Stupka Scholars


Bailey Mooney is currently a junior at Iowa State majoring in Biochemistry and Genetics with a minor in Philosophy. Her research in Dr. Trimarchi's lab is focusing on six different types of neurons produced that later make retina tissue and how the development is controlled by a variety of genetic factors. Bailey is the President of the Genetics Club, Secretary of the Biochemistry Biophysics and Molecular Biology Club, Treasurer Chair of the Stupka Symposium Planning Committee, Biochemistry Biophysics and Molecular Biology Learning Community Peer Mentor, Honors Ambassador, and serves as a volunteer at Mary Greeley Medical Center Emergency Department. Bailey plans on continuing her education in medical school after she graduates Iowa State.

Emily Knuth is currently a junior at Iowa State pursuing a major in Agricultural Biochemistry with minors in Agronomy and Nutrition. Emily is currently involved in research in Dr. Adam Barb's laboratory where she is studying fabH, a key enzyme in fatty acid synthesis. Emily is an undergraduate instructional assistant for BBMB 102, fundraising chair for the Stupka Symposium Planning Committee, and outreach chair for the BBMB club. After graduating, Emily plans to attend graduate school to pursue a PhD.

Jacqueline Ehrlich is currently a sophomore studying Agricultural Biochemistry with a minor in nutrition. Since the beginning of her life as a Cyclone, she has enjoyed researching in the Zabotina lab, focusing on substrate binding in the active site of xyloglucan xylosyltransferase I. Outside of class and lab, Jacqueline is a B&B peer mentor, co-chair for the Breakfast Club, and Publicity committee chair. She has also recently been honored with an exciting title as the Iowa State Fair Queen. Following graduation, Jacqueline plans to pursue a doctorate in nutritional biochemistry.

Matt Cook is a senior double-majoring in Biochemistry and Genetics with minors in Spanish and Mathematics. He has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Olga Zabotina’s lab since the spring of 2015 studying enzymes involved in plant cell wall synthesis. He is the vice president of the BBMB Club, the Sponsorship Chair of the Stupka Symposium Planning Committee, and an instructional associate for BBMB 102. Matt plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in structural biology after graduating this spring.


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 and Present Scholars

Matt Cook | 2018

B.S. Biochemistry and Genetics S18
Pursuing graduate training F18

Lauran Chambers| 2017

B.S. Biochemistry S18
Pursing medical school F18

Alex Donelson | 2017

B.S. in Biochemistry and Genetics, 2017
Graduate training in Forensic Biology, University of New Haven, CT

Drew Tonsager | 2017

B.S./M.S. Biochemistry S18
Pursuing graduate training F18

Adrienne Smith | 2015, 2016

B.S. in Biochemistry, F2016

Morgan Barrett| 2016

B.S. in Biochemistry and Genetics, 2017
Graduate training in Forensic Biology, University of New Haven, CT

Natalie Whitis | 2016

B.S. in Biophysics, 2017
Ph.D. candidate Univ. Calif. As San Francisco

Flora Yen | 2015

2nd year dentistry student at the University of Iowa

Zack Young | 2014

Research assistant at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

Denis Tamiev | 2014

2nd year graduate school Biological Engineering at Iowa State University

Kinsey Cornick | 2013

4th year general surgery student at Des Moines University

Kristen McKibben | 2013

Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania

Jennifer Kaczynski Meyer | 2013

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

Alana Jackson | 2012

M.D. University Minnesota, Duluth 2016
Resident Physician, Spokane Teaching Health Ctr.

Samson Condon | 2012

Ph.D. candidate at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mollie Tiernan Schubert | 2011

Research Scientist III, Molecular Genetics Integrated DNA Technologies, Coralville, IA

Johanna Jass Bailey | 2011

Master of Public Health, Univ. of Missouri, 2015
Manager at Elemental Enzymes, Florida

Craig Brown | 2011

M.D. from University of Chicago 2016
Surgical resident at University of Michigan

Jackie Souleyrette Rivas | 2011

Ph.D. in Immunology 2017 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Postdoctoral fellow Lexington, KY

Dayna Peterson | 2010

Ph.D. Arizona State University 2017

Mina Farahbakhsh | 2009

M.D. - Ph.D. program at the University of Kansas 2016

Luke Helgeson | 2008

Ph.D. Biochemistry
Postdoctoral fellow at the Univ. of Washington

Mara Determan Alexeev | 2007

M.D. University of Iowa 2012
M.S. Public Health, UC Berkeley 2016
Pediatrician for NYC Department of Health

Claire Kruesel | 2006

Lecturer for the English Department at Iowa State University.