Laura Manning | Founder & Editor-in-Chief

A lifelong resident of the prairie state, Laura studied psychology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign thinking she would never take a biology class again. She quickly discovered a deep scientific curiosity and found herself in the PhD program in Neurobiology at UIC. When she’s not eating pizza, Laura photographs thousands of neurons to figure out how specific genes change the machinery inside them. Sometimes she does this while eating pizza.

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Alyssa McRay | Contributing Writer

Alyssa was born and raised in that downstate, cornfield-laden part of Illinois known to most as simply "not Chicago". As the first person in her family to attend university, she received her B.S. in biology from Illinois Wesleyan University and her M.Ed. in science education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is now a neurobiology Ph.D. candidate, using tiny electrodes to measure electrical signals in the mammalian brain. Because Alyssa's lab has no windows, she spends most of her free time outdoors, camping, hiking and exploring with her very large dog. Learn more about Alyssa on her personal website.


Elsa Anderson | Contributing Writer

Elsa most closely compares to a well-loved tie-dyed tee-shirt. She’s colorful, comfortable in an outdoor setting, and almost always out of place at fancy dinner parties. A Chicagoland native, she received her bachelors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Masters from DePaul University. When she's not doing science, her primary interests are globetrotting, DIY, and watching dog videos on the Internet. As an E&E PhD candidate at UIC, Elsa spends her professional time pondering inner-city ecology and exploring vacant lots on Chicago’s south and west sides.

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Cathy Lantz | Contributing Writer

Born, raised and mostly educated in California, Cathy moved to the midwest to experience life outside the Golden State. She works at Daley Library and has been the liaison to the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Earth & Environmental Sciences since 2013.  Her research focuses on how undergraduate students encounter, embrace or struggle with academic literature.

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Abdel Halloway | Contributing Writer

Direct from South Side Chicago, Abdel is quite familiar with the Taylor street area, having been educated here for 15 years. With the use of strange symbols and intricately organized metal, he analyses the biodiversity of the world around him, seeking to understand why it looks the way it does.


Lillian Perez | Contributing Writer

When you can’t run from it, learn from it. Right? Perhaps that’s an adapted perspective from the wise Rafiki that Lillian heard as a Disney-watching 90’s baby. Lillian hasn’t escaped the city nor science- the city is her playground and science is something like that too.  She is a born and raised Chicagoan that graduated from DePaul University with a BS in Biological Sciences. Realizing that there are endless questions that she wanted answers to about the complexity of the human brain, Lillian decided to get the training of a laboratory scientist. Now, a PhD student in Neurobiology she uses techniques in molecular biology and genetics to determine how neurons acquire their specific identities. Her Friday lunch-breaks are fulfilled when she times herself on RedEye Sudokus. She also loves playing in sports leagues and watching NBA when she’s not walking her dog.


Anika Hazra | Contributing Writer

Anika escaped the harsh climate of Toronto, Canada in pursuit of a more tropical lifestyle and landed in the Windy City as a PhD student in Ecology and Evolution at UIC. This irony aside, she spends most of the year in Chicago dreaming of sunny Mexico in exchange for that precious summer semester that is spent setting sneaky traps to capture the many different kinds of Mexican ants. Anika is interested in the story these ants can tell about the conditions of the habitat where they are captured.  Besides ants, Anika also loves science fiction and live Shakespeare, so you know she's super cool. Learn more about Anika on her personal website.

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Mitali Adlakha | Contributing Writer

Mitali did most of her growing up in India and came to the United States six years ago to pursue science. She is getting her PhD degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UConn Health. She uses molecular biology techniques and some cool microscopy to study virus-host interactions. Eventually she hopes that someday she will infect people with some enthusiasm for science. She loves to read anything that is related to viruses or perhaps science. Whether she is at bench or not, she is listening to science podcasts. Outside her lab, she loves watching theater, reading books, yoga, Zumba and cooking. She is very excited to work with BGSA and hone her scientific writing.


Emily Dodd | Social Media Director, Web Developer, & Contributing Writer

Emily grew up in the small town of Rome, Georgia located just north of Atlanta. As a child, her mother surprised her with her own compound microscope, which instilled in her a deep curiosity about the world, specifically the tiny “gross” things. This curiosity led her to pursue her B.S. in Biology at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia and later her M.S. in Biological Sciences at UIC, where she studied the tiny things that live on/in fish. Outside of research, Emily also loves teaching and science communication. Learn more on her personal website.


Ron Dubreuil | UIC Faculty Advisor

Dr. Ron Dubreuil has been a faculty member in biology at UIC since 2001. He earned a B.S. in biology at Bradley University and his PhD in biology right here at UIC. After a postdoc on the east coast he returned to Chicago as an Assistant Professor in 1991. He teaches courses in cell biology to graduate and undergraduate students. And recently he taught a popular Honor's College course on science and the media. Research in the Dubreuil lab is aimed at understanding how dietary fat is absorbed and processed by organisms ranging from fruit flies to humans.


Bill Burton | Editorial Advisor

Bill Burton, senior director of public affairs at UIC, is an editorial advisor for BGSA. Previously he was a science and technology writer at Northwestern University and at the University of Chicago. A graduate of McGill University in Montreal, he received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the U. of I. at Urbana-Champaign. He began his science-writing career at The Oregonian under a media fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he remains involved with the @AAASMassMedia fellowship program.