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 next BioCORE Scholars cohort will open in Autumn 2023.

Follow us on Instagram to keep up with the latest BioCORE Scholars news and events!


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 2022

BioCORE Scholars Class of 2022

During a special ceremony in June, the BioCORE Scholars Program honored our eight graduating Scholars.  Each Scholar was formally presented and pinned by a faculty member or alum of their choosing.  Our graduates are:

  • Egypt Adams, BS Physiology
  • Zoie Bailey, BS Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Abdullah Bashmail, BS Biochemistry
  • Jessica Bekele, BS Physiology
  • Victoria Bowman, BS Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Malanda Clamoungou, BA Life Science
  • Giovany Gonzalez, BS Biochemistry
  • Yoska Habtom, BS Physiology

We also congratulate Jessie Cannon (BA Political Science), Evelin Laris (BS Physiology), Sydney Olea Suarez (BS Applied Human Biology) and Anahi Tapia (BA Life Science) who were original members of the BioCORE Scholars 2018-2019 cohort, and who are also graduating in 2022.

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

Learn more about the first three 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

BioCORE Scholars Research Week


Slideshow LinkResearch students

BioCORE Scholars Research Students and Mentors

Members of the 2021 BioCORE Scholars cohort spent winter and/or spring quarters working with SPU Biology faculty in their labs, and presented their research at the annual BioCORE Scholars Research Symposium on June 10, 2022. The scholars and their projects were:

  • Anthony Hernandez, Meridiana Mendez and Ayrieanne Terrell. Outdoor or Indoor? Treadmill or Track? How does running location impact your health? Mentored by Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler, Professor of Biology
  • Angie Moten and Gum Nau. Quantitative Analysis of Salicylic Acid in Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Willow (Salix sp.). Mentored by Dr. Ryan Ferrer, Professor of Biology
  • Itzel Aparicio, Bella Camarillo and Lay Paw. Glucose and fructose differentially regulate microglia-neuronal interactions. Mentored by Dr. John Douglass, Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Milan Brkic and Yaira Ponce. Exploring the Relationship Between Anosmia and Parental Recognition in Peromyscus californicus. Mentored by Dr. Janet Bester-Meredith, Associate Professor of Biology

Please also see previous Research Week students and mentors.


BioCORE Scholars Activities


Slideshow LinkBioCORE Scholars Activities and Events

BioCORE Scholars meet with UW Medical Students Ashley Dotson and Ngan Dang

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

Above: BioCORE Scholars attend the quarterly Speakers' Meeting, with special guests, Ashley Dotson and Ngan Dang.  Ashley and Ngan are both 2nd-year medical students at the University of Washington, and Ngan was a member of the 2nd BioCORE Scholars cohort.  Ashley and Ngan provided valuable perspective on their paths to medical school, life as medical students, and answered myriad questions from the Scholars.

(clockwise from the upper corner): Ngan Dang, Angelique Djekoundade, Mhicca Dalere, Elizabeth Delgado, Yenni Gaspar (hidden), Elisa Puga, Gursagar Singh, Elena Brezynski, Alexis Nield, Lainey Mendoza, Sonetta Ty, Esmeralda Vazquez-Sagrero and Ashley Dotson.

Faculty Contact

Elena Brezynski

Associate 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.”