Our Liftoff Fellows

Awarded to entering graduate students, the E.E. Just Liftoff Fellowship is designed to jumpstart a recipients' academic career through membership in the E.E. Just Community and participation in professional development opportunities.

Our Current E.E. Just Liftoff Fellows

2023 Fellows

Kenneth Bernier, MCB; Amanda Cruz-Riveria, MCB; Savannah Gonzales, QBS; Taalia Lindsay Morgan, MCB; ; Keyla Ramirez Soto, MCB; ; Johnathan Rodgers Gochicoa, IND.

2022 Fellows

Luis Torres, EARS; Jessica Rattray, MATH; Michelle Garcia, CHEM; Sofia Garcia, EEES; Alos Diallo, QBS; Rachel Dansereau, IND; Ana Altamirano Hefferan, MCB; Robert Montoya MCB; Francois LeSage, MCB; Kasey Hernandez, MCB, Leslie Jimenez, MCB.

2021 Fellows

Angelique Cortez, MCB; Jeff Joseph, QBS; Beatriz Mercado, MCB; Noemi Ortega-Dominguez, EEES; Alicia Pietramale, MCB; Sarah Vandal, MCB.

2020 Fellows

Emmanuel Durodola, PHYS; Suprene Mohamedzein, MCB; Sarah Najera, MCB; Xenia Sailors, CHEM; Brian Sarmiento, MCB.   

2017 - 2019 Fellows

Kizito Masaba, CS; Bianca Romo, PEMM; Amy Kennedy, PEMM; Alexandria Casteel, EEES; Courtney Jimenez, PBS; Jessica Tolbert, CHEM; Kasey Hernandez, MCB; Aylin Garcia-Soto, PHYS; Maria Nyamakuru, ENGS; Amelia Ralowicz, PEMM.

Meet Some of Our E.E. Just Liftoff Fellows...

Kenneth Bernier (2023 Fellow)


Kenneth Bernier headshot

Kenneth Bernier is a first year Ph.D. student in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Dartmouth College. He is a first-generation college student of Indigenous Canadian Métis descent. He received a Bachelor of Science from UMASS Amherst in 2015. For the past six years, he has worked as an associate scientist at various biotech CROs and agricultural science companies. Kenneth has a great interest in plant biology and microbiology and hopes to join a related research lab this spring. He enjoys hiking, traveling and history.


Amanda Cruz-Rivera (2023 Fellow)


Amanda Cruz-Rivera headshot

Amanda received her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez in 2023. She had the opportunity to do a Summer Internship through Dartmouth's ASURE program in Dr. Rosato's laboratory, where she worked on Tissue Resident memory T cells in oncolytic viral therapy. An opportunity that helped her expand her knowledge in research and decided to follow her PhD student path. Now she is part of the Molecular & Cellular Biology program as a first-year student, currently completing research rotations. 


Savannah Gonzales (2023 Fellow)


Savannah Gonzales

Savannah Gonzales is a first year PhD student in the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences program at Dartmouth. She is a proud Latina and first-generation college student. She is originally from Austin, Texas and attended St. Edward's University for her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Bioinformatics. She was also a McNair Scholar and researched random matrix theory applications for network analysis. After graduation, she joined a post-baccalaureate program at Washington University in St. Louis, where she researched long non-coding RNAs in the Silva-Fisher Lab. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting, and playing video games.


Taalia-Lindsay Morgan (2023 Fellow)


Taalia-Lindsay Morgan headshot

Taalia Morgan is a Molecular and Cellular Biology Ph.D. student at Dartmouth College. Taalia is an African-American and Ashkenazi student who received a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences, which included a year of government research experience, from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom in 2022. Taalia was also a NIH-PREP scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2022 to 2023. She is now looking forward to joining a research lab that focuses on host-pathogen responses and the molecular mechanisms of infection. 


Keyla Maris Ramírez Soto (2023 Fellow)


Keyla Ramirez Soto headshot

Keyla Ramírez Soto is a Molecular and Cellular Biology Ph.D. student at Dartmouth College. She is a Puerto Rican, Hispanic who received her Bachelor of Science in Medical Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo in 2023. Keyla was part of Dartmouth's ASURE program in Dr. Cramer's lab which allowed her to investigate the antifungal activity of novel small molecules. She is excited to explore more about the field of Mycology and host-microbial interactions. In her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with her friends, enjoying a good book and just about anything relating to the arts.


Johnathan Rodgers Gochicoa (2023 Fellow)


Johnathan Rodgers Gochicoa GR

Johnathan Rodgers Gochicoa is an Integrative Neuroscience PhD student at Dartmouth College. Johnathan is a Native American, Hispanic first-generation college student who received two Bachelors of Science degrees in Neuroscience and Chemistry from Baylor University in 2023. During his undergraduate education he was a McNair Scholar and performed neurotoxicology research in the Sayes Laboratory. He is now looking forward to joining a research lab that will allow him to apply both of his undergraduate degrees and investigate a neurodegenerative or a neuro-oncological model.


Alos Diallo (2022 Fellow)

Research Mentor: Brock Christensen & Joshua Levy, Department Epidemiology Geisel School of Medicine


Alos Diallo headshot

Alos Diallo a PhD candidate in the Quantitative Biomedical Science program at Dartmouth, co-mentored by Dr. Brock Christensen and Dr. Joshua Levy. He was a double major at UMass Lowell where he received a bachelor's degrees in biology (bioinformatics) and philosophy. His undergraduate research training was in Dr. Brian Bettencourt's lab where he studied the effects of stress on the gene expression of Hsp70 in Drosophila melanogaster. He was a bioinformatician in Dr. Marian Walhout's lab at UMass Chan Medical School where he studied the network of protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions in C. elegans. He received a master's degree in bioinformatics from Harvard University where he trained under Dr. Arlene Sharpe at Harvard Medical School. His project focused on understanding how the immune system responds to tumors when PD-1 is deleted on CD8 cells. Prior to coming to Dartmouth he was a senior bioinformatician in the department of immunology at Harvard Medical School for 10 years where his research focused on understanding immune responses to disease. He is currently interested in studying the interactions between T cells and tumor immunity for patients with colorectal cancer. To accomplish this, he hopes to combine spatial, transcriptomic, and epigenetic data to obtain a clearer picture of the tumor immune microenvironment. 


Francois LeSage (2022 Fellow)

Research Mentor: Joshua Obar, Microbiology & Immunology, Geisel School of Medicine


Francois LeSage headshot

Francois is fiercely passionate about science, research and volleyball. They believe that volleyball is a great way to nurture and strengthen any community. They are striving to enrich the Dartmouth community through the offerings of the club they created, DartSlam Volleyball Club. Additionally, Francois enjoys baking bread, making cocktails for friends, games night and traveling; just to name a few other passions. Francois hopes to collaborate with other scientists in an attempt to make science communication readily accessible to and understandable for the general public.


Beatriz Mercado (2021 Fellow)


Beatriz Mercado

Beatriz Mercado is a Molecular and Cellular Biology Ph.D. student at Dartmouth College. Beatriz is an Afro-Latina first generation college student who received her Associates in Science in Biology from Bronx Community College in 2015. She then obtained a Bachelor of Science in Cellular and Molecular Biology with a minor in Psychology from John Jay College in 2019. Beatriz was also a NIH-PREP fellow at Brown University in 2020. She is now looking forward to joining a research lab that focuses on fundamental biological questions in regards to cell fate and plasticity, and the molecular mechanisms that govern these cellular changes.

Noemi Ortega Dominguez (2021 Fellow)

Research Mentor: Marisa Palucis, Earth Sciences


Noemi Ortega Dominguez

Noemi is a first year MS student in the Earth Sciences Department. Before coming to Dartmouth, she attended the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she received her bachelor's degree in Earth Science. She is currently interested in deltas along the crustal dichotomy on Mars. The goal of her work is to determine whether deltas along the dichotomy formed in palo-lake basins, and, if so, how large these basins were, what their hydrologic conditions were, and whether these deltas formed contemporaneously. Outside of studying deltas, Noemi enjoys hiking, running, and spending time with family. Her goal is to encourage other Latinx students to pursue a higher education in STEM!


Sarah Vandal (2021 Fellow)


Sarah Vandal

Sarah is a Wôpanâak first year PhD student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology program at Dartmouth. Previously, she received a bachelor's degree in Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience from Colby College and worked at the University of Vermont as a Research Technician. She is interested in studying the molecular and biochemical basis of the cell cycle and enjoys participating in science outreach with the hope to improve science communication in underrepresented minority and rural communities. In her free time, she also enjoys trail running, baking bread and cross-country skiing.


Brian Galaviz Sarmiento (2020 Fellow)

Research Mentors: Henry Higgs, Geisel; Amanda Amodeo, Biology; James Moseley, Geisel; Yolanda Sanchez, Geisel


Brian Galaviz Sarmiento Outside Portrait

Brian Galaviz Sarmiento belongs to the 2020 cohort of Dartmouth's Molecular & Cellular Biology graduate program. He was born in Mexico and moved to California, where he obtained his bachelor's in Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of California Santa Barbara. As a first year at Dartmouth, Brian had the opportunity to work under the short tutelage of Dr. Henry Higgs, Dr. Amanda Amodeo, Dr. Jaime Moseley, and Dr. Yolanda Sanchez. As his rotations continue, he hopes to keep meeting great mentors to work with and find a home in Dartmouth's MCB graduate program.

Suprene Mohamedzein (2020 Fellow)

Research Mentors: Magdalena Bezanilla, Biology; Rob McClung, Biology; Erik Griffin, Biology


Suprene Mohamedzein headshot

Suprene received her B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from Wake Forest University in 2020. She is currently a graduate student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology PhD program at Dartmouth College and works in the lab of Magdalena Bezanilla in the Biological Sciences department. There, she uses the moss Physcomitrium patens as a model to study the function of the evolutionarily conserved ATAD3 proteins in regulating mitochondria function and morphology. In her free time, Suprene enjoys reading, cross stitching, and ice/roller skating. 


Bianca Romo (2017 Fellow)

Research Mentor: Todd Miller, Geisel, Cancer Biology PH.D. Program, NCCC


Bianca Romo Headshot

Bianca Romo is originally from New Mexico. She is particularly interested in pursuing clinically-relevant research. She came to Dartmouth in 2017 to pursue a PhD in Cancer Biology.  She works at DHMC, characterizing mechanisms of resistance to therapeutics in estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. The E.E. Just Program has allowed her to connect with fellow graduate students and become part of a community that invests in the development of its students.


Courtney Jimenez (2017 Fellow)

Research Mentor: Meghan Meyer, Psychological and Brain Sciences


Courtney Jimenez Headshot

Courtney is a current PhD student in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department. Prior to starting at Dartmouth, she attended the University of California, Davis and graduated with degrees in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior (B.S.) and Psychology (B.A.). Courtney currently works in the Dartmouth Social Neuroscience Lab researching the neural mechanisms underpinning social memory. Her work utilizes neuroimaging and computational methods. The E.E. Just Liftoff Fellowship has provided Courtney with valuable support and community throughout her time at Dartmouth.