top of page


Marlene Tataro

Columbia University

Marlene is a junior at Columbia University majoring in Biology. After getting recruited to golf for the Columbia Women’s Golf team, she jumped right into premedical studies and participated in two neuro-based research labs. She has been personally affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia, and knows its effects outside of a solely clinical setting. With her interests specifically in neurobiology, Marlene found that working with Alzheimers patients was the perfect way to give back to the community and satisfy her passion for neuroscience. As Columbia’s Chapter President, she hopes to integrate her experience with her science background to make a difference in the quality of life of those affected by Alzheimer’s.

Headshot Marlene Tartaro.JPG

Soumya Shukla

New York University

Soumya is a third-year pre-medical student at New York University pursuing a BS in Chemistry with a minor in Business. Her profound curiosity in how chemistry relates to human diseases, including the chemical degradation that leads to the accumulation of tau protein in Alzheimer's Disease, has inspired her dedication to BEI. As President of BEI NYU, Soumya aims to make a positive impact in the NYC community through service and initiative, taking the first step by establishing a Brain Exercise Initiative Chapter at NYU.

Vicente A. Sanchez

Cornell University

 Vicente is a third-year undergraduate at Cornell University studying Biological Sciences, concentrating on neurobiology and behavior, with a minor in Business. He was one of the founding members of Cornell’s BEI chapter, acting as Vice-President until assuming the Presidency in 2022. Vicente plans on attending medical school after graduating from Cornell. To prepare for this goal, he enjoys experiencing different areas of the medical field. His first exposure was shadowing at a cardiology outpatient clinic. Last summer, Vicente spent three months interning as a medical scribe for a pediatrician’s office in his hometown of Miami. This summer, he will be conducting research as a SURF Fellow at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Vicente looks forward to contributing to the awareness and service of those with Alzheimer’s.


Amy Wu

University of Pennsylvania

Amy is a junior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a BA in Neuroscience from the College of Arts and Sciences and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School. Amy started the Penn chapter of BEI in order to help fight Alzheimer’s and the epidemic of loneliness that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of BEI, Amy does research with alpha synuclein in the Rhoades Lab, markets for the Penn Neuroscience Society, writes Anatomy & Physiology tests for Science Olympiad at the University of Pennsylvania, and volunteers both virtually and in person with senior citizens. Amy is incredibly grateful to be part of this amazing initiative and is grateful for her wonderful executive board. Shout out to Advait Thaploo, Senior VP and Co-Nursing Home Liaison; Melody Cheng, VP and Volunteer Coordinator; Denise Zheng, VP and Co-Nursing Home Liaison; Anna Swartley, VP and Communications Director; Sam Ostrowski, Social Coordinator; and Mohammad Rashad, Video Coordinator.

Dina Youssef

Hunter College in New York City

Dina is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Hunter College, double majoring in Biochemistry and Human Biology. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in geriatric medicine. While
Dina understands from personal experience that Alzheimer’s is a complex disease, through the Brain Exercise Initiative, she intends to partner the Hunter College student body with the
available nursing homes in NYC to provide comfort, care and memory exercises to the city’s community!


Sami Johnson

Carnegie Mellon University

Sami Johnson is a sophomore undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University studying Computational Neuroscience with a minor in Computational Biology. Sami’s passion for Alzheimer’s research and prevention began her junior year of high school, where she conducted a year-long, award-winning research project focusing on the pathology of the tau protein, which is directly involved in the development of the disease; the research report was published in the American Journal of International Biology.  She currently holds a research position in a Biochemistry lab at Carnegie Mellon, using kinetics to determine the importance of protein structure in specific regions of the thymidylate kinase in Candida albicans. 

Leanne Arrakal

Bethesda, Maryland

Leanne is a post baccalaureate research trainee at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases. She studies the early host response to viral RNA infections and hopes to go onto medical school to specialize in rheumatology. When she started at the NIH she sought out ways to be involved with assisting senior residents especially during COVID. Once she found out about the BEI mission she was eager to join. She's excited to expand this organization and spread awareness about Alzheimer's.




Ryan Clarke

Bethesda, Maryland


Ryan is an Associate Scientist in the Target Discovery Department of a gene therapy company working to develop AAV therapies. Ryan moved from California to pursue this research job but missed seeing and helping people, which is how he initially got involved in BEI. Ryan loves working with the volunteers and residents and hopes to grow the chapter and increase Alzheimer's awareness among his peers.

Amane Matsuoka

Tufts University


Amane Matsuoka is currently a rising sophomore at Tufts University. His major is undeclared but he is thinking about pursuing a biochemistry major. He is currently on the pre-health track and plans to go to medical school in hopes of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. He has been personally affected by Alzheimer's as his grandmother had it. Amane joined BEI to try and help out those suffering from the disease, and ensure that their family gets the full support that they need! 

Screen Shot 2020-12-28 at 3.24.20 PM.png

Yashas Basavarajappa

Tufts University

Yashas Basavarajappa is currently a rising sophomore at Tufts University majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He sought to help his new community in a meaningful way and co-founding the BEI chapter at Tufts has helped to form lasting relationships with residents. Yashas hopes to improve the livelihoods of residents in the Tufts area as well as bring awareness to Alzheimer's.


Shriya Singh

University of Maryland

Shriya Singh is a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park double-majoring in Psychology and Biology, with an emphasis in Neurobiology and Physiology. Shriya has explored her interest in this field through three years of research experience at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville and the Georgetown School of Medicine. She also enjoys helping her community by volunteering at the Pregnancy Aid Center near campus. 


Jonathan Gagnon

Washington and Lee University

Jonathan is a junior undergraduate at Washington and Lee University majoring in Biochemistry. At W&L, Jonathan plays defensive end on the football team. On his breaks from school, Jonathan volunteers with the American Red Cross as a Blood Donor Ambassador. This summer, Jonathan will be studying the effects of proton radiation therapy using atomic force microscopy at Georgetown University Hospital. As a student on the pre-med track, Jonathan is very excited to help his community with the establishment of a BEI chapter.

Kate Jensen

University of Virginia     

Kate Jensen is a rising fourth year from Phoenix, Arizona studying neuroscience at the University of Virginia. She wanted to be a part of the Brain Exercise Initiative to make a larger impact on her community in an area in which she is very passionate about. At school, Kate holds a research position studying the effect of microDNA on the onset of Alzheimer’s and the role of long noncoding RNA in skeletal muscle development. 

Kate Jensen picture.jpg
terrell willard.jpg

Terrell Willard

Howard University College of Medicine


Terell is a second-year medical student at Howard University College of Medicine. He graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Health Science Studies. Volunteering with hospice motivated him to join BEI to help the seniors in DC age gracefully. These interactions will prepare him to communicate and deliver better care for his patients as a physician.

Alexandra Minnard

Howard University


Alexandra Minnard is a junior at Howard University majoring in Chemistry on the Pre-medical track. Alexandra has always had an interest in learning about Alzheimer's Disease due to family members suffering from the disease. Her interest increased when she spent a summer researching at LSU-HSC in the Neuroscience Center. Alexandra was able to learn more about the causes of many neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and understand what preventive methods are being researched. She hopes to spread awareness about the disease and provide support to those in the D.C. community who suffer from Alzheimer's Disease.

Screen Shot 2022-01-11 at 2.16.05 PM.png

Sonya Ganeshram

Harvard University


Sonya Ganeshram is a Junior studying Neuroscience at Harvard University. As a neuroscience student, she was very interested in the meaningful mission of BEI and decided to start a chapter at Harvard. Sonya also conducts Neuroscience research as a part of the Canine Brains Project. In her free time, she enjoys getting out into nature with her Service Dog, Athena.

Grace Baker

New Canaan High School

Grace Baker is an upcoming junior at New Canaan High School in Connecticut. With a long held interest in medicine, she attended Boston Leadership Institute’s Summer Medicine Program in 2021, where her career aspirations as a physician were solidified. Having watched her grandfather suffer with dementia during a long battle with Parkinson’s, Grace developed a particular interest in neurodegenerative disease. Listening to accounts of the BEI’s important work from her brother, a former college chapter president at the University of Notre Dame, she was inspired to start a local chapter in her hometown and is excited to further the organization's mission. 

Grace-Headshot 2.HEIC
bottom of page