MARC scholars

Elizabeth Ballmann, biochemistry and chemical biology

Rei Fejzulla

Elizabeth (Liz) Ballmann was appointed to the MARC program in May 2023. Liz is a junior at Wayne State pursuing an honors biochemistry and chemical biology degree with a minor in chemistry. 

She is currently conducting research in the Material Structural Dynamics Laboratory (MSDL) under the advisement of Professor Aaron Rury in the Department of Chemistry. Using Fourier transformations, Liz is researching the effects of terahertz radiation on the biological structural dynamics of 2-trifluoromethylbenzimidazole (TFMBI), a hydrogen-bonded antiferroelectric crystal. Liz aims to obtain her Ph.D. in astrochemistry and aspires to work for the Center for Emergence of Life (CEL) at NASA, studying carbonaceous chondrites for biological trace mechanisms relating to the origins of life. 

Rei Fejzulla, biochemistry and chemical biology

Rei Fejzulla

Rei was appointed to the MARC program in May 2022. Majoring in biochemistry and chemical biology honors, with a Minor in Public Health, Rei is currently conducting research in the Stockdill and Allen lab(s) on solid-phase peptide and ligand synthesis.

Rei plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and is interested in total synthesis and method development.

Sarah Haque, neuroscience

Sarah Haque

As a neuroscience major and a computer science minor, Sarah is currently planning to continue to research in the biomedical field. She hopes to progress on the Ph.D. and combine her interests in both biomedical science and engineering to contribute to the neuroscience field, and more specifically aid in neurodegeneration research for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s via machine learning. 

Sarah desires to obtain her bachelor of neuroscience soon and then eventually get into graduate school to study computational neuroscience. In the future, Sarah seeks to be part of Google’s brain team for their health and science department. Her current mentor at Wayne State is Dr. Ryan Insolera.

Katelynn Haygood, environmental science

Katelynn Haygood

Katelynn Haygood joined the MARC program in September 2021. She is a junior at Wayne State University. Her major is environmental science with a double minor in English and biology. 

Katelynn is performing research in genetics under Dr. Friedrich in the biology department. Her research focuses on distinguishing genes within the pax6 gene, the eyeless and twin of eyeless, in arthropods focusing on the horseshoe crab. She hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in Botany following graduation. After graduation, she wants to study the effects of global warming and use flora to reduce CO2 emissions in urban communities.

Rune Poor, biomedical engineering

Rune Poor

Rune was appointed to the MARC program in May 2023 and is currently working with Dr. Carolyn Harris to develop hydrogel(s) for use in studying hydrocephalus.  

Rune plans on getting a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering – after which he will work in the field of regenerative medicine. Rune is focused on improving and developing better outcomes in gender-affirming surgeries.

Jodi Protasiewicz, biology

Jodi Protasiewicz

Jodi Protasiewicz is a sophomore in the pre-MARC program at Wayne State University, majoring in biological sciences and minoring in biochemistry.

She possesses a particular interest in the field of astrobiology and wishes to be able to conduct research for NASA in the future.

Rhys Rivers, environmental science

Rhys Rivers

Rhys was appointed to the MARC program in June 2022. Their major is environmental science with a minor in biology. They are currently conducting research in the lab of Dr. Yifan Zhang where they are studying antibiotic resistance in Enterococcus spp. using the One Health approach. Rhys also conducted research in Dr. Karine Gibbs’ lab during the Amgen summer program at UC Berkeley, where they studied the stress response of cell shape change in Proteus mirabilis.

Rhys plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Microbiology and combine their interests in environmental science and microbiology in their Ph.D. project. They are interested in bio- and myco-remediation, antibiotic resistance, One Health, plastic degradation, bacterial interactions, fungi and antifungals, the Critical Zone and environmental racism.

Lexi Soltesz, biological sciences

Lexi Soltesz

Lexi is a biological sciences major in her senior year and joined the MARC program in May 2023. She currently works in Dr. Gino Panza’s research laboratory, which focuses on mild intermittent hypoxia as a possible prophylactic for autonomic dysfunction in people with spinal cord injury.  

In addition, Lexi is also working under Dr. Panza to create a Python program to analyze trends in exercise kinetics. She is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. to further study disorders of the autonomic nervous system. 

Former MARC scholars

Scholar Major Mentor
Nailah Bowman Psychology Dr. Lara Jones
Sydni Alexis Elebra Chemistry Dr. Charlie Fehl
Kailyn K. Fields Physics Dr. Matthew Allen
Autumn Harris Biology and neuroscience Dr. Sokol Todi
Anuri Mitchell Psychology Dr. Tricia Miranda-Hartsuff
Thais Pichardo Nutrition and food science Dr. Larry Matherly
Milan Rogan Biology Dr. Victoria Meller
Alexis Taylor Psychology Dr. Chris Trentacosta
Skye Taylor Psychology Dr. Emily Grekin
Melissa Torres Biomedical engineering Dr. Howard Mathew
Kennedy Hunter Watson Neuroscience Dr. Steve Patrick
Lauryn Williams Chemistry Dr. Tamara Hendrickson