Meet the Staff

Executive Board

Steven Lang

Editor in Chief     |      Class of 2020     |     Neuroscience

Steven is a sophomore studying Neuroscience and Chinese Language. His interest in science journalism and communication began following an addiction to the work of prolific science writer, Richard Dawkins. “People have this notion of scientists as stuffy, pocket-protecting nerds, but that really couldn’t be further from the truth. Scientists are passionate people – passionate in their pursuit of an understanding of nature, and passionate in their resolve to imagine a better world,” Steven says. He hopes Scientifica will help to bridge the communication gap between scientists and the public. In his free-time, Steven enjoys cooking, being with friends, and listening to podcasts about nature and human behavior.


Nimesh Nagururu

Managing Editor     |      Class of 2020     |     Biomedical Engineering

Nimesh is a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science. He initially joined in his freshman year at the suggestion of a friend but stayed after witnessing the “brilliant writing and though provoking content” produced by the Scientifica editorial team. He says, “through Scientifica I realized science writing doesn’t have to be esoteric or boring, the elegance and ingenuity of our scientists should not be constrained by science journals.” Nimesh’s goal for the magazine is to, simply, help ’Canes create interesting science content for ‘Canes. In his free time, Nimesh enjoys playing table tennis, watching “The Office” and relishing UM’s beautiful campus.


Devi Nallakumar

Managing Editor     |      Class of 2020     |     Neuroscience

Devi is a sophomore studying Neuroscience. Her interest in science, particularly the field of medicine, stemmed from a young age. The idea of being able to help cure people and help improve their lives, whether it be through research or clinically, always intrigued her. She hopes to see Scientifica address issues that are often considered to be taboo subjects in order to raise awareness in the general community. In her free time, Devi enjoys dancing, spending time with friends and watching Friends on Netflix.


Parv Gondalia

Copy Chief     |      Class of 2020     |     Chemistry

Parv is a sophomore studying Chemistry, French, and Business Law amongst other subjects. After his undergraduates studies he hopes to attend law school and work for a patent law or intellectual property law firm. He enjoys writing about environmental issues and innovations in technology. When he is not writing one can find him watching Master of None or reading “A Song of Ice and Fire”.


Samantha Mosle

Design Director     |      Class of 2020     |    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 

Samantha is a premedicine student minoring in studio art who joined scientifica in order to combine her love of art and science.


Melissa Huberman

Art Director     |      Class of 2020     |     Neuroscience

Melissa is a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry, Art, and Sociology. She was raised on the Space Coast in Florida where STEM has played a big role in the community. She works in both with digital and traditional art and she hopes that Scientifica will teach and inspire readers with not only its written content, but its graphical content as well. When not working on the magazine, she likes to adventure with her boyfriend, paint with her sorority, and entertain her cat.


Will Benedict

Director of Photography    |      Class of 2020     |     Marine Science and Applied Physics


Joshua Zahner

Webmaster    |      Class of 2021     |     Marine Science and Computer Science

Joshua is a freshman majoring in Marine Science and Computer Science, with an interest in performing data analysis and creating visualizations for marine science related data sets. In his spare time, Joshua enjoys developing websites and iPhone apps, as well as photography and astronomy. He is also a member of UM’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team and competes regularly with UM’s Software Engineering Club at hackathons and programming competitions around the United States.


Corey Fehlberg

Distribution Manager     |      Class of 2020     |     Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Corey is a sophomore studying Biochemistry and Microbiology. He intends to become proficient in Japanese and Arabic so that he can work abroad. His drive to excel to and through medical school, so that one day he can make a difference in someone’s life. He views Scientifica as a great way to see how the professional medical community can communicate to the people whose lives are affected by such research. He believes that this magazine is of a high, respectable caliber and would love to see the writers and editors continue to bring forth such important, quality work for years to come.


Sumanth Potluri

Business Manager


Ryan Steinberg

Business Associate


Elisabeth Hofer

Director of Public Relations


Roger Williams M.S. Ed.

Editorial Advisor

Roger has been the Editorial Advisor for UMiami Scientifica since its inception. Roger’s primary appointment is in the Microbiology and Immunology Department where he serves as Director of Student Activities for the Microbiology and Immunology Undergraduate Program. As an academic advisor, laboratory instructor and head administrator for the program, he has served in this capacity for the past eighteen years. Roger is an alumnus twice over having earned his B.S. in 2008 majoring in Microbiology and Immunology and subsequently his M.S. Ed in 2007 in Higher Education. Roger has a strong desire to strengthen his alma mater. Apart from his work life interests, Roger is an avid techie as well as a self proclaimed gamer (PS4). Occasionally, you will find Roger with his partner in crime, Preston, a two and a half year old Maltese pup.


Victoria Pinilla

Board of Advisors Liaison




Nicole Beliz

Writer/Photographer     |      Class of 2021     |     Biomedical Engineering

Nicole is a freshman studying Biomedical Engineering with a French minor on the pre-medical track. She is an avid reader, and her favorite magazines are the Newyorker and National Geographic. One of her favorite quotes is by Vladimir Nabokov, “you need the passion of a scientists and the precision of a poet”. Nicole is also part of the Triathlon Club, Minority Women in Medicine and Engineers Without Borders at UM. In her free time, she likes reading, running and drinking coffee.


Trevor Birenbaum

Writer     |      Class of 2020     |     Biochemistry

Trevor is currently majoring in Biochemistry and plans to study medicine and eventually go into surgery. A lover of numbers, he discusses topics from an analytical perspective and wrote the feature article “Healthcare, Uncovered” for the first issue of the 2017-2018 year. He believes that the best way for a person to make important decisions is if they are informed, and strives towards Scientifica’s goal to make complicated scientific concepts accessible to the general public.


Jarelis Cabrera

Writer    |      Class of 2020     |     Biology and Psychology

Jarelis is a sophomore majoring in Biology and Psychology and minoring in Chemistry. In the past, she has focused most of her time on her neuroscience research in “How memories can be preserved after death.” She plans to continue her research as a senior thesis project. She joined Scientifica to explore complex concepts in science and make them accessible to the public. “There’s a lot of what if and why not questions that people are curious about but don’t have the time to study, I hope to answer some of those questions,” Jarelis says. In her free-time, you can find her dancing, learning new languages, or trying the newest food trends in Miami.


Aileen Cruz-Lezama

Writer/Copy Editor/Photographer     |      Class of 2021    |     Biochemistry and Nutrition

Aileen is a freshman studying Biochemistry & Nutrition on a Pre-Dental Track. She was born in Miami, but has lived all her life in Lakeland, FL. Her interest in journalism came from a love of writing, while her specific interest in science journalism began after starting her BIL150 and ENG107 classes. Aside from writing for Scientifica, she is also Public Relations Chair for the Miami Aviators Club, works in the Richter library, and hopes to pursue involvement in many other organizations. In her free time, Aileen enjoys going out with friends, trying new foods, and working out.


Olivia Cox

Writer     |      Class of 2021     |     Biology and Spanish

Olivia is a freshman studying Biology and Spanish. She intends to pursue a career in science after earning a PhD. She has a passion for science and understanding how the world functions. She hopes this magazine will allow the general public to discover how fascinating and understandable science can be for everyone. She believes that the wide reaching impact of science will shine through the magazine and show how important it is that research continues to be well funded. Olivia loves scuba diving, traveling, and animals.


Baylie Grogan

Writer/Copy Editor/Section Editor    |      Class of 2021    |     Microbiology & Immunology

Baylie is in her first year at UM studying Microbiology and Immunology as well as Psychology and Creative Writing, on the premed track. She was drawn to science journalism as a way to bridge two of her favorite subjects–literature and science. “I love the idea of being able to blend my passion for creative writing with my enthusiasm for science all in one,” she says. She hopes to broaden readers’ perspectives through a creative and scientific approach. Baylie loves to read, hangout with friends, jam out to country music and soak up the Miami heat during her spare time. She is also an avid equestrian and will be competing alongside the rest of the UM team this year.


Akki Gunda

Writer     |      Class of 2020     |     Chemistry and Economics

Akki is a sophomore majoring in chemistry. She has a keen interest in the history of science and enjoys examining contemporary issues through a historical lens. Outside of Scientifica, she is on the COISO E-board and is involved in research studying organometallic compounds in the laboratory of Dr. Burjor Captain. In her free time Akki enjoys dancing, being with friends, and experiencing new cultures.


Jonathan Hefley

Writer    |      Class of 2021     |     Mechanical Engineering

Jonathan is a freshman studying Mechanical Engineering. He writes to share his love for science with those of an open mind. A passion of his is exploring how inventions created for a specific industry become useful in many more, such as the KUKA arm and self-driving container vehicles. In his free-time, Jonathan enjoys being with friends, playing lacrosse, and working on his latest project.


Catherine Quynh-Mai Huynh

Section Editor    |      Class of 2018    |     Microbiology & Immunology

Mai is a senior majoring in Microbiology and Immunology, with minors in Chemistry, Sociology, Health Sector Management and Policy, and Music, with an independent study in Eastern Languages and Religions. Mai took a love for creative writing when she was young, winning several awards throughout her life. She took an interest in scientific writing when she wrote for a Laureate Diploma as a senior in high school, and more so when she started working in the lab of Dr. Priyamvada Rai as a freshman. She has since published two scientific papers, and is currently working on a couple more to be published soon. She is highly involved on campus, as President of the American Medical Student Association, and was President of the National Organization for Women, as well as PR for UConnect, and Treasurer for the Society for Advancing Chicanos & Native Americans in Science. She also works for the Women’s and Gender Studies Program here at UM. Mai likes cooking, playing music, occasionally reading when she has time, and attempting to fell the walls of patriarchy and racism in her free time. Mai loves studying languages, law, and science, and hopes to one day work in healthcare policy and law for the US.


Ruhi Kabra

Writer    |      Class of 2021     |     Neuroscience

Ruhi Kabra is a pre-med student at the University of Miami from New Jersey. Her hobbies include dancing, volunteering with children, and writing. She’s passionate about empowerment through knowledge and is excited to write for the Scientifica Magazine.


Sanjoy Kundu

Writer    |      Class of 2020     |     Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Mathematics

Ever since he was in the womb, Sanjoy Kundu has been aspiring to become either America’s Next Top Model or a leading medical researcher, whichever happens first. Moving to Miami, Florida when he was only four years old, Sanjoy spent his early days reading numerous books about mathematics and biology. In particular, his favorite book was (and still is) “Welcome to Blue’s Clues” – a book that taught him how to think about both science and life from a simplified, perhaps even trivial perspective. Currently, as a student at the University of Miami, he enjoys viewing the novel application of mathematics and various branches of science on Facebook, through what he believes to be the 21st century’s greatest innovation – memes! When he’s not tagging his beloved friends in memes, Sanjoy can be found studying his favorite subject, organic chemistry or doing math. Sanjoy is truly looking forward to a great new year writing for what he believes to be one of the best avenues for becoming a better researcher – Scientifica!


Carolene Kurien

Writer     |      Class of 2020     |     Neuroscience and Creative Writing

Carolene is a sophomore double majoring in Neuroscience and Creative Writing. As someone who is always looking to expand her scientific knowledge and explore different writing styles, Carolene jumped at the opportunity to write for Scientifica. In her free time, Carolene loves to write poems, watch The Office, or play the piano or ukulele.


Justin Ma

Section Editor     |      Class of 2018     |    Microbiology and Immunology

Justin is a senior studying Microbiology and Immunology. He originally joined the Scientifica staff as a writer in the ethics division, expressing interest in the important human issues which underlie scientific facts. Justin enjoys reading, classical music, and table tennis.


Ka Lam Nguyen

Writer/Designer     |      Class of 2021     |    Microbiology and Immunology

Ka Lam is a freshman currently enrolls in the College of Arts and Sciences. He likes cooking and playing musical instruments, especially the rare kinds. His goal is to become a Researcher in the medical field. He likes helping the community through volunteering services.


Alexis Paul

Design/Photographer     |      Class of 2020     |    Microbiology and Immunology

Alexis is a sophomore majoring in Microbiology and Immunology and minoring in Chemistry and Art, in hopes of becoming a physician one day. She was born in Florida and loves anything outdoors where the sun is shining. She loves traveling, taking photos and/or drawing, and being with friends and family.


Nikhil Rajulapati

Writer/Copy Editor    |      Class of 2021     |     Microbiology and Immunology

Nikhil is a freshman majoring in Microbiology and Immunology. He sees Scientifica as a chance to communicate ideas and issues in the world that matter the most to him. Nikhil has always wanted to find a platform where he could express major problems and concerns in the status quo. Growing up, Nikhil always listened to artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Ray LaMontagne. “These artists were so skilled at telling a story and putting meaning behind their words,” according to Nikhil. Through science journalism, he hopes to do the same with the rest of his peers.


Samantha Roberts

Writer     |      Class of 2020     |     Mathematics and Biochemistry & Microbiology

Samantha is a sophomore studying mathematics and biochemistry. Originally from Ohio, Samantha appreciates the outdoors and the living organisms around her. “Science is a beautiful thing because it provides a connection to your surroundings that only understanding can bring” she says. Through her work with Scientifica, Samantha hopes help others cultivate their connection and love for science by deepening their general understanding. In her free time, Samantha can often be found visiting new restaurants with friends, exercising, or investigating new topics.


Anuj Shaw

Writer/Copy Editor     |      Class of 2021     |     Biomedical Engineering

Anuj is a first-year student at the University of Miami majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He is from Chandler, Arizona, and spends his free time playing tennis, watching TV, and researching. In addition to writing for Scientifica, Anuj also hopes to stay involved in Relay for Life, Club Tennis, and Habitat for Humanity.


Bhavana Srikakolapu

Writer/Copy Editor/Designer     |      Class of 2021     |     Biology and Political Science

Bhavana is currently a freshman in the College of Arts + Sciences. She is double majoring in Biology and Political Science on the pre-med track. Her hobbies include Indian classical singing, Bollywood/ Bhangra dancing, and playing the piano. She prides herself on religiously celebrating Darwin Day every year and hopes to one day get her pHD in evolutionary studies.


Join Tsatalis

Writer/Section Editor     |      Class of 2020     |     Biology

John is a junior studying Biology, Chemistry, and History at the University of Miami. He has long felt an intrinsic yearning for exploration and experimentation. His early childhood research was funded by noted philanthropic donors D.A.D. and M.O.M, who enthusiastically fueled his love of jarred firefly observations, leaf studies under magnifying glasses, and coveted rock collections. John hopes that through his research and writing, he can help improve the world. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle


Siena Vadakal

Section Editor    |      Class of 2020     |     Microbiology & Immunology

Siena is a sophomore studying Microbiology and Immunology and minoring in Education. She has a strong interest in science, particularly Chemistry, and lives for those “a-ha” moments in science when all the pieces make sense. Apart from learning, she loves working with children, knitting, and bringing a smile to others.


Elizabeth Whitson

Photographer    |      Class of 2017     |     Marine Science and Biology

Elizabeth is a junior studying Marine Science and Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Mathematics. She joined Scientifica to gain better experience in working in science and journalism, specifically with handling the photography aspects of the magazine. She has been a passionate photographer since the age of 11 and hopes to bring passion and enthusiasm to Scientifica through her own photos as well as through her peers. In her free-time she enjoys traveling, going to the beach, hanging out with friends, listening to music, taking photos, and playing with her tortoise Sunny.

Currently studying abroad in the Galapagos Islands


Matthew Wiefels

Writer, Copy Editor, Distribution Associate    |      Class of 2020     |     Biochemistry

Matthew is a sophomore majoring in Biochemistry. He enjoys talking about scientific research with his peers and wants to make it easier for people to understand science. Matthew likes running, swimming, biking, and being with friends.


James Wilson

Writer    |      Class of 2020     |     Marine Science and Biology

James is a sophomore who studies Marine Biology and minors in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He describes himself as an artistic soul with a passion for science, a very unique combination that gives him a very different perspective on science. “There’s a level of beauty and art in biology that I feel like most people miss. The way life works is almost life a ballet, a very precise balance of movements to create one fluid scene that’s always changing,” James says. His favorite pastimes include painting, scuba, writing, and even drag performances on occasion.