Student Ambassadors

Student Ambassadors, seniors 2019

2019-2020 Student Ambassadors

Frank Adarkwa

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2022

Major: Clinical Neuroscience, minor in Digital Marketing Strategy 

Bio: Hey Guys! My name is Frank Adarkwa and I am a rising sophomore majoring in clinical neuroscience with a minor in digital marketing strategies. I was born in Accra, Ghana and moved to the United States when I was 4 years old. I currently live in Woodbridge, Virginia and I am a first-generation college student. Growing up I was fascinated with the neuroscience and wanted to learn as much about it as I could, I would always watch TV shows and movies about the complexity of the brain or about outwitting others in a social experiment. The Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience has helped me to embrace my individuality and creativity and I believe being a Neuroscience Ambassador allows me to share my positivity and enthusiasm about neuroscience with students of all backgrounds. I want to be a friendly face for other students in the School of Neuroscience and truly be a resource when others need it. I am excited to meet many new people and continue sharing my love of neuroscience!  

Dami Adeshina

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Major: Clinical Neuroscience

Bio: Greetings!  My name is Dami Adeshina and I am a rising senior at Virginia Tech. Studying the brain has been a passion of mine from a young age and I am now fortunate enough to have the opportunity while simultaneously sharing it with other students as a student ambassador!

I am currently doing exciting research with three phenomenal professors:  (1) Dr. Susan Campbell at Virginia Tech, who studies how alterations in the gut microbiome can lead to hyper excitability in the brain; (2) Dr. Pawel Michalak at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM), who works on integrating various genomic platforms; (3) Dr. Li-Rong Shao at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who focuses on understanding epileptic cellular pathways, testing anti-epileptic drugs, and developing new animal models for a pediatric epilepsy disorder called infantile spasm. I will be working with Dr. Shao during a three-summer long MD/PhD program while also engaging with high school students as a Peer Mentor for the Johns Hopkins Internship in Brain Sciences Program.

While doing well in our classes is the top priority of the semester, engaging in activities that we enjoy is just as important for attaining academic success! I am apart of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, as well as a member of Fire Fleece band where I am involved in the vocals. I love to play soccer and I am a center back for the Black Knights in the NRV Adult Soccer league. If you ever need to find me and I am not in the lab, at class, or in the chapel, I will most definitely be on the pitch defending my title as the aerial threat. 

If you have any questions or just want to chat, feel free to reach out! As previously stated, I am extremely passionate about Neuroscience and look forward to working with everyone on tackling the mysteries of the brain! Let’s go!

Malikah Ajose

Expected Graduation Date: May 2020

Major: Clinical Neuroscience

Bio: I am a senior from Virginia Beach majoring in Clinical Neuroscience. I am excited to be a returning SoN ambassador because this position allows me to connect with the future neuroscientists at Virginia Tech. I am able to mentor students and guide them in their academic and personal careers and I love being a friendly face that is associated with the School of Neuroscience, so students know that they have an outlet, other than an advisor or professor. I'm always happy to answer questions and share my passion for Neuroscience with others, so please feel free to reach out to me! 

Ryan D'Onofrio

Expected Graduation Date: Fall 2020

Major: Clinical Neuroscience

Bio: Hey! I am a second-year student studying Clinical Neuroscience from Leesburg, VA. I hope to go on to PA School following graduation! I am so excited to serve the Virginia Tech community as both a Neuro Ambassador and a Hokie Ambassador! I am lucky to work in the Bower's Lab studying Neurolingusitic developmental disorders.

As a Neuro Ambassador I look forward to making genuine connections with other students. I love sports, technology, politics, fitness and movies. I try to find mutual ground with everyone I meet and getting to know people through their passions

Christine Faunce

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2021

Major(s): Experimental Neuroscience and Chemistry with a minor in Science, Technology, and Law

Bio: Hi, there! My name is Christine Faunce, and I am in my third year at Virginia Tech. I was drawn to the Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience because of the School’s mission for embracing individuality and creativity. Being someone with a variety of interests, finding a community which could support my academic ambitions was crucial for me in my college search process. I am currently pursuing a dual degree in Experimental Neuroscience and Chemistry with a minor in Science, Technology, and Law. After graduation, I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in neuropharmacology and have further considered a career in pharmaceutical patent law. My time at Virginia Tech has made me aware and determined to join the fight against drug addiction as well as related psychiatric disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder in whatever way I can. In addition to my required curriculum, I avidly enroll in Spanish literature and culture courses as well as ethics courses.

During my time at Virginia Tech, I have supplemented my coursework with volunteer ambassador programs, extra-curricular clubs, and cultural enrichment programs. As a former Honors College Admissions Liaison, School of Neuroscience Ambassador, Student Intellectual Property Society Vice President, LCI Conversation Partner, and Resident Advisor, I strive to positively represent women in STEM to underclassmen and cultivate strong communities among students of diverse backgrounds. However, my most impactful experience at Virginia Tech has been getting involved in undergraduate research since my first year. I currently work with the Buczynski Lab studying drug addiction and pain. If you have any questions at all about any of communities at Virginia Tech which I am a part of, please do not hesitate to reach out!

Kathie Gradinetti

Expected Graduation Date: May 2021

Major: Clinical Neuroscience, minor in Spanish 

Bio: Hi! I’m Katie Grandinetti and I am going into my third year as a Clinical Neuroscience Major at Virginia Tech. I couldn’t be happier that I chose this major, not only for the incredible educational opportunities offered, but also for the personal growth experienced. I have always been fascinated by the brain (the body’s coolest organ). However, little did I know that I would find myself surrounded by people who felt the same way...and were equally as eager to express it! Although I am on the clinical path, Virginia Tech’s School of Neuroscience has allowed me to pursue any interests that I desire. I have been able to take many other neuroscience classes that intrigue me, participate in undergraduate research on depression specifically in females and am minoring in Spanish.

I am very excited to be an ambassador again for this school year! Communication is very important to me and I hope to inspire others by communicating effectively and passionately on the subject of science, whether it be when I’m with my sorority sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha, volunteering with Adult Day Services, as an ambassador, or with friends exploring beautiful Blacksburg. I just returned from the School of Neuroscience’s  Study Abroad program where we explored diseases of the nervous system on a global scale. This gratifying experience has changed the way I view science. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time about anything, it would make my day!

Sid Madhavan

Expected Graduation Date: Fall 2019

Major: Clinical Neuroscience, minor in Chemistry

Bio: Hello! I’m Sid and I’m currently a junior in Clinical Neuroscience. I was born and raised in Michigan, but I’ve spent the last 7 years in Virginia. After I graduate, I’m planning on pursuing a PhD and continuing my research in neurodegenerative diseases. On campus, when I’m not in lab, you can find me TAing for both Introduction to Neuroscience and Organic Chemistry, swiping cards at the front desk in McComas Gym, founding our Neuroscience Honor Society (Nu Rho Psi), and being an ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Research and School of Neuroscience. If you bump into me off campus, expect to see me playing guitar, biking, reading, hiking, or cooking (I’m currently reading Lord of the Rings and listening to the Allman Brothers Band). My involvements on campus stem from a belief in teamwork and helping others out. I love the School of Neuroscience because everyone, ranging from faculty, advisors, ambassadors, and your fellow students, is always ready to help and support you with anything you might need. Our department is so unique and successful because we’re one big family; I really believe we have Hokie Spirit. I love being an ambassador for a department that takes the time to invest in their students, and nothing is more enjoyable than playing a part in helping students reach their goals. Feel free to reach out to me for anything, I’m always excited to meet someone new!

Madeline Musaus

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2021

Major(s): Clinical Neuroscience and Psychology and minor in Medicine and Society

Bio: Hey y’all! I’m Madeline Musaus and I’m a junior from Raleigh, North Carolina and I’m double majoring in Clinical Neuroscience and Psychology.  Along with the beautiful campus and friendly atmosphere, I chose Virginia Tech because of all the research and academic programs the School of Neuroscience has to offer.  I knew it was the place for to become a competitive applicant on my journey to attend medical school and become a practicing physician. As a student ambassador, I have had the opportunity to mentor others, share my love for Virginia Tech, and build close relationships with the faculty members. I am currently doing research in Dr. Jarome's Lab, studying an epigenetic role for the ubiquitin-proteasome system in memory formation through the use of rodent models.  Additionally, I’m a member of the pre-health fraternity Delta Epsilon Mu, I'm a volunteer for Hospice, and a member of MEDLIFE, which is an organization that partners with low-income communities in foreign countries to help combat medical inequality and developmental issues. In my free time I enjoy playing with my dogs, going on hikes, and watching Grey’s Anatomy. I am thrilled to represent our student ambassador program and I’m excited to continue spreading my passion for neuroscience, as well as encouraging and inspiring other students. Go Hokies!

Jamie Mustian

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Major: Clinical Neuroscience, minor in Chemistry

Bio: Hello! My name is Jamie, and I am a senior in Clinical Neuroscience from Richmond, VA. When I first applied to college, Virginia Tech was not my top choice for college. Once I toured the school and found out about the School of Neuroscience, I happily accepted to be a Hokie! Reflecting on my time at Tech, I do not regret my choice to come here! I began my college career by joining the Bowers lab, which perpetuated my interest in neuroscience. In my lab, we study the neural mechanisms of vocalization and comprehension of language using rat models. I became more involved at Virginia Tech by joining Neuroscience Club, Virginia Tech Running Club, Alpha Epsilon Delta (Health Pre-professional Honor Society) and taking on a position as a Teaching Assistant for Intro to Neuro lab with Dr. McCoy. When I’m not in lab or class, I spend my free time either running with friends or baking something sweet in the kitchen! You could say I run to balance out my sweet tooth. 

As a Senior, I am excited to become more involved in my major as an ambassador, and I’m most excited about the mentorship aspect of the program. My passion for teaching and mentoring was fostered through Special Olympics where I volunteered as a swim coach. I look forward to growing with my mentees and fellow ambassadors through this program. 

Ryan Nasser

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Major(s): Clinical Neuroscience and English (Creative Writing track)

Bio: Hi! My name is Ryan Nasser, I hail from Woodbridge, VA, and this fall I will begin my senior year at Virginia Tech as a double-major in Clinical Neuroscience and Creative Writing. Subject to change, my career interests are related to medicine, and more specifically, I am currently most interested in dermatology, anaesthesiology, and rheumatology – this is to say that I will be spending a lot of time in Torg Bridge studying for the MCAT this fall. Side hobbies of mine include writing, stand-up comedy, hiking/jogging, basketball, cooking, meditation, and yoga. Research teams that I have been a part of during my undergraduate experience include Dr. Greg Valdez's lab which studies aging & neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and Dr. Pablo Sobrado's lab which is interested in characterizing select enzymes that play a crucial role in disease pathogens.

I  to serve as an Ambassador for the School of Neuroscience because, over the course of the past few years, I have discovered in myself a passion for the mentorship process. Since hitting campus back in fall of 2016, this passion for both the teaching and learning experience has manifested in a number of different ways – (1) I have served as a mentor in the CurVinci (newly named, "Orion") Living-Learning Community and now serve as the Mentor Coordinator for this community of 200+ science undergraduate students, (2) I work as a program assistant for the Office of Undergraduate education, with specific focus in FYE and university-wide Peer Mentor initiatives, (3) I have served as the Peer Mentor Lead for the Office of Undergraduate Research's summer programing, (4) I am a student leader in Virginia Tech's Campus Kitchen, (5) I will serve as a TA for Organic Chemistry beginning fall 2019 and (6) Lastly, I will be serving as a Neuroscience Ambassador for the 2019-2020 academic year!

Do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat, I love meeting new people!

Madison Noble

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Major: Clinical Neuroscience, minor in Chemestry

Bio: Hi! My name is Madison Noble and I am a senior in Clinical Neuroscience. However, I started out in University Studies. My choice to transfer into the Neuroscience program was an easy one. There are so many paths you can take after graduating from the School of Neuroscience. The program provides its students with many opportunities and resources you can use to succeed. For example, I am currently in Switzerland studying Global Perspectives in Neuroscience and Medicine with 19 other dedicated neuroscience students, and two of our amazing professors. Without the neuroscience program, I would not have had this amazing opportunity to see the world, while studying what I love. During the summer months, I spend a majority of my time in Blacksburg working as a certified pharmacy technician at Kroger. I hope to gain experience and knowledge in order to prepare myself for pharmacy school after I graduate from Virginia Tech. I am beyond excited to aid prospective neuroscience student, as well as current students in making positive decisions to better their experience at Virginia Tech. Go (neuroscience) Hokies! 

Pratishtha Panigrahi

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2021

Major: Clinical Neuroscience, minor in Public Health

Bio: Hello there! My name is Pratishtha Panigrahi and I am currently a third-year student studying Clinical Neuroscience from Ashburn, VA! I love being a student in the School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech because it allows me to pursue my research interests while also taking challenging classes that has exposed me to the various aspects of neuroscience. Whether I am investigating the effect of astrocytic dysfunction on epilepsy at Robel Lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute or studying pediatric headaches at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, I love being able to apply what I learn in my neuroscience courses outside the classroom. I am also part of the Stem Research Conference Commission to help organize the 2020 Mid-Atlantic Research Undergraduate Conference at Virginia Tech that will let other undergraduate researchers share their unique projects.

Outside of the world of research, you can find me working with traumatic brain injury individuals through Synapse or serving the New River Valley Community through Alpha Epilson Delta. I am part of Silhouette, the Literary and Art Magazine here at Virginia Tech, that has given me a platform to write and follow art, both things that I love to do! Being a neuroscience student has allowed me to be a part of a greater community actively involved in unique scientific ventures while serving others. I hope to take these experiences with me as I pursue a career in medicine as a physician actively involved in clinical research. The School of Neuroscience has given me a plethora of resources that has helped me succeed in my career. As an ambassador, I hope to pass these resources along to future neuroscience students so that they can build their own experiences at Virginia Tech! 

Lauren Sears

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2022

Major: Clinical Neuroscience

Bio: Hey Hokies! Im Lauren Sears and I’m a first-generation sophomore from Manassas, VA. I chose to continue my education at Virginia Tech because it provides plentiful academic and research opportunities that help push me to become a better student and future scientist. During my first year in the School of Neuroscience, I began undergraduate research in Dr. Buczynski’s Lab studying the effects of nicotine vaporization in mice. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be a Neuroscience Ambassador as it allows me to connect with my fellow Hokies and share my passion for neuroscience. 

Priyanka Susarla

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2021

Major: Clinical Neuroscience, minor in Spanish

Bio: Hello! I am a junior from McLean, VA majoring in Clinical Neuroscience with a minor in Spanish. During my time at Virginia Tech, I have found various ways to get involved with the Hokie community whether it be mentoring transfer students within the College of Science, being a part of College Mentors for Kids, or participating in research in the Olsen lab investigating the role of astrocytes in the central nervous system function. In my free time you can find me hiking, reading, or trying to improve my cooking skills! 

The School of Neuroscience has given me  many opportunities to grow and expand my knowledge and I am excited to share that with other students as an ambassador! If you have any questions about any of the organizations I am involved with, please do not hesitate to reach out. Go Hokies!

Sarah Thorpe

Expected Graduation: Spring 2022

Major: Clinical Neuroscience, minor in Spanish

Bio:  I am a sophomore from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and I am studying Clinical Neuroscience with a minor in Spanish. I love Virginia Tech, and I am really excited to continue my studies in Neuroscience and Spanish. Currently, I am shadowing a neurologist and hope to one day attend medical school. I am very excited to work as a Neuroscience Ambassador, because I enjoy working with students and providing help and guidance whenever possible. The advisors, professors, and students in the Neuroscience Department have been extremely helpful and welcoming, so I hope to continue to help new students find their passions and succeed. At Virginia Tech I am also involved in College Mentors for Kids and the Leadership and Social Change Residential College. I am always willing to help out and love meeting new people, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve as a Neuroscience Ambassador. 

Lauren Weaver

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2020

Major(s): Clinical Neuroscience, Biology and Spanish

Bio: Hi! My name is Lauren Weaver and I’m a senior pursuing triple degrees in Spanish, Biology, and Clinical Neuroscience with an Honors Scholar Diploma. After serving as a peer mentor in my living learning community, the Honors Residential Commons, as well as a mentor for both College Mentors for Kids and the College of Science Mentors program, I searched for an opportunity to expand upon my passion for mentoring in a more diverse role. As a School of Neuroscience Ambassador, I’m excited to share my newly-discovered love of neuroscience while also serving as a tutor to new students, a recruiter to prospective students, and a representative of the School.

Outside of neuroscience, I enjoy serving as a peer advisor in the Honors Peer Advising Center, in addition to serving as the Lead Activities Director and an Engagement Manager for College Mentors for Kids and a member of the Dining Services Student Advisory Committee. After spending a semester working in an immunology lab, I now work as an undergraduate research assistant in the Bowers lab, where we investigate the neurobiology of language and communication disorders. As a Certified Nurse Assistant, I also work as a personal care aide for a disabled Hokie. After graduation, I hope to pursue a career as a bilingual physician for underrepresented populations, hopefully utilizing my Spanish skills!