Senior Honors Profiles


Clayton Becker

Hometown: Evansville, IN
Major: Biological Sciences (Neuroscience Track)
Mentor: Dr. David Hyde, Jingling Li
Research Title: Identifying the Role of ADAM10 in Zebrafish Retinal Regeneration
Career Plans: Attend grad school to obtain my PhD and pursue a career in research
Summer Experiences: 2015: University of Notre Dame COS-SURF
Other Interests: I am a member of the Marching Band, Symphonic Winds Ensemble, Basketball Band, and Orchestra at Notre Dame. I am also a mentor for the Biology Uplift program. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking and climbing.


Bradley Bowles

Hometown: Brownsburg, IN
Major: Biological Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Pinar Zorlutuna
Project Title: In Vitro Investigation of Endothelial Colony Forming Cell Promotion of Angiogenesis
Career Plans: Attend graduate school for biomedical sciences and pursue a career in research
Summer Experiences: Notre Dame Undergraduate Research (summer 2015)
Other Interests: I tutor at the Robinson Community Learning Center and volunteer in the emergency room at memorial hospital. I am also a Chinese language student and have strongly enjoyed learning a foreign language. My hobbies include running, cooking and photography.


Matthew Cervantes

Hometown: Papillion, NE
Major: Biological Sciences
Mentor: Dr. David Hyde, Dr. Manuela Lahne
Project Title: Investigating the role of calcium signaling and gap junctions in IKNM during zebrafish retinal regeneration
Career Plans: Pursue a career in medical research (MD/PhD)
Summer Experiences: 2015 UNMC internship
Other Interests: In my free time I enjoy reading and powerlifting. I am also a Cell Biology Research Lab TA and an Uplift mentor.


Nicole Handa

Hometown: Tinton Falls, NJ
Majors: Biological Sciences, Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Wingert
Research Title: Defining the role of the transcription factor mecom during renal stem cell development
Career Plans: I plan to attend Medical School and become a physician with continued involvement in research.
Other Interests: Outside of the classroom I enjoy running, playing soccer, and baking. Some other things I have been involved with on campus are tutoring through the Center for Social Concerns, serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and Badin Hall Government.


Lan Jiang

Hometown: Nanjing, China
Major: Biological Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Siyuan Zhang, Mentor: Wendy AlvarezBarrios
Project Title: Real-time investigation of the influence of shear pressure and compression on single disseminated tumor cells during mechanical trapping
Career Plans: I plan to attend medical school and join a non-profit to do international medicine service, but continue to be involved in research
Summer Experiences: 2015 HCRI SURF
Other Interests: I have a strong passion in health care. Outside of the classroom, I volunteer at Center for Hospice Care and Pediatric Therapy at St. Joe. I am also a TA of Organic Chemistry lab. I love cooking, hiking and reading books.


Ryan Sweeney

Hometown: Naperville, IL
Major: Biological Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Reginald Hill
Project Title: Investigation of Stromal-Derived Exosomes and the Migration of Pancreatic Cancer
Career Plans: I plan to attend medical school, become a physician, and continue participation in research.
Summer Experiences: 2015: Notre Dame Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility
Other Interests: Outside of research, I volunteer in the emergency room at Memorial Hospital, have worked as a TA for Introductory Biological Sciences, and I serve as a lector at Dillon Hall Mass.


Abigail Tirrell

Hometown: Naples, FL
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Anthropology, Glynn Family Honors Program
Mentor: Dr. Michael Ferdig
Project Title: Interactions and competitive growth within mixed infections of artemisinin resistant Plasmodium falciparum
Career Plans: My plan is to attend Medical School and specialize in infectious disease research.
Summer Experiences: 2015: University of Notre Dame COS-SURF
Other Interests: I enjoy playing lacrosse and cooking outside of class. I am also a member of the Notre Dame Medical Observers, help raise money for Andean Health Development through Hesburgh's Heroes, and am a Teaching Assistant for Introductory Biological Sciences.


Kevin Wilkins

Hometown: Torino, Italy
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Medieval Studies
Mentor: Dr David Hyde, Dr. Ryne Gorsuch
Project Title: Using a lineage tracing system to investigate the dynamics of Müller glia and Neuronal Progenitor Cells (NPCs) proliferation in the regenerating retina of zebrafish.
Career Plans: Attend graduate school to pursue a PhD in biological sciences and possibly a career in research in the fields of genetics or stem cells.
Summer Experiences: 2015: University of Notre Dame REU
Other Interests: Outside of class, I am involved in my dorm community serving as Keenan Hall Academic Commissioner, I work as a Gallery Teacher at the Snite Museum, I am involved in the Senior Leardership Committee in Biology, and I enjoy running, hiking, and outher outdoors activities.


Keon Schmidt

Hometown: Appleton, WI
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Science, Technology, and Values
Mentor: Dr. Siyuan Zhang, Mentor: Sindy Ni
Project Title: Characterizing the role of DEDD on cell cycle regulation in Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Career Plans: I plan to attend medical school and plan to pursue a procedural medicine specialty with a complementary research component
Summer Experiences: 2015: Poverty Medicine SSLP
Other Interests: My extracurricular passions and involvement include tutoring, serving as a teaching assistant for Organic Chemistry and Cell Biology Research Laboratory courses, working as a Peer Advisor for the First Year of Studies Program, and playing on the Notre Dame Men's Club Hockey Team


Sarah Fracci

Hometown: Mentor, OH
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Poverty Studies, International Development Studies
Mentor: Dr. Siyuan Zhang, Mentor: Victoria Zellmer
Project Title: Improving therapeutic efficacy for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) through targeted genetic knockdown of STAT1 and pharmacological manipulation.
Career Plans: I am interested in pursuing a career in which I combine and implement my interests in medicine, research and international development. I plan on doing this by attending medical school and then pursuing medical interventions in developing nations in order to ensure healthcare to humans across all borders.
Summer Experiences: 2014: Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute/Case Western Reserve ENGAGE Fellowship; 2015: Univeristy of Notre Dame Hiller Family Scholars Fellowship; 2016: Kellogg Grant for Project entitled "Investigation of the Effects of Accompaniment on the Reduction of Stigmatization and Renewal of Self-Dignity in Women Battling Breast Cancer in Uganda"
Other Interests: I hold a strong passion for contributing to the development of impoverished nations and thus am involved in several endeavors that allow me to pursure this mission. As the president of Notre Dame's Chapter of Global Public Health Brigades, I have led two brigades to rural Nicaragua where we were able to empower communities through medical and public health interventions. In addition to Global Public Health Brigades, I also hold leadership roles in the Notre Dame American Cancer Society Chapter and Notre Dame Biology Club. I enjoy interacting with my peers as a undergraduate teaching assistant and through my dorm, Cavanaugh Hall. In my free time, I love volunteering at St. Joeseph's Hospital and the South Bend homeless shelter, reading, running, crafting and spending time with friends.


Justin Brill

Hometown: White Bear Lake, MN
Major: Biological Sciences and French
Mentor: Dr. Matthew J. Ravosa
Project Title: Make no bones without it: Characterization of region-specific behaviors in non-sutural cranial osteoblasts using Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
Career Plans: I am currently applying to medical school with an intent to practice in a primary care setting with a research emphasis.
Other Interests: Outside of academics, I'm involved in volunteering at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center along with shadowing through the Notre Dame Medical Observers. I serve as a Sacristan for Dillon Hall, and I'm a member of the Notre Dame Celebration Choir. In my free time I enjoy cycling, film photography, and playing the piano.


Haley Barlow

Hometown: Austin, TX
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Italian Studies
Mentor: Dr. David Hyde
Project Title: Characterizing the Roles of NF-κB1 in Danio rerio Retinal Regeneration
Career Plans: I plan to attent graduate school to pursue a PhD with the intent of remaining involved in research throughout my career. I am currently considering going into academia and becoming a professor.
Summer Experiences: 2014: Volunteer Undergraduate Researcher at the University of Texas with Dr. Daniel Bolnick; 2015: Hiller Family Scholar at the University of Notre Dame with Dr. David Hyde
Other Interests: I live out my passion for music as a member of the University of Notre Dame Marching Band and by playing in the pit orchestra for student-run musicals. As one of the Program Coordinators for Uplift and as a teaching assistant, I pour back into the biological sciences community through mentorship and leadership. Other than that, I love reading, cooking, and sleeping!