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Student Organization Center at Hilles

Box #374

59 Shepard Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

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© 2017 Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association

About Us


The Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association (HCURA) was founded in 2007 with the mission of building an interdisciplinary research community among undergraduate students, and promoting undergraduate research. 

Our goal to increase the scope and visibility of Harvard undergraduate research is the focus of our many on-campus initiatives, including the Peer Advising Program, where upperclassmen introduce freshmen to undergraduate research at Harvard (160+ advisers and advisees); the Visitas Undergraduate Research Symposium, which showcases Harvard undergraduate research to prefrosh (150 attendees); and new projects such as The Labs Database, a resource for undergraduates looking for research opportunities that catalogues over 100 Harvard labs, and Brevia, a publication for short research articles that presents a nontechnical treatment of cutting-edge research. 

Every January, we host the National Collegiate Research Conference (NCRC) at Harvard as a continuation of our vision to provide the best platform for undergraduates from across the nation to share their research. NCRC features distinguished speakers, panelists, and student presenters. Student participants have the opportunity to present their research through poster and plenary sessions.

Our goal is to enrich the research experience of undergraduates by providing an opportunity to connect these motivated researchers with one another. 

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Our People

Leon Yang, Co-President

Leon is a junior in Mather studying Applied Mathematics/Economics with a secondary in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Besides his work with HCURA, Leon is a member of the Harvard Financial Analysts Club, the Harvard College Consulting Group, and the Phillips Brooks House Association. In his free time, Leon enjoys hanging out with friends, running, reading, and cooking/eating food.


Anne Lheem, Vice President

Anne is a junior studying Social Anthropology and Global Health & Health Policy. She is interested in topics of global mental health and health equity, her research particularly focusing on understanding eating disorders through the lens of culture, social norms, and historical influences, in addition to the biomedical perspective. Anne has previously worked on projects related to research capacity building in LMICs and hopes to find ways to meaningfully apply her background in epidemiology and anthropology to advocate for social change. Beyond HCURA, Anne is involved in the Global Mental Health Open Day Committee, Partners in Health Engage, peer counseling, and the Modern Dance Company. In her free time, she loves hanging out with friends, going on runs by the Charles, and trying out new salad combinations!

Gaby Pelayo, Co-President

Gaby is a junior concentrating in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology with a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. Originally from Palo Alto, California, Gaby is particularly interested in stem cell biology and currently conducts research on type I diabetes as a member of the Melton Laboratory. She hopes to continue her passion for medicine and research by attaining a dual MD-PhD degree. In addition to HCURA, she is the President of TEDxHarvardCollege and Treasurer of the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children. In her free time, Gaby enjoys hiking, playing volleyball, and spending time with family and friends.

Sophia Tang, Chief of Internal Relations

Sophia Tang is a junior in Mather House studying Molecular and Cellular Biology. A Boston native, Sophia is interested in the subject of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. Outside of HCURA, Sophia is a volunteer with the Phillips Brooks House Association and co-captain of the Asian-American Dance Troupe (AADT). In her free time she enjoys portrait photography and exploring new cafés. 

Katrina Hon, Diversity Liaison 

Katrina is originally from Middlebury, Connecticut, and is a sophomore studying Neuroscience. She has done research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medial Center on sensory gating, and has spent the past summer studying brain asymmetry at Boston Children's Hospital. Outside of HCURA, Katrina is on the board of Harvard VISION and Harvard Red Cross. In her free time, she likes to be outdoors, listen to music, and hang out with friends. 

Jonathan Garzon, Co-Director of Programming

Jonathan is a junior concentrating in Neuroscience on the Mind, Brain & Behavior track with a secondary in Chemistry. Originally from Hillside, New Jersey, Jonathan is particularly interested in the neurobiology of the retina and hopes to obtain an MD degree. In addition to HCURA, Jonathan volunteers with Alzheimer’s Buddies, is the Director if Staff Development for the Harvard Crimson Business Board, and is the president of Latinos in Health Careers. In his free time, Jonathan likes to exercise, play soccer, and improve in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Alyssa Klee, Co-Director of Programming

Alyssa Klee is a sophomore in Eliot House studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and pursuing a citation in Spanish. Hailing from suburban New York, Alyssa has found her passion here in Boston researching new pathways in cancer immunotherapy at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She hopes to one day pursue an MD/PhD in a dual degree program in order to become a physician scientist in tumor immunology. Outside of HCURA, Alyssa is an associate editor for The Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal (THURJ), and a member of the Harvard University Interdisciplinary Immunology Club (HUIIC). In her free time she enjoys eating brunch, watching netflix, and playing volleyball. 

Sreekar Mantena, Co-Director of Programming

Sreekar is a sophomore in Mather house.

Emily Lopez, Co-Director of Operations

Emily is a junior concentrating in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a secondary in Folklore and Mythology. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Emily is interested in studying genetic diseases as well as cancer biology. Outside of HCURA, Emily is the director of Crimson Traditions on the College Events Board, an undergraduate researcher studying the casual SNP of type II diabetes at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and an involved worker at the Winthrop Grille. In her free time, she loves to run, play IM volleyball for Eliot house, crochet, and eat food with friends.

Alisha Yi, Co-Director of Operations

Alisha Yi is a sophomore.

Kemi Ashing-Gawa, Director of Campus Projects

Kemi is a sophomore concentrating in Integrative Biology with a secondary in Astrophysics. Originally from California, she hopes to pursue a career studying astrobiology. Beyond HCURA, she serves on the executive board of the Harvard Undergraduate Science Olympiad, conducts research on the developmental basis of evolutionary change, and writes for Brevia. In her free time, Kemi enjoys reading, writing, hanging out with friends, and geeking out about space. 

Nasser Marrakchi, Co-Director of Campus Projects 

Nasser is a sophomore in Elliot House

Jay Chandra, Director of Publicity, Technology, and Outreach

Jay is a sophomore in Mather House concentrating in Computer Science and Neuroscience. He is currently conducting research on biologically inspired neural networks. On campus, Jay is involved in the Institute of Politics (STEM Policy), ExperiMentors , THURJ (The Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal), and Harvard GAMI (Global Alliance for Medical Innovation). Jay also loves hiking and playing sports like basketball, soccer, tennis, and table tennis.

Spencer Hurt, Co-Director of Finance

Spencer is a sophomore studying astrophysics. Originally from Colorado, he is currently involved in exoplanet research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Outside of HCURA and research, Spencer works as a course assistant for the math department, is involved in the Institute of Politics, is a First-Year Outdoor Program (FOP) leader, and is involved in several other things on campus. He enjoys to spend his spare time enjoying the outdoors or exploring the city.

Marissa Sumathipala, Co-Director of Finance

Marissa is a sophomore studying Molecular and Cellular Biology with a secondary in Computer Science. She has previously conducted both wet-lab and computational biology research and combines both in her current research on large scale sequencing of cellular vesicles. Outside of HCURA, Marissa is a board member of the Harvard Figure Skating Club, a member of the Harvard i-Lab Venture Incubation Program, and a writer for the Harvard Crimson's blog Flyby. In her free time, Marissa loves spending time outdoors, baking, and reading.

Ben Senzer, Editor-in-Chief of Brevia

Ben is a junior in Mather House studying chemistry with a secondary in psychology. He is currently conducting research at the Liau Lab, investigating the structure-activity relationships of enzymes upregulated in leukemia. In his free time, Ben likes to play the double bass, write, and spend time with friends.