The Scientists of the Future

As the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute commences its sixth year of training talented young scientists, it welcomes eight new predoctoral researchers into its ranks. Over the next several years, this group will have ample opportunities to learn new techniques, hone their scientific skills, and manage research projects that utilize a plethora of scientific technologies. And throughout the process, they will work and learn alongside people with a variety of scientific backgrounds and experiences who form a foundational network of colleagues. Meet this remarkable group of future scientists


Ruohan Zhong

Zhejiang University

As a child, Ruohan Zhong wandered the woods and hills around her home. It was during these explorations that her curiosity about nature was born.

Zhong’s early quest to learn about the natural world led to deeper exploration of subjects that intrigued her. Her studies ultimately led to a fascination with epithelial cells and how they develop into organized structures.

Zhong graduated from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, with a BS in agricultural sciences in applied bioscience. There, she focused her research efforts on botany.

Sharien Fitriasari

University of Missouri

Sharien Fitriasari is no stranger to the long hours required for laboratory research. While working on her BS in biochemistry with a minor in business at the University of Missouri at Columbia (MU), she worked 12 to 15 hours a week in a lab in the MU biochemistry department, focusing on genetic modifications of sulfate-reducing bacteria that would consume toxic metals contaminating the environment. And, in addition to that, she interned two separate summers in Jakarta, Indonesia, with the drug companies Merck and Novartis.

As a life sciences undergraduate intern, experiences examining bacteria-metal interactions solidified her desire to pursue a PhD and a career in research science.

Raktim Roy

Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research

Raktim Roy is an ambitious young man inspired by his diverse tastes in science, movies, books, and music. The movies Jurassic Park and Spider-Man and a biography on Albert Einstein ignited Roy’s early interest in science. Science fiction and the superheroes of books and movies continued to draw his attention to science as a youngster, which in turn led him to pursue a BS in biochemistry from Presidency University in Kolkata, India, followed by an MS in molecular biology and genetics at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) in Bangalore.

His studies at JNCASR nurtured his interest in epigenetics and chromatin biology, but a master’s course in transcription and regulation of gene expression is what really captured his scientific attention.

Julia Peloggia

University of São Paulo

Failure was not something familiar to Julia Peloggia. Always intrigued by biological science, Peloggia entered the University of São Paulo with the idea of becoming a geneticist. However, after a biochemistry course her freshman year turned out to be more difficult than expected, she realized that she would need to focus her efforts and study harder.

With that early challenge serving as a life lesson and long behind her, Peloggia recently graduated from University of São Paulo, Brazil, with a BS in biological sciences and a desire to pursue a PhD, perhaps in developmental biology and regeneration.

Rahul Garg

Indian Institute of Technology

Rahul Garg began his path to a career in biomedical research with an introductory undergraduate course in physiology his sophomore year in college. The nervous system’s network and complexities in signal processing particularly intrigued him. After completing a small research project on the olfactory system of Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, he was hooked.

Garg would like to continue exploring neuroscience and behavioral biology, with the ultimate goal of helping find cures for neurodegenerative diseases by decoding the inner workings of neural circuitry.

Azqa Khan

Lahore University of Management Sciences

An early encounter with a cockroach set Azqa Khan on the road to a career in biological science.

It was during a ninth-grade biology class that Khan had to dissect one of the insects. Once she overcame her fear, she recalls being blown away by what she describes as “the magnificence of the cockroach’s design.” Khan studied more organisms, their internal systems and genetics, and grew ever more certain that biological science would be a key focus in her life.

Khan comes to the Institute from Pakistan with her BS in applied biosciences from the National University of Sciences and Technology, and her MS in biology from Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering at Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Kai Zhang

University of Science and Technology of China

Kai Zhang first became interested in science during a high school genetics class. He was fascinated with the idea that a single point mutation in DNA could lead to completely different human characteristics. As he studied more, Zhang focused on what he calls the ‘biological magic’ of how animals are systematically structured by their various genes. So, it’s no surprise that Zhang earned his BS in biological science from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei with a research specialty in genetics and transcriptional regulation.

Under the tutelage of Stowers mentors, Zhang looks forward to working toward his PhD in world-class facilities with the support and scientific freedom for which the Institute is known.

Paloma I. Meneses Giles

National Autonomous University of Mexico

Paloma Meneses Giles first developed a particular interest in cell and developmental biology in high school and was thoroughly hooked after participating in the National Biology Olympiad in Mexico.

Later, as an undergraduate at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Cuernavaca, she explored the field as she moved among different labs and became captivated by the nature of stem cells and the complexity of cancer biology.

In 2014, while still an undergraduate, Meneses joined the lab of Stowers Investigator Linheng Li, PhD, to work on a one-year project. She later earned her BS in genomic sciences from UNAM.