Current Scholar Biographies

Cohort 16 (2023-2025)

Advisor: Xia Zhou

Lisa-Maria DiSalvo Garcia is a trailblazing and accomplished first-generation researcher in Computer Science, overcoming obstacles despite growing up in a non-English speaking Afro-Latin family with limited privileges and facing economic struggles. Her journey exemplifies resilience and determination, highlighting her noteworthy achievements in the field. Raised in a family where her passion for technology clashed with traditional cultural gender norms, Lisa successfully overcame these challenges to attain her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a specialization in Computational Social Science from Arcadia University.

During her academic journey, Lisa's tenacity led her to two semesters abroad in London, United Kingdom, where she served as a Backend Research and Development Programmer at Outsmart Insight. Her love for research bloomed while she served as a 2021 Computing Research Association's Distributed Research Scholar, where she collaborated with Dr. Jessy Li at the University of Texas on the COVID-19 Emotional Sentiment Tweet Analysis dataset research paper. Participation in the DREU program opened doors to diverse research opportunities, including her publication of a conference short paper with Columbus State University on 'Towards Automatic Classification of Privacy Policies' under the guidance of Dr. Lydia Ray. Additionally, she contributed to research with Dr. Eric Wong at The University of Texas Dallas on 'Social Media Safety and Flagging Sensitive Posts', which was published as a workshop paper at the 2022 IEEE 22nd International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability, and Security. Lisa's prowess in tackling engineering challenges was also evident during the 2022 International Research Experience at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering, where her team explored 'Securing Additive Manufacturing Digital 3D Models with Encryption Techniques'. At NYU, her team had the opportunity to work and visit India.

In 2023, Lisa's work took a green focus, at Arcadia University, she was a part of the first-ever cohort to conduct a Global Field Study in Bali, Indonesia, focusing on the dynamics of social environments and environmental sustainability. Shortly after this experience, Lisa served as a scholar with the Acoustical Society of America, culminating in her latest work, Harmonizing Nature's Symphony: Computational Filtering Unveiling the Secrets of Animal Acoustics, under the supervision of Dr. Laura Kloepper at the University of New Hampshire, set to be showcased at the national meeting in Ottawa, Canada, in 2024.

Currently, under the mentorship of Dr. Xia Zhou, Lisa completed a fabrics-based short paper on Bioelectrical Impedance Embedded Fabrics to Mitigate Urinary Incontinence. This wearable device, utilizing bio-impedance analysis sensing and fabric, not only provides comprehensive updates on urinary/bladder health but also emphasizes accessibility for a non-binary audience.

Lisa's commitment to advancing fabric-based health sensing reflects her vision for inclusive and impactful research in the future. By pursuing her Ph.D. in Computer Science, Lisa aspires to contribute to the academic community and serve as a mentor, particularly for those with similar backgrounds and challenges as her own. Her ultimate goal is to create an inclusive and supportive environment, fostering diversity in graduate research and education. Lisa envisions a future where individuals, regardless of their socio-economic or cultural backgrounds, can pursue and excel in the field of Computer Science, inspired by her journey and the belief in the transformative power of accessible and diverse research and education.

In her free time, Lisa enjoys oil painting, playing with her tuxedo cat Boots, and participating in recreational sports (field hockey, rugby, lacrosse).

Advisor: Elizabeth Paul

Mohammed Haque is a Bridge Scholar who joined the APAM department in the fall. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and realized his love for physics at Stuyvesant High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Physics with a minor in Mathematics from Hunter College in New York City. During his time at Hunter college, Mohammed worked with Dr. Steven Greenbaum studying polymer electrolytes using NMR spectroscopy. This introduced Mohammed to alternative energy gain and storage as a potential career path. Mohammed was first introduced to Plasma Physics at Princeton University, he worked with Dr. Michael Zarnstorff at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory on constructing the world’s first permanent magnet stellarator experiment (MUSE). There he realized the potential fusion energy had for society but also was fascinated with plasma as a state of matter. Mohammed joined the bridge program after graduation and is now a part of Dr. Elizabeth Paul’s Stellarator Theory group. Mohammed’s current work involves strain optimization of High-Temperature Superconducting tape for given parametric curves intended to be used as coils. These new coils are to be used in repurposing the Columbia Non-Neutral Torus experiment. Mohammed Aspires to pursue a Ph.D in Plasma Physics and or related fields. In Mohammed’s spare time he enjoys basketball, weight training, and hiking.

Advisor: Kevin Oschner

Alex Montenegro graduated with honors from Montana State University where she majored in Psychology. As an undergraduate, she worked as a research assistant in the Sleep and Development lab under the direction of Cara Palmer. Upon moving to Montana, Alex was inspired by the new landscape she resided in and wanted to incorporate Montana’s high altitude into an individual research project. To make this possible, Alex was a member of the McNair Scholars Program (MSP) where she obtained funding to complete a research project and work directly with a mentor. Her research examined the associations between altitude, sleep, and mental health in an adolescent sample. Alex is in the process of submitting her manuscript for publication and has completed poster sessions about her research at conferences.

In her free time, Alex greatly enjoys knitting and creating her own clothing. To unwind after a long day, she also can be found with her Kindle and a warm drink to sip on.

As a Bridge Scholar in the Department of Psychology, Alex is working with Kevin Ochsner. Her research focuses on emotion regulation, depression, and suicidal behavior. Upon completion of the Bridge program, Alex hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Social or Clinical Psychology and to continue conducting research on topics regarding suicide and psychiatric disorders.


Advisor: Erin Barnhardt

Briana Robles was born and raised in Miami, Florida. In High School, her involvement with chemical and genetic research courses made her realize that this was exactly what she wanted to pursue as a career. Briana went on to attend the University of Florida (UF), where she was able to graduate one year early with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry (with a specialization in Biochemistry) as well as a minor in Sociology. During her time at the University of Florida, she researched at the Institute on Aging in Dr. Sung Min Han’s Lab, studying the synergistic impact of L-Carnitine and the Ketogenic Diet on the lifespan and healthspan of C. elegans. Her extensive research experience and extracurricular involvements at UF allowed her to go on to research at the Yale School of Medicine as a BioMed Amgen Scholar. In Dr. Rachel Perry’s lab, Briana was able to investigate the role of PGC1a in cancer-related fatigue as well as fatty acid metabolism to improve current treatment options. Her contributions to the Perry Lab allowed for her co-authorship of “Dichloroacetate as a novel pharmaceutical treatment for cancer-related fatigue in melanoma,” in American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. After graduating in the Spring of 2023, Briana has now joined the Bridge to the Ph.D. Program in STEM under Dr. Erin Barnhart’s lab. Here, she is researching how perturbations to AMPK might affect mitochondrial biogenesis as well as other mitochondrial dynamics. After completion of the Bridge Program, Briana aspires to obtain an MD/PhD. As a physician-scientist, Briana hopes to treat metabolic disorders particularly in disadvantaged communities as well as gain a better understanding of mitochondrial dynamics and regulation.


Advisor: Wojciech Kopczuk

Gabriel Reyes graduated from Michigan State University with a major in economics and a minor in quantitative analytics. He took fourteen economics classes before he finally decided that he was interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in economics. During his sophomore and junior years, he participated in the College Fed Challenge, an academic competition hosted by the Federal Reserve Board and regional banks. The competition involves preparing a presentation on the state of the economy and a monetary policy proposal with a question and answer session afterward. As a member of the presenting team, he went to nationals in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, the team won the seventh Federal Reserve District of Chicago and received an honorable mention at nationals. 

As a Bridge Scholar in the Department of Economics, Gabriel is working with Wojciech Kopczuk in public finance, currently, they are working on researching historical tax shelters.

Advisors: David Schiminovich & Mary Putman

Noor was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and grew up between Lahore and Singapore. They began my undergraduate studies at Mount Holyoke College in 2017 and during that time, they interned twice at Google in my sophomore and junior summers - first at Google Earth where I worked on bulk editing for project creation, and then on Google Ads where I implemented functionality for publishers to meter adblock-detection walls and wrote designs addressing users of aggressive adblockers. While computer science was a practical choice, I harbored a deep passion for Astronomy and decided to double-major in the hopes I would someday be able to study it at a more focused level.  I graduated magna cum laude in 2020 with a B.A in Astronomy and Computer Science. 

After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked as a Software Engineer in Google Ads for ~2.5 years, where I played a critical role developing an app for advertisers to run A/B experiments with Google's new Performance Max campaign type. I managed daily pipelines used by our sister teams, created dashboards to track our products' metrics, and worked on various UI features to improve the user experience.

As a Bridge scholar, I work with David Schiminovich and Mary Putman to analyze image data for the MDW Sky Survey - an all-sky survey in the narrowband Hα wavelength, which will allow us to broaden the current information on star-forming regions, supernova remnants, nebulae, and other Hα-emitting point sources in the Milky Way galaxy. After completing the Bridge program, I hope to continue on to a PhD program in Astronomy where I can put my computer and data science skills to good use.

Advisor: Barbel Honisch

Bella Amato was born and raised in Albany, New York. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), graduating with departmental honors in biology and a minor in atmospheric & oceanic sciences. In her junior year at UCLA, Bella developed a fascination for the interdisciplinary aspects of oceanography, which ignited a passion for ocean research. Following her junior year, she worked as a Summer Student Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the marine chemistry & geochemistry department. Throughout the 10-week duration of this program, Bella conducted independent research regarding the analysis of net community production in the subtropical North Atlantic region using computational and modeling methods. In her senior year at UCLA, Bella joined Aradhna Tripati’s Paleoceanography lab, where she assisted in a project using clumped isotope paleothermometry. She presented at  UCLA’s Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Spring of 2023, where she discussed the preliminary results of her research on an oceanic paleo-thermal reconstruction of the Paleocene-Eocene boundary using clumped isotope analyses of planktic foraminifera. 

Bella joined the Bridge to PhD program following her graduation, and is currently working in Bärbel Hönisch’s geochemistry lab at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Her research focuses on validating the boron isotope proxy that is used for paleo-seawater pH reconstructions. Specifically, Bella is assisting in the establishment of both a laboratory calibration and a boron-11 temperature calibration for symbiont-barren foraminifera. This work will contribute to a more accurate estimation of temperature’s effect on the boron-11 isotope fractionation factor, allowing for a more refined utilization of boron-11 as a paleo-pH proxy.

In her free time, Bella enjoys reading, listening to music, and running in Riverside Park. 

Advisor: Jennifer Middleton

Keylen, born and raised in East Harlem, NY, is a first-generation Hispanic researcher in Environmental Science; successfully graduated from Gettysburg College in 2022 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies with concentrations in Environmental Science, GIS, Spatial Analysis, Marine and Freshwater Ecology, and Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and a double minor in writing and data science.

Throughout her high school and undergraduate career, she has spent every summer starting in 2015 participating as a high school intern and climbing up the ranks to a team leader and program overseer in the Secondary School Field Research Program (SSFRP) at Columbia University, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, founded and led by Dr. Robert Newton and Susan Vincent. While participating in the program, she has contributed to and led projects in the field in Piermont Marsh and adapted to remote and hybrid environments during the pandemic, including managing the invasive species Phragmites australis using photo deprivation from 2015 to 2019. She facilitated a transition to virtual discussions of environmental studies culminating in final projects every two weeks, directing high school students in daily remote activities, researching epidemiology, and understanding pandemic environmental impacts in 2020. In 2021, she led students in a hybrid-designed research project on vegetation health utilizing Google Earth Engine to analyze five major parks in New York City. In her last year, 2022, she circled back to leading students in daily fieldwork at Piermont Marsh, continuing hydrologic and geographic observations.

During her undergrad, she ventured through different interdisciplinary courses relating to geography, data analysis, ecology, and marine and freshwater environments based on her exposure and experience from this program. In 2023, she applied many of her projects and mentoring expertise to other underrepresented youth by continuing to oversee as an adjunct educator with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo with Project TRUE (Teens Researching Urban Ecology) and moving on to teach undergraduates as a Climate Solution adjunct educator beginning this year, 2024 and focusing on teaching climate change issues and open discourse with undergraduate students studying in all disciplines to come up with projects to solutions to an area of concern that is close to home or broader scale that is impacted by climate change while preparing students for work opportunities further in their careers.

For her undergraduate senior capstone, she focused on subjects in estuary ecology, geospatial analysis, and climate change in Otter Point Creek while also adding a social, educational survey portion to bring awareness of climate change to visitors. Still, she has also branched to other interests in ocean chemistry as a first-year bridge scholar with the INSPIRE and Columbia Engineering School. She is working with Jennifer Middleton, an isotope geochemist, on her research focused on tracing freshwater and TEI inputs to the Amundsen Sea and the South Pacific using a hydrothermal 3He tracer as a flux to characterize TEI fluxes and processes associated with hydrothermal circulation using samples collected from the GEOTRACES GP17-OCE expedition.

As a driven research student and mentor, she aims to break barriers in a field with limited representation of women of color. Despite being the sole woman of color in her environmental science program in her year during college, she navigated through a predominantly white institution in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to pursue her dream. Motivated by her experiences, she actively shares her journey to encourage others facing similar challenges. Inspired by her upbringing as a first-generation student, she is determined to give back to her community and is acquiring skills to lead independent research studies. Alongside her career goals, she aspires to pursue a PhD and be a supportive mentor like those she currently and previously had.

Advisor: Kristina Douglass

Lily Kunkel was raised in Portland, Oregon where lots of time outdoors–along with their heritage as the great-grandchild of a Native American (Cherokee/Choctaw) residential school survivor–contributed to their early and ongoing passion for the environment. In 2022, they graduated summa cum laude from NYU with a B.A. in Biology (Ecology Track) and a minor in Child & Adolescent Mental Health Studies. Lily’s independent ecology research focused on avian biodiversity and ecosystem services in small, urban cemeteries. The associated thesis won them the NYU Charles H. Willey Prize for completing the requirements for honors in biology with the greatest distinction. Lily was also a member of the NYU Conceptual Development and Social Cognition Lab where they researched the impact of parental political ideology on childrens’ punishment of in- vs out-group members. Their diverse research experiences, along with their time working at the Gallatin WetLab art gallery and the NYU Office of Sustainability sparked a passion for interdisciplinary work. As a Bridge Scholar, Lily works under Kristina Douglass in the Olo Be Taloha Lab expanding their skills to anthropology and environmental archaeology. Their current project involves examining eggshell assemblages from the extinct elephant bird in order to elucidate the evolution of complex human behaviors such as resource management and dietary preferences. Lily’s interests going forward center human-environment interactions, traditional ecological knowledge, environmental justice, and urban ecology. After the Bridge program, Lily intends to pursue a PhD in ecology or environmental science while continuing to work interdisciplinarily. In their free time, Lily enjoys birding, reading, and crafting.

Advisor: Christine McCarthy

Shradha Ravikumar grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where she was surrounded by (in her opinion) the best geologic formations in the world. She attended Arizona State University, where she graduated from the Honors College with a degree in Astrobiology (B.S.) and a minor in Astrophysics in 2023. Her undergraduate honors thesis research under Dr. Dan Shim focused on potential mechanisms of nitrogen storage within the Earth’s interior. She used both multi-anvil cell experiments and Density-Functional Theory (DFT) modeling techniques to determine the nitrogen storage capability of high-pressure polymorphs of olivine; she funded much of this work through participation in the ASU/NASA Space Grant internship program.

Additionally, she served as the team lead for her senior capstone through NASA’s Psyche mission, which involved creating a device that would allow amateur astronomers to detect the Psyche spacecraft’s location in the night sky (advisors: Dr. Nathaniel Butler and Dr. Cassie Bowman). For two summers, she participated in EarthScope Consortium’s RESESS (Research Experience in Solid Earth Science for Students) program, during which she conducted hydrology research at Colorado School of Mines (advisors: Sara Warix and Dr. Kamini Singha) and geodynamics research at Georgia Institute of Technology (advisor: Dr. Shi Joyce Sim).

Aside from research work, she was also heavily involved in outreach activities and DEI initiatives, which included acting as a member of ASU’s chapter of the American Physical Society Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance. She also served as the head of stage management for ASU’s student-run theater club, PRISM Theater Co., throughout her undergraduate years.

At Columbia, Shradha works under Dr. Christine McCarthy’s guidance in the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s Rock and Ice Mechanics lab. She studies the mechanical behavior of ices with compositions relevant to icy satellites in the outer solar system. In her work, she will examine the microstructures of these ices, as well as how their physical properties may potentially influence cryovolcanic activity. During her graduate studies, she plans to continue researching planetary science, with a focus on the volatile contents of planetary interiors.

Cohort 15 (2022-2024)

Advisor: Dan O'Flaherty

Under the mentorship of Dr. Brendan O’Flaherty, Chiara Chanoi primarily investigates the racial disparities in police homicide victimization rates. Their current paper, of which she is a co-author, examines the racial history of the use of lethal force. Another project uses machine learning methods such as causal trees and forests to identify modern determining factors of this phenomenon. With the aim of supporting these projects via a better understanding of the datasets which inform them, she also independently researched and presented a poster entitled “Race and the Use of Deadly Force” at the Columbia Pathways Program Symposium. 

Chiara is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, where she studied economics with minors in mathematics and international business. As an undergraduate, she published a paper on gender equality in international business education with Drs. John Hadjimarcou and Maria Fernanda Wagstaff. She additionally participated in the Archer Fellowship program and interned at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Chiara intends to continue her research before pursuing a PhD. in Economics. 

Advisor: Dima Amso

Advisor: Suresh Naidu

Advisor: Helen Lu

Advisor: Luis Gravano

Eden Shaveet is an early-career informatician, whose interests lie at the intersection of computation, information, and health. As a Bridge Scholar in the Department of Computer Science, Eden works with Professors Luis Gravano and Daniel Hsu on the Adaptive Information Extraction from Social Media for Actionable Inferences in Public Health project team. Their work aims to augment current methods in public health needs assessments and passive syndromic surveillance using unstructured, user-generated data sources from online social media platforms.

Eden is also interested in developing patient-facing technologies. In 2023, her team won the first-place Patient Safety Award from the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative at the DivHacks Hackathon for developing a digital medication intake reminder application that mitigates onboarding friction by extracting text from images of medication labels to reduce user configuration tasks.

Eden holds an M.S. in health informatics and analytics from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed her capstone at Google Cloud (Division of Healthcare and Life Sciences). She was awarded the Health Informatics and Analytics Academic Achievement Award by the faculty of Tufts University in 2023.

Eden's work has been published in such venues as the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) Formative Research, the Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, Frontiers in Digital Health, and the Journal of Communication in Healthcare.

Eden was recently selected for the National Science Foundation Computer and Information Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship to fund her Ph.D. studies.