Student Leadership

The Dean’s Scholars Student Association (or DS Council) is an entity of volunteer DSers who plan all of our events, including Friday Lunches, game nights, dinners, weekend trips, and our Distinguished Lecture Series. We focus on preparing our motivated students for successful careers by providing enriching intellectual opportunities and fostering a strong sense of community between members, research faculty, and a vast network of alumni dating back to 1983. Anyone and everyone in DS can join and help out!







Adar Ambar



Hey! I’m Adar Ambar, a fourth-year chemistry major with a focus in electrochemistry/material chemistry from Calabasas, CA. I’m currently working in Aubrey Lab where I research new components for magnesium-based batteries, including synthesis of new electrolytes and electrode materials. I’m a big fan of cooking, writing music on my guitar, and playing video games. You can probably recognize me from being the loudest person in a room for no good reason.


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Hi! My name is Alia and I'm a third-year biology major from Austin. In my free time I love to play the guitar, work on jigsaw puzzles, and binge comedies. After I graduate I plan to go to graduate school so I can pursue a career in genetic research, and currently, I work in the Sarinay Cenik Lab. On council, I've been involved in planning social events such as trips, dinners, and other fun events. Feel free to reach out with any questions!



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Hi! I’m Sahana Datta, a 3rd year neuroscience major from San Antonio, Texas. I’m currently working in the Harris lab, where I’m working on 3D visualizing dendrites of hippocampus neurons. In my free time, I love to explore Austin and try new coffee shops, hike, and read. I’m so excited for the next year of DS Council!





Hey! I'm Bidisha, a third-year neuroscience major from the Houston area (specifically Pearland). My research interests lie in sensory systems, and in my free time, I sing with my ukulele, read, and play video games. On council, I've mostly been involved with planning social events. I'm happy to answer any questions or just talk about anything!



Hi!  I’m Stephanie Kim, a 4th-year Biochemistry major from College Station, Texas.  I am also pursuing pre-medical and forensic science certificate track at UT Austin.  I am currently working in Torii lab, where we focus on stomata development of arabidopsis in response to environmental influences.  I am also interested in psychology, philosophy and astronomy, so I am looking forward to taking related courses in following years.  In my free time, I love to explore new restaurants and dessert places and I also cook and bake a lot.  As a council member, I am mostly involved in arranging social events.  Feel free to talk to me if you want any academic advice, or even emotional support!


Hello! My name is Susanna Kim, and I am a 4th-year biochemistry major from Austin, Texas (hook ‘em)! I am on a pre-dental track and I currently work as a dental assistant in a clinic. I’d love to talk to you if you are finding a dentist or pursuing a pre-dental path! I am also currently in the Supra Sensors FRI lab and a summer fellow for the program. I am researching tannin compositions in seaweed that could be used as an animal feed to decrease the methane production of the ruminants. I have a lot of hobbies: sketching, doing (but being very bad at) card tricks, photography, and solving puzzles. I would describe myself as easygoing and chill, so if you have any questions or random conversations, feel free to talk to me!

Carrie Liang



Hey everyone! I'm Carrie, a third-year mathematics major from Plano, TX. Outside of school, I enjoy going on walks and hikes, playing the piano if I can find one, and watching Chinese TV shows. On DS Council, I've been involved in editing the newsletter, helping prepare various events, and photographing our DSers at those events! I'm always happy to help or point you in the right direction if you need anything! 



Hey everyone! I’m Shashwat, a 4th-year Neuroscience major from Irving, Texas. I am really interested in anything related to biochemistry, and that has led me to pursuing work in the Taylor lab. I am currently investigating the gene editing mechanism, CRISPR-Cas, by optimizing enzyme kinetics and producing cryo-EM structures. In my free time, I love to swim, watch new Hindi movies, go bouldering, and play video games. As council member, I am usually in charge of many of the academic/research events and aid in planning for some social events!


Hi friends! I’m Sandy, fourth-year biology major from Cypress, Texas. I’m poking around in synthetic biology research, which currently entails engineering polymerases in the Ellington lab and caffeine-addicted E. coli in the Microbe Hackers FRI stream. In my nonexistent spare time, I enjoy playing the clarinet, hugging furry animals, baking, and wandering around green spaces.

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Maryam Paykar, a second-year Biochemistry major, has a deep fascination for the dynamic intersection of medicine and research. Maryam’s unwavering commitment to medicine and research stems from her childhood. She always had a responsibility of taking care of her siblings in the face of adversity due to the hardships she and her family endured and it was these experiences that allowed her to truly identify her “why” in wanting to serve her community. The DS community serves as a platform for Maryam to channel her dedication to education, service, and impact, fostering a sense of purpose that extends far beyond the confines of the academic realm. She is eager to leverage her educational foundation and passion for research to make meaningful contributions in the world of medicine and positively impact healthcare outcomes.


Hello there! My name Nikhil and I am a senior biochemistry major on the premed track and am also pursuing a business minor. I am currently part of the Functional Genomics FRI lab where we  focus on analyzing the phenotypic effects of human histone genes in yeast. My hobbies include drawing, reading manga/watching anime, playing basketball, and a myriad of random hobbies I phase in and out of. I am from Houston, specifically the actual Houston part of Houston. I am always up to help out with anything so feel free to let me know, including the most random idea you might want to do something with.

Iris Schmeder Photo



Hi! I’m Iris Schmeder, a second-year biology major from Southlake, Texas. I’m currently working in the Zamudio Lab to explore herpetofauna biodiversity and ecology. In my free time, I love to get outside, try new coffee shops, and cook with friends!



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Hi! I’m Veronica Sirota, a second-year Biochemistry major from Houston, Texas! My interests lie at the intersection between medicine and research, and I hope to become a physician-scientist one day. I am a student at the Gene Networks FRI lab under the guidance of Dr. MacKrell, where I have been awarded a summer fellowship to continue with my project that focuses on studying mutations associated with the proteins of the spliceosome. I am also joining the Lambowitz lab, where I will be working to identify potential biomarkers for human diseases using biochemical and bioinformatic methods. On DS council, I have been planning many of our fun traditions and writing the weekly newsletters. In my free time, I love to swim, go out with friends, and enjoy a good book or movie with a cup of hot tea.

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Rishi is a second-year neuroscience major interested in the science behind sleep and mental health. He loves the DS community and enjoys getting involved with the honors program's activities through the DS Council. In his free time, Rishi enjoys reading and skateboarding.



Meghna Vergis Photo



Hi! I’m a third-year biology major interested in using microorganisms to help humans (and the environment!). I currently research in the Microbe Hackers FRI stream and the Barrick lab. My favorite things to do in my free time are listening to music, cooking new dishes, and window shopping at thrift stores and bookshops.