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2021 Program Students

Mariam Benazouz

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Emily Law

Mariam is a senior at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Bioengineering. This summer, she is working with Dr. Emily Law in the Palermo Lab. Mariam is conducting research that focuses on improving treatment outcomes for children with chronic pain using cognitive behavioral therapy. In this way, children and families can cope with the pain in a healthier way that allows them to maintain a high quality of life. In her free time, she enjoys learning languages, biking, and spending time with her family.

Zoe Lu Chau

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Kushang Patel

Zoe is a rising junior at the University of Washington majoring in bioengineering. This summer, Zoe is working with Dr. Kushang Patel in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine to assess movement-evoked pain in older adults with knee osteoarthritis through the development and piloting of a study protocol. She is especially excited to gain insight into the clinical aspect of pain research. During the school year, Zoe works in the Lai Lab to develop oligonucleotide cascade reactions that profile and isolate breast cancer-specific exosomes with the purpose of better understanding the biological mechanisms behind breast cancer drug resistance. In addition, she is involved in the EPE program to provide first-year engineering students the tools and resources needed to explore engineering at the UW. Outside of school, Zoe enjoys volunteering, learning new languages, and playing the piano. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine and help improve biotechnology via the intersection of research and healthcare.

Victoria Peng Yu Chen

Victoria smiling for the cameraInstitution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Tonya Palermo

Victoria is a sophomore majoring at the University of Washington majoring in Psychology and Biochemistry. This summer, she is working with Dr. Tonya Palermo on a web-based cognitive behavioral early intervention for pain and response management for parents with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and their children who may be at risk for FAPD (functional abdominal pain disorder). In general, the Palermo team specializes in constructing cognitive-behavioral interventions for a number of pain conditions and uses clinical research to organize necessary skills for pediatric pain management and resilience building. Outside of the lab, Victoria enjoys reading and watching psychological thriller, playing the cello, bullet journaling, and mental health advocacy and education. After graduation, Victoria intends to pursue a career in medicine with a focus on developmental psychiatry, using the knowledge from collected experiences to lead future CBT-based projects and continue with pain research.

Grace Gordon

Grace Gordon smiling for the camera

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Rabbitts

Grace is a junior at the University of Washington pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Physiology) with a minor in Global Health. She is working with Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts this summer studying pediatric post-operative pain trajectories as well as researching adolescents’ perspectives on using prescription pain medicines. She is excited to gain experience in clinical research and learn more about how children transition from acute to chronic pain. In the future, she hopes to attend medical school and work as a pediatric surgeon while addressing healthcare inequities. In her free time, Grace enjoys hiking, listening to music, and spending time with her friends, family, and pets.


Sophia Mar

Sophia smiling and posing for the camear

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Benjamin Land

Sophia is a junior at the University of Washington studying biochemistry. She has been working with Dr. Benjamin Land studying the intersection of cannabinoids and opioids in the context of pain and addiction. This summer, Sophia will focus her research on behavioral models of chronic pain. During the school year, Sophia serves on the Grey Matters Journal Leadership Team, an undergraduate neuroscience journal with the goal of bridging the gap between neuroscience and the general public. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in research and medicine, where she hopes to continue studying pain and addiction. In her free time, Sophia enjoys reading, eating good food, and spending time with family and friends.

Kat Motovilov

Kat smiling for the cameraInstitution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Michael Bruchas

Kat Motovilov is a senior at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Bioengineering with a minor in Neural Computational Engineering. This summer she is working in Dr. Michael Bruchas’s lab under the guidance of postdoctoral fellow Dr. Kasey Given. Her work focuses on characterizing the role of neuropeptide S in anxiety and drug-seeking behaviors. Outside of the lab, she enjoys going on runs, exploring new places in Seattle, and painting.

Thanh Viet Tran

Thanh smiling for the Camera

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Ajay Dhaka

Thanh is a rising senior at the University of Washington and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. For the past year and this summer, Thanh will be continuing to work with Professor Ajay Dhaka in the Dhaka lab to explore certain chemicals affecting the neural circuitry which establish a positive or negative valence in sensory stimuli using zebrafish as a model system. Thanh previously volunteered at a clinic and worked with a family doctor to help serve the Vietnamese community in Seattle. After graduating, Thanh hopes to pursue a career in the medical field, focusing on helping underprivileged communities around the world. In his free time, he enjoys reading novels, spending time with family and friends, travelling, and listening/playing to music, especially jazz.

Sandra Yang

Sandra smiling in front of the water

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Sean Rundell

Sandra is a rising senior at UW, pursuing a B.S. in psychology. Her experience working as a Rehabilitation Technician at ATI Physical Therapy and coursework in physiology, biopsychology, and statistics has cultivated her interest in pain research. Previously, Sandra has worked in the Sisneros Lab as an undergraduate field researcher, studying the association between sound source localization and mating behavior in plainfin midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus). This summer she is working with Dr. Sean Rundell on his new PROSPECTS study that is concerned with learning more about lumbar spinal stenosis with the goal of developing a clinically useful predictive model for long-term function in older adults receiving non-surgical care. She is looking forward to gaining a more nuanced understanding of the lifestyle factors that impact chronic pain and what treatments are most cost-effective. In her free time, Sandra enjoys working out, experimenting in the kitchen, and discussing a recent podcast or book with friends. She hopes to further her education in graduate or physical therapy school.