Meet Our Team: Celebrating Undergraduate Research

Welcome to our dedicated page, where we showcase the bright, ambitious undergraduate research students and student assistants who have contributed to the vibrant research environment in our lab. Our team members, past and present, have played a pivotal role in pushing the boundaries of our scientific endeavors.

Lab Members

Here, you’ll find profiles of our current and former team members. These driven individuals balance their academic pursuits with hands-on research, contributing fresh perspectives and innovative ideas.

Kurukulasuriya Fernando
Undergraduate Research Student

Academic Year 2023-2024

Laura McClinton
Undergraduate Research Student
FSW Science Lab Technician II
Academic Year 2023-2024

Brandon Bartocci
Work Study Student
Academic Year 2017-2018

Christine Darbouze
Work Study Student
Academic Year 2017-2018

Raja Al-Bahou
Work Study Student
Academic Year 2017-2018

Undergraduate students not pictured:

Roger Al-Bahou (Academic Term 2018)
Lucia Felipe (Academic Year 2018)
Breanna Fray (Academic Year 2017-2018)
Nyla Reyna (Academic Year 2017-2018)
Azariha Harper (Academic Year 2017)
Stephanie Rangel (Academic Year 2016)

Prospective Lab Members

Programs of Study

If you’re a student interested in biology and have a passion for research, Florida SouthWestern State College’s School of Pure and Applied Sciences has specialized programs for you.

Code of Conduct

By joining our lab, you are pledging to show respect to scientists of all ages, genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, disability statuses, racial and ethnic backgrounds, religions, nationalities, and socio-economic backgrounds. All lab members adhere to this principle of inclusivity and actively oppose any form of discrimination or harassment.

Scientific Integrity

You are committing to upholding the scientific integrity of research conducted in the Zirzow Lab. This entails maintaining transparency in data collection, a dedication to sharing data openly and producing original work. Never manipulate, selectively exclude/expand data to achieve expected outcomes, as it constitutes falsification. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse. Always cite external text or content properly in your writing, even if it’s your own work.

Lab Notebook and Data Management

Your lab notebook belongs to the college and everything should be stored online in Google Docs. If you also have additional scratch notes, please take a picture and/or upload critical calculations to your online notebook. Please ensure your files are updated by the end of every week, if not sooner.

Mentoring Philosophy

My primary role is to facilitate your progress towards your research goals. I’ll present you with challenges while offering my full support. Together, we will craft a mentoring plan that outlines your goals, complete with milestones and a strategic approach, which will be reviewed regularly. As you follow through with the plan, I will provide advice and assist you in building your professional network.

If you are interested in working with us in the Zirzow Lab, please fill out the form by clicking the “Complete Form” button below. Please note that positions are not always available and are subject to variability. For more information on scholarship and fellowship opportunities, see Additional Info & Resources below.

Undergraduate students interested in working in the Zirzow Lab must complete this information form.

Additional Info & Resources

How do I prepare for a meeting with my prospective mentor?
  • Ensure you can concisely summarize your recent activities, present your current results clearly and succinctly, and outline your proposed plan for the upcoming steps. that
  • To gain further insights, consider reading “What to Bring to a Meeting with Your Advisor,” a resource that can prove valuable throughout your career.

What is your recommended software?
  • Image Processing: Fiji and ImageJ
  • Statistical Analysis: R
  • SSH client: Terminal (Mac) or PuTTY (PC)
  • Graphics Editing: Adobe Suite (FSW site license)
  • Reference Manager: Zotero
  • Text Editor: BBEdit (Textwrangler)
  • 3D Model Processing: MeshLab
Are there undergraduate funding opportunities?

Yes! FSW offers various undergraduate funding opportunities to support students in their academic pursuits. These opportunities include scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and financial aid packages. To get detailed and up-to-date information on undergraduate funding opportunities at FSW, visit the FSW website or contact the college’s financial aid office directly. They can provide information on available scholarships, eligibility criteria, application procedures, and deadlines. Additionally, they can assist you in exploring financial aid options to help make your education at FSW more affordable.

What is an undergraduate science research grant?

An undergraduate science research grant is a financial award provided to undergraduate students pursuing scientific research projects. It aims to support and encourage students in their scientific endeavors by providing funding for research-related expenses.

Who is eligible to apply for an undergraduate science research grant?

Eligibility criteria may vary depending on the specific grant program, but typically, applicants must be enrolled as undergraduate students in a science-related field at an accredited institution. Some grants may have additional requirements, such as a minimum GPA or research proposal submission.

Are undergraduate science research grants competitive?

Yes, these grants can be competitive because many students are eager to secure funding for their research. To increase your chances of success, it’s essential to craft a well-prepared research proposal that clearly articulates your project’s significance and feasibility.

What are the potential benefits of receiving an undergraduate science research grant?

Receiving a research grant can offer several benefits, including the opportunity to gain hands-on research experience, work closely with faculty mentors, enhance your resume or CV, and contribute to the scientific community by advancing knowledge in your field. Additionally, it can provide financial support for your research-related expenses.

Where can I get assistance or guidance with my undergraduate science research grant application?

Seek guidance from faculty mentors, research advisors, or your university’s research support services. They can help you refine your research proposal, navigate the application process, and provide valuable insights based on their experience. For more tips, see “Crafting a Winning Grant Application: Expert Tips for Success.”


Rosenwald, A. G., Arora, G., Ferrandino, R., Gerace, E. L., Mohammednetej, M., Nosair, W., Rattila, S., Subic, A. Z., & Rolfes, R. (2016). Identification of Genes in Candida glabrata Conferring Altered Responses to Caspofungin, a Cell Wall Synthesis Inhibitor. G3 (Bethesda, Md.)6(9), 2893–2907.

Hanover, John & Bondy, Carolyn & Cheng, Clara & Bakalov, Vladimir & Zirzow, Amanda & Olivier-Van Stichelen, Stéphanie & Love, Dona. (2013). OGT is an X-linked imprinted gene linked to Cardiovascular Disease Susceptibility. 1388-1389.

J.M. Estep, Z. Goodman, A. Zirzow, A. Afendy, H. Elariny, A. Baranova, Z.M. Younossi,
Journal of Hepatology, Volume 56, Supplement 2, 2012, Page S501, ISSN 0168-8278, (

Zirzow, A.C. et al. (2010). Nanoscale “DNA Baskets” for the Delivery of siRNA. In: Herold, K.E., Vossoughi, J., Bentley, W.E. (eds) 26th Southern Biomedical Engineering Conference SBEC 2010, April 30 – May 2, 2010, College Park, Maryland, USA. IFMBE Proceedings, vol 32. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Estep, Michael & Stepanova, Maria & Zirzow, Amanda & Hossain, Noreen & Elarainy, Hazem & Baraki, Yaqub & Moazzez, Amir & Goodman, Zachary & Chandhoke, Vikas & Baranova, Ancha & Younossi, Zobair. (2010). Baseline Serum Obestatin Correlates with Rate of Weight Loss after Bariatric Surgery. S37-S38.