PhD Program Student Representatives | NYU Langone Health

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PhD Program Admissions PhD Program Student Representatives

PhD Program Student Representatives

The Student Representatives Program at Vilcek Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences offers prospective students an opportunity to interact with current PhD candidates. Our representatives can provide information about both the academic and student life experience at Vilcek Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences.

If you are a prospective student, feel free to email one of our current PhD candidates below to learn more about our training programs, graduate student life, and life in New York City. Please note that response times may vary as representatives volunteer their time around school and work responsibilities.

Should you have any general questions about our Student Representatives Program, please email


Paola Angulo Salgado
Hometown: Pleasant Hill, California
Program track: Molecular Oncology and Tumor Immunology (third year)
Undergraduate: University of California, Santa Cruz

Paola is currently in the laboratory of Markus Schober, PhD, in collaboration with the laboratory of Eva M. Hernando-Monge, PhD, where she develops computational and experimental approaches to dissect the molecular and cellular mechanisms that are responsible for the phenotypic heterogeneity and metastatic dissemination of melanoma cells. She is the social co-chair of the Vilcek Student Council and co-president of Raíces. One of Paola’s favorite activities outside of the lab is playing soccer competitively.


Elaine Camacho-Hernández
Hometown: Ponce, Puerto Rico
Program track: Molecular Oncology and Tumor Immunology (fourth year)
Undergraduate: University of Puerto Rico, Ponce

Elaine is a PhD candidate in the laboratory of Teresa Davoli, PhD, where she studies aneuploidies and cancer. She is interested in understanding chromosome-specific aneuploidies and how they lead to cancer immune evasion in solid tumors. Outside of the lab, Elaine likes to get involved with student diversity initiative activities and outreach programs.


Josue Canales
Hometown: Queens, New York
Program track: Molecular Oncology and Tumor Immunology (third year)
Undergraduate: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

A member of the laboratory of Boris Reizis, PhD, Josue’s goal is to learn more about solid tumors and their immune evasion. His current research is focused on leveraging the innate immunity, specifically targeting DNases, to induce anti-tumor immunity in breast cancer tumors. Outside of the lab, Josue serves as co-president of the Vilcek Student Council, a leader in GRO-Biotech, and vice president of Raíces. Josue has trained as a classical violinist for 15 years.


Nandini Choudhury
Hometown: New Delhi, India
Program track: Population Health (second year)
Graduate: Boston University School of Public Health
Undergraduate: Soka University of America

Nandini’s research interests lie at the intersection of implementation science, health disparities, and community health worker interventions. Prior to joining Vilcek Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, she worked in global health research for six years. Nandini studied Japanese in college and studied abroad in Japan for a semester, and can still speak some conversational Japanese.


Ariadna Corredera Asensio
Hometown: Barcelona, Spain
Program track: Neuroscience and Physiology (second year)
Graduate and undergraduate: University of Barcelona

Ariadna is interested in both the neural circuitry underlying social behaviors and the sensorimotor integration that helps make predictions in natural environments. Her main goal is to lead a research project combining electrophysiology and genetic tools to build an integrative understanding of how behaviors are generated. Outside of the lab, Ariadna plays piano, sports (particularly basketball), skateboards, and explores every possible New York bar, restaurant, and concert hall. She’s been to 24 countries across 4 different continents.


Joel Encarnacion-Rosado
Hometown: Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
Program track: Molecular Oncology and Tumor Immunology (seventh year)
Undergraduate: University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras

Joel is a PhD candidate in the laboratory of Alec Kimmelman, MD, PhD, studying the metabolic interactions in the tumor microenvironment of pancreatic cancers. Joel and a former alum of our program, Dr. Phillip Thomas, founded the Marie M. Daly Seminar Series hosted by the Vilcek Student Diversity Initiative. His long-term career goals are to be a principal investigator, solve complex scientific questions, and mentor students from underrepresented backgrounds. Joel has great enthusiasm for coffee, curates a Spotify playlist with more than 9,000 followers, and enjoys urban art scenes. He likes traveling the world, looking for art while eating and drinking coffee.


Sheena Faye Garcia
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Program tracks: Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics; and Molecular Oncology and Tumor Immunology (sixth year)
Undergraduate: University of Toronto

Sheena is a PhD candidate in the laboratory of Michele Pagano, MD. Her doctoral thesis work aims to elucidate the mechanism of a protein implicated in lung cancer through cryo–electron microscopy. Sheena is a long-standing member of our Student Diversity Initiative and Board Game Club. Outside of the lab, she’s an avid reader who has read more than 80 books since the start of 2022.


Amira Gee
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Program track: Population Health (second year)
Undergraduate: Xavier University of Louisiana

Amira (Gee) Adebayo’s research interests include global health equity, implementation science, and nutritional epidemiology. She previously served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bucha, Ukraine, and plans to continue serving different populations in New York City. She aspires to be an applied epidemiologist to identify and prevent health disparities in global communities.


Joseph Kim
Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand
Program track: Immunology and Inflammation (second year)
Undergraduate: University of Auckland

During Joseph’s undergraduate studies, he was initially interested in researching cancer biology but quickly found himself looking into immunotherapies, then tumor immunology. In his previous research experience, he studied how T-cell receptor affinity determined responses to PD-1 blockade. Outside of the lab, Joseph enjoys visiting cafes, reading, and eating lots of unhealthy food.


Kimberly Lucero
Hometown: Cebu City, Philippines
Program track: Cell Biology (sixth year)
Undergraduate: University of San Carlos

Kimberly’s general research interests lie in determining gene regulation mechanisms that confer cells with a specific identity and function. She is currently working on further elucidating the principles of 3D genome organization in the nucleus, which is integral to maintaining legitimate cellular transcriptional programs. Her hobbies include reading fiction, being outdoors, playing board games, and playing the piano.


Julia Sproch
Hometown: Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Program track: Microbiology (fourth year)
Undergraduate: La Salle University

Julia is interested in host-pathogen interactions, bacterial pathogenesis, and protein biochemistry. As a prior member of the Vilcek Student Council, Julia enjoys engaging in our community. In her free time, she likes going to indie rock concerts, lifting weights and running, and reading.


Danni Wu
Hometown: Sichuan, China
Program track: Biostatistics (fifth year)
Undergraduate: Central University of Finance and Economics

Danni’s research focuses on Bayesian methods for estimating treatment effects and precision medicine. She has been working on a National Institutes of Health (NIH)–funded project studying the effects of convalescent plasma on patients with COVID-19. The work was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, JAMA Network Open, and Statistics in Medicine. Apart from statistics, she enjoys cooking and jogging, and is a second-level national athlete in orienteering.


Kimberly Zaldana
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Program track: Immunology and Inflammation (third year)
Undergraduate: Emory University

Kimberly’s current research aims to improve protective humoral immunity at mucosal sites by understanding the regulation and maintenance of IgA-producing plasma cells. Her long-term goal is to become an academic professor. Currently, Kimberly serves as the community engagement chair on the Vilcek Student Council and co-president of Raíces. She loves going to museums.


Hanchao Zhang
Hometown: Beijing, China
Program track: Biostatistics (fifth year)
Graduate: Weill Cornell Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Undergraduate: Capital University of Economics and Business

Hanchao currently works with Professor Thaddeus Tarpey, PhD, on developing clustering and regression methods for functional and matrix-valued outcome data. In addition, he served as the chair of the Chinese Student and Scholar Association at NYU Grossman School of Medicine from 2020 to 2021. Apart from his work, he likes swimming and Chinese calligraphy.