Senior Honors Profiles

Gary George

Gary George

Hometown: Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
Majors: Biological Sciences and Anthropology
Minor: Glynn Family Honors Program
Mentor: Dr. Giles Duffield
Research Title: Molecular Drivers of Anopheles gambiae mosquito behavior- This project seeks the molecular influences of mosquito behavior with the goal of finding targets to aid in the fight against malaria.
Career Plans: Medical School leading to a career in research medicine
Summer Experiences: COS SURF recipient, Hoffman Family Fellow
Other Interests: Duncan Hall Resident Assistant; Memorial Hospital Ambassador; Study Abroad: Perth, Australia; Building Manager, LaFortune Student Center


Dennis Lee

Dennis Lee

Hometown: Ridgefield, NJ
Major: Biological Sciences and Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Siyuan Zhang
Project Title: Metabolic Transcriptome Shifting of Brain Metastatic Tumors and its Role in Metastatic Success
Career Plans: Attend medical school and pursue a career in academic medicine in neurosurgery or neuro-oncology.
Summer Experiences: Internship at NYU Langone medical center under a neurosurgeon, COS-SURF at Notre Dame, and medulloblastoma research at NYU Langone medical center.
Other Interests: Memorial Hospital Ambassador, President of Korean Student Association, Hiking, and piano.


Megan McGarel

Megan McGarel

Hometown: Morristown, TN
Major: Biological Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Laurie Littlepage
Project Title: Impact of MMP3 on Primary and Metastatic Tumor Burden in Breast Cancer
Career Plans: I am currently applying to medical school and I hope to matriculate in the fall of 2016.
Summer Experiences: 2014-CPRIT/CURE program at MD Anderson in Houston, TX; 2015-COS-SURF (in Dr. Littlepage’s lab)
Other Interests: Outside of my research, I am very involved in dorm life as a Resident Assistant in Howard Hall. In the Fall of 2014, I studied abroad in Angers, France. I also enjoy singing as a member of the Women’s Liturgical Choir.


Josiah Nieto

Josiah Nieto

Hometown: Princeton, West Virginia
Majors: Biological Sciences, Psychology
Mentor: Dr. David Hyde; Mentor-Joshua Hobgood
Research Title: Function of hairy and enhancer of split-related genes during regeneration of the adult zebrafish retina- This project is aimed at characterizing the function of one gene subset that participates in the remarkable regeneration of the damaged adult zebrafish retina.
Career Plans: I plan to pursue a post-undergraduate research position for 1-2 years before applying to MD-PhD programs.
Summer Experiences: Hoffman Family Fellow; COS-SURF recipient
Other Interests:

  • When I am home, I enjoy shadowing local doctors in order to see how my education and research experience can be applied in my intended career.
  • My second major in psychology has allowed me to view a developing science that is more conceptual than biological sciences. This added viewpoint forces me to consider additional paths of study and research that would, otherwise, not have occurred me.
  • When I am not working I spend my time playing soccer and basketball or spending time with my friends.

Sarah Philo

Sarah Philo

Hometown: Northville, Michigan
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Theology
Mentor: Dr. Joshua Shrout
Project Title: Environmental Calcium Effect on Swarming and Twitching Motility of the Bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Career Plans: I am currently applying for Masters in Public Health programs with a concentration in Global Health, then I plan to obtain a PhD in Epidemiology.
Summer Experiences: 2014, University of Notre Dame COS-SURF; 2015, Indiana Clinical Translational Sciences Institute at Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis Undergraduate Research Fellowship, research assistant at the HANDS in Autism Interdisciplinary Training and Resource Center
Other Interests: I am the treasurer of the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir; this choir sings at the 10AM mass each Sunday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus. I am also involved with Campus Ministry in my dorm.


Luqun Shen

Luqun Shen

Hometown: Granger, IN
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Chinese, Glynn Family Honors Program
Mentor: Dr. Zachary Schafer
Project Title: A novel pathway in the death of ECM-detached cells
Career Plans: Graduate School
Summer Experiences: 2014: REU at Notre Dame; 2015: Undergraduate Research Program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Other Interests: When I'm not in classes or doing homework, I love to run, play basketball, and of course watch Notre Dame Football. Outside of school, I really enjoy travelling around the globe. Through programs at Notre Dame, I've been able to spend a summer in Taiwan learning Chinese and one semester in London, where I was able to visit a number of different countries, including Spain, France, and Germany.


Zoe Volenec

Zoe Volenec

Hometown: Ormond Beach, FL
Majors: Environmental Science, Economics
Minor: Glynn Family Honors Program
Mentor: Dr. Gary Belovsky
Project Title: Climate Change and the Bunchgrass Prairie - The Effect of Shifting Precipitation and Temperature Regimes on Prairie Nutrient Cycling and Plant Communities
Career Plans: Continue on to graduate study with a focus on conservation planning and how anthropogenic-induced habitat changes influence gene flow and population viability
Summer Experiences: I spent the summer after my freshman year as a field assistant to Dr. Reisinger, whose work involved studying nutrient availability in stream ecosystems of Grant Teton National Park. The past two summers I have conducted my senior thesis work on the National Bison Range of Montana, with funding received from COS-SURF.
Other Interests: Statistics, Backpacking, Baking


Forrest Weghorst

Forrest Weghorst

Hometown: Auburn, Indiana
Major: Neuroscience and Behavior
Minor: Anthropology, Glynn Family Honors Program
Mentor: Joseph O’Tousa
Project Title: “Activation of the DLK/JNK pathway induces concurrent degenerative and regenerative effects in adult Drosophila photoreceptors.”
Career Plans: I plan to obtain a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology starting in the fall of 2016, then pursue a career in academia.
Summer Experiences: I researched for a total of 20 weeks during the summers of 2014 and 2015 under the COS-SURF program at Notre Dame.
Other Interests: I am an RA in Fisher Hall, where I have spent my entire time at ND. I was the Concession Stand Commissioner for the Biology Club and Fisher Hall during the 2014 football season. I also tutored with the TRiO Upward Bound program during my sophomore and junior years.