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 available online, and are due by 3:00 PM on Thursday, November 7, 2019.

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 first BioCORE Scholars


Slideshow LinkPhotos from the Pinning Ceremony

(Many thanks to David Rither in Educational Technology & Media for creating this video.)

The BioCORE Scholars Program is proud to recognize the first cohort of students to graduate from the program, as part of the SPU Class of 2019.  The graduates were recognized at a special pinning ceremony on Friday, June 7, 2019.  In front of family, friends and faculty, each of the graduating seniors were honored by a faculty advisor or research mentor, and received a golden microscope pin to wear on their graduation gown.

The graduates are:

Laarni Aguila (BS Cell and Molecular Biology), honored by faculty advisor, Dr. Richard Ridgway

Hayley Cheyney Kane (BS Physiology), honored by research mentor, Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler

Cienn Joyeux (BS Cell and Molecular Biology), honored by research mentor, Dr. Janet Bester-Meredith

Simone Neal (BA Life Sciences), honored by faculty advisor, Dr. Charlotte Pratt

Leslie Rodriguez-Salas (BS Biochemistry), honored by research mentor, Dr. Jenny Tenlen

The Biology department is incredibly proud of each of our Scholars, who developed into confident student leaders who served as Peer Mentors and Learning Assistants to newer Scholars.  All five Scholars plan to continue their education in graduate programs in medicine, biomedical research and forensic science.

BioCORE Scholars and Mentors


Slideshow LinkPhotos of previous cohorts

Meet our 2019 BioCORE Scholars, Peer Mentors and Learning Assistant. (Back row) Yoska Habtom, Egypt Adams, Richo Abenojar, Zoie Bailey, Jessica Bekele, Seyed Emad Shirazi (Peer Mentor), Evelin Laris, Gio Gonzalez, Scarlett Amezcua, Abdullah Bashmail, Grace-Anne Valverde, Anahi Tapia. (Front row) Front row: Cienn Joyeux (current Scholar), Leslie Rodriguez-Salas (Learning Assistant), Angie Vazquez (Peer Mentor), Menna Hailemariam (Peer Mentor), Sydney Olea Suarez, Hailey Cheyney Kane (current Scholar), Victoria Bowman, Thy Bach, Jessica Cannon. [Not pictured: Peer Mentor Laarni Aquila]

At the "Welcome" reception, Scholars were greeted by Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences - Sciences Division, Dr. Bruce Congdon and by Dr. Sandy Mayo (Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion). Scholars introduced themselves, then photos were taken of the new and current BioCORE Scholars. New Scholars then met with their Peer Mentors (Menna Hailemariam, Emad Shirazi and Angie Vazquez) and Learning Assistant (Leslie Rodriguez-Salas), while enjoying cake.

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: Dr. Tracie Delgado, who will join the SPU Biology Department faculty in September 2019, was the keynote speaker at the spring quarter event on April 16, 2019.  Dr. Delgado inspired students with her own journey to becoming a PhD-trained scientist and educator.

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.”