Current Fellows

Sam Ahler is a junior from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin studying Conservation Biology and Environmental Studies, with a certificate in LGBTQ+ Studies. Sam has worked on numerous research projects with Hilary Dugan in the Center for Limnology, focusing on the environmental impact of road salt and the biological aspects of lake ice. He also conducts research on the dynamics of Wisconsin plant communities in response to management practices and climate change. Outside of research, Sam is the manager of Ellen Damschen’s Plant Ecology Lab in the Integrative Biology Department and volunteers at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. In his free time Sam eats too much vegan food, spends too much money on clothes, and sings Lady Gaga in his yellow Prius.

Photo of Kudirat AlimiKudirat Ayomide Alimi is a Junior from New York City, and attends UW-Madison on the Posse Foundation Scholarship. Kudirat majors in Computer Science with a certificate in Game Design. She is currently an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Virtual Environments Lab at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. She is also a consultant for the Collaborate for Engineering Education and Teaching Effectiveness, and the Webmaster for the National Society of Black Engineers. In her free time, Kudirat enjoys making art, playing video games, and eating with friends at Strings Ramen.

Shehrose Charania is a Junior studying Health Promotion and Health Equity with certificates in Global Health and Public Policy. She is a proud Posse scholar from Chicago and a House Fellow in Cole Hall. Shehrose also serves at Youth Advocacy Fellowship, an organization that works to implement policies that improve adolescent and women’s health in the Madison area. Shehrose plans to pursue dual Master’s degrees in Public Health and Public Policy as she wishes to become a health educator; in this role, she hopes to promote healthy behaviors and to facilitate change that reduces health inequities through policy making. Shehrose also writes and performs spoken word.

Photo of Mae EdwardsMae Edwards is a senior from Milwaukee. She is a proud Chancellor’s Scholar studying Political Science and History. As a scholar, Mae worked in the Peer Research Study Group under Dr. Brad Brown, studying students’ sense of belonging on the UW Madison campus. She is a research assistant in the Wisconsin State Archives at the Historical Society. Mae hopes to travel a lot and pursue a career in social work after graduating. Mae strives to be a reliable Fellow and foster an open and safe environment for scholars to engage in interesting discussion. Mae enjoys reading, cooking, taking long walks, and getting into nonsense arguments with her friends.

Helen Heo is a Senior from Whitefish Bay, WI and studies Molecular Biology and Neurobiology with a Certificate of Excellence in Stem Cell Sciences. Through URS, Helen began pursuing research at the Moore Lab in the Department of Neurology by studying the regulation of asymmetric segregation of cargoes in mitotic neural stem cells. She continues this work as well as a project about aging and cellular reprogramming. Outside of classes, Helen is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Undergraduate Science and Technology, an undergraduate research journal. Helen also plays the violin in an orchestra and is involved in several other student organizations. Helen hopes to pursue a career in biomedical research in the future. In her free time, she enjoy spending time with friends and family and doing photography.

Daniela Beltran Hernandez is a native of El Centro, California, majoring in Neurobiology with plans to pursue a MD/PhD. Daniela has done research at the UW Center for Healthy Minds in the MIDUS project, which researches emotion, health and well-being. After discovering an interest in molecular mechanisms, she joined the Robertson lab in the summer of 2019. Daniela now works with Dr. Jenny Knickelbine and aims to identify mechanisms of co-translational association between two related subunits (1a and 1b) of the hERG voltage-gated potassium channel. Daniela is also on the executive board for Community Health Volunteers of Madison, serves as a medical scribe in the emergency department at St. Mary’s hospital, and spends a lot of her time doing community service for Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity. In her free time, Daniela likes eating new foods and going to Badger games.

Ananya Heroor is a junior from Seattle, Washington studying Neurobiology with a certificate in Computer Science. As a scholar, her research was in the School of Human Ecology’s AWARE Lab which studied contemplative practice in relation to healthy family development. Currently, she does research in the Gallagher Lab at the Veterans Hospital in which she explores gait abnormalities in relation to Parkinson’s Disease. When she is not at College Library, she enjoys scrolling through Twitter and trying new foods.

Rebecca Hoehn is a Senior from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin studying Pharmacology and Toxicology, with a certificate in Global Health. Rebecca has conducted undergraduate research with the Pedersen Group since her freshman year URS experience, and has worked on a variety of projects in environmental toxicology and chemistry. Her current work focuses on the plant metabolism of common wastewater contaminants including nitrosamines and pharmaceuticals. Rebecca hopes to one day combine her passions for toxicology, water resources management, and public health to improve water quality and accessibility in response to global climate change. Rebecca looks forward to having challenging conversations with her Scholars, and pushes them to build the skills they need to be successful in their research/creative projects and their lives beyond the university. In her free time, she enjoys tending to her many plants, exploring the outdoors, ballroom dancing, cooking, traveling, and attending live music and theatre events.

Lauren Hoffarth is a returning Fellow from Janesville, Wisconsin. She is a fourth year student majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and Political Science with a certificate in Global Health. As a Scholar, her research in the Sociology Department was titled The Institutional Reproduction of Sex and Gender in Biomedicine. Outside of URS she has worked on a survey research project about the availability of carbohydrate information at local restaurants. This year, she is excited to contribute to various community-based research projects at the school of pharmacy related to health, bullying, and resilience. Most of her time is spent answering constituent phone calls or being in the Red Gym for URS and the Morgridge Center for Public Service. In her rare free time, Lauren enjoys cooking vegetarian meals, having productive discussions about political issues with others, hiking, and traveling.

Benjamin Koziol is a junior from Milwaukee, Wisconsin studying English, Creative Writing and Communication Arts. As a scholar, he partook in a collaborative creative project; writing a comic book script and participating in a seminar on folk and outsider aesthetics across American art. These days, Benjamin is doing independent research in contemporary literary and cultural studies and continuing to develop his craft as a journalist and fiction writer. You might find him in his free time hiking, riding his bike, or playing the piano.

Hannah McBride is second year fellow and a senior from Milwaukee, Wisconsin studying Biochemistry and Biology with a Certificate in Global Health. Hannah researches student motivation in life sciences in the PULSE Lab. She is a Badger volunteer executive board member, a CALS Ambassador, and she works for United Cerebral Palsy to provide in-home care for people with different abilities. She enjoys volunteering at the BlackHawk Church Food Pantry Garden by harvesting vegetables, working at Central Wisconsin Center with people of differing abilities, and Meriter hospital in the Infusion Center. In her free time Hannah can be found exploring the outdoors, playing with animals, shopping for overalls, and traveling with friends.

Brett Merriman is a junior from Naperville, Illinois majoring in Physics. Brett conducts research in the Department of Physics in the Kolkowitz Lab where they are constructing an optical lattice atomic clock for tests on fundamental physics. His research focuses on the development of a blue laser system to cool strontium atoms to just above absolute zero. After UW, Brett plans to attend graduate school to earn a PhD. Brett is also a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and a director for Humorology, the largest student run philanthropy in the state of Wisconsin.

Ajmain Naqib is a junior from the city that never sleeps – New York. He is a POSSE scholar majoring in Computer Science with a certificate in Physics. He is the lead web developer at the Dairy Science Department and is also involved in a Material Science lab. At the Materials Science Lab, Ajmain researches the prediction of stabilities of a wide range of materials, such as Perovskites, by training and optimizing machine learning models for accuracy and cost-efficiency. Whenever he has spare time, Ajmain works on a tech-based startup he co-founded with his peers at UW. To unwind, he likes to cook, box, travel, and watch Seeker on Youtube.

Sarah Neufcourt is a fifth year student pursing a Biological Systems Engineering degree with two certificates in Leadership and Education & Educational Services. Sarah fosters her enthusiasm for science and mentoring as the President of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Science), and promotes STEM to high school students in Milwaukee as a Wisconsin Idea Fellow at the Morgridge Center. Sarah was a URS scholar her freshmen year and is now looking forward to her third year as a URS fellow, despite feeling old. She is a proud POSSE DC scholar and is originally from France. In her limited free time, she enjoys reading, writing poetry, going to the gym, and cooking.

Ebenezer Ojo is a junior from Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota who is majoring in Microbiology. Ebenezer conducts research in the Department of Pediatric Urology, where he works with researchers to take data from pediatric doctors and study infants who are suffering from oligohydramnios. Beyond his research, Ebenezer is a part of Pres House, which is a religious organization on campus. He leads a small group called Prayer3 that shares information about the political climate and how it relates to religion.

Natalie Pahapill is a third-year student originally from Toronto, Canada studying Biology, with a certificate in Business. She currently conducts research at the Ciucci lab in the Department of Surgery, which studies the improvement of treatments for communication and swallowing disorders in progressive neurologic disease, including Parkinson Disease. Natalie is a Communication Advisor at the University Hospital as well as a volunteer at the Central Wisconsin Center. In her free time, Natalie can be found trying new restaurants, running around Monona bay, catching up on sleep, and seeing new places.

Sydney Sauer is a third-year student from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin – majoring in Life Sciences Communications with a certificate in Business. Sydney was active in the field of research for one year in the UW-Health neurological unit working on discovering new treatments to heal spinal cord injuries and neuropathic pain. Since leaving the lab, Sydney has become a member of the Panhellenic sorority Alpha Phi where she spends lots of time participating in various volunteer projects to benefit women’s heart health along with other causes. In her free time Sydney likes to journal, paint, go for walks, re-decorate her apartment and binge watch scary movies.

Lucy Shoemaker is a third year student pursuing a major in Industrial Engineering and a certificate in 3D Art. She grew up in a military family but came to Madison from Coronado, California. During her time as a Scholar, Lucy researched how children’s understanding of mathematical symbols at an early age affects their learning and success in upper level math courses. She is currently working as a Creative Consultant at Wheelhouse Studios, a free art space for students to work on creative projects. In her free time, Lucy enjoys working out, listening to music, spending time with friends and trying new coffee shops.

Mahad Siad is a senior from Madison, WI studying Zoology with certificates in African Studies and Digital Cinema. Mahad currently works in the Sharma lab doing research with Spiders. Along with being a fellow for the Undergraduate Research Scholars program, he is a house fellow at Witte residence hall. Outside of work, Mahad serves as the president of the Muslim Students Association. In his free time, Mahad enjoys online shopping and watching Netflix.


Josue Velazquez is a fourth year, Powers-Knapp scholar from Chicago, IL. Josue is a Rehabilitation Psychology and Education Studies major with a certificate in Chican@/Latin@ Studies. He currently serves as Vice President for his fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta, as well as Vice President for the Multicultural Greek Council. Josue also works as an instructor for the Information Technology Academy and is doing his practicum with Wright Middle School & Centro Hispano’s Juventud program. Josue proudly participated on the planning committee for the 2018 Latinx Heritage Month. In his free time, he likes to read, play video games, and hang out with friends.