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MIRA Program Motivating Innovation and Research Achivement

Program Directors

Mary Sánchez Lanier is an award-winning educator currently serving as Assistant Vice Provost with responsibility for many programs in for the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA) and also as a Clinical Professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences (SMB), part of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Her extensive experience extends to university administration, working with undergraduate researchers, research, and teaching.

Prior to joining the faculty at WSU, she spent three years at the Centers for Disease Control in a virus research laboratory. As an undergraduate, her own research began her sophomore year when she worked at the NIH-supported Minority Biomedical Research Sciences (MBRS) program.

For SMB, she teaches virology to senior-level undergraduates and graduate students. She serves on graduate student committees and the undergraduate studies committee. She has chaired six undergraduate Honors Thesis committees and has mentored 24 undergraduate students in research laboratories.

Dr. Sánchez Lanier was recognized as the Outstanding Faculty Advisor by NACADA Global Community of Advisors in 2015.  In her role in the Provost’s Office she oversees the Office of Undergraduate Research (including summer research programs), First-Year Programs, WSU’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Multicultural Programming (LSAMP), and the Distinguished Scholarships Program.  She has initiated a number of programs targeting UR groups (e.g. TMP) and emphasizing early access to research (STARS, Research Scholars) as well as presentation of research (SURCA).  Dr. Sánchez Lanier chaired the Committee for Minority Education for the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) for 9 years and currently chairs the ASM Education Board.  Under her leadership, two ASM programs targeting students from UR groups (ASM Research Capstone Fellowship Program, Microbiology Academy for Professional Development) were initiated. Dr. Sánchez Lanier ran a 6-week summer program for pre-college students from UR and disadvantaged student groups in the biomedical sciences for more than 10 years.  She is currently a member of the ABRCMS Steering Committee and has been a judge and workshop presenter since this conference was begun.

Alla Kostyukova is an Associate Professor in the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. Her research, supported by NIH grants, is focused on studying muscle and cytoskeletal proteins and disease-related mutations in these proteins. Before coming to WSU she was a Research Assistant Professor in the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. There she mentored five undergraduate students who were either honor students from Rutgers University or students from other universities participating in the Summer Neuroscience Program. All these students published papers with her. Since moving to WSU in 2011 she has trained more than 20 undergraduate students in her lab, 9 of whom were awarded for their work at SURCA (2013-2018), 6 of whom are co-authors in published papers, and 5 of whom are co-authors in papers under preparation. She is a mentor in the REU “Engineering Tools for Disease Diagnosis and Treatment” at WSU.

Samantha S. Gizerian is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience (IPN) and has extensive experience working with a diverse student body, particularly students from backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences who are interested in biomedical careers. As the Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies and the undergraduate academic advisor in the Neuroscience Program, Dr. Gizerian works closely with students of varied backgrounds who are intent on careers in research and the biomedical sciences. Dr. Gizerian also works closely with the Honors College as Chair of the WSU Honors College Faculty Council and a WSU Honors Faculty Fellow.  She is certified as a Level II advisor by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and was recognized as Outstanding Faculty Advisor by NACADA Global Community of Advisors in 2016. She currently teaches two courses, advises over 180 undergraduate students, and has worked with 8 undergraduate researchers, studying the links between stress and schizophrenia and on other independent research endeavors.  Before coming to WSU, she was on the faculty of Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, where her duties included teaching and advising both undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students in health sciences for six years. The majority of these students (over 80%) were from UR backgrounds. Dr. Gizerian was also co-PI of a SEPA program (“Do you want to be a scientist? Discover Biomedical Sciences!” Sonsoles de Lacalle, PI) focused on improving science education and science literacy in the South Los Angeles community. In these two roles, she saw firsthand the unique challenges faced by UR students as they seek careers in the biomedical research field.