Staff 2017 – 2018

The Executive Board

Shadhi Mansoori
Editor-in-Chief

Major(s): Neuroscience
Hometown: Irving, Texas
Classification: Senior
E-Mail: editor.in.chief@texasurj.com
Years in URJ: Four
Highlights: Shadhi is a senior Neuroscience major from Irving, TX, and this is her fourth year to serve in URJ. Shadhi is in the Clements Center Undergraduate Fellows Program, Polymathic Scholars, and will be serving as one of the Austin City Hall fellows in the spring. The Freshman Research Initiative has given her research experience in the DIY Diagnostics stream where molecular biology and computer coding have been integrated to produce hand held diagnostics. She is interested in pursuing work in medicine and health policy.

Poornima Tamma
Managing Editor

Major(s): Biomedical Engineering
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Classification: Junior
E-Mail: managing.editor@texasurj.com
Years in URJ: Three
Highlights: Poornima is a third year honors biomedical engineering major from Houston. She is part of the IEE Robotics and Automation Society is currently competing in the Robotathon competition. In her spare time she plays Indian carnatic violin, debate, and reads mystery and science fiction novels. She is a huge Rockets fan!

Diane Sun
Executive Editor

Major(s): Business Honors and Government
Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas
Classification: Senior
E-Mail: executive.editor@texasurj.com
Years in URJ: Four
Highlights: Diane is a senior double majoring in Business Honors and Government. She organizes publicity for Undergraduate Research Journal events and initiatives. She loves visual arts, having first started in middle school, and channels the same creativity into graphic design. Outside of the Undergraduate Research Journal she is a J.J. Pickle Fellow and writes a column for the Daily Texan.

Senior Directors and Editors

Kierra Boyle
Director of Development

Major(s): Biochemistry
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Classification: Junior
E-Mail: development@texasurj.com 
Years in URJ: Three
Highlights: Kierra is spending her third year in Austin on the Undergraduate Research Journal staff leading the Development branch. In addition to the URJ, she serves as a member of the Fundraising Committee for the Science Undergraduates Research Group. When not studying or hanging out with friends, she enjoys experiencing the unique food and culture Austin has to offer as well as visiting South Mall to throw a Frisbee around or sit down with a good book.

Keerthana Chakka
Director of Campaigns

Major(s): Neuroscience & Plan II
Hometown: Katy, Texas
Classification: Sophomore
E-Mail: campaigns@texasurj.com
Years in URJ: Two
Highlights: Keerthana is a sophomore from Katy, TX in the Dean’s Scholars Program and the Plan II Honors Program. She is currently working on a research project in the Pierce Lab concerning the epigenetics of alcoholism and treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. In the future, she plans to attend medical school and work in clinical neurological research and health policy. Keerthana likes to write, be outdoors, and play guitar in her free time.

Annie Zhang
Director of Communications

Major(s): Chemistry
Minor(s): Science Communications
Hometown: College Station, Texas
Classification: Sophomore
E-Mail: communications@texasurj.com
Years in URJ: Two
Highlights: Annie is a sophomore chemistry major in the Dean’s Scholar program. From College Station, Texas, she is incredibly excited to finally live in a city with more than two main roads. Previously, she worked for the Daily Texan’s science & tech department for a year, and currently is a science communications writer for the College of Natural Sciences.

Kyungseok Jung
Associate Editor of Natural Sciences

Major(s): Biology
Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
Classification: Sophomore
E-Mail: natural.sciences@texasurj.com 
Years in URJ: Two
Highlights: Kyungseok is a second-year biology major in the Dean’s Scholars Honors Program. He was born in Seoul, South Korea, and lived there for the first half of his life before moving to Austin, where he has stayed ever since. He is an undergraduate research assistant in the Taylor Lab and a member of the Functional Genomics Stream in the Freshman Research Initiative. He spends his free time practicing cello, playing Overwatch, and eating combination over rice at Halal Bros.

 

Abraham Peek
Associate Editor of Social Sciences

Major(s): Architectural Engineering
Hometown: Katy, Texas
Classification: Sophomore
Years in URJ: Two
E-Mail: social.sciences@texasurj.com
Highlights: Abraham is a second-year student studying Architectural Engineering. He has previously promoted Dutch culture in the Houston area through volunteer work with Honorary Consul of the Netherlands and other organizations. He also spent a year with the Houston division of Engineering For Kids fostering interest in STEM fields among the city’s youth.

Assistants

Maura Devi
Assistant Director of Communications

Major(s): Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Bali, Indonesia
Classification: Sophomore
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Maura is a sophomore from Bali, Indonesia studying Chemical Engineering. When not squinting at her computer screen doing schoolwork, she can be spotted squinting at her computer screen, skyping her family back home. Research-wise, she was part of a team who developed and marketed coffee made from banana peels. The rest of her time is spent listening to Jazz music, reading works by Haruki Murakami, searching up cheap deals online, and daydreaming about the sea.

John Lin
Assistant Director of Communications

Major(s): Biomedical Engineering
Classification: Junior
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: John is a third year BME honors student. He currently works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Eberlin Research Group. His interests include cancer research, machine learning, entrepreneurship, and road biking.

Anna Xu
Assistant Director of Communications

Major(s): Rhetoric & Writing
Classification: Senior
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Anna is a senior Rhetoric and Writing major. Professionally, Anna hopes to soon begin her foray into the design industry as a graphic designer. A self-titled “creative-at-heart”, Anna’s passion for visual design and storytelling permeates her academic life, most recently resulting in a summer graphic design internship in Shanghai, China. When she isn’t writing in the third-person or breaking the fourth wall (hey y’all), Anna can be found gushing over well-designed user interfaces and scooching graphics a few pixels over in Photoshop. Anna previously participated in FRI’s DIY Diagnostics stream her freshman year and this will be her first year in URJ.

Tracy Zhang
Assistant Director of Communications

Major(s): Computer Science
Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona
Classification: Freshman
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Tracy is a first-year computer science major in the Jefferson Scholars program from Scottsdale, Arizona. She loves learning about any and all sciences, experimenting with technology, and roaming the great outdoors. In the time that Tracy is not cracking terrible science puns (which occurs only ‘periodically’), snapping photos, or working with digital media or art, she enjoys hanging out with friends, playing badminton, and obsessing over any cute dogs she encounters.

Kavya Rajesh
Assistant Director of Campaigns

Major(s): Chemistry
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Classification: Sophomore
Years in URJ: Two
Highlights: Kavya is a second year Chemistry major in the Dean’s Scholars Honors Program and a member of the Baiz group where she studies cryoprotectants using spectroscopy. She loves collecting Japanese pens and stationary, hiking, dog photography, and dark chocolate. When she isn’t in lab, you can find her obsessing over coffee, online shopping, or attending various events on campus.

Aparna Kambhampati
Assistant Director of Campaigns

Major(s): Biochemistry
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Classification: Freshman
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Aparna is a freshman biochemistry major who is part of the Health Science Scholars program and plans to attend medical school. She loves research and is currently working with a lab at UT that deals with T-ALL growth. She is from Houston and spends most of her free time dancing, listening to music, or watching Netflix.

 

Rebecca Wang
Assistant Director of Campaigns

Major(s): Aerospace Engineering
Classification: Sophomore
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Rebecca is a second year Aerospace Engineering major pursuing the Pre-Med track. She first became involved in research during her senior summer of high school in the High School Honors Science Program. She currently works as an undergraduate researcher in the Lu Lab with a focus in nanomaterials applied to bio-integrated electronics. In the future, she hopes to pursue her MD and practice medicine from a holistic and preventative approach. During Rebecca’s spare time, she enjoys reading classic novels, rocking out to all genres of music, playing the violin, dancing, and hanging out with friends.

Justinne Pineda
Assistant Director of Development

Major(s): Chemistry
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Classification: Senior
Years in URJ: Three
Highlights: Justinne is a fourth-year Presidential Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin. She currently divides her time between botany research in the Roux Lab and copious amounts of French homework. Besides working in the lab and learning French, Justinne spends her time shadowing in the Methodist Children’s (SATX) Pediatric Oncology unit, discovering new artists, (occasionally) practicing violin, and compulsively expanding her Amazon Wish List. Her favorite new artists are currently Kehlani and Christine and the Queens. In the future, Justinne plans to study Asxtaxanthin, a keto-carotenoid and powerful anti-oxidant found in salmon, for its potential use as a preventive Melanoma treatment.

Keon Fazeli
Assistant Director of Development

Major(s): Accounting
Minor(s): MIS
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Classification: Junior
Years in URJ: Two
Highlights: Outside of URJ, Keon is a member of the University Securities Investment Team (USIT), where he helps manage a $24,000 portfolio by voting on investment decisions. Additionally, he is a member of Capital Community, where he volunteers to provide financial literacy education to children in the East Austin community. He spends most of his spare time producing music (and making mixtapes), playing basketball at Greg, and hanging out with friends. Keon is also a huge New York Giants fan, having watched almost every game for years.

Kelly Walsh
Assistant Director of Development

Major(s): Chemistry
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Classification: Senior
Years in URJ: Two
Highlights: Kelly is a fourth year chemistry major from San Antonio. She am currently doing research in Dr. Humphrey’s lab in the inorganic chemistry department. After graduation Kelly hopes to attend graduate school or pursue work in environmental chemistry. She loves Spurs basketball, dogs, and kayaking!

Editors

Freya Preimesberger
Assistant Editor of Natural Sciences

Major(s): Biochemistry
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Classification: Junior
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Freya is a junior biochemistry major from Houston. She has conducted two summers of research at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she worked on a colorectal cancer project, and one semester of research in the biopharmaceutics division of UT’s College of Pharmacy on drug delivery. She also works as Associate Editor of the Science & Technology section of The Daily Texan, writes food safety articles for Houston-based law firm Robin Clouds LLP and volunteers through SWAG To College and Dell Seton Medical Center.

Pranshu Adhikari
Assistant Editor of Natural Sciences

Major(s): Physics
Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal
Classification: Freshman
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Pranshu is a freshman Physics major in the Polymathic Scholars Honors program. She was born in Nepal but moved to the United States when she was 10. Her interest in research began as a result of her involvement in the AP Capstone program at her high school, which exposed her to research in academia. She hopes to eventually continue on to graduate school and pursue a career in research.

Alex Guerro
Assistant Editor of Natural Sciences

Major(s): Neuroscience
Hometown: Laredo, Texas
Classification: Sophomore
Years in URJ: Two
Highlights: Alejandro is a sophomore from Laredo, Texas. He is a Health Science Scholar in the College of Natural Sciences. He is currently a Neuroscience major and has scholarly interests in computer science, cell biology and chemistry. In his free time, Alejandro loves to go out with friends, shop endlessly on Amazon and work out at Gregory Gym. He can also be found playing racquetball, basketball or playing ping pong.

Megan Li
Assistant Editor of Humanities

Major(s): Applied Mathematics, Economics
Classification: Freshman
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Megan is a freshman double majoring in Applied Mathematics (Dean’s Scholars Honors Program) and Economics. In addition to the URJ she is part of Asian Business Students Association (ABSA) and Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE). When not studying or hanging out friends, she is at the local bubble tea shop, playing cards/board games, or watching movies.

 

Brendalys Lebron
Assistant Editor of Humanities

Major(s): History
Hometown: Harker Heights, Texas
Classification: Senior
Years in URJ: Two
Highlights:  Brendalys is currently a fourth year student at UT majoring in History. She is originally fron Harker Heights, Texas, and is very excited to be a part of the Undergraduate Research Journal staff and looks forward to another great year with an amazing staff!

 

Shannon Carey
Assistant Editor of Humanities

Major(s): Plan II, History, & English
Hometown: Georgetown, Texas
Classification: Junior
Years in URJ: Two
Highlights: Shannon is a Plan II Honors, History, and English Major. As well as being a part of the Undergraduate Research Journal, she is Assistant Copy Editor for the yearbook. She spends her free time taking care of cats at Austin Pets Alive! and dancing at various conventions around Texas. She has researched John Steinbeck at the Harry Ransom Center.

Sarika Sabnis
Assistant Editor of Social Sciences

Major(s): Linguistics
Minor(s): Arabic Language
Classification: Junior
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: I am a third-year Linguistics major, minoring in Arabic Language. I also speak two Indian languages, and am currently trying my hand at Spanish. Of course, I love learning and studying languages and the way people speak. You might find me spacing out in a conversation because of the way you pronounce your vowels. (Sorry, in advance.) Currently I am working on a research project in the computational linguistics lab, as part of the Intellectual Entrepreneur (IE) Pre-Grad Internship. I’m also hoping to continue computational linguistics into graduate school! When I’m not doing school, I’m probably DIY-ing a project in my apartment. I just love creating new things out of the old – anything from clothes and jewelry to desks and coffee tables.

Sofia Tafich
Assistant Editor of Social Sciences

Major(s): Rhetoric & Writing
Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico
Classification: Sophomore
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Sofia is a second year Rhetoric & Writing major, hoping to do a minor in Journalism as well. She is from Monterrey, Mexico, and hopes to someday publish a novel and edit other people’s books for a living. She has loved writing ever since she can remember, and also really loves painting, drawing, watching films, reading, dancing, traveling, and hiking.

 

Neil Shah
Assistant Editor of Social Sciences

Major(s): Neuroscience, Plan II Honors
Classification: Sophomore
Years in URJ: One
Highlights: Neil is a second-year Neuroscience and Plan II major in the Polymathic Scholars program. Outside of class, he can usually be found talking politics (with the Texas Political Union), reading, playing tennis, or falling asleep in a library.