Find here pictures and bios of current members 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 C.V.


Brie Perdue

Brie Perdue. Brie is from a small beach town called Gulf Breeze, FL and is currently a graduate student in the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with a minor in Biology from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. During her time at The Florida State University she participated in undergraduate research with a focus in radioactive inorganic chemistry, was a student athlete as a member of the Garnet Girls, worked as a patient care technician, and assisted in raising over $50,000 each year for Make-A-Wish foundation as a member of Chi Omega.

After graduating from Florida State University, Brie worked as a research assistant on the Andrews Research and Education Foundation team. She mainly worked on two studies, Multicenter Trial of Stem Cell Therapy and Autologous Adult Adipose-Derived Regenerative Cell Injection into Chronic Partial-Thickness Rotator Cuff Tears. The studies listed emphasized a focus on stem cells and their clinical relevance to the specialty of Orthopedics.

Her past experiences have driven a fascination for research, and she hopes to continue participating in research throughout her future career as a physician. Brie is honored to be a part of the RIPLRT and is excited to continue to participate in the advancement of science and medicine.


Cassandra Damouni

Cassandra Damouni. Cassandra is from Fenton, Michigan and is a current M.S. student in the Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University. Before attending Larkin University, she earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan-Flint. Her passion for people, health and art lead her desire to become a dentist, a profession that allows her to use her passions.

Cassandra was involved in many clubs during her undergraduate years. She was an officer in the university’s dental club. She and her friends also started a club called Cinemas Finest that later won the university’s ‘Outstanding Student Organization’ at Wolverine Excellence. She also volunteered at the Big Brother Big Sister organization where she was a mentor to three little girls.

Her eagerness to learn and love for science is what drew her to get into research. She is excited to be a part of RIPLRT and to one day use her experiences and gained knowledge from RIPLRT in her future career.


Chevine Johnson

Chevine Johnson. Chevine, from Miami, FL, is a current graduate student in M.S. in Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University. Chevine earned a B.S. in Chemistry, specialized in Biochemistry at Barry University, where she developed a passion for research aimed at revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Chevine aspires to become a successful physician who will bring sanity and accuracy to healthcare and actualize her research to solve some of the health challenges that have wreaked havoc globally. Since her undergraduate studies, Chevine has been preparing for this vision by joining and participating in research at the University of Miami and gaining clinical experience. She loves working in the laboratory setting because she is driven to translate the skills and knowledge, along with research finding to clinical setting to make a difference in society.

Chevine believes a M.S. will propel her further towards her vision as she gains more research and clinical experience. She looks forward to increasing her theoretical and experimental knowledge and partnering with similar minds that she hopes will be essential to her career path. Chevine is also eager to learn and contribute heavily to the society through RIPLRT, and she passionately believes that she can crack the hardest nuts in the healthcare industry. Chevine believes that she is on the right track to seeing her vision and goals for society come to pass.


Christian Ramos

Christian Ramos. Christian, from Miami, FL, is a first generation student of Hispanic descent. He is currently a graduate student at Larkin University College of Biomedical Science and an alumnus of Florida International University where he received his B.S. in Biology. His interest in research stems from his passion for Healthcare and helping others. Having gained experience from working as a volunteer in hospitals and as a medical scribe for an outpatient surgery center and Cardiologist he hopes to bring about positive change in his community through hard work and dedication. Christian aspires to be a Physician and is excited to contribute to the scientific community.


Henna Patel

Henna Patel. Henna is from Central Valley California. She grew up in a small town known as Bakersfield, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from the University of San Francisco. As an undergraduate student, Henna spent a lot of her free time working to give back to the undeveloped areas of San Francisco through an on campus club known as Food recovery network. Henna is an aspiring Dentist and hopes to specialize in Pediatric Orthodontics. Some her most involved outreach events included working closely with dental students from The University of California, San Francisco to educate students k-12 of the importance of good oral hygiene.

Following the completion of her undergraduate career, Henna volunteered her time as a member of the Boys and Girls Club, and tutored students in Chemistry at California State University, Bakersfield. She worked under Dr.Hanoz Santoke as a part time research assistant where her project focused on the quantifications of toxins found in the local waters of Kern County Bakersfield.


Karoline Alves

Karoline Alves. Karoline Karoline is from Fort Lauderdale FL, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University. She graduated from University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Psychology. During her undergrad years, she was involved with different organizations and clubs that contributed to the well-being of the Orlando community. She also worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant while in school, which positively contributed to her decision to pursue medicine and become a physician. One of her passions is traveling. She was able to combine her desire to assist people and travel the world by volunteering in under representative countries like Uganda, Greece, Vietnam, and other places around the globe. Those opportunities gave her the chance to put in practice the knowledge she acquired during her college time and learn about the health system in different countries.

She believes that RIPLRT research team will not only expose her to a great understanding of the research field but also give her a hands-on experience that can contribute to the advances of medicine.


Krystal Ramsaran

Krystal Ramsaran. Krystal is a first generation American of West Indian heritage. From Plantation, Florida, she earned her B.A in Biology and is a current M.S student at Larkin University. A prominent member of RKF (Radha Krishna Foundation) which is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization that strives to support the communities of Guyana and runs monthly medical drives fixating on the wellbeing of elderly community members and those without access to medical services. She worked as an Emergency Room scribe in Memorial Pembroke Hospital, Memorial Urgent Care, and Memorial West Hospital documenting the interactions between physicians and patients determining the workload for the on-shift doctors as patients were triaged. Volunteering at the pharmacy department in Cleveland Clinic Weston, she was able to learn about innovative chemotherapy and transplant medications that could change the pathways of modern medicine.

Being exposed to various specialties of medicine helped influence her interest of pursuing research and how she could contribute to the medical field as she continues her academic path to becoming a physician. She aspires to aid in giving back to communities and families that have limited access to healthcare. Excited to be a part of the RIPLRT research team, she cannot wait to bring in her knowledge and help further advance this project.


Lorraine N. 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.


Stevanie Robinson

Stevanie Robinson. Stevanie is a native of Florida, from the Fort Lauderdale area who is currently seeking her M.S. in Biomedical Science at Larkin University. She received her B.S in Biological Science from Nova Southeastern University. She has an undying passion for healthcare and the wellbeing of others, especially those located in underrepresented regions, which propelled her to pursue a career in medicine to become a Physician.

Stevanie has traveled to many underrepresented areas working alongside licensed physicians to help improve the quality of healthcare. Also, she has worked in emergency rooms, clinics, and shadowed in many specialties. She used these pivotal opportunities to seek out a comprehensive love for medicine and it was at this moment her enthusiasm for research was heightened. She sought to understand the human body in its entirety and how research plays such a vital role in the success of medicine. It is with this acquired knowledge and passion that she believes by joining the RIPLRT, to assist in the continuous efforts to investigate immunology, she will gain the skills to be a contributing partner to the field of science and the medical community at large as an aspiring physician.


Summer Paris Vanitvelt

Summer Paris Vanitvelt. Summer, from Flint, Michigan, earned her B.A. in Psychology from Auburn University while also completing her prerequisites for dental school and is currently a student in the M.S. Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University. During her time at Auburn, she was involved in Greek life, other on campus organizations and taught a Pilates class at the recreation center on campus.

Her passion for learning and working in a team setting is what drove her to join the RIPLRT research team. She is hoping to use the knowledge she gains from research for her future career as a dentist. She decided dentistry was the career for her after spending a few summers working at a dental practice and seeing how greatly a better smile can impact someone’s life.


Xaymara Hernández-González

Xaymara Hernández-González. Xaymara is from a small town (Humacao) located in the east coast of Puerto Rico. She completed a Bachelor degree in Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao. During her undergraduate years, she had the opportunity to participate in research investigations trying to isolate potential antimicrobial producing bacterias and nitrogen fixing bacterias. She was part of the Student Microbiology Chapter and the American Student Medical Association. Right now, Xaymara is a third year graduate student at University Of Puerto Rico-Medical and Science Campus. She is completing a M.S. in Microbiology and Medical Zoology. Currently, she is working on her thesis project at the Mycology Laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Bolanos. Her thesis investigations focus on investigating the role of aeroallergens such as pollen and fungal spores in the susceptibility to acquired Covid-19.

During the past three years, she had the opportunity to collaborate in the project "Taking a breath after Hurricane Maria" taking air samples from water damaged houses and identifying fungus captured from the air samples. Also, she is working in analyzing data from air samples captured from houses located in the community of Pinones in Loiza, Puerto Rico. Currently, she is part of the directive of the Microbiology Chapter at the UPR-RCM and is the representative of the master students at the graduate committee. Besides academia, Xaymara enjoys exercising, doing road trips and reading. She pursues to continue graduate studies.

Click here to view Xaymara’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. She is currently in the application cycle for med schools.


Adria Guajardo

Adria Guajardo (Graduate Research Assistant 2019 - 2020) is originally from Texas, and is currently in the application cycle for Physician Assistant schools.


Ariel Stateman

Ariel Stateman graduated from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University (2019), and a former co-leader and Research Assistant (2018 - 2019) of the RIPLRT.


Bhavikkumar Patel

Bhavikkumar Patel graduated from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University, and former gradaute research assistant of the RIPLRT (Jan 2019 - Aug 2019). Vik is currently a pharmacy student at Midwestern University.


Donna Oh

Donna Oh (Graduate Research Assistant 2019 - 2020) was a former co-leader in the RIPLRT, is originally from Anchorage, Alaska, and she is currently in the application cycle for medical schools.


Joshua Baguley

Joshua Baguley is originally from Indonesia, a former co-leader of the RIPLRT (2018-2019), and currently works at MD Anderson Cancer Center.


Kylie Daguio

Kylie Dagiuo (Graduate Research Assistant 2019 - 2020) is originally from Hawaii, and she is currently in the application cycle for medical schools. Great laboratory techniques!!!


Naziba Nuha

Naziba Nuha (Summer Intern - 2019) is a former summer intern, and she is currently a junior at Nova Southeastern University and she is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Mathematics with a minor in Chemistry.


Nicole Benavides

Nicole Benavides (Graduate Research Assistant 2019 - 2020) was a former co-leader in the RIPLRT, is originally from Virginia, and is currently in the application cycle for med schools.


Ruslan Fomentko

Ruslan Fomenko (Research Assistant). Ruslan graduated from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University (2019), and he is currently in dental school (Midwestern University Dental School).


Shandra Bellinger

Shandra Bellinger graduated from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University, and she is currently 2nd year med student (University of Medicine and Health Sciences).


Shana Zadron

Shana Zadron (Graduate Research Assistants 2019 - 2020) is originally from Afghanistan, and moved at a young age to the US. She is currently in the med schools' application cycle.


Summer Pellechio

Summer Pellechio was a research assistant (2019) and she is currently in Phyican Assistant school.


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.






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College of Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University

© 2020 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.