorship, and through hard work and dedication, I presented 3 posters and coauthored 4 manuscripts during my time in PREP. If you are interested in pursuing research in a biomedical-related field, I highly recommend UT Health Link PREP! This experience has further solidified my dedication to having a successful career in the field of biomedical research." 

John Sanchez, B.S.

John Sanchez, BS

Undergraduate Institution: St. Mary’s University, TX
Graduate Institution:  UT Health Houston 
Current position: PhD student at the  MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. 
Research: Determining synergistic effects of a PELP1 inhibitor with topoisomerase inhibitors for treating triple negative breast cancer.
Mentor: Ratna K. Vadlamudi

Highlight: John received a “Best Poster” award at ABRCMS 2021. He was also selected for an award from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.  He is a co-author on a recently published article, “The first-in-class inhibitor of ER coregulator PELP1 targets ER+ breast cancer” in Cancer Research (Impact Factor 13.312) with his PREP mentor, Dr. Ratna Vadlamudi. John is also listed as an author for the article, “Targeting PELP1 oncogenic signaling in TNBC with the small molecule inhibitor SMIP34” (published in May 2023).

2020-2021 Scholars

Justin Sharp, BS

Justin Sharp, BS

Undergraduate Institution: Jarvis Christian College, TX
Graduate Institution: University of Kentucky
Current position: Ph.D. student at The University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
Research: Pharmacology and drug discovery targeting signal transduction pathways in pancreatic cancer
Mentor: Addanki Pratap Kumar

Highlight: Justin was awarded the Lyman T Johnson Fellowship in 2021-2022 and again in 2022-2023!

Quote: "When I first read about the PREP program, I thought ‘this is just to give me more research experience’ It quickly became apparent that the program had much more to offer. I am grateful for the help in preparing my resume/CV and personal statement. I also appreciated the organization and time management skills we learned."

Lois Randolph, BS

Lois Randolph, BS

Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas at San AntonioTX
Graduate Institution: UT Health San Antonio
Current position: Ph.D. student at UT Health San Antonio
Research: Understanding the Structural Dynamics of EWS-FLI1 and its Self-Associative Behavior
Mentor: David S. Libich

Highlight: Lois received a Best Poster Award at ABRCMS 2020 and recently co-authored in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences on the topic of "The LIFR Inhibitor EC359 Effectively Targets Type II Endometrial Cancer by Blocking LIF/LIFR Oncogenic Signaling."

Quote: “I 100% believe the PREP program has prepared me for grad school. The classes we were enrolled in have conditioned me to always ask questions and be curious about everything. I can now read and comprehend research articles a lot quicker. While in the PREP program I became fascinated with data science and really wanted to learn more so I started to learn a programming language. I am committed to pursuing a career in research with a heavy focus on bioinformatics.

Valerie Caro, BS

Valerie Caro, BS

Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas at El Paso, TX
Graduate Institution: UT Health San Antonio
Current position: Ph.D. student at UT Health San Antonio
Research: CRISPR/Cas9 gene scanning technology used to interrogate 6 genes essential to Ewing sarcoma
Mentor: Alexander Bishop

Highlight: Dr. Bishop recently received a Diversity Supplement to his NCI R01 research grant to support Valerie Caro.

Quote: "Though I was exposed to research during my undergraduate studies, I wanted to expand my research experiences by having a project of my own that would allow me to hone my critical thinking skills and thus mold me into a more independent scientist. I also wanted to be a part of a program that helped me with professional development and the PREP program offers multiple opportunities/activities to accomplish this. Overall, the PREP program was an excellent choice that helped me grow in more ways than I could have possibly imagined."

Kaejaren Caldwell, BS

Kaejaren Caldwell, BS

Undergraduate Institution: Jarvis Christian College, TX
Graduate Institution: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Neuroscience Graduate Program
Current position: Ph.D. student at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Research:  Understanding necroptosis through behavioral physiology (specifically, pain models), biochemistry and anatomy that leads to chronic pain and inflammation
Mentor: Armen N. Akopian

Highlight: KC was nominated to the Albert C. Yates Fellowship Program at the University of Cincinnati which supports doctoral students from underrepresented minority groups who demonstrate high potential for academic success and provides an additional $25,000 stipend over multiple years in addition to the regular stipend provided by the graduate program as well as a designated mentor to support them academically throughout their doctoral program.

Quote: "The program provided me the opportunity to understand what I needed to improve and the skills I needed to develop in order to be successful in graduate school. I was able to improve on my reading and writing skills especially when it comes to scientific articles and understanding them."