Find here pictures and bios of current members and past members, as well as interviews with current and past members of the RIPLRT.

Current members of the RIPLRT

Past members of the RIPLRT

Current members of the RIPLRT

Dr. Rivera-Mariani

Dr. Félix E. Rivera-Mariani(Principal Investigator).. Dr. Rivera-Mariani, Assistant Professor and Academic Coordinator in the College of Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University, is an expert immunologist, microbiologist, aerobiologist, and computational biologist. Dr. Rivera-Mariani, in addition to carrying out scientific research, teaches biochemistry, immunology, and molecular genetics. Among the academic credentials of Dr. Rivera-Mariani include a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry (Southeastern Louisiana University under an athletic scholarship), Ph.D. in Microbiology and Medical Zoology (School of Medicine of the University of Puerto Rico - Medical Sciences Campus), post-doctoral fellowship in Environmental Health Sciences (the Bloomberg School of Public Health of the Johns Hopkins University), and Science Teaching Fellowship (American Society for Microbiology).

Dr. Rivera-Mariani is also a strong supporter of reproducibility in sciences and thus has gained specializations in Data Science, Genomic Data Sciences, Executive Data Science, Software Development (Johns Hopkins University), Systems Biology (Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai), and Bioinformatics (University of California at San Diego). Through these specializations, Dr. Rivera-Mariani has developed an extensive expertise as a programmer in the R, Python, and Matlab computer languages.

At Larkin University, Dr. Rivera-Mariani seeks to mentor students and young researchers in the different pipelines and epicycles of scientific research, and through the Respiratory and Immunology Project and Laboratory Research Team (RIPLRT) by providing further insight into the immunotoxicology of airborne pollutants of different chemical origins. He has published extensively in this line of research (click here for additional information).

Click here to view Dr. Rivera-Mariani’s interview.

Click here to view Dr. Rivera-Mariani’s C.V.

Adria Guajardo Allen

Adria Guajardo Allen (Graduate Research Assistant). Adria is from Dallas, TX and is a current M.S. student in the Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University. Before attending Larkin University, she obtained her B.S. in Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington. Her passion for people, health and science guided her aspirations to become a Physician Assistant, a profession that offers endless opportunities to study the body and add to the quality of life with the use of medicine. .

In addition to being a registered dental assistant throughout her undergraduate career, Adria was the Vice President of National Society of Leadership and Success, founded UTAs first non-profit glow-in-the-dark 5k fundraiser, participated as an officer of her undergraduate pre-dental society, and volunteered in multiple health clinics.

Her enthusiasm for medicine and people has compelled her toward research. Coming from a big Hispanic family and being the second oldest out of six, she has always enjoyed working in a team environment. She feels honored to be a part of RIPLRT and looks forward to bringing the experience, knowledge and work ethic attained from RIPLRT into furthering her endeavors.

Click here to view Adria’s interview.

Donna Oh

Donna Oh (Graduate Research Assistant). Donna hails from Anchorage, Alaska, and is a current graduate student in the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University. With a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Alaska, Anchorage under her belt, she moved from the Land of the Midnight Sun to the Sunshine State in order to expand her education, ultimately aiming for medical school and into a career as a physician. Having gained many years of experience in the social services and clinical health care, Donna’s interest in scientific research is mainly rooted in her passion for learning the biochemical pathways involved in physiological and pathogenic processes of the human body.

She has been involved in many hours of clinical volunteering, utilizing her bilingual ability to speak both English and Korean to translate for patients in clinical settings both in exam and operating rooms. This exposed her to a wide demographic of patient-care, ranging from neonates to geriatrics, in fields of family medicine, orthopedics, dentistry, and a wide range of specialties. By joining RIPLRT to aide in the ongoing investigation of immunology, Donna looks forward to participating in the steps being made to advance the medical sciences.

Click here to view Donna’s interview.

Joshua Baguley

Joshua Baguley (Research Assistant - remote). Josh graduated from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University. He currently lives in Houston, Texas where he also works as a Research Assistant at MD Anderson, Department of Genomic Medicine.

Josh's interest in research began when he started working in a biochemistry lab at Baylor University. He learned how to express and purify proteins while working on a project studying the MCM8 and MCM9 proteins. His research interest grew while he attended Larkin University and join the RIPLRT, taking an interest in immunology and data driven research. Josh strives to enter the medical field and use his research background to bring positive change to his community.

Click here to view Josh’s C.V.

Kylie Daguio

Kylie Daguio (Graduate Research Assistant). Kylie earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a concentration in pre-med at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and is currently a student in the M.S. Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University. Her enthusiasm for research emanates from her passion for healthcare, as shown through her dedication working in medical clinics and hospitals. She most recently worked as a Medical Scribe in the oncology and hematology department for Comprehensive Cancer Centers where she had the privilege to impact patient lives while learning more about cutting edge medicine in cancer research including immunotherapy. As a result of her combined clinical experiences, Kylie is driven to become a physician and eliminate barriers of healthcare including accessibility and affordability.

That being said, as a member of RIPL-RT, Kylie values the ability to translate her research findings to the clinical setting. In addition to continually developing indispensable laboratory skills, she is passionate about bringing awareness to the scientific community as well as the public about human-based immunotoxins.

Click here to view Kylie’s interview.

Nicole Benavides

Nicole Benavides (Graduate Research Assistant) Nicole is a student in the M.S in Biomedical Science program at Larkin University. She grew up in Fairfax, Virginia and moved to Clermont, Florida in her early teenage years. She graduated from the University of Florida earning a B.S in Health Education. She aspires to attend medical school and become a physician, presently, with heavy interests in orthopedics. She is the first in her Latin family to pursue a professional career in healthcare.

Nicole’s interest in the health field led to her curiosity in research. She has been exposed to clinical settings through volunteering at the UFHealth hospital and shadowing physicians. Nicole is also a registered pharmacy technician and enjoys assisting patients in regards to their medications. She is eager to learn and contribute to the science community through RIPLRT and her future ambitions.

Click here to view Nicole’s interview.

Shana Zadron

Shana Zadron (Graduate Research Assistant) Shana, a first generation student of Afghan descent, is an alumnus of the University of Colorado, Denver with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Psychology. She is a current student at Larkin University in the M.S. Biomedical Science program and represents her college as a student ambassador. Her ambition for research originated from her substantial knowledge of science acquired through her undergraduate degree. In addition to her desire to contribute to RIPLRT, she aspires to become a prominent physician and further enhance the field of medicine.

Click here to view Shana’s interview.

Sukeina Nasser

Sukeina Nasser (Graduate Research Assistant) Sukeina (we know her as Sukie) is from Detroit, MI and is a 2nd year student at Larkin University College of Pharmacy. Her interest in drug research development, specifically in ways to create less addictive and more effective medications, is what lead her to pursue a career in pharmacy. Although her passion remains in pharmacy, she is also dedicated to the opportunity to work with the RIPL research team. Having family who live in Puerto Rico, and we’re affected first hand by the destruction of Hurricane Maria, she has sincere interest in the work that RIPL conducts regarding respiratory immunology issues that are being felt by so many individuals from the aftermath of Maria. Sukeina hopes to gain knowledge and experience from a Biomedical standpoint, while also hoping to offer some insight from a pharmacy background. She is excited to learn and grow alongside the RIPL team.

Click here to view Sukie’s interview.

Click here to view Sukeina’s C.V.

Past members of the RIPLRT

Hayat Srour

Hayat Srour (Research Assistant and Lab Manager 2018 - 2020). Hayat, from Detroit, Michigan, is also a graduate from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University. Before she joined Larkin, she earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan). Her interest in scientific research stems from her passion for medicine and philanthropy. Among her diverse goals, she aspires to become a physician that actively works toward global equality.

Hayat's leadership dates back to the beginnigs of the RIPLRT (back then the RIPLRG). When the group was created, Hayat was assigned the task of being the spokesperson of the group. Her leadership was also employed as a student representative in the Advisory Committee of the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University. Therefore, it was no surprise that she was able to transition to being the Lab Manager of RIPLRT (2018 - 2020).

Click here to view Hayat’s interview.

Click here to view Hayat’s C.V.

Lorraine Vélez-Torres

Lorraine Torres-Vélez (Ph.D. candidate - University of Puerto Rico - Medical Sciences Campus). Lorraine is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Medical Zoology at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. She earned her master’s degree in Public Health with concentration in Epidemiology in 2015, identifying the risk factors affecting the quality of life of residents in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. In 2014 she received a double major in Industrial Microbiology and Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. During her undergraduate education, she worked in the Symbiosis Laboratory of Dr. Cafaro investigating the antifungal capacity of Actinobacteria associated to the exoskeleton of the termite Nasutitermes costalis. She’s currently working in her research thesis at the Mycology Laboratory of Dr. Bolaños, studying the effect of Hurricane María in the indoor concentration of fungi and the health outcomes of the habitants.

Currently, she’s the President of the Microbiology Chapter of her campus where she promotes and organizes professional and educative outreach activities for the community. Outside academia, Lorraine enjoys dancing salsa, visiting new restaurants and kayaking.

Because Dr. Rivera-Mariani is a member of the thesis committee of Lorraine, she was invited for and completed a one-week training with the RIPLRT to learn the different human-based immunological approaches we implement in environmental health studies. Also, she trained on the experimental planning and design, project management and execution, as well as data management and analysis we implement when deploying human-based immunological approaches to study the respiratory health risks resulting from human exposures to air pollution. Lorraine will be implementing in her thesis studies the skill sets she will learned with the RIPLRT.

Click here to view Lorraine’s C.V.

Click here to view Lorraines’s interview.

Ariel Stateman

Ariel Stateman graduated from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University, and a former co-leader and Research Assistant-internt (2018 - 2019) of the RIPLRT. Among her scientific achievement of Shandra as a former member of the RIPLRT include a poster presentation at the 2019 annual conference of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI 2019). At AAAAI 2019, her poster addressed differences in PM.25 between eastern and western states of the US and its relationship to asthma prevalence. Ariel is also a prospective med-school student.

Bhavikkumar Patel

Bhavikkumar Patel graduated from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University, and formert gradaute research assistant of the RIPLRT (Jan 2019 - Aug 2019). Vik is a prospective medical student candidate in the upcoming application cycle.

Naziba Nuha

Naziba Nuha (Summer Intern - 2019). Naziba is currently a sophomore at Nova Southeastern University and she is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Mathematics with a minor in Chemistry. Currently Naziba works as a physician assistant scribe at Memorial Regional Hospital Emergency Department where she is responsible for filling out and maintaining patient charts and managing the physician’s workflow as they see patients.

Ruslan Fomentko

Ruslan Fomenko (Research Assistant). Ruslan, also a recent graduate of the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Larkin University, grew up in Kazakhstan and moved Virginia Beach, Virginia during his high school years. He graduated from Christopher Newport University with a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology with a Psychology minor, and later from Larkin University with a M.S. in Biomedical Sciences. In addition to volunteering in various clinical environments, Ruslan took part in an internship at Patient First (chain of patient care centers) as a licensed phlebotomist. His undergraduate research was focused on the antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of drought and salt-stressed Rosmarinus officinalis plants.

Shandra Bellinger

Shandra Bellinger graduate from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University, and former Research Assistant-intern and lead editor (2018 - 2019) in the RIPLRT. Among her scientific achievement of Shandra as a former member of the RIPLRT include a poster presentation at the 2019 annual conference of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI 2019). At AAAAI 2019, her poster addressed differences in prevalenve of food allergies among eastern and western states of the US. Shandra is a med student at St. Georges University.

Summer Pellechio

Summer Pellechio is a graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY) with a B.S. Biomedical Sciences. She originally matriculated as an Industrial Design student, seeking a people-oriented career that would integrate her empathy and creative thinking. Her ambition to meaningfully utilize these strengths moved her to healthcare sciences and to aspire to become a Physician Assistant. Summer constributed her leadership and scientific skillsets to the RIPLRT from May to October 2019. She is currently in ther interview cycle, and have received offers, for PA schools.

Tanha Rahman

Tanha Rahman (Summer Intern - 2019). Similar to Naziba, Tanha is also an undergraduate (third-year) student at Nova Southeastern University. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Biology (pre-medicine track) with a minor in International Studies.

Other Past Members of the RIPLRT

Other Past Members of the RIPLRT

Interviews with current members of the RIPLRT

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College of Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University

© 2019 RIPLRT. The content of this website is authored by the RIPLRT, and is revised and edited by the RIPLRT. The content of this website reflect the views of the authors and is not a publication of Larkin University, which bears no responsibility for the content found in this website.