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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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 Shelly Rasnick, Associate Director for Biosciences Student Life & Wellness.
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.
Ruben Land (he/him)
I was born in the UK but have now lived most of my life in the US. In college, I studied stem cell biology. After graduating, I continued research in my thesis lab and helped move it to NYC. I then switched directions and came to Stanford to study neuroscience. Contact me any time to chat. Feel free to ask me about navigating rotations, switching specialties, balancing diverse interests, getting involved in campus events or biosciences community activities, managing failure, or anything else.
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!
Stephanie Kabeche (she/her)
I was born and raised in the USA, but my parents emigrated with my two older sisters from Venezuela. Both of my sisters are Postdoctoral Fellows in bioscience fields, one is staying in academia and the other making the transition to industry, so I guess you could say science runs in the family. I joined BioPeers because graduate school is a journey and sometimes the adventure is easy and other times it’s really hard, but the best way to get through it is to support each other! As they say, ‘It takes a village!’
Ask me about: Being from an underrepresented group in the sciences, rotations, getting involved in biosciences and other campus activities, career paths and Stanford resources, stress/imposter syndrome, personal challenges during grad school, and any other related topics.
For more information about BioPeers, contact Shelly Rasnick (firstname.lastname@example.org) or request a BioPeer Meeting.