Meet the Executive Board

Our organization is divided into committees which specialize in each of our initiatives and are run by the Executive Board.

Learn more about our committee leaders below!

Executive Director

Valerie Prytkova

My name is Valerie Prytkova, and I am SO excited that you are visiting our page! Welcome!!! A little bit about me: I’m a Russian, spunky, science-loving, physician-aspiring Gator. A fourth-year biology major and USP scholar, I conduct research in the Department of Entomology, focusing on strengthening the use of biological pesticides by analyzing biochemical pathways in the Caribbean fruit fly. My research is exciting because dissecting tiny brains helps me fine-tune my precision skills, my graduate student and PI are some of the most brilliant and inspiring people I know, and my thesis can actually fly away!

Although you won’t find a lab as cool as mine, I’d love to help you find one that is close. Participating in research has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my undergraduate career, and joining CURBS has been THE most rewarding one. As the executive director, I can’t wait to spread and diversify research on campus. If you have any questions about research, CURBS, or which library on campus is superior, I’ll provide you with a compelling argument and a fulfilling conversation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you want to collaborate or chat: vprytkova@ufl.edu.

Rylea Trudeau

Director of Membership

Hello! I am so excited to be serving my second year as the Director of Membership for CURBS. I am a fourth-year biology major on the pre-med track. When I came to UF, I knew that I wanted to get involved with research right away–I was lucky enough to land a research position in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, where our research focuses on identifying psychological impacts on the disease state and management of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. 

Alice Cheng

Secretary

Hi! I am the Secretary for CURBS this year. I am a third-year Microbiology and Cell Sciences major with minors in Chinese studies and Health Disparities in Society. CURBS has been an enlightening experience for me because I have been able to educate myself and others on all the different facets that research has to offer. I have also made so many friends in this organization who have similar passions about research. I was previously on the Campus Outreach Committee where I was able to tell other undergraduate students about research through tabling and classroom presentations. I currently do research in the McKnight Brain Institute, where we focus on glioblastoma (the most common adult brain tumor) and the cilia’s role for the tumor as well as how the cilia respond to different tumor treatments. 

Sonile Peck

Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Hello! I am a third-year Biology and Medical Sciences major with a minor in Health Disparities in Society, and I am a member of the Medical Honors Program, class of 2025. As the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, I work to increase awareness of undergraduate research in groups that have been identified as being underrepresented in research. I previously served on the University Liaison Council, where I developed targeted initiatives to help students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences find research opportunities. Currently, I conduct research in the Cancer and Genetics Research Complex on the genetic effects that war trauma can have on the direct descendants of mothers who went through the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Brendan Wernisch

Director of Multimedia

Hello! I’m a second-year undergraduate and University Research Scholar majoring in chemical engineering, minoring and researching in materials science. This is my first year on the Executive Board and my second year in CURBS. I’ve spent the last semester researching a novel manufacturing technique for dental implants with the best team, the Nanotechnology in Manufacturing Group, under Dr. Bahar Basim in the Particle Engineering and Research Center here at UF. Following the closure of campus, I learned how to build a website for our lab group, and that’s how I ended up working on this site as CURBS’ Director of Multimedia! My passion for research is only rivaled by how much I love student outreach and showcasing the wonderful breadth of research and research opportunities at UF, and I thank you for checking out our resources! 

Want to join our team?

Apply to Exec!

Members have at least one year of experience as a CUR Ambassador before applying to the Executive Board. 

Applications open in March each year.

Sarah Murphy

Director of Public Relations

Hello! I am a third-year Microbiology and Cell Science major with a minor in health disparities. I hope to attend medical school after graduating from UF and pursue a career as a physician. I am currently involved in research focusing on Adeno-associated virus as a therapeutic vector for neurodegenerative disease in Dr. Todd E. Golde’s laboratory. Biomedical research has always been one of my interests, but being able to experience what it’s like to work hands-on in a lab has been such an important undergraduate experience. I am extremely passionate about research and hope to encourage involvement from a variety of undergraduate majors and demographics. As the CURBS Director of Public Relations, I am excited to share my passion with the UF undergraduate community.

Michelle Hsia

Director of Internal Affairs

Hi! My name is Michelle Hsia, and I am a fourth-year Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience and nutritional sciences dual major. In the past, I have done research in the McKnight Brain Institute on the developmental outcomes of children whose mothers suffer from addiction. This project helped me to further develop my interests in substance abuse. Currently, I am involved in a project in the College of Public Health and Health Professions where I am analyzing the relationship between gender, depression, and e-cigarette abuse in college-aged students. Serving as Director of Internal Affairs has allowed me to expand my love of research. I am responsible for coordinating student-centered promotional events through avenues such as tabling, Preview presentations, and school-wide seminar events. I love bringing attention to the work CUR and CURBS do. My interests outside of research include running, traveling, and increasing access to health resources for the underserved. 

Matthew Davis

Director of External Affairs

I am a fourth-year biology major with a specialization in biotechnology and a minor in entomology. I am currently involved in research at the University of Florida’s Blueberry Breeding and Genomics Lab. My research interests range from utilizing CRISPR to help develop a genetic transformation protocol for blueberry to altering the ploidy in various plants and determining the resulting effects. In the future I plan on pursuing a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology.

Allison Blankenship

Director of Workshops

Hi, I’m Allison Blankenship and I am one of the Directors of Workshops for the 2020-2021 school year. I am a senior majoring in biology with a specialization in biotechnology, and I am minoring in bioinformatics and religion. I do research through the Florida Museum of Natural History, focusing on furthering our knowledge of the biogeographical history and evolutionary understanding of Castela (Simaroubaceae).

Abdullah Afridi

Director of Workshops

Hi! I’m an aspiring MD-PhD student in my second year majoring in biotechnology. My current research is in the Biomedical Engineering department and centers on biomaterials for nerve regeneration. In my free time, I love to play badminton and do yoga!

Aanchal Shah

Director of Peer Advising

Hi! I am a fourth-year psychology major on the pre-medical track with a certificate in Dance in Medicine. I have been researching under the Center for Arts in Medicine since freshman year. I am honored to be an Emerging Scholars recipient as well as a University Scholars Recipient. I am currently researching the novel clinical collaboration between speech pathologists and musicians in residence in relation to patients suffering from Broca’s Aphasia at the Shands Rehab Hospital. I am passionate about helping students find research opportunities that they love and am serving as one of the directors of advising this year.

Drake Rose

Director of Peer Advising

Hey! I am a third year microbiology major on the pre-med track. CURBS has been one of the most significant experiences I have had at UF, because I am able to develop connections with both people within the organization and with students who are wanting to begin their involvement in research. I worked in a plant molecular biology research lab with the USDA for two years studying the chemical defense in maize, and now I work at UF HealthStreet—a community engagement program with the mission of expanding accessibility to clinical research for underserved populations. In my free time, I love to go to concerts and listen to music!

Lauren Goldstein

Director of Educational Outreach
Hi! My name is Lauren Goldstein and I am so excited to serve as one of the Directors of Educational Outreach this year. This role allows me to pursue my passions in science communication and community involvement.
I am a fourth year biology major, pursuing two minors in both entomology and agricultural communication. I am currently funded by NSF on an REU assistantship in the entomology department, where I have been conducting research on the behavioral ecology of jumping spiders and mantispids. This year, I will also serve as an intern at UF’s Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory.

Following graduation, I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in entomology, and I am interested in studying pollinator health and native bee conservation.

Lauren Sevilla

Director of Educational Outreach

I am a fourth-year Microbiology and Cell Science major minoring in leadership. My research interests include epigenetic regulation, cell therapy, and stem cell transplantation and I currently serve as one of the Directors of Educational Outreach.

Anjali Patel

Director of Special Projects

Hi! I am a third-year Microbiology and Cell Science major pursuing a minor in health disparities on the pre-medical track. I have conducted research concerning the use of neuroimaging methods in the projection of brain waves and stimuli. I have also conducted research in the Cardiology department in the College of Medicine detailing why certain heart attack patients have different symptoms than others and creating a device that helps identify them. As part of the University Research Scholars Program (URSP), I am able to use research in many different avenues in my life. I am serving as the Special Projects director this year and am passionate in organizing research events such as the Spring Symposium and the Florida Undergraduate Research Leadership Summit (FURLS)!

Marissa Nash

Director of Special Projects

Hi! I’m Marissa Nash, and I am excited to be serving as one of the Directors of Special Projects for CURBS this year. I am a 4th-year Microbiology and Cell Science major with a minor in public health. Ultimately, I hope to work in clinical academic medicine. I am a University Scholar in the Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics. My lab investigates the use of epidural electrical stimulation as an intervention for spinal cord injury. 

Valentina Lavieri-Sosa

Director of the University Liaison Council

I am a fourth-year nutritional sciences major on the pre-dental track. This will be my fourth year being a part of CURBS, and I am currently one of the directors for the University Liaison Council. I have worked with the McKnight Brain Institute on a longitudinal study looking at the various mechanisms involved with aging. Being a part of this organization has opened my eyes to the wondrous world of research, and I hope we can do the same for you!

Ally Franklin

Director of the University Liaison Council

Hi! I am so excited to be one of the directors for the University Liaison Council this year. I’m a fourth-year Applied Physiology and Kinesiology major on the pre-med track. I’m currently involved in research within HHP’s Integrative Cardiovascular Physiology lab under Dr. Demetra Christou, and I have previous research experience within the McKnight Brain Institute under Dr. Lucia Notterpek. Being a part of CURBS has been such an exciting and rewarding experience and I hope to pass that passion on to our future ambassadors!

As a member of CURBS, I developed leadership and communication skills that I use in my career today. CURBS is no guarantee for success, but it offers the tools to achieve meaningful growth and thoughtful scholarship.

CURBS Alum