AJC Merit Research Scholars and Mentors Kick-Off July Co-ops

We’re delighted to share the names of those students who earned our AJC Merit Research Scholarship to fund a July to December 2024 co-op in the laboratory of a Northeastern University STEM faculty member. The AJC Merit Research Scholars will be taking on a wide-range of exciting projects (read below), all the while earning wages equivalent to what they would encounter in industry-focused co-ops. Throughout the next six months, the Scholars will also participate in a rich slate of enrichment opportunities with the Undergraduate Research and Fellowships team and their mentors, designed to help them develop as researchers and thinkers, while also giving them insight into what advanced graduate study looks like and how they might best approach those future opportunities.

Sid AnnapragadaDagmar SternadAJC Merit Research Scholar: Sidharth Annapragada COE’25, Electrical Engineering and Behavioral Neuroscience
Mentor: Professor Dagmar Sternad, COE/COS, Electrical and Computer Engineering/Biology

Sid Annapragada will be working in the lab of Professor Dagmar Sternad this summer and fall, doing research into human motor control. A behavioral neuroscience and electrical engineering dual major, Sid’s interest in this co-op emerged out of taking Professor Sternad’s class on motor control and realizing that his field of study could have a big impact on helping populations with impaired motor systems. Prior to this co-op, Sid conducted part-time research in Professor Sternad’s lab, as well as two previous co-ops at the Datta Lab, doing wet-lab neuroscience research, also on motor and sensory systems. Sid hopes to learn more about human motor control and experimentation in this co-op and go on to do an MD/PhD treating patients with nervous system impairments. Outside of class, Sid is a member of the Wireless Club and loves spending time outdoors and reading.

Cassidy KingKelsey PieperAJC Merit Research Scholar: Cassidy King COE’26, Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Mentor: Professor Kelsey Pieper, COE, Civil and Environmental Engineering

A combined chemical and environmental engineering student minoring in Spanish, Cassidy King looks forward to contributing her interdisciplinary skillset to the Pieper Lab. Cassidy’s experience with environmental chemistry and pollutants will serve as the backbone for her efforts in planning a drinking water sampling project in North Carolina. During her co-op with the Pieper Lab, she will help design and implement a campaign to provide free well-water sampling kits to residents in flood zones. At her previous co-op at Foodberry, Cassidy developed a solid foundation in analytical thinking, data interpretation, and wet lab techniques as a valued member of the R&D team. When she’s not in the lab, Cassidy leads her peers as Captain of the Women’s Club Squash team and President of SDP, Northeastern’s Spanish Honors Society. She also loves skiing and DJing on college radio. Post-graduation, Cassidy hopes to work directly with environmentally and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

Emma KrizTovah DayAJC Merit Research Scholar: Emma Kriz COS’26, Cell and Molecular Biology
Mentor: Professor Tovah Day, COS, Biology

Emma Kriz will be working in the lab of Professor Tovah Day, whose research focuses on G-quadruplex (G4) DNA, non-B DNA structures that can form in guanine-rich DNA sequences. G4s have been associated with genomic instability and have implications in the progression of various diseases including cancer and neuronal degeneration. Under the mentorship of Professor Day and PhD candidate Adrianna Vandeuren, Emma will assist in the development of a G4 mutagenesis reporter assay to reveal how G4s function in the mutation and progression of various diseases. As a cell and molecular biology major, Emma’s interest in human disease began during her involvement in the REALTIME Summer Research Program at Northeastern where she was first introduced to the field of G4s. Emma has volunteered in the Day Lab for a year and looks forward to becoming more involved in the lab while fostering her curiosity and strengthening her laboratory skills. Emma plans to pursue a graduate degree with the goal of someday leading her own lab. Outside of class, Emma helps run an all-inclusive ballet club on-campus, and spends her free time pondering philosophical dilemmas, capturing moments in photographs, and traveling the world.

Maren RitterbuckSandra ShefelbineAJC Merit Research Scholar: Maren Ritterbuck COS’26, Biology
Mentor: Professor Sandra Shefelbine, COE, Bioengineering/Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Maren Ritterbuck will be joining the Shefelbine Lab for the summer and fall of 2024. Under the mentorship of Professor Sandra Shefelbine and in conjunction with the Monaghan Lab, she will explore mechanotransduction in cartilage and bone in addition to the causation of cam morphology. As an open water lifeguard in California, Maren grew an appreciation for the musculoskeletal system and classes at Northeastern advanced this appreciation into an academic interest in bone biomechanics. Over the past year she has worked in the Albro Lab, a mechanobiology lab at Boston University, using Raman spectroscopy as a cartilage health diagnostic tool. As a biology major with a minor in juman movement sciences, she is eager to further her biology research and expand into the mechanical engineering field. After graduation she plans to attend an MD/PhD program to further her research in the medical field. Outside of academics, Maren is working on co-founding a pre-MD/PhD club at Northeastern and jumps at any opportunity to travel, scuba dive, or run along the Charles River.

Meredith ScottWallace LagesAJC Merit Research Scholar: Meredith Scott Khoury’26, Computer Science/Media Arts
Mentor: Professor Wallace Lages, Khoury/CAMD, Art and Design

Meredith Scott will work with Professor Wallace Lages and other members of the Lages Laboratory, which aims to explore how mixed reality fits into everyday use and create new ways to experience entertainment. As a research co-op, Meredith will program augmented and virtual reality prototypes using the Unity3D game engine. These prototypes will test interactions for immersive games and how we can design unique narrative experiences. With a passion for developing creative technology, she hopes to further discover technology and art’s intersections. Meredith has completed a software development internship where she was responsible for designing GUI applications for medical devices. Here she explored human-computer interaction concepts with user testing and designing readable screens through technical illustration. In her time at Northeastern, she’s taken classes across computer science and animation curricula. This has brought her to explore interdisciplinary areas such as mixed reality and she looks forward to continuing to do so on this co-op. Outside of the lab, Meredith is the treasurer for Northeastern’s Animation Club and enjoys creating stories through her personal art.

Madeline SzooCynthia HajalAJC Merit Research Scholar: Madeline Szoo COE’25, Chemical Engineering/Biochemistry
Mentor: Professor Cynthia Hajal, COE, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Madeline Szoo (she/her) will be working in the lab of Professor Cynthia Hajal this summer/fall for her third and final co-op. She will be investigating the effects of bevacizumab (an anti-angiogenic agent), gemcitabine (a common chemotherapeutic), and ONC-201 (a novel anti-cancer drug) on the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG), as well as the correlation between tissue stiffness and treatment responsiveness given the presence of the blood-brain barrier. Madeline’s passion for cancer research stems from her grandmother’s battle with triple-negative breast cancer. Prior to this co-op, Madeline completed co-ops at Beam Therapeutics and in the lab of Professor Tayyaba Hasan at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School through the CaNCURE Program. As an AJC Merit Research Scholar, Madeline hopes to learn more about engineered predictive vascularized tumor models for preclinical assays and plans to pursue a PhD in Bioengineering upon graduation in Spring 2025. Outside of class, Madeline is the President of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society, and enjoys reading and exploring Boston!

Riya VemanaEno EbongAJC Merit Research Scholar: Riya Vemana COS’26, Behavioral Neuroscience
Mentor: Professor Eno Ebong, COE, Chemical Engineering

Riya Vemana will join the Ebong Mechanobiology Laboratory at Northeastern University this summer and fall. As a part of the Ebong Lab, Riya will work with Professor Ebong and Ron Mitra to study the glycocalyx coat of blood vessel wall endothelial cells in healthy and diseased conditions using various methods, such as confocal and electron microscopy. Riya is a behavioral neuroscience major interested in pursuing medicine, with prior clinical and laboratory research experiences at institutions such as Emory University, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the CDC. She recently completed a co-op opportunity at New England Baptist Hospital as a Rehabilitation Aide and is excited to diversify her skills and experiences further with this opportunity. Following graduation, Riya hopes to pursue a master’s degree in bioinformatics at Northeastern University, then go on to attend medical school. Outside of research and classes, Riya is the Vice President of Community Palette, an organization focused on art volunteering, and a member of Nu Rho Psi, a neuroscience honors society.