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Alumni Profiles

MRADS alumni pursue a wide range of academic and career paths after they leave the University. Read below to learn more about each of the featured alumnus's endeavors, their experience with the MRADS, and their advice for current MRADS students.

Andrew Jaeger

Years in MRADS: 2016-2017

Bachelor of Science in Microbiology

Minor in History

Quynh Kieu

Years in MRADS: 2015-2017

Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience

Minor in Translation Studies

Read more about Andrew

Current Role: AmeriCorps NCCC Field Team Leader

MRADS Impact: MRC was my first introduction to research and laid the foundation for wanting to pursue research in my future career. I am currently applying to medical school and the research project I participated in during my time in MRC and after is a big part of why I want to be a doctor.

Read more about Quynh

Current Role: Medical student at MSU-College of Human Medicine

MRADS Impact: Being part of MRC/MRADS has given me opportunities to be involved in academic research since first year of a college, a unique privilege for freshmen at a large institution like University of Michigan. As a medical student, the skill sets and lessons that this wonderful community has taught me are unparalleled, prepared me for the rigorous curriculum of medical school and beyond. Thank you MRC/MRADS for all that you do for your students, we thank you and hope to pay it forward!

Nicole Davies (DeSousa)

Years in MRADS: 2010-2012

Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education


Benancio Rodriguez

Years in MRADS: 2016-2018

Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry

Minor in Spanish Language, Literature, Culture

Read more about Nicole

Current Role: Elementary teacher in Arlington, VA and grad school student at George Mason University

MRADS Impact: My peer mentor and my co-mentee are my two best friends! We celebrate 10 years of friendship this fall!!! I couldn’t imagine college without many of the relationships I made in MRC. So many kind, hardworking people! The community was especially helpful and flexible when I was going through a mental health crisis! Loved all of MRC! Bonus: I’m pulling on my research background in grad school!

Read more about Benancio

Current Role: First-year graduate student at UCLA in microbiology/virology starting in Fall 2020

MRADS Impact: MRC/MRADS put me in a place where I was able to make lifelong friends. It also gave me access to research opportunities and mentors that enriched my learning at Michigan and prepared me for applying to graduate school.

Brendan Whitney

Year in MRADS: 2016-2020

Bachelors in Organizational Studies and Psychology

Minor in Spanish Literature, Language, and Culture

Emily Francis

Year in MRADS: 2016

Bachelor in Biomedical Engineering



Read more about Brendan

Current Role: Peoples and Communities Representative at Cisco

MRADS Impact: MRADS gave me the foundation to develop my network as a first generation college and the support system to explore what I was passionate about during college.

Read more about Emily

Current Role: Design Engineer at Stryker

MRADS Impact: Before classes had even started during my freshman year, I had already made friends that I knew would be by my side during all four years of my college experience. I fell in love with research and continued working in various labs related to biomedical engineering. It was in these labs that I was able to make the connections to eventually land my dream job working for Stryker Medical as a Design Engineer. MRADS defined my freshman year and many of the experiences I had in the years following and I will forever be thankful for my MRADS experience.

Audrey Funwie

Years in MRADS: 2017-2019

Pursuing a Major in Cognitive Science

Minor in Science, Technology and Society

David Nguyen

Year in MRADS: 2015

Bachelor of Science in Information

Minor in Business Administration

Read more about Audrey

Current Role: Senior at UMich. Research Assistant at University of Michigan - School of Information

MRADS Impact: Being a part of Michigan Research and Discovery Scholars was one of the best decisions I made during my college career. For research, I was able to learn about how it is conducted clinically and that helped me realize what I wanted to do in the future. The biggest impact MRADS had on me was outside of research even though it was an important part. I was able to spend two years with an inclusive and engaging community that made my transition to college easy. As a freshman, I was able to become friends with a diverse group of people that I still have connections with today. As a peer mentor, I was able to be a guide and confidant for my mentees while also making lasting connections with them. I gained skills such as leadership, active listening, communication, time management, teamwork and so much more. Overall though, MRADS gave me a home where I could be myself.

Read more about David

Current Role: Project Manager at VMware

MRADS Impact: MRC made a huge impact during my freshmen year of college by giving me a friend group that has lasted throughout my entire college career at Michigan. My friend group was extremely fortunate to have started in the halls of MoJo and even to this day in post-graduate life, we still all talk on a daily basis. We've visited each other in cities across the country and we still keep in touch virtually during this pandemic. Without being in MRC, I would not have the friends that I have today and I thank MRC for putting us together all in the same halls! Being in MRC, I got the opportunity to dive into the world of research. My project was through the Ross School of Business and I got a taste of research in the field of Business. However, I decided to take a different pathway and transferred to the School of Information to study User Experience Research and Design. The research knowledge that I obtained during my MRC experience really allowed me to excel in the School of Information. Thank you MRC for giving me one of the best experiences throughout my entire Michigan career!

Javier Taylor

Years in MRADS: 2014-2016

Computer Science BSE

Minor in Entrepreneurship

Michelle Fan

Years in MRADS: 2016-2018

Bachelor of Business Administration

Minor in Intergroup Relations Education

Read more about Javier

Current Role: Software Engineer at Amazon

MRADS Impact: MRADS (or at the time MRC) brought me in to a community of like-minded students within the first day of stepping foot on campus. Through shared classes, research, MRADS events, and living in the same dorm, we bonded and helped each other to not just make it through, but have an enjoyable time our first year. This community led me to come back as a Mentor, where I was able to help out students in the same position I had recently been in and to contribute to their college experience. Though I did not continue in my field of research, the principles I learned from it and the work experience have helped me ever since, and the friends I made through MRADS have had a lasting impact on me and will continue to be close friends no matter where I am.

Read more about Michelle

Current Role: CORE Finance Associate at Comcast NBCUniversal

MRADS Impact: Through MRADS, I had the opportunity to conduct research in an Asian/Pacific Islander American (A/PIA) racial discrimination lab. This helped me learn more about my social identities and further encouraged me to become involved with the A/PIA community throughout my 4 years at the University of Michigan.

Celine Barthelemy

Degree: University of Michigan, Master's of Public Health, 2011

Current Position: I work as a Project Officer at the Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation, a global population health research institute affiliated with the University of Washington. I help coordinate a small research team conducting analytical studies focused on Universal Health Coverage, Healthcare Access & Quality, and Human Resources for Health. After my MPH, I spent time implementing electronic medical record systems across the US, working as a Public Health Director with an NGO in Ethiopia, and running operations for a tiny maternal health organization in Seattle. My experience in global health and research has been a bit broad and varied in the past decade, and I look forward to getting more involved in health program development, implementation, and evaluation in the coming years.

Molly Grant

What are your degrees? If you have future plans, what are they?

I graduated in December 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). Upon graduation, I interned at The White House in the Office of the First Lady. In Fall 2018, I will begin law school at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I hope to work in entertainment law in the future and possibly return to politics later on. 

Besides research, what was your involvement in the community? What was your favorite memory?

I returned to the community my sophomore year as a peer advisor for the Ethics group. During that spring, I supervised MRADS presenters at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in Asheville, North Carolina. It was a great experience seeing first year students proudly present their research in such a professional, confident manner.

My favorite memory while in MRADS was traveling to Spokane, Washington my freshman year to present my research project at NCUR. Michigan was one of only a handful of schools to showcase first year student presenters. I am grateful that MRADS allowed me to attend the conference so early in my college career because I was able to use the knowledge I acquired to later conduct my own research capstone project.

What is something you learned while being in the community?

One of the most valuable lessons I learned is that you define your research. I remember coming to college worried that my interest in politics would never warrant "real" research. MRADS immediately disputed that myth by allowing me to study important questions that fully represented my interests in the social sciences. As a result, I realized that research does not take one universal form, but is rather unique to the individual. Being part of a community that studied topics as diverse as engineering, linguistics, and dance motivated me to pursue a question I was most passionate about, and hence contribute a small nugget of knowledge to the incredible breadth of research that happens at the University of Michigan.

Any advice for current community members?

If you see an opportunity for enrichment, do not hold back due to fear of failure. Whether that means applying for an internship, writing a thesis, or taking a course in an unfamiliar discipline, taking that first step may lead to new interests or possibilities. You also have an incredible support system in the MRADS community to reach out to for advice and encouragement. Initiative, coupled with an unparalleled work ethic, will make you unstoppable!

Nathan Wood

What are your degrees? If you have future plans, what are they?

I majored in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Chemistry for my Bachelor's degree and continued with the SUGS program (within the College of Engineering) for a one-year Master's degree in Macromolecular Science and Engineering. Currently, I work as an Associate Scientist at BASF working on 3D printing materials. 

As of right now, I do not have any immediate future plans.  I do keep the thought of going back to graduate school for a PhD or MBA very close in the back of my mind, though.  

Besides research, what was your involvement in the community? Also, what was your favorite memory of the program?

During both of my years as part of MRADS (serving as a Peer Advisor my second year) I was fairly involved in coordinating the IM soccer team for the community, possibly the greatest team MRADS has ever seen on the field.

As far as my favorite memory of the program, a group of us really wanted to get good seats for the Michigan vs. Notre Dame for the "Under the Lights II" game where some camped out and other left in the wee hours of the morning of the game to wait in line.  Needless to say, after 8+ hours sitting in that line our group of friends got front row seats to the game.

What is something you learned while being in the community?

What I learned and ultimately think had the greatest impact on me during my time in college was by the group of people I surrounded myself with. With MRADS, you are already off to a good start - nearly everyone in the community has similar interests and motivations.  After thinking through other activities or things that made an impression on me as a student (joining an engineering club, volunteering, research etc.), surrounding myself with people as or more drive than me was the most important.  My closest friends to this day come from those first two years I was part of MRADS, and those people and time in the community really helped bring me to where I am today.

I also learned that the process for joining a research group is not as difficult or intimidating as many make it out to seem.  Professors and graduate students are regular people (albeit pretty smart people), and as long as you have confidence in yourself and express an interest/drive to work in their lab, there is a pretty good chance you will get that opportunity.

Any advice for current community members?

Your time in college really is the perfect time to try new things out.  If you think an art class or trying out for the Ultimate Frisbee team sounds interesting but you haven't done anything like it before, just do it! It doesn't have to be a permanent part of your routine forever. Don't not do something if you worried by what others think about it.


Samantha Sands

Samantha Sands

Degrees: University of Michigan, B.S. in Environmental Geology, 2004, University of Colorado, M.S. in Museum Studies (2006)

Besides research, what was your involvement in the community? What was your favorite memory?

I lived in MoJo for 2 years as part of UIR (UROP in Residence). My second year in MoJo I was a buddy for the freshman in UIR. I loved living in a place full of people who were also interested in research and being engaged in a Michigan community. I was a member of the Social Committee for UIR and we planned a ton of really fun events including a trip to Wiard's Haunted Orchards in the fall and a Mardi Gras party in the spring. I made some wonderful lifelong friendships through this program. 

What is something you learned while being in the community?

In the community I learned that  how you communicate about your research is just as important as the research itself! I worked alone on my research project for 4 years and spent hours learning about my research project. However, when I had to communicate about it at MRADS events is when I learned that teaching others is the best way to learn.

Any advice for current community members/any additional comments you may have?

Try something new and different! When I enrolled at Michigan, I was a Chemical Engineering major. Since I thought I would be doing engineering for the rest of my life I chose a research project that was completely different- a geoarchaeology project with an emeritus professor at the natural history museum. Through this research project I fell in love with geology and museums, switched my major and my entire career plan and spent 4 years with one of the most amazing mentors and individuals, Dr. William Farrand. My participation in the MRADS changed my entire life. 

Christine Curran

Christine Curran

Hometown: Houston, TX

Degree: University of Michigan, BS Chemical Engineering, 2010

Christine is currently a User Support Engineer at ExxonMobil. She describes a typical day: 

We at ExxonMobil are constantly looking for new technology solutions to “Take on the world’s toughest energy challenges.” The birth of computers revolutionized the oil industry to allow us to find, develop, and produce new assets throughout the world safely and efficiently.
I started with ExxonMobil as a User Support Engineer in our I.T. organization in August 2010. I support and consult with users globally, as distant as Australia and Indonesia, to model oil and gas facilities. As I take my early career milestone coursework (over 10 full weeks of training in Year 1!), I also help with software training for my new hire peers. It is something different every day from testing new products to walking users through a tough simulation. I really enjoy it so far, and look forward to where my career will take me!

Christine describes how MRADS has benefited her: 

It sounds corny, but I truly discovered myself in the Michigan Research and Discovery Scholars. Like many others, I joined MRADS because I thought research would boost my med school application. Instead, the program opened a world of new fields and philosophies, and only in that crazy sea of possibility can you truly find your passion! I found I preferred the teamwork and “big picture” problem-solving of engineering to medicine. The MRC staff and my peers in the program (many at great med schools, law schools, and professions around the country) were so supportive during that first exploratory year. Remember: there are many paths to success, and it is ok to take a couple detours! (As long as you are detouring to class most of the time!)

Words of wisdom from Christine:

My dad always says, “Everything in moderation.” Four years ago, I would have said, “Yeah, yeah,” but our parents tend to be right sometimes, and balance is hugely important. The first-year it is inevitable that you will, at times, feel like a chicken running with your head-off. I want you to have the same great experience I had: learning all these new things, meeting many new people, and even FAILING sometimes (which can be very hard work!) Life truly is a marathon, not a race! Make time to rest your brain, body, and spirit. You will still have time to do the things that matter.

Christine passes on some advice: 

This is so hard! I love inspirational quotes. I think if I had to give the world only one piece of advice; however, it would be to respect others. I know, I just said life is a marathon, but like all races, marathons do end. It will be your character and not any worldly possession that remains. And THAT is the Michigan Difference I would like to show the world!

Adam John Brzezinski

Adam John Brzezinski

Hometown: Belleville, MI

Degree: University of Michigan, BSE Aerospace Engineering & Mechanical Engineering, 2005; MSE Mechanical Engineering, 2006; PhD Aerospace Engineering, 2011

Adam is currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan, studying Aerospace Engineering.  He describes a typical day:  

As a graduate student, I spend most of my day trying to solve research problems proposed by my advisor.  I typically divide my time between programming computer simulations (to develop hypotheses) and composing theoretical (proof-based) validation of these hypotheses.  I also work on a project with an industrial sponsor that is focused on developing embedded techniques for fault detection.

Adam shares how MRADS has benefited him:  

MRADS benefited me in many ways, from helping me improve my time-management skills to introducing me to motivated individuals with very diverse backgrounds.  However, I think I benefited most from experiencing hands-on research at a high-quality University.  When I entered the University of Michigan, I was convinced that I wanted to be an astrophysicist, and I chose to work on a UROP project with a faculty member in that department.  However, I realized during my first year that I did not enjoy doing research in this field as much as I had thought.  During my second year in UROP, I chose instead to work as an engineer on the Solar Car team, which I enjoyed significantly more.  This experience, I believe, was a key factor in shaping my future academic and professional career.

Words of wisdom from Adam:  

I recommend that students have as many unique experiences as possible in all facets of their lives.  The University of Michigan, the city of Ann Arbor, and the people you meet every day offer unprecedented opportunities to enrich your lives.  Enjoy what you do, work hard, and never give up.

Barret Anderson

Barrett Anderson | Detroit, Michigan
University of Michigan, BS Biology, BA Japanese, 2005
Michigan State University, DO

Barrett is currently a surgery resident at the Detroit Medical Center. He describes a typical day:

I wake up early each morning and know that my day will be continuously busy. There is always work to be done and patients to see. It’s difficult to describe a “typical” day since one can never know what each day will bring in the hospital setting. What I can say is that my job is not quite like what you see on Grey’s Anatomy.

Barrett shares how MRADS has benefited him: 

MRADS afforded me the opportunity to interact in a mature setting with professionals in the field. In my first year of college I was able to make important connections that would benefit me for years to come.

Words of wisdom from Barrett:

Keep an open mind and try things you may be unsure about career-wise. Do things that truly interest you so that your career ends up being something you love. You will learn more about yourself and may even find a new path that is a better fit.

Barrett passes on some advice: 

Never stop questioning.

Brian Rumao

Brian Rumao | Los Angeles, CA
University of Michigan, BSE and MSE Industrial and Operations Engineering, 2010

Brian is currently a Management Consultant at McKinsey & Company. He describes a typical day:   

What I love about this job is that there is no typical day. At the highest level, we help clients in a variety of industries solve their most pressing issues. As a member of the operations practice, my work focuses on delivering step-change improvement in our clients' operating and management systems, along with building client capabilities for sustained results. On a recent day, I spent the morning coaching a manufacturing supervisor on how to hold an effective shift huddle and communicate with his employees. In the afternoon, I had a one-on-one problem solving meeting with the client's executive VP of operations.

Brian describes how MRADS has benefited him:

MRADS has been benefited me in too many ways to describe, as I stayed with the program as a student, as program board member, a peer advisor, and finally as a resident advisor. I always think about my first-year research project. I sat at the table with PhD students, post-docs, and an esteemed professor in electrical engineering. I didn't let my being the youngest and most inexperienced person in the room stop me from contributing to the team. My professor appreciated my abilities and thanked me for not hesitating to speak up. That attitude has served me well in my current job, where I work on a daily basis with highly tenured and experienced clients and colleagues.

Words of wisdom from Brian: 

College, and life in general, comes down a healthy balance. The next few years will quickly pass, so don't forget to keep some memories along the way.I have more words of wisdom in a book I wrote last year, "College Success Strategies," available here.

Brian passes on some advice: 

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" — Mark Twain