Stupka Scholars


Drew Tonsager is a 4th year Iowa State student pursuing Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Biochemistry as well as a minor in Mathematics. He currently works with the Campbell/Nikolau lab group, where he investigates the Arabidopsis Qua-Quinine-Starch gene and its impact on carbon-nitrogen partitioning in yeast. Aside from his research, Drew is involved in the Biochemistry department on campus as a volunteer in the Stupka Symposium planning committee. Addionally, Drew is in his 3rd year as a peer mentor for the BBMB Learning Community. After graduating from Iowa State, Drew plans to continue his education and pursue a doctorate in Biochemistry.

Lauran Chambers is currently a senior at Iowa State pursuing a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Nutrition. She currently is researching in Dr. Olga Zabotina’s laboratory studying the addition of hydrolases to the plant cell wall and their effects on plant fitness. Lauran is the president of the Biochemistry Biophysics and Molecular Biology Club, Operations Chair of the Stupka Symposium Planning Committee, and is a volunteer at LifeServe Blood Center of Des Moines. After graduation, she plans on attending medical school.

Alex Donelson is a junior at ISU pursuing a B.S. in biochemistry and minors in genetics, philosophy, and astronomy. He is a research assistant in Dr. Marit Nilsen-Hamilton's lab, where he studies the dynamics of small RNA and DNA molecules (aptamers) and their use in biosensors. Alex is also an active member in both the BBMB Undergraduate Club and the Stupka Committee; he serves as the secretary and LAS representatives for the Club and as the Treasurer for the Committee. Outside of school, he is an amateur astronomer and a professional Trekkie.



Adrienne Smith graduated Summa Cum Laude last fall with a degree in Biochemistry. While at Iowa State, her research studied the amino acids involved in substrate binding and enzymatic catalysis of the Arabidopsis protein Xyloglucan Xylosyltransferase under Olga Zabotina, Ph.D. Adrienne has previously served the Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology Club as the Liberal Arts and Sciences Representative and as the chair for the Speaker Committee for the Stupka Symposium..

Natalie Whitis is a senior at Iowa State and is majoring in Biophysics. She is the Breakfast Club Chair for the BBMB Club as well as Food Chair for the Stupka Symposium. After she graduates from Iowa State this spring, she plans to attend graduate school and work towards a PhD. Then, she plans to work in academic research. Since the fall of 2014, she has been an undergraduate research assistant with the Sashital Lab studying the mechanism of the CRISPR-Cas immune system in E. coli..

Morgan Barrett is a senior undergraduate student double majoring in Biochemistry and Genetics. Throughout her time at Iowa State, she has been actively involved in the Stupka Symposium Planning Committee, where she is currently Committee Co-Chair, and the BBMB Undergraduate Club. She has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Eric Underbakke’s lab since spring 2014. After graduating from Iowa State this spring, Morgan plans on pursuing further education in forensic science with the ultimate goal of working as a DNA analyst/criminalist.

Past Scholars

Flora Yen | 2015

First year student at the University of Iowa School of Dentistry.

Alana Jackson | 2012

M.D. in rural medicine from University Minnesota, Duluth, 2016. Will begin residency this spring.

Dayna Peterson | 2010

Graduate Research Assistant at Arizona State University and will complete Ph.D. in 2017

Zack Young | 2014

Research assistant at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

Samson Condon | 2012

Ph.D. candidate at University Wisconsin-Madison.

Mina Farahbakhsh | 2009

Completed M.D. 2016 and in the Ph.D. program at the University of Kansas.

Denis Tamiev | 2014

First year graduate school at Iowa State University.

Mollie Tiernan Schubert | 2011

Research Scientist II in the Molecular Genetics group at Integrated DNA Technologies, Coralville, IA.

Luke Helgeson | 2008

Ph. D. Biochemistry now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington.

Jennifer Kaczynski Meyer | 2013

Scribe in the dermatology department at Unity and Mercy Hospital, MN.

Johanna Jass Bailey | 2011

Master of Public Health, University of Missouri, 2015 Now a Site Manager at Elemental Enzymes in Columbia, MO

Mara Determan Alexeev | 2007

M.D. University of Iowa Now a pediatrician with the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group.

Kinsey Cornick | 2013

Third year osteopathic medicine student at Des Moines University.

Craig Brown | 2011

M.D. from University of Iowa 2016 and now a resident in surgery at University of Michigan.

Claire Kruesel | 2006

Lecturer for the English Department at Iowa State University.

Kristen McKibben | 2013

Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jackie Souleyrette Rivas | 2011

Ph.D. in Immunology 2017 from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and will begin working with Biogen, Lexington, KY.