GSI Mentors, Advisors & Crew

AnjliAnjli Kumar
Graduate Student Mentor, Yellow Group

Anjli Kumar grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and recently moved to Houston for the Ph.D. program in Chemistry. She fell in love with science when she was inspired by a grade school teacher at a young age. After seeing the impact a teacher can have on the life trajectory of a student, she decided to teach high school chemistry. She really loved the interaction with students there and only decided to leave when she was presented with the opportunity to further her own education at Rice. Anjli loves working with others and looks forward to conversations that involve both serious issues and lighthearted jokes. She looks forward to joining the Girls STEM Initiative this summer!

barbaraBárbara Magalhães
Graduate Student Mentor, Yellow Group

Bárbara is from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Rice University. She completed her undergraduate studies at UFMG (Brazil) with a major in biological sciences, and obtained her Master’s degree in Genetics from UFMG as well. She is very excited about the opportunity to make a change in the Houston community, encouraging girls to dream big and pursue their dreams, especially in STEM. In her free time, she loves playing volleyball and dancing; but honestly, you will most likely find her talking on Skype with her family instead.

Mary NatoliMary Natoli
Graduate Student Mentor, Yellow Group

Mary grew up in Maryland and majored in bioengineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. She recently moved to Houston to start her Ph.D. at Rice. In her free time, she loves running, biking, and swimming, as well as playing the violin. She is a compassionate supporter of women in science. Mary has had several great mentors throughout her education, and she is excited to get to know the young women in the Girls STEM Initiative program.

JingJing Jin
Orange Group

Jing was born and raised in the city of Hefei located in central China. At 16, she participated in an international exchange program, AFS, which gave her the opportunity to live and study in Albuquerque, New Mexico for one year. After finishing high school in China, she decided to attend a small liberal arts college in Northern Indiana, Goshen College. She graduated with double majors in environmental science and biochemistry. She is currently a third-year graduate student in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Department at Rice University. She is researching natural plant products synthesized by a family of enzymes from common vegetables. She believes that cross-cultural encounters can be some of the most valuable experiences in ones growth and development. She aspires to bring encouragement and advice for other students who also struggle with language barriers and cultural differences. She had a wonderful experience as a mentor for the Girls STEM Initiative in 2014, and is looking forward to learning and growing with these girls in the future!

MarianeMariane Martinez
Orange Group

Mariane was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She is in her third year of graduate school, working on her doctoral degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. Her parents were born and raised, for the most part, in Tamaulipas, Mexico until they moved to the U.S. in search of a better future for their kids. She is proud to be a first-generation student, and to have continued on to higher education. She is very passionate about her research project at Rice which involves generating a functional salivary gland for head and neck cancer patients who have lost salivary function due to radiation therapy. Additionally, she was selected to be an interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering (IRISE) scholar, and she recently earned a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) to fund her project.

SamanthaSamantha Collum
Orange Group

Samantha received her B.S. in Biology with a minor in Creative Studies from Texas A&M University before joining the BioSciences Department at Rice University. She is currently a second-year graduate student and is working towards a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, with her research project focused on the role of the circadian clock in plant defense against insects and infection. Samantha is dedicated to giving back to her local and scientific communities and is an active member in her Graduate Student Association, a representative for the Rice Wellbeing Center, and a committee member for her local chapter of the Association of Women in Science. She is passionate about promoting female involvement in STEM and is thrilled to be a mentor for girls in the GSI program.

AlannaAlanna Beroiza
Writing and Communications Crew

Alanna is a fourth-year graduate student in the department of English. She studies 20th-century literature, film, and photography, as well as gender and sexuality. When she’s not reading books and watching films, Alanna can usually be found riding her bike or making a delicious green smoothie!

SydneySydney Boyd
Writing and Communications Crew

Sydney is an English Ph.D. student at Rice University. She grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and went to college at the University of Idaho, where she studied the violin. Today she still plays the violin and writes about music in Houston, but she’s equally excited about books, commas and semi-colons, and she especially enjoys helping others learn to write well and sharing her love of words.

LauraLaura Richardson
Writing and Communications Crew

Laura has been working with the Girls STEM Initiative since its beginning. She teaches communication courses to the red group, and also helps design the communication curriculum for the program. Laura is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Rice, writing a dissertation about early-twentieth-century women’s authorship. She loves reading, writing, and high-fiving.

RebeccaRebecca Montes
Chavez Teacher Advisor

Rebecca was born and raised on the east side of Houston, Texas. She attended college in Huntsville, Texas, where she received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Chemistry from Sam Houston State University. After completing her master’s degree, Rebecca began teaching at Chavez High School where she has been teaching for almost three years and currently serves as the team lead for chemistry. Rebecca teaches three levels of chemistry at the high school that include on-level Chemistry, Pre-AP Chemistry and AP Chemistry. In addition, she also teaches General Chemistry at Houston Community College.

WilmerWilmer Naranjo
Chavez Teacher Advisor

Wilmer is a proud graduate from the University of Houston Downtown with a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and a minor in Chemistry. He currently teaches Biology at Chavez High School. He has a passion for teaching students and inspiring them to reach their full potential. He was encouraged by dedicated teachers to pursue a college education. And now, he is following in their footsteps, helping his students realize that they too can achieve their goals.

ErinErin Russe
Chavez Teacher Advisor

Erin is the Environmental Science teacher at Chavez High School. This is her third year teaching at Chavez. She moved to Houston after she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012, with a major in Biology and her certification to teach high school science, though she is originally from San Antonio, Texas. Ever since Erin was a little girl, she knew she wanted to be a teacher, and all through school, science was always her favorite subject. It wasn’t until an internship she had in college that she realized she didn’t have to choose between science and teaching, and decided to apply for the UTeach program to merge her two passions! Erin became a Teacher Mentor for the Girls STEM Initiative so that she could build relationships with girls from Chavez who showed great potential and an interest in science. Hopefully in working with this program, she can help these girls develop a deeper passion for science, education, and a desire to be a lifelong learner!

KimKim Gonzalez
Alumnae Graduate Student Mentor, Red Group

Kim is from the San Antonio area. She enrolled at Rice after attending Texas A&M University. She majored in genetics and minored in chemistry and graduated Cum Laude a semester early. She is currently an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of BioSciences at Rice. She wants to make an impact in her community and encourage young women and Hispanics to pursue careers in the STEM fields. She enjoys working with the girls in the IBB Girls STEM Initiative because she wants to demonstrate that females can succeed in science careers. Not only does she love science, but she also loves sports and constantly supports her Aggies, Spurs, and Texans. She's a huge SNL fanatic and can quote almost any skit verbatim.

ErinErin O'Brien
Alumnae Graduate Student Mentor, Red Group

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Erin is the oldest of four sisters. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a double major in Biochemistry and Genetics, and a minor in Mathematics. After graduating from A&M, Erin joined the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Ph.D. program at Rice University and is currently an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Her thesis work involves developing synthetic biology tools to engineer bacteria to do cool things. She is passionate about supporting women in STEM, from middle school up through graduate school. These efforts include creating the one year Rice University Women in Science and Engineering (RUWiSE) program for undergraduates and graduate students, mentoring with the IBB programs, and creating STEM apprenticeships such as genetic engineering and the science of running for sixth grade students with Citizen Schools. Her most meaningful program is the Girls STEM Initiative. With this program, she feels they are developing modern women in science. In her free time, Erin enjoys kayak fishing, long distance running, Aggie football, and outdoor music festivals.

AnishaAnisha Perez
Alumnae Graduate Student Mentor, Red Group

Anisha was born and raised in beautiful New Jersey. She graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry in 2009. She entered the Biochemistry and Cell Biology graduate program at Rice University in 2010, where she studies mechanisms of antibiotic resistance. She is passionate about giving back to the community and volunteers at the Emergency Aid Coalition. Anisha also helps organize volunteer opportunities for her graduate department. In her free time, she enjoys couponing and hanging out with friends and family.