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Jess R

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Vanderbilt University


Biology, immunology, cancer biology, cancer immunology, molecular biology, cell biology, Cancer Biology, Liver Tumors


I am a recent PhD graduate with extensive experience in cancer immunology. Throughout my studies, I developed a passion for mentoring and teaching students by finding how they learn and delighting in the spark when students connect concepts. I have mentored over ten students at all levels, including high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students. Outside of science, I love playing my saxophone! I also highly enjoy game night with friends and playing with my sweet little cat, Michelle. A cool fact about me is that I have climbed the Great Wall of China!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

How do cancer mutations affect patient response to immunotherapies?

A student would look into the effects of how different mutations in a cancer type (ie breast cancer or liver cancer) affects patient response to immunotherapy. Students would learn to read and summarize scientific literature, skills that will contribute to their future work and studies. As a final product, students could produce a scientific research paper or summary figure, or both!

Teaching experience

As an undergraduate, I assisted with course labs and tutored both STEM and non-STEM majors in biology. As a graduate student, I mentored several undergraduates and graduate students in the lab as well as a high school student, who performed experiments and wrote a research article under my guidance.


Work experience

Vanderbilt University (2017 - 2023)
Graduate Researcher
TSC Alliance (2021 - 2022)
Digital Communications Associate
Augustana University (2015 - 2017)
Undergraduate Researcher
Augustana University (2014 - 2017)
Biology Teaching Assistant and Tutor


Augustana College (SD)
BA Bachelor of Arts (2017)
Biology, Cell and Molecular Biology
Vanderbilt University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Cancer Immunology, Cancer Biology

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