Meet the 2020 Howell Scholars!

Meet the 2020 Howell Scholars!

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The ability to keep up with the recipients of our scholarships is always encouraging, even if it is by a video conferencing platform! We recently heard from one of our 2020 Howell Scholars, Aditi Gnanasekar.  She gave a brief introduction on her research efforts in Breast cancer.  

She is currently studying the influence of the inter tumor microbiome in breast cancer progression, and then using RNA sequencing data that she’s able to download from  an online cancer database.  She is  also using the super computer to analyze data and identify specific microbes that could be used as effective targets for prebiotic and probiotic treatments for breast cancer.

I’m a junior at UCSD majoring in bio-engineering. I am a student in Dr. Ongkeko’s cancer and immunology research lab, and I’ve been working in his lab since my freshman year. I’m so, so thankful for the Howell scholarship!  It gives me the opportunity to continue my scientific research, even if it’s miles away from the lab bench.”

After graduating from UCSD, she hopes to attend medical school or graduate school. She definitely wants to pursue her passion for cancer research by hopefully, one day, starting her own lab and mentoring other young women who are interested in STEM and cancer research.

Investing today in tomorrow’s health.

We realize 2020 has been a challenging year for our scholars and would like to recognize the tremendous determination in continuing with their research efforts for the rest of the year. According to the Foundation’s Scholarship Committee Chair, Dr. Mandy Butler, Howell undergraduate scholars from CSUPERB and USCD had either been working in the lab before their respective campus shutdowns, or had collected significant amounts of data prior to the campus shutdown.  Many are still working on on personalized, work-from-home plans with their faculty mentor, presented in virtual lab meetings, and worked with faculty member to prepare abstract(s) to present at conferences and/or meetings or to write manuscripts.  We also recently heard about the research topic of the Howell-Cheryl Wilson award in Nursing.

This year’s topics are very interesting and highlight the relevance of women’s health research:

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Stress and Reproduction
  • Lung Disease due to Chemical Constituents in Airborne Matter
  • Developmental disorders, infertility, and hormone-responsive cancers.
  • Latest in Cardiac Development & Cardiovascular Disease
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Maternal Exposure to Toxicological Data
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • Stress & Metabolic Syndrome Development
  • Next Generation RNA Sequencing
  • Telomerase Inhibitors in Anti-Cancer Therapies
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Vulvovaginal Candidiasis
  • Weight Gain for Obese Women during Pregnancy

For more information on Howell’s Scholarship program, or to make a donation, visit

We congratulate all of our 2020 Howell Scholars!

Kyla Anderson

(CSU, Long Beach)

“HDL Nanodiscs as Platforms for Cellular Delivery of Luteolin, an Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Agent”

Mentor: Vasanthy Narayanaswami

Xiangyi Fang (San Francisco State University)

“Association between Expression of Telomerase and CXCR7/ACKR3 in Breast Cancer Cells”

Mentor: Nicole Velmeshev

Mandeep Kaur (CSU, Fresno)

“Understanding the Biological Mechanisms behind PM2.5 Induced Oxidative Stress”

Mentor: Laurent Dejean

Anita Kelleher (CSU, San Luis Obispo)

“Evaluation of Women & Infants’ Mobile Health Unit”

Mentor: Suzanne Phelan

Jude Khatib (CSU, Long Beach)

“To study the effect of cyclin dependent kinase 5 on survival and migration of HeLa, a cervical cancer cell line”

Mentor: Deepali Bhandari

Lauren McMichael (CSU, San Luis Obispo)

“Assessment of Biomarkers for the Prediction of Gestational Diabetes Occurrence”

Mentor: Michael La Franco

Julian Navarrete (SDSU)

“Assessment of developmental toxicity from embryonic exposures to the emerging contaminant TCPMOH”

Mentor: Kari Sant

Jennifer Nguyen (CSU, Los Angeles)

“Synergistic effects of pyrvinium pamoate and fluconazole against Candida albicans biofilms”

Mentor: Hyunsook Park

Tina Nguyen (San Jose State University)

“Investigating the role of sirtuin 4 in ovarian function”

Mentor: Frank Huynh

Kiran Rao (CSU, Chico)

“Comparative Study of Biomechanosensitive Gene Activity during Embryogenesis of the…”

Mentor: Kristen Gorman

Souvixada Somsacksy (CSU, Fresno)

“Examining Biomarkers in Aggressive Tumor Types of Thyroid Cancer”

Mentor: Jason Bush

Evelyn Tran (SDSU)

“Bacteriophages as therapeutic option for antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli causing sepsis during childbirth”

Mentor: Dwayne Roach

Michelle He

Androgen mediated effects on ovarian morphology in an AMH-induced mouse model of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Mentor: Pam Mellon

Alexandria Tso

The Role of Neuronal Precursor Cell-expressed Developmentally Downregulated 4 (Nedd4) in Cardiac Development

Mentor: Ju Chen

Aditi Gnanasekar

“The Role of Neuronal Precursor Cell-expressed Developmentally Downregulated 4 (Nedd4) in Cardiac Development”

Mentor: Weg Ongkeko

Kirollos Tadrousse

The Role of the Urocortin-CRHR2 Pathway in Kiss1 neurons in Stress Induced Suppression of Reproduction

Mentor Kellie Breen

Edna Esquer

“The Relationship of Metabolic Syndrome and Health Behaviors among Hispanic Women”

Mentor: Dr. Mary Barger

Rebecca Mattson

“Online Nutritional Counseling on Gestational Weight Gain for Obese Pregnant Women“

Mentor: Dr. Mary Barger


About the Howell Foundation:

The Howell Foundation advances women’s health by funding undergraduate and graduate research scholarshipsawarding grants to scientists who conduct research benefiting under represented women in the community, and supporting outreach efforts and events that promote health education and self-advocacy for the long-term health and well-being of women, their families and the community in which they live.

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