Near Peer Mentoring Program

Welcome to the homepage for the Near Peer Mentoring Program

This program began in 2020 with the following goals:

To provide a resource/mentor for 1st year graduate students


To smooth and enhance the transition from undergraduate to graduate school


To create connections between 1st year graduate students and more advanced students


Develop the skills of 1st year graduate students on how to be a proactive mentee


Develop mentorship skills of advanced graduate students

Melanie Kascoutas - NPMP Organizer

Kascoutas Melanie.jpg

2nd year graduate student

Cook Lab

OIM Division 

mkascout_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: San Marcos, CA

Educational Background: BS Chemistry, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 2021

Research Experience:

  • Organometallic research with M. Taylor Haynes II at Cal Poly

  • Polymer Production Intern at Sirigen (BD)

Rotations at UO: Cook, Jasti, Haley/DWJ

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • Module leader and module volunteer, Summer Academy to Inspire Learning (SAIL) Chemistry Summer Camp (2022)

Career aspirations:  Industry research

Hobbies: Camping and hiking

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): Welcome to UO! Remember to take time for yourself and reach out for help when needed 😊

Meet the Mentors!

Sofia Carlson

Carlson Sofia.jpg

3rd year graduate student

Nolen Lab

IMB Division 

scarlso3_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: River Falls, WI

Educational Background: BS Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016

Research Experience:

  • Brad Nolen, University of Oregon, 2021-present
    Project: Regulation of activating conformational changes of Arp2/3 complex in actin networks 

  • Kendrick Labs, Madison, WI, 2016-2020
    Project: Development of a phosphotyrosine standard for use in 2D western blotting

  • Doug Weibel, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2013
    Project: Investigation of cell death systems in E. col

Rotations at UO: DeRose, Hansen, Nolen

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • Joint Undergrad-Grad Mentorship Program (JUMP), mentor 2021-2022

Career aspirations:  Industry research

Hobbies: Camping and hiking, reading, board games/video games, homebrewing, and grilling/smoking food

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): Excited to meet all of you! I also have 2 little kitty babies and will gladly share pics and "aww" over your own pet pics!

Tara Clayton

Clayton Tara.png

4th year graduate student

Jasti Lab

OIM Division 

tclayto2_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Great Falls, MT 

Educational Background: BA from Reed College in Portland OR

Research Experience:

I am a 4th year graduate student in the Jasti lab working on the synthesis of cycloparaphenylenes (carbon nanohoops). I did research in the Jasti lab for a summer as an undergraduate. Before that I spent a summer in a quality assurance lab at Cabot Creamery in Vermont and did an externship in the Felix Fischer lab at UC Berkeley.

Rotations at UO: Jasti, Dave Johnson, DWJ

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • Joint Undergrad-Grad Mentorship Program (JUMP), mentor 2021-2022

Career aspirations: I am interested in doing interdisciplinary work on cavity quantum electrodynamics of organic/ hybrid systems. 

Hobbies: I love to do art, pole dance, and collect rocks. 

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): Take your time to learn the things that make your soul happy. It will always pay off 🙂

Willow Davis

Davis Willow.jpg

3rd year graduate student

DWJ Lab

OIM Division 

wad_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Union, KY 

Educational Background:

  • BS Chemistry, Northern Kentucky University, 2020 

  • BA Theatre, Northern Kentucky University, 2020

Research Experience:

Charlisa Daniels Group, Northern Kentucky University, Spring 2019 – Spring 2020 
Project: Investigating the diffusion coefficients of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) through polymeric material

Rotations at UO: DWJ, Brozek, Pluth

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • UO NSF Molecular Probes and Sensors NRT Program, fellow 

  • Women in Graduate Sciences (WGS), executive board member 

  • Joint Undergrad-Grad Mentorship Program (JUMP), mentor 

Career aspirations: Research professor/run my own research lab

Hobbies: Hiking, crafting, theatre, taking my cat on walks against her will, board games and DnD, baking (especially pie!) 

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): Hi first-years! I’m super excited to get to know you! My cat is named Mjolnir, I really like obscure musical theatre, and my favorite color is yellow.

Jack Greene

Greene Jack.jpg

3rd year graduate student

Cook Lab

OIM Division 

jgreene2_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: North Pomfret, VT

Educational Background:

  • B. S. Chemistry, St. Lawrence University, 2020

Research Experience:

Adam Hill, St. Lawrence University, 2018-2020
I worked on figuring out how many open coordination sites metals grafted to silica have. To do this, I used a probe molecule and the respective IR stretch to qualitatively determine amount of coordinated probe molecule to the metal

Rotations at UO: Cook, Dave Johnson, DWJ

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • ADSE Co-outreach Chair 2021-2022

  • SAIL module volunteer 2021, 2022

Career aspirations: In a position doing data analysis and mentoring, probably in industry.

Hobbies: Hiking and camping and all the summer outdoor things, skiing and skating and all the winter outdoor things, taking photos (both film and digital) of all the outdoor things, going to concerts of music I love.

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): Hiya, Welcome to Eugene! It’s a pretty rad place. Up till grad school I stuck pretty exclusively to New England, but now I know that west is best. I LOVE the outdoors, and how easy it is to get to wilderness areas and national forests from here. There are so many places to go and sights to see!

Andres Guerrero

Guerrero Andres.jpg

3rd year graduate student

DeRose Lab

OIM Division 

andresg_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Sparta, WI

Educational Background:

  • BS in Biochemistry and Biology, emphasis in biomedical sciences, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 2016-2020

Research Experience:

Dr. Valeria Stepanova, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 2017-2020
Project: Hybrid synthetic-computational approach to synthesize curcumin and curcuminoids

Rotations at UO: Pluth, Hettiaratchi, DeRose

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • Mad Duck Science Friday, Website Manager 2021-Current

Career aspirations: Work in industry

Hobbies: Board games, videogames, trivia, hiking, and exploring Oregon!

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): I grew up in Mexico, bilingual in English and Spanish

Kayd Meldrum

Meldrum Kayd.jpg

3rd year graduate student

Prell Lab

P-chem Division 

kaydm_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Pocatello, ID

Educational Background:

  • BS in Biochemistry, Idaho State University

Research Experience:

  • Sheridan Group, Idaho State University, 2017-2020

Project: Cloning and characterizing proteins from psychrophilic microorganisms

  • Prell Group, University of Oregon, 2021-present

Project: Method and software development for quantitating proteins with mass spectrometry

Rotations at UO: Richmond, Wong, Prell

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • Mad Duck Science Friday, Co-Director

Career aspirations: Probably something in pharmaceutical or instrument R&D.

Hobbies: Drawing and painting, reading, hiking and camping

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): I have two spoiled cats, Olive and Auri, and more plants than I can reasonably care for.

Kalika Pai

Pai Kalika.jpg

3rd year graduate student

Widom Lab

P-chem Division 

kpai_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Stanley, NM

Educational Background:

  • BS in Chemistry, New Mexico Tech, 2020

Research Experience:

  • Piyasena Group, New Mexico Tech, 2017-2020

Project: Fluorescent lipid micro-spheres for biomarker detection

  • Foudazi Group, New Mexico State University, Summer REU 2019

Project: Macroporous chitosan polymer

Rotations at UO: Widom, Prell, Wong

Career aspirations: I’m a bit undecided! I’ve spent a lot of time considering a teaching/research position at a smaller college, but I could also imagine myself continuing research through an industry position.

Hobbies: Keeping my plants alive (both indoors and outside), taking on new crafty projects, roller skating (poorly)

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): My dog, Denny, is adorable but super timid around new people. 
I love giving away plant cuttings, so don’t hesitate to ask if you’re “needing” a new plant!

Harrison Reid

Reid Harrison.jpg

3rd year graduate student

Jasti Lab

OIM Division 

hreid_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Tucson, AZ

Educational Background:

  • BS in Chemistry, Biology minor, Northern Arizona University, 2020

Research Experience:

  • Dr. Gabriel Montaño (¡MIRA!), Northern Arizona University, 2018-2020

Project: Biomimetic supramolecular block-copolymer architectures

  • ARAMCO Research Centers – Boston, 2019 Summer intern

Project: Crosslinked polymer networks for sour gas separation

Rotations at UO: Jasti, Brozek, DWJ

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • SACNAS at UO, Board Member, 2021-present 

  • Joint Undergrad-Grad Mentorship Program (JUMP), Undergraduate mentor 2021-2022

Career aspirations: Undetermined, something to do with materials/bio-materials

Hobbies: Sports, hiking and camping, amateur pizza maker.

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): When you’re doing homework late at night and hear meowing outside your window, go investigate.

Alex Rosen

Rosen Alex.jpg

3rd year graduate student

DWJ Lab

OIM Division 

aqr_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

Educational Background:

  • BS in Chemistry, Math Minor, Northern Kentucky University, 2020

Research Experience:

  • Dr. Lili Ma, NKU, 2016-2020

Projects: Library synthesis of aromatase inhibitors for use in breast cancer treatments.
Synthesis of diketones through novel alpha-ketone heteroarylation methods

Rotations at UO: Brozek, DWJ, Johnathon Reeder (Knight Campus)

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • Active Vice President of the Board of Directors for The Duck Store

  • Member of DuckREFS (Resources for Easing Friction and Stress)

Career aspirations: I want to go into industry or a national lab. Or, hopefully, starting my own company out of grad school.

Hobbies: Boardgames, DND (maybe too much honestly), Fishing, Going on drives, Swimming, Working out/powerlifting, Hanging out with the homies, Bar hopping. Really, you name it, I'm down to try.

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): Hello!! Welcome to UO! You will always be able to identify me from a distance by the (some may say atrociously bright) Hawaiian shirts I always wear.

Liam Twight

Twight Liam.jpg

4th year graduate student

Boettcher Lab

OIM Division 

liamt_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Anderson, CA

Educational Background:

  • B.S. Chemistry; California State University, Long Beach; 2019

Research Experience:

  • 4th Year PhD student in Boettcher Lab

Rotations at UO: Boettcher, Brozek, Gardner

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • Active Vice President of the Board of Directors for The Duck Store

  • Member of DuckREFS (Resources for Easing Friction and Stress)

Career aspirations: Interested in renewable energy materials and device research in private sector

Hobbies: Tennis, cooking, hiking and backpacking, reading, guitar

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): Hi everyone! I am looking forward to getting to know all of you and support your first year experience however I can. Always feel free to reach out to me with questions!

Efrain Vidal

Vidal Efrain.jpg

4th year graduate student

Haley Lab

OIM Division 

evidal_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Educational Background:

  • B.S. Environmental Studies, University of Southern California, 2019

Research Experience:

  • Sarah Feakins, USC Earth Sciences, 2017-2019

Project: Biomarker quantification of Bengal Fan sediment samples (8-6 mya), Long-chain alkane quantification of wheat samples to distinguish desirable drought resistant characteristics, Established a modern soil reference for biomarker research in Serengeti National Park

  • Michael Haley, UO Chemistry and Biochemistry, 2020-present

Project: Expanded Quinoidal Scaffolds: Di- and Tetraradicaloid Structures, Covalent Dimers for Singlet Fission

Rotations at UO: Haley, Jasti, Darren Johnson

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • CMiS - 2020

  • ADSE E-board - 2021

  • CBGReAT - 2021-2023

Career aspirations: Teach at a 4-yr institution but wouldn't mind a position at a community/junior college. Ideally, I'd only teach, but if I needed to have a semi-active research program then that would be fine too.

Hobbies: Sleep, games (video and board), cooking, gardening, volleyball

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): Grad school is definitely a marathon and not a race so keep a solid pace and you'll still burn out, but it'll be less frequent/intense. Also, just about everyone is willing to talk to you about life and work, a work-life balance even, so try not to bottle up frustrations as you make your way through the program. Don't let my RBF fool you, I'm generally up for lending an ear or grabbing tea with at least several minutes notice.

Zach Walbrun

Walbrun Zach.jpg

4th year graduate student

Wong Lab

P-chem Division 

zwalbrun_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Appleton, WI

Educational Background:

  • B.S. Chemistry and Mathematics, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, 2019

Research Experience:

  • Jennifer Dahl, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, Summer 2017 - Spring 2019

Project: Investigating ligand dependence on crosslinking ability in gold thiol capped nanoparticles

  • Cathy Wong, University of Oregon, Summer 2020 - present

Project: Investigation of molecular aggregation and charge separation in organic thin films using in situ spectroscopies

Rotations at UO: Wong, Guenza, Richmond

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • Fall 2020 - TA workshop

Career aspirations: Teaching

Hobbies: Biking, hiking, traveling

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): Work together! It makes first year go much smoother

Luca Zocchi

Zocchi Luca.jpg

3rd year graduate student

DWJ Lab

OIM Division 

lzocchi_at_uoregon_dot_edu

Hometown: Centennial, CO

Educational Background:

  • BS in Chemistry, Colorado State University, 2020 

Research Experience:

  • Debbie Crans, Colorado State, Spring 2016-Spring 2020 

Project: Interpeptide Cu exchange kinetics 

  • Sage Therapeutics, Cambridge Massachusetts, Summer 2019 

Project: Medicinal chemistry intern, working on central nervous system drugs

Rotations at UO: Haley, DWJ, Jasti

UO Organization and Outreach Activities:

  • NSF NRT program, fellow 

Career aspirations: Some type of industry job, still figuring out what! 

Hobbies: Mountain biking, Fly fishing, Skiing, Camping, (Anything outside), Cooking, Fermented/Distilled beverages (drinking and brewing), farmers markets, Ems games, DnD, Star wars

Message to 1st years (or extra notes about yourself): If I can be outside doing something that’s usually where you will find me, if not I’m probably making a mess in my kitchen! 

Former Mentors

Hannah Bates, PhD

DWJ and Haley Labs

OIM Division

Alison Chang

Cook Lab

OIM Division

Michael Crawford, PhD

Wong Lab

P-Chem Division

Annie Gilbert

Pluth Lab

OIM Division

Zoe Irons

Grimes Lab

IMB Division

Grace Kuhl, PhD

DWJ Lab

OIM Division

Michael LeRoy

Brozek Lab

OIM Division

Grace Lindquist

Boettcher Lab

OIM Division

Jack Maurer

Marcus Lab

P-Chem Division

Julia Ngo

Guillemin and Pathasarathy Labs

IMB Division

Claire Otteson, PhD

Jasti Lab

OIM Division

Tavis Price

Jasti Lab

OIM Division

Amy Robbins

Stankunas Lab

Biology/IMB Division

Michael Shavlik

Harms Lab

Biochem/IMB Division

Grace Waddell

Hansen Lab

Biochem/IMB Division

Gabrielle Warren

Haley Lab

OIM Division