BioCORE Scholars Program

The BioCORE Scholars Program at Seattle Pacific University supports first generation students and those 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 cohort of BioCORE Scholars are now open, and are due by 3pm on Thursday, October 29, 2020.

Give to the BioCORE Scholars Program

Please help us continue to support present and future BioCORE Scholars with your donation. Click on the "Give Now" button below to access the donation page.

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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 graduates its second cohort of BioCORE Scholars

The BioCORE Scholars Program is proud to announce the graduation of Ngan Dang (BS Physiology) and Menna Hailemariam (BS Physiology), members of the second cohort of BioCORE Scholars who joined during the 2016-2017 academic year (a 3rd member of their cohort, Laarni Aguila, graduated in June 2019).  Ngan and Menna excelled not only academically, but in their service as learning and teaching assistants in the Biology Department, peer mentors to other BioCORE Scholars, and as peer tutors and academic coaches in the Center for Learning.  In June 2020, Ngan was honored for her service with the Biology Department Leadership Award, and Menna was honored for her research with the Cellular and Molecular Biology Award.  Both Ngan and Menna plan to apply to medical school. 

We also congratulate Jennifer Tung (BS Physiology) and Antavea Green (BA Psychology), who were original members of the BioCORE Scholars 2016-2017 cohort, and will also be graduating this quarter. Several other original members of the cohort will graduate in the Autumn 2020 and Winter 2021 quarters.

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

Learn more about the Class of 2019, the first BioCORE Scholars cohort to graduate.

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 and mentors

During the week of June 10-14, 2019, eight BioCORE Scholars participated in independent research with faculty in the Biology and Chemistry departments. The scholars and their projects were:

  • Scarlett Amezcua, Jessica Bekele and Giovanny Gonzalez: Assay Development for Siderophores Binding to Siderocalin Proteins: the Claw Experiment (mentored by Dr. Ben McFarland, Professor of Chemistry, and Mary Chaffee, BS Physiology '14)
  • Zoie Bailey, Abdullah Bashmail and Victoria Bowman: Quantifying Metals in Algae, Clam and Oyster Samples by Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (mentored by Dr. Karisa Pierce, Professor of Chemistry, and Israel Zamudio, BS Physiology '21 and BioCORE Scholar)
  • Egypt Adams and Yoska Habtom: Identifying Homologs of RNA Binding Proteins in Tardigrades (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: The quarterly BioCORE Scholars speaker meeting (with pizza!) was held on February 12, 2020. Their guest was Dr. Hem Nalini Morzaria-Luna, a marine ecologist and visiting research scientist at NOAA. She analyses human impact and climate change effects on costal and marine ecosystems.

Scholars in attendance were (from left to right): Victoria Bowman, Ivy Ta, Esmeralda Vazquez-Sagrero, Roxana Cruz-Ramirez, Malanda Clamoungou, Ayysta Htoo, Damarisse Valladeres, Jashley Terrado, Joanna Guo, Geana Nicolas, Dr. Hem Morzaria-Luna, Juan Vargas, Jessica Martinez, Martina Hernadez, Niyah Thurman, Insiya Nehal.

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.”