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Office of Graduate Education Stanford Biosciences Office of Graduate Education


BioPeers Program

BioPeers (Biosciences Peer Mentors) provide free and private peer-to-peer support for the Biosciences graduate student community. BioPeers are graduate students in their second year or higher who have volunteered to help their peers cope with the feelings of stress, inadequacy, or uncertainty that are often experienced during graduate school. BioPeers are trained to provide nonjudgmental support through listening, informal counseling techniques, and campus and community referrals.

The BioPeers program is intended to supplement and refer, not to replace, professional mental health counseling and support services such as those offered on campus through MHT, CAPS, and The Bridge.

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Program Structure

The BioPeers program is sponsored by the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs and managed by the Office of Graduate Education. Peer Mentors are selected from among the Biosciences departments and home programs and serve for a minimum of one year. All BioPeers mentors report to Kathryn Musumeci, Associate Director for Biosciences Student Life & Wellness with support from Shelly Rasnick, Assistant Dean, Student Affairs, Well-Being and Inclusion.

Meet the BioPeers

Archana Shankar (she/her)

I was raised in India and came to the US for college. I went to Cal State Fullerton where I studied Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. I then came to Stanford as a CIRM Bridges Intern in 2017. After my internship, I worked at UCSD as a research associate before coming back to Stanford to join the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine graduate program.

Transitioning to grad school during COVID would not have been possible without the support of my peers and mentors. I became a BioPeer to be a resource for others who are also navigating graduate school. Feel free to ask me about being an international student, rotations, picking a lab, applying for fellowships, home-sickness, imposter syndrome, life outside lab, and anything else.


 Elysse Grossi-Soyster (they/them or none)

I was raised in the Bay Area, and worked my way up through community college and California State University, East Bay as a pre-med student before I fell in love with viruses. Since completing my MS degree, I’ve worked at NASA Ames Research Center and managed a Pediatrics Infectious Disease lab, studying mosquito-borne viruses all over the world. I joined the Microbiology and Immunology graduate program in 2020.

I took ten years off from school between getting my MS degree and starting my PhD journey, and spent that time working in and running labs. During that time, I was without a formal mentor, and had to learn how to advocate for myself in the workplace. If you need help learning how to set boundaries, I’m your person. I also really love helping others realize their personal and professional goals. I’m very familiar with major life transitions, juggling grad school and personal relationships, defining your communities, sexuality, gender identity, and self-discovery, so don’t be shy to reach out if you want to talk about any of these topics, and more.


Lindsey Mehl (she/her)

I am a fourth year in the cancer biology program! I am from Chicago, Illinois, and did my undergrad at Northwestern University. I then worked at the National Cancer Institute for two years before coming to Stanford.

Please feel free to ask me about literally anything! Grad school is challenging to begin with, and grad school during the pandemic is quite a journey. I’d love to chat about mental health/wellness at Stanford, imposter syndrome, transitioning to grad school, moving cross country, living off campus, commuting to campus, coming to Stanford with a significant other, being mixed race/identity struggles, mentoring/teaching, rotations, choosing a lab, burnout, homesickness, or life in general. I hope to be a resource for anyone going through similar experiences and to learn from those with different experiences/perspectives.


Ronghao Zhou (she/her)

I am a third yearstudent in Genetics, co-mentored by Jesse Engreitz and Tom Rando, and interested in studying the genetic and epigenetic changes as we age. I went to Wellesley College where I majored in Chemistry and Mathematics, and worked in Keith Joung’s lab at MGH on gene editing tool development and off-target detection.

I am looking forward to knowing more about you, and let me know if there is anything we could help.


Sarah Stern (she/her)

I’m a student in the Developmental Biology department and I enjoy spending time outdoors! Although I grew up in Southern California, I’ve only recently tried surfing since moving to the bay area. I’m interested in evolution, development, and cool new model organisms, and I can make a mean pan of boxed brownies.

I hope to be able to support and help you the way that my peers have supported me. Being able to talk about challenges I’m facing has always been useful for me, and I am here to lend a listening ear or voice of support when you need one. Like Olaf, I also enjoy warm hugs. Please reach out anytime!


Rae Brown (they/them)

I am a fourth year in the Biochemistry program, studying centromeres and spending time with frogs in the Straight lab. I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin and did my undergrad at the University of Chicago, then moved away from the snowy midwest to sunny California for my PhD!  

I would love to chat and support you however you need! I’m happy to talk about anything, but I’m especially familiar with exploring sexuality/gender identity, communicating effectively, mental health, moving cross-country, finding community both within and outside of Stanford, imposter syndrome, teaching/mentoring, and grad school challenges in general.


Selina Pi (she/her)

I’m a student in Biomedical Data Science working on math models to quantify and predict the impact of medical decisions. Before starting my PhD, I worked in healthcare consulting for 2.5 years, learning to navigate the hectic lifestyle of New York City and trying to organize social events over Zoom. Outside of research, I enjoy listening to synth and indie music, playing piano and tennis, and writing funny skits. I wanted to be a BioPeer to provide a peer connection and resource for fellow grad students to navigate what can be an isolating experience – PhD students are more than our research and output but sometimes that can be hard to internalize! Happy to talk about fatigue, relationships, anxiety, resources on campus, transitioning from work back to school, time management and dealing with feeling not perfectly productive all the time, or anything that would be helpful to support you.


Shawn Cai (he/him)

I’m a PhD student in Bioengineering co-advised by Lacra Bintu and Jesse Engreitz. I was raised in China and came to the U.S. for college. I have been at Stanford for more than six years now, where I finished my undergraduate studies in Bioengineering and MS in Computer Science. I’m interested in how enhancers, promoters and transcription factors coordinate to regulate transcription.

I’m so excited to meet you, hear your stories, and be there to help you with anything, from picking the best dining halls to adjusting the life at Stanford as an international student. Transitioning to graduate school is challenging, but I hope I can make this process easier for you by chatting about my research, my labs, how to choose a lab, how to manage work-life balance, etc. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me!


Chelsea Nnebe (she/her)

I’m an MD/PhD student in the Neuroscience program from New Jersey and Texas. I went to Howard University for undergrad and majored in Chemistry. I started undergrad thinking I just wanted to be a doctor, but then I fell in love with research. After graduating from Howard, I spent a year in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, and after that, I started the MD/PhD program here at Stanford.

I’m obviously Black so I know a thing or two about experiencing racism on campus. Some other things I can help with include changing labs, mental health management, working through social difficulties, and the ins and outs of disability accommodations. Most importantly, I strive to be both curious and compassionate. As a BioPeer, I hope to be a listening ear, a 3rd party perspective, or a connecting resource to whoever needs it.


Evan Maestri (he/him)

I’m a computational immunology student originally from Syracuse, New York. I studied bioinformatics at The University at Buffalo and worked at the National Cancer Institute on liver cancer imaging and viral exposure screening prior to joining the Immunology program in 2022. Currently, I’m interested in understanding autoimmunity and post-viral chronic conditions using multiomics and foundation models. 

Feel free to ask me about managing invisible illness or navigating academia with complex health conditions/disabilities, housing and academic accommodations, choosing a lab that supports your health/wellness, fellowship applications, transitions, imposter syndrome, and anything else. Looking forward to meeting you!


William Yu (he/him)

Hey – I’m Will! I’m a third year student in the BioE department interested in orthopedic cell and tissue engineering. I grew up in Maryland and did my undergrad at Columbia University, but before coming to Stanford, I spent three years as a Physics instructor at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. I really fell in love with teaching and now I also work as a co-instructor for BIOE296 – Promoting Effective and Equitable Teaching in BioEngineering. Outside of the academics, I enjoy playing violin, volleyball, tennis, squash, and video games! As a lil’ fun fact, I used to be a Twitch streamer back in the day 😀

I’d love to talk with you about anything happening in your life. I’ve definitely had many of my own struggles in mental health and wellness at Stanford, or choosing a lab, imposter syndrome, managing personal relationships, mentoring, teaching, burnout, and much more. I hope I’ll be able to lend you an empathetic ear and listen, or provide any advice if you’d like!


Andrew Burden (he/him)

Originally from New Jersey, I am a second-year graduate student in the Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine Ph.D. program at Stanford. Following my undergraduate studies in molecular biology at UMass Amherst, I spent three years in biotech, specializing in stem cell engineering for cancer therapies. Returning to academia at 26 presented its challenges, but involvement in campus orchestras and student organizations like the Stanford Light Opera Company provided a sense of community.

In addition to my academic pursuits, I am passionate about supporting fellow students. I am happy to talk about transitions to graduate school, long-distance relationships, conflict resolution, and navigating the challenges of finding belonging in graduate school. Remember, graduate school can be tough, but you’re not alone – feel free to reach out anytime!



For more information about BioPeers, contact Kathryn Musumeci ( or request a BioPeer Meeting.