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Current Cohort

Aicha Bendia

My name is Aicha Bendia, I was born and raised in Morocco, Africa. I formerly attended Bronx Community College then completed a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the City University of New York. Shortly thereafter, I was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Bridge to the Doctorate Graduate Fellowship. I began my doctoral studies at Drexel University in September 2017 and am currently working with Irwin Chaiken, PhD in the area of biochemistry. Most recently, I was awarded the Southern Region Educational Board (SREB) Scholar Fellowship.

I was engaged in research throughout my undergraduate career at CUNY and also had the chance to participate in research activities internationally in China. Throughout my academic career, I have had the opportunity to present at numerous conferences including the Young Researcher Conference-Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering, the Annual Philadelphia Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP) Research Symposium and Mentoring Conference, the Philadelphia Organic Chemists’ Club and the American Chemical Society National Meeting & Expo.

I plan to complete my doctoral studies in 2022 and aspire to a post-doctoral appointment in industry before returning to academia.

Luis Ramos Peralta

My name is Luis Ramos Peralta from Glen Burnie, MD. I graduated from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC) in 2018 and enrolled at Drexel University as a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering in the Fall of that same year.

Throughout my undergraduate career, I participated as a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) intern at Cornell University in the Summer 2014, a pre-PhD intern at University of Pittsburgh in Summer 2016, and as an undergraduate research intern at UMBC from Summer through Fall 2017.

I expect to complete my PhD in 2023 in Biomedical Engineering and hope to work in an industry lab conducting research on implants.

Gabrielle Salib

Hello! My name is Gabrielle Salib and I grew up near Annapolis, MD. I attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for my undergraduate studies. I began my doctoral studies in the fall of 2017 in the Information Science department, studying Human-Centered Computing (HCC). Through my undergraduate research and summer internship opportunities, I became driven to better understand how young adults in socially isolated circumstances find and develop interpersonal connections online and their transition of such connections into offline communities, benefiting their local economy and their mental health and wellbeing. I have interned with the Youth Services and Programs at the Free Library of Philadelphia's central branch and at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I enjoy volunteering with the young adult group at my local and home church, and I have worked towards establishing better methods of mentorship and tutoring for youth who have recently immigrated to the U.S. I was president of UMBC's Computer Science (CS) Education Club for two years, hosting events for outreach to local middle schools and the campus community to try their hand at coding and circuits in fun and accessible ways. I participated in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC and have continued in efforts to increase diversity in STEM and CS.

My anticipated graduation date is June 2022 and I intend to seek opportunities to advise and influence Science and Technology policy based on replicated research findings in CS and HCC or to continue on to an industry position improving the design of technology for the benefit of youth, young adults, and older adults.

Matthew Shirley

My name is Matthew Shirley from Bowie, MD. I graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) with a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I was in the renowned UMBC Meyerhoff Scholars Program and held distinctions from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Along with these distinctions I was selected to participate in bioengineering-related research experiences at Duke University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Pittsburgh. I was also an active member in NSBE and the ACS.

I began my PhD in 2017 and am a third year doctoral student in Biomedical Engineering working under Dr. Margaret Wheatley in the Microencapsulation Lab. My current research focuses on formulating and developing micro-scale vehicles for targeted drug delivery with theragnostic capabilities. Specifically, I am looking to engineer a biocompatible, injectable polymer microbubble by exploiting the drug delivery potential of ultrasound contrast agents combined with nanoparticles.

I have been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, a fellowship dedicated to supporting doctoral students with the potential to be future leaders in STEM. I was also selected for the GEM Fellowship and was inducted into Alpha Eta Mu Beta, the National Biomedical Engineering Honor Society. I am on the executive board for the Drexel Black Graduate Student Union and the Drexel Biomedical Graduate Association, as well as a mentor in the BIOMED Summer Academy for High School Students.

With an anticipated graduation date of June 2022, I hope to transition into industry research and development.

Elijah Davis

My name is Elijah Davis from Bowie, Maryland. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I began my doctoral studies with Drexel University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology in 2018. I am currently studying blood brain barrier responses to inflammation in the lab of Dr. Sonia Navas-Martin. Throughout my academic career, I have been fortunate to participate in the following programs: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)-Prep Postbaccalaureate Research Program, Southern Region Educational Board (SREB) Scholar Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Bridge to the Doctorate Graduate Fellowship. I also serve on the Drexel University College of Medicine Committee of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. I have also spent time as a Biology Teaching Assistant for the STEM Academy of my church community. My research activities/interests include autoimmune disease, hypersensitivity disorders, and neuroinflammation. I plan to graduate in 2023 and will seek a post-doctoral position at the National Institutes of Health.