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The Inter-School Board

One of the most unique aspects of CAURS, and one that we pride ourselves on, is that the Symposium is planned and run almost entirely by undergraduates. The CAURS Inter-School Board (ISB) is comprised of dedicated students from the six CAURS member institutions who work year-round to organize and arrange the Symposium, one of the largest undergraduate research conferences in the nation. We encourage you to reach out to the ISB representatives from your school if you have any questions or comments.


CAURS 2013-2014 Inter-School Board



Judging Kristin Palarz
Networking and Roundtables Saad Khan
Oral Presentations Miriam Schmid
Public Relations Grace Park
Fundraising Jeong Yun (John) Yang
Scoring Tamara Gedankien

DePaul University

Perri Jacobs
Ann Marie Zaya

Illinois Institute of Technology

Peter Chinetti
Tamara Gedankien
Miriam Schmid

Loyola University Chicago

Dana Dahan
Cheyanne Frosti
Dakota Neff

Northwestern University

Kristin Palarz
Jeong Yun (John) Yang

The University of Chicago

Saad Khan
Amanuel Kibrom
Grace Park
Emma Patchak

The University of Illinois at Chicago

Arshila Merchant

Nikhil Bommakanti – contact

Nikhil is a fourth-year bioengineering major at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is studying the pathways through which vascular mechanical forces are transduced to exacerbate pulmonary edema formation with the aim of identifying targets for therapeutic intervention. This is Nikhil’s second year on the Inter-School Board, and he is excited to help organize the 2014 Symposium as co-Director.

Jeffrey Heiferman – contact

Jeffrey is a junior at Northwestern University majoring in Biological Sciences. He is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. David Bentrem, conducting research on pancreatic and colorectal cancer, and he volunteers at a free clinic for Chicago’s uninsured population. Jeffrey is a member of ShireiNU acappella, and he is actively involved in Hillel. In his spare time, Jeffrey enjoys geocaching and developing iOS apps with his software development group, GreenGuy Games. This is Jeffrey’s third year on the ISB and he is very excited to be back as a director for this year's symposium.

Amanda Rapacz – contact

Amanda is a senior from Minneapolis, Minnesota majoring in chemical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She has interned with Cabot Microelectronics and Flint Hills Resources Refinery and worked as an undergraduate researcher with PEM and AEM fuel cell technologies. After graduation, she plans on working in industry as a process design engineer. Outside of school, Amanda enjoys playing volleyball and golf. This is her third year on the ISB, and she is excited to help direct this year’s symposium.

Amanuel Kibrom – contact

Amanuel Kibrom is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago majoring in Biological Sciences. He is conducting research in the Institute for Molecular Engineering under Dr. Matthew Tirrell. His research consists of both synthesizing new polymers and characterizing the interactions of these polymers. Amanuel has aspirations of attending graduate school after he completes his undergraduate education.

Cheyanne Frosti – contact

Cheyanne is a second-year BioChemistry major at Loyola University Chicago. She is currently working in Dr. Ken Olsen’s lab group, researching a Polymeric Hemoglobin Blood Substitute. Aside from academics, she enjoys fitness and is the building manager at Loyola's Recreation Center. After college she hopes to attend grad school in Chicago and begin her career in research and development.

Dakota Neff – contact

Dakota is a Senior from Cincinnati, Ohio majoring in Biology with concentrations in Biostatistics and Bioethics at Loyola University Chicago. He served as a provost fellow conducting research focused on societies’ perceptions of the transgender community. This research was presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. He currently is a member of the Sigma Chi International Fraternity sitting as a board member on their international Philanthropy Committee. Additionally, he works as a career and college advisor for high school students in the Rogers Park Community. After Dakota graduates, he plans on attending graduate school pursuing a dual masters program in Health Administration and Public Health Policy and Programs.

Perri Jacobs – contact

Perri is a junior from San Jose, California majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Chemistry at DePaul University. She is currently conducting research on the ontogenetic growth pattern of rare lamniform shark specimen. Her passions include altruism, improving healthcare and access to health, and self development through reading and learning. She is a senior volunteer research assistant at the University of Chicago Medical Center and a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running and yoga. Perri plans on pursuing a career as a physician. Perri looks forward to her second year on the CAURS inter-school board.

Dana Dahan – contact

Dana is a third-year Biochemistry major at Loyola University Chicago. She enjoys hands-on work, especially in the laboratory of Dr. Ken Olsen where she conducts research on a hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier. She is the recipient of a joint Provost Fellowship at Loyola. Outside of her research, Dana enjoys reading Russian history and eating her way through her hometown of Chicago. This is her first year on the ISB.

Emma Patchak – contact

Emma is a third-year Physics major at the University of Chicago. She is currently studying coacervate formation as a research assistant at UChicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering. Her research has given her the opportunity to use the beam lines at both Argonne and Oakridge National Laboratories and to see an operational nuclear reactor. Emma believes that her future lies within the field of nuclear engineering. She hopes to one day become involved not only in the science and engineering component of this field, but also in the policy and decision making realm. She is passionate about changing the negative public perception of nuclear energy.

Tamara Gedankien – contact

Tamara is a sophomore Biomedical Engineering major at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. David Mogul, conducting research on epileptic seizures. Her interests include genetics, oncology research and nanotechnology. Outside of her work in the laboratory, Tamara enjoys writing, photographing, playing guitar and long distance running.

Jeong Yun (John) Yang – contact

Jeong Yun (John) is a sophomore at Northwestern University majoring in Biology and minoring in Global Health. He was born in Korea but moved to Great Neck, NY in 2003. John started research in high school, sponsored by the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition. At Northwestern, John continues to conduct research at the Chemistry of Life Processes laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Thomas V. O'Halloran. John also volunteers with children with autism and seniors with various degrees of dementia. Outside of school, John enjoys singing, playing guitar, and participating in intramural sports. This is John’s first year on the Inter-School board.

Miriam Schmid – contact

Miriam is a 5th year biochemistry/ math and science education major from the Illinois Institute of Technology from east central Illinois. She has been involved in research at the CRABLab at IIT and participated in an NSF funded REU program at Auburn University in the summer of 2013. At IIT, she is involved in Alpha Sigma Alpha, Union Board, Ultimate Frisbee Club, and Order of Omega. After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school pursuing a masters in ecology. This is her first year on the CAURS ISB.

Peter Chinetti – contact

Peter Chinetti is a Junior at the Illinois Institute of Technology studying Computer Engineering. At IIT, he is a recipient of the Duchossois Leadership Scholarship at the university, and an active member of the robotics club.

Saad Khan – contact

Saad is a second-year student at the University of Chicago and intends to major in biological sciences. He is currently doing clinical research with the Hospitalists Project at the University of Chicago, where he talks to in-patients and follows-up with them to assess the efficacy of their care at the hospital. Furthermore, he volunteers in the ER at the University of Chicago Hospital, where he functions as an ER liaison. He is also the Outreach Coordinator for the Muslim Student's Association. In his spare time, he enjoys running, basketball, manga, and eastern philosophy. This will be his first-year on the ISB after having volunteered at CAURS.

Kristin Palarz – contact

Kristin is a junior at Northwestern University majoring in Integrated Science and Biology, with a neurobiology concentration. She has participated in Northwestern's International Genetically Engineer Machines team (iGEM), which is a synthetic biology undergraduate research competition. The team concluded their summer research with a Gold medal, best math model, and advanced to the world iGEM competition. She is currently conducting research on Autism related mutations with Dr. Raman in the Neurobiology department at Northwestern. In addition, Kristin serves as Co-President for Northwestern's Relay for Life through the American Cancer Society. This is Kristin's first year on ISB.

Grace Park – contact

Grace SoYoung is a third year Psychology and Biological Science major at The University of Chicago. She is UChicago's Student Government Community and Government Liaison and loves getting involved on her campus community and Chicago communities. She is actively involved in sports, Intervarsity, church, and Team HBV. She currently resides in the grand ol' Badger State. She has conducted research and has internship experience regarding genetics, oncology, neuropathology, healthcare, health and medicine in politics. Grace worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and will always have an interest in health. She plans to pursue a career involving law, writing, broadcasting and high impact works. In her downtime, she enjoys improv, the company of family and friends, is not much of a movie buff, and does not like to go shopping. Grace loves the interdisciplinary beauty of CAURS.

Arshila Merchant – contact

Raised in Glendale Heights, I am a second-year Honors College student majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I attended Glenbard North High School for 3 years and Niles North High School for my last year, during which I graduated. I passionately learn and embrace novel subjects and ideas. A majority of my quality free time goes into reading romance/suspense novels, specifically by my favorite author, Jodi Picoult. This is my first year on the ISB and I hope to use my volunteering skills to make this year's research symposium a success. I also am looking forward to learning from every ISB member through the course of being a part of the board.

Ann Marie Zaya – contact

Ann Marie Zaya is a fourth year Psychology major and Biology minor at DePaul University. Currently, she tutors elementary children at Providence Family Services. She is also working towards becoming a member of the Society of Leadership and Success. Ann Marie currently resides in Skokie, Illinois. In her spare time, she enjoys drawing, reading, and practicing yoga. After graduating, Ann Marie hopes to attend graduate school in Chicago. This is her first year on the ISB.

Navigate to previous year's ISBs