CaSB Student Representatives & Ambassadors represent the CaSB major–participating in outreach, volunteering at student events, and connecting with current and prospective students. Student Representatives also attend Faculty Advisory Committee meetings and serve on program subcommittees, communicating the needs of students to the faculty.
Have questions about the major and want to learn more about CaSB from actual CaSB students? Read on to learn more about our current CaSB Ambassadors & Student Representatives. If you would like to be put in email contact with an Ambassador or Rep, please reach out to CaSB via Message Center to request an introduction!
NOTE: The CaSB Student Representatives & Ambassadors program is currently not in affect for Fall 2023.
Andrew Bennecke – Student Representative
My name is Andrew Bennecke, and I am a third-year concentrating in Biological Data Sciences with minors in Entrepreneurship and Neuroscience. I chose CaSB because, after taking LS 30A with Dr. Garfinkel, I found a passion at the intersection of computer science and biology. Also, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do at that time, and CaSB offered tremendous flexibility in helping me create a path. Aside from academics, I am an SRP student in the Zheng Lab at the Jules Stein Eye Institute. We are currently studying the Wnt signal transduction pathway in ophthalmologic cells through a network analysis focusing on each component in the known pathway. Following my undergraduate education, I plan to pursue the 5-year B.S./M.S program with a focus in neuroinformatics. Upon the completion of this program, I hope to launch a neurotechnology company focused on simplifying basic tasks and discovering precursors to neurodegenerative diseases.
Zaid Bustami – Student Ambassador
Hey everyone! My name is Zaid Bustami, and I’m a second-year CaSB pre-major looking towards the bioinformatics track. I’m also a pre-med student interested in becoming a healthcare professional and pursuing cancer research. I was first excited about CaSB because of how interdisciplinary it was, and I love how it gives me a unique opportunity to explore all the different fields I’m interested in, whether it’s biology, math, or data science. I’m currently working in the Ribas lab and interning at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI), through which I’m developing an analysis pipeline for MIBI, a relatively new imaging technology, to study a checkpoint inhibitor commonly administered to melanoma patients. Outside the lab, I’m a coordinator for UVP and BME and a member of SLAM. Whenever I’m not working, you can find me going on a run, playing tennis, playing piano, or just enjoying the outdoors. Excited to meet you all!
Suraj Doshi – Student Ambassador
Hi! My name is Suraj Doshi, and I am a third-year CaSB student with hopes of concentrating in Neurosystems. I chose CaSB as I found it to be a very comprehensive program that would provide skills necessary for all types of work environments and overlap with multiple STEM fields. I am currently an undergraduate researcher in the Kumar Lab in the Department of Anesthesiology, where I have created a prediction algorithm for a study about OSA patients to determine affected individuals versus controls. At UCLA, I am a member of ISU, Bruin Medical Entrepreneurs, and UCLA BioBusiness. In the future, I hope to work as some sort of healthcare professional with an inclination towards surgery.
Defne Ercelen – Student Representative
Hello! My name is Defne Ercelen. I am a fourth-year Computational and Systems Biology major, concentrating in Bioinformatics. I came in as a CaSB major when I was admitted as a freshman. I chose this major and UCLA because there were no other undergraduate programs I could find that had such an interdisciplinary program. CaSB brings together biology, computer science, and statistics to prepare students for a broad range of career paths. When I came in as a freshman, I was thinking about going into industry after graduating, but now I am on the pre-med track, working towards becoming a scholar in computational medicine. I am currently an undergraduate researcher in the Zaitlen Lab, working with whole-exome sequencing data to look at the relationships between immune system diversity, complex diseases, and geographic locations. I am also interested in art and curation, and so I am pursuing an Art History minor.
Rachana Jayaraman – Student Ambassador
Hi everyone! My name is Rachana Jayaraman, and I am a 4th-year Computational and Systems Biology student with a concentration in Bioinformatics. I am also a Bioinformatics Departmental Scholar in the Systems Bioinformatics subfield. I chose CaSB because of the comprehensive curriculum, which allows students to explore different topics in biology while learning the fundamentals of statistics and programming. I felt that the major would prepare me well for many different career paths and would allow me to discover my passions more deeply. I am currently working in Dr. Thomas Graeber’s lab, leveraging different computational tools to study the drug response and gene expression patterns of cancer cells with focally amplified genes. Outside of the lab, I am working part time with Genentech’s Genomic Workflows and Data Infrastructure group for fall quarter. I was also a member of UCLA’s ACS on Campus for three years and still actively support their efforts to organize the annual Relay for Life. Aside from academics, I like to bake, go hiking, spend time with my friends, and explore new places and food. In the future, I hope to work in the biotechnology industry, contributing to the development of different therapies.
Dhwani Krishnan – Student Ambassador
My name is Dhwani Krishnan, and I am a fourth-year Computational and Systems Biology student. My favorite subjects in high school were biology and math, and I was drawn to CaSB because of its unique focus on using quantitative approaches to understand living systems. I’m currently working in Dr. Sehl’s lab, where my current project involves developing a poisson model for random multigraphs and applying it to genetic datasets. Outside of lab work, I also conduct clinical research as part of the THINQ Collaborative, tutor and mentor high school students with Bruin Initiative, and am a member of the Club Swim team. In the future, I hope to use the skills I have gained to make a positive impact within the medical field.
Alexis Malveaux – Student Ambassador
Hi! I’m Alexis Malveaux, a 3rd-year CaSB student concentrating in Neurosystems. I switched into this major during my freshman year after learning about it through a friend and realizing that I wanted to broaden my skillset to include not only biology but computational assets. I’m still figuring out my career goals, but am currently considering going straight into industry or pursuing an MS/PhD after graduation. On campus, I’m currently the Vice President for Club Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a BCI team member for Crux (a neurotech club), a Communications Committee member for Biobusiness, a (new) member of Mixed Student Union, and work as a Media Lab Clerk in Powell Library. I’ve also been conducting research in the Signaling Systems Lab under Dr. Alexander Hoffmann, where I use both experimental wet lab procedures and computational dry lab tools to study immune system signaling and response. In addition to my commitments, I try to balance my time with memorable experiences; I like hiking, finding new beaches to go to, learning to skateboard, and just recently discovered I love tailgating #GoBruins! I would love to talk to you about any questions you may have. Feel free to reach out, and good luck with your year!
Emily Ng – Student Ambassador
Hi everyone! My name is Emily Ng, and I am a 4th-year student, studying Computational and Systems Biology and Public Health. I am also a Bioinformatics Departmental Scholar in the Medical Informatics subfield. I chose CaSB because I loved the breadth of knowledge I would get in the fields of Computer Science, Statistics, and the Life Sciences. I knew that whatever I decided to pursue in the future, CaSB would equip me with the necessary skills to excel. During my time at UCLA, I have worked on qualitative Public Health research projects as well as in the Graeber Lab. Since participating in UCLA’s B.I.G. Summer Program, I transitioned into the Halperin Lab, studying epigenetic factors and their associations with diseases. Aside from academics, I am a part of the school’s Dragon Boat team and UCLA’s entrepreneurship fraternity, Sigma Eta Pi. In my free time, I like to bake, cook, rollerskate, and run my food Instagram. I have considered many career options, including software engineering, data science, product management, public health, and medicine, so feel free to reach out to me about anything CaSB/UCLA/career!
Wendy Su – Student Ambassador
My name is Wendy Su, and I am a third-year CaSB major and history of science, medicine, and technology minor. I decided on CaSB as it was the perfect intersection of biology and computer science that provided many different paths. Currently, I’m a part of the Orsulic Lab and working on linking nuclear features to ovarian cancer genomics. After completing my undergraduate degree, I want to continue using computational methods to study women’s health in graduate school. Outside of school, I love teaching, promoting STEM education, hiking, and baking.
Carissa Zhu – Student Ambassador
Hello! My name is Carissa Zhu, and I am a third-year CaSB major planning on pursuing the Dynamical Modeling track, and a Global Health minor. The Computational and Systems Biology major stood out to me because it provided an opportunity for me to pursue my two biggest interests, the life sciences and computer science, as well as explore the intersection of the two fields. I am an undergraduate researcher in the Yang Lab working on analyzing and understanding the pathogenesis of various psychiatric disorders using network models. I am also currently transitioning from being a data entry intern to a web development intern for a UCSF-based startup. Some other things I am involved in are FISH and ASC at UCLA, and working as a part-time medical assistant. I am currently on the pre-medical track and am hoping to use the skills I gain as a CaSB major to break into the health-tech industry after working as a health professional. In my free time, I love to play music, explore the city, and thrift. Feel free to reach out – I would love to meet you!