University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

Doris Duke Foundation Program Alumni

2013 Program Alumni

Reid Akana
Reid Akana
Essence Criswell
Essence Criswell
Tonya Hammond
Tonya Hammond
Rehima Jordan
Rehima Jordan
Huldah Kena
Huldah Kena
Anne Kennedy
Anne Kennedy
Jaime Lopez
Jaime Lopez
Diane Low
Diane Low
Divya Patel
Divya Patel
Kyle Yoshida
Kyle Yoshida


2012 Program Alumni

Maria SierraMaria Sierra is a rising senior at Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, NJ. Her ethnic background is Hipanic and she speaks two languages - English and Spanish. Maria comes to us from New Jersey and is spending the summer in Pittsburgh while she participates in the Doris Duke Academy. Maria is committed to pursuing biomedical science, specifically a career as a pediatric oncologist. Last summer she worked in Dr. Okada's immunology lab at the Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh through the UPCI Summer Academy, and during this period became very interested in cancer research. There she studied the effect of genetic variation on outcome in patients with glioma. Since the spring, in addition to keeping up with her coursework, she has been working on an independent research proposal with a faculty adviser at Valley Hospital, focusing on the nutritional needs of a cancer patient, which she will be presenting to the Ridgewood Association for Health Professions Board upon completion.

Aaron PonceAaron Ponce is a current senior at Kamehameha Schools. He was born in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Aaron has always been certain of his desire to be involved in biomedical science, and is currently undecided about whether he would like to pursue a clinical practice in medicine or focus more intensively on research. Aaron is currently a debater in the speech and debate team, and also plans to perform interpretation for the speech team after summer. He is in the cross country team, and also did volleyball his sophomore year. His favorite subjects are Japanese and Biology. Aaron will be doing his 5th year of Japanese in his AP Japanese class during senior year, as well as an AP Biology class. Aaron plans to continue learning about Japanese language and his Japanese culture, while still studying and staying committed to the sciences. On his free time, Aaron enjoys running, hiking, helping to feed the needy, swimming, and spending quality time with his loved ones. He is very excited to be involved in cancer research development as cancer has affected many immediate family members, and poses a hazard to his family, and to the world. Aaron's mother, Kalei Ponce has greatly guided him through his journey thus far, as well as his councilor, Mr. Larry Lee, whom helped him come closer to the sciences and guided him in the direction to move him towards his goal of saving lives.

Nathan LeeNathan Lee will be a junior at the Kamehameha School Kapalama next year. He was born on the island of Oahu and moved to Texas for the first two years of his life. He currently lives in the Hawaii Kai neighborhood, a suburb of Honolulu with his parents and one of his older brothers. Nathan is interested in life science studies and is looking forward to studying more about human health and biomedical research. Last summer he attended a summer school class, which gave a broad introduction into scientific research through 8 weeks of protocol instruction and 2 weeks of intensive and self-motivated research. He worked on a science project that looked at bacterial populations of the Hawaii Kai Marina, eventually focusing on the identification of species in the marina through DNA extraction and sequencing. He is a part of his school's National Honors Society and was a club officer for Hui Malama Kanaka, which provided resources for internship opportunities and volunteer contacts at local hospitals. This fall, Nathan plans to pursue a new project that focuses more on human health with the skills that he will learn this summer and to enter this project in the State Science Fair in the spring.

George MitchellGeorge Mitchell is a sophomore at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, located on the Oakland campus and designed to direct students on paths toward science, technology, engineering, or math can develop skills for a career in life science, environmental science, computing, or engineering. George was born in New Kensington, and moved to Pittsburgh when he was 11. He currently lives with his mother, step-father, and two younger siblings. George is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars as well as the National Achievers Society, and is committed to pursuing a career in the medical field, specifically looking at a career in surgery. George is extremely excited for this summer research program because it will be his first experience in a hands-on clinical research program.

Idowu OlugbadeIdowu Olugbade, usually called by her nickname, Idee, is 16 years old and currently a sophomore at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy. She was born in West Africa; Nigeria to be exact. She moved to the US with her mom and her four brothers and sisters in March of 2003, she was about 7 years old. Because of this, she is fluent in her native language, Yoruba, as well as fluent in English, and right now she is taking a Spanish course through her school and wishes to take and hopefully become fluent in Arabic. Idowu Olugbade currently lives with both her mother and father, as well as with her older sister and her two brothers. As of right now, she is unsure of what she would like to pursue as her future career. She is both very interested in law and government, and also in biomedical science. Because of her interests, she participates in her school's Mock Trial team, and she enrolled in the Body and Behavior course provided at her school. Also, during the next school year, she is determined to initiate a debate team at her school. Idowu Olugbade is also a member of her high school's soccer team. As the only sophomore captain, she directed her teammate to win the city championships. Her other interest include, photography, dance, music, and yoga. Last summer, she participated in Investing Now, which is a program offered by the University of Pittsburgh's Engineering Department. At this program she took many classes, such as physics, trigonometry, and writing, to prepare her upcoming school year. She is very dedicated to her academic work, but at the same making sure that she has a very active social life.

Nia MillerNia Miller is a current junior at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy. She was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. She lives with her mother, father and 3 siblings. She also has a cat named Mr. Whiskers. Her favorite class she takes at SciTech is her Post-Secondary Prep class. She enjoys this because she learns about handling responsibilities in the real world like bills and taxes and she also learns about the different colleges she will be applying for in the fall. Nia Miller is committed to becoming a doctor and she wants to get her bachelor's degree in Pre-Med. She wants to be a student at the Penn State main campus or the Penn State campus in Erie. She wants to go to medical school at the University of Pittsburgh. Some of the other schools she is applying to is Temple University, Robert Morris and Lock Haven. She would love to work in a hospital working as a Pediatrician or an Obstetrician and if that is not completed or does not work in her favor, she chooses to become a nurse. All she knows is she is going to have a career in the field of medicine. This summer she is participating in the Doris Duke Foundation at the VA hospital located in Aspinwall. She is highly excited for what's to come. While she completes her summer research program, she also will be working at McDonald's but only during the weekends. She enjoys spending time with her siblings, working and going to the mall.

Vania BristerVania Brister is a current junior at Science and Technology Academy. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, and moved here in Pittsburgh when she was 11. Her father still lives in Chicago while she lives here with her mother. She has an older brother with 3 children here in Pittsburgh as well, along with other family members. Although she lives here, she is still close with her father and visits him from time to time. Vania would like to earn a Master's of Science in Nursing, deciding that she would like to be a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. For the past 3 summers, Vania has been involved with a program with Pitt University through the Swanson School of Engineering. There they learn many topics about college preparation and take classes that prepare them for their next grade level. In addition to her commitment to the program, she is very involved with her church, The House of Manna. She is involved with the youth program there and, last summer, she and her church went to Surf City, Michigan to be a middle school youth leader. This summer, in addition to working with UPMC with the clinical research study, she will be a youth leader once again through her church. Vania is an observant person, she likes to observe her surroundings before she is comfortable enough to be herself, she is a nice, honest person, and looks forward to her summer.

Jalice ShedrickJalice Shedrick is a rising senior at the Pittsburgh and Technology Academy located on the Oakland campus and designed to direct students on paths toward science, technology, engineering, or math can develop skills for a career in life science, environmental science, computing, or engineering. SciTech students are able to select four concentration courses and Jalice chose biotechnology because of her career goal to work in the biomedical field. Jalice has participated in the Pitt-STEER program at the University of Pittsburgh and through this summer program, conducted research in an environmental and occupational lab. She spent 8 weeks in the Pitt STEER program conducting tissue culture studies, RNA isolation and quantification, real-time PCR analysis, protein lysate preparation and quantification and Western blotting analysis.

Janai DendyJanai Dendy is a current sophomore at Oakland Catholic High School. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and continues to reside there. Because of this, she chose to apply for a high school internship at Magee's Women's Hospital. She comes from a close knit family, who has always lived in the same vicinity as her and her mother. Janai's father passed when she was only 10 years of age. Janai is committed to pursuing biomedical science, but is currently undecided about whether she would like to pursue a clinical practice in medicine or focus more on research. During December of 2011, Janai attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine, where she knew that becoming a doctor was her main interest. In addition to her commitment to the sciences, Janai is also committed to several leadership programs throughout her school. During the school year, she played the role as a student ambassador and was a part of the volunteering group, M.A.P.S. This summer, Janai plans on completing the internship with Magee Womens Hospital, and to prepare herself for next school year, so that she may excel further than she did last year.

Pia CampbellFor the past three years, Pia Campbell has been a at Shady Side Academy, and this fall, she will enter her Junior year. Besides academics, Pia keeps herself busy with a few activities: including track, soccer and basketball. All three teams went on to playoffs this season. Along with science, music and dancing are other interests of Pia's. For the past two summers, Pia has interned under Dr. Willa Doswell at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Nursing. She aspires to be a surgeon, which is a career more interactive with patients, but because Pia is unfamiliar with the research departments of the medical field, she decided to work with her mentor to grasp a better understanding of these departments' work. The summer of her Junior year brought her acceptance into the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Pia is excited to continue exploring the various aspects behind medicine.