BioCORE Scholars Program

The BioCORE Scholars Program at Seattle Pacific University supports ethnic minority and first-generation college students traditionally underrepresented in biological and biomedical sciences. This leadership program works to build community, promote academic success, and create mentoring networks. BioCORE scholars participate in weekly study workshops and perform authentic research during a summer internship at SPU. In addition, scholars are paired with peer and faculty mentors and network with professional scientists in quarterly pizza meetings.

Applications for the 2021-2022 cohort are now closed.  Applications for the 2022-2023 cohort will be posted in Autumn 2022.


Learn more about the BioCORE Scholars Program

(Many thanks to David Rither in Educational Technology & Media for creating this video.)

The BioCORE Scholars Program was also featured in The Falcon, SPU's student newspaper, The article, "BioCORE encourages community" was written by Lu Aleman and appeared on Oct. 24, 2018.

SPU congratulates the BioCORE Scholars Class of 2021

During an online ceremony in June, the BioCORE Scholars Program honored our five graduating Scholars, who joined during the 2017-2018 academic year.  Each Scholar was formally presented by a faculty member, and was pinned by a family member.  Our graduates are:

  • Mercy Alsworth, BA Biology
  • Bethelehem Gebre, BS Physiology
  • Alexandria Gonzalez, BS Biochemistry
  • Cindy Huang, BA Life Science
  • Israel Zamudio, BA Life Science

In addition to being Scholars, Bethelehem, Alexandria and Israel also served as Peer Mentors to first-year Scholars.  Bethelehem was the program's Learning Assistant for the 2020-2021 academic year. We appreciate their service to and leadership in the program!

We also congratulate Sawa Tecle (BA Human Development and Family Studies), who was an original member of the BioCORE Scholars 2017-2018 cohort, and who also graduated in Spring 2021.

Congratulations to all of our graduates - we are very proud of you!!

Learn more about the first two graduating classes of BioCORE Scholars.

BioCORE Scholars and Mentors


Slideshow LinkPhotos of previous cohorts

Meet our 2020 BioCORE Scholars, Peer Mentors and Learning Assistant. (Front row, from left) Ale Gonzalez (Peer Mentor), Damarisse Valladares, Malanda Clamoungou, Angie Vazquez (Peer Mentor), Kalkidan Yekuno (Peer Mentor), Beth Gebre (Peer Mentor)
(Middle row) Aani Gomez, Ayysta Htoo, Ngan Dang (Learning Assistant), Jessica Martinez, Esmeralda Vazquez-Sagrero, Geana Nicolas, Rachael Turner
(Back row) Israel Zamudio (Peer Mentor), Menna Haileariam (Peer Mentor), Juan Vargas, Natalie Orona, Jashley Terrado, Insiya Nehal, Mirelle Gutierrez Palma, Roxana Cruz-Ramirez
(Not pictured) BioCORE Scholars Martina Hernandez, Niyah Thurman and Joanna Guo

At the "Welcome" reception, Scholars were greeted by Dr. Bruce Congdon (Interim Provost), Dr. Sandy Mayo (Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and Dr. Derek Wood (Interim Co-Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences - Sciences Division). Scholars introduced themselves, then photos were taken of the new and current BioCORE Scholars. New Scholars then met with their Peer Mentors (Beth Gebre, Ale Gonzales, Menna Hailemariam, Angie Vazquez, Kalkidan Yekuno and Israel Zamudio).

BioCORE Scholars Research Week


Slideshow LinkResearch students

After a hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2020 BioCORE Scholars cohort finally had the opportunity to participate in Research Week.  During the week of June 14-18, 2021, eight Scholars participated in independent research with faculty in the Biology department. The scholars and their projects were:

  • Ayysta Htoo, Geana Nicolas, Niyah Thurman-Henry and Esmeralda Vazquez-Sagrero. Biology or Sociology? What determines human walking speed? Mentored by Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler, Professor of Biology
  • Malanda Clamoungou, Insiya Nehal, Ivy Ta and Jashley Terrado. A genetic analysis of homologous sex determination genes in the tardigrade, Hypsibius exemplaris. Mentored by Dr. Jenny Tenlen, Associate Professor of Biology

Please also see previous Research Week students and mentors.

BioCORE Scholars Activities


Slideshow LinkBioCORE Scholars Activities and Events

BioCORE Scholars regularly participate in community-building and networking activities, including social outings, meetings with researchers and health care professionals, and other events.

Above: Members of the 2021 and 2022 cohorts of BioCORE Scholars, along with Dr. Elena Brezynski and Dr. Jenny Tenlen, welcomed Dominique (Garcia) Barragan back to SPU for the BioCORE Scholars' quartery meeting (in Zoom). Dominique, the Executive Director of the Seattle Clinical Research Center, graduated from SPU in 2013 with a BS in Physiology.

Faculty Contact

Elena Brezynski

Assistant Professor of Biology
PhD, Monash University

Email: brezynskie@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2985
Office: Marston 249

2015 BioCORE Scholars and Peer Mentors

BioCORE Scholars Program

Learn how Leslie Rodriguez-Salas '19 and Diana Cabrera '17 found community and academic support as part of the BioCORE Scholars Program.

Elena Brezynski

Why I Teach at SPU

Elena Brezynski, Assistant Professor of Biology

“What I enjoy most is being in a classroom or lab talking with my students about biology. With the small class sizes at SPU, I know my students well and they know me. Questions and discussions flow best in smaller groups, and active, lively participation is the way students make critical connections among biological topics.”