School of
Integrative Biology

IB Peer Leaders

IB Peer Leaders are IB upperclassmen who stand out in our field of study. We are here to help guide first year students through the transition from high school to college and create a social network of IB students. IB Peer Leaders do a few different things within the School of Integrative Biology:
  • We serve as a think tank and provide feedback to the School on various topics that concern IB students.
  • We provide Prospective and Admitted students our insight and experience on being a University of Illinois Biology student through Office of Admissions Events
  • We assist underclassmen in the transition to Illinois as a mentor to first year students.

We are outstanding students who know how to succeed and get involved on campus, so please reach out by emailing if you have questions for us, or be paired with an IB Peer Leader by filling out the Mentee Interest Form.

If peer leading sounds like something you would like to get involved with, please email Jessica Fink and apply using the IB Peer Leader Application.

Meet the IB Peer Leaders

Sophia in overalls and braids on porch with blue sky

Sophia Arostegui

Hello! I'm Sophia, and I am currently a junior majoring in Integrative Biology with a minor in Spanish. When I first came to UIUC I was undecided, but quickly fell in love with biology after my first courses as a first-semester freshman. I've always been passionate about genetics and would like to use my degree to help with conservation efforts to help protect our natural ecosystems. Since becoming a student enrolled with the School of Integrative Biology I have worked as an IB Peer Advisor to help incoming freshmen and now currently as a member of the IB laboratory prep staff. In addition, I have been an active member of the Illinois Leadership Center on campus as one of their cohort leads for new members enrolled in their leadership certificate program after just receiving the certificate myself. As for my interests, they include learning new languages, practicing makeup, getting coffee with friends, and playing with my pet geckos (all 6 of them!). Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, I know being a freshman can be overwhelming at times, so I am happy to help!

Malika with glasses and orange t-shirt in the Quad

Malika Basu

Hello everyone! My name is Malika Basu and I am a current junior. I am double majoring in Integrative Biology Honors and Chemistry, and I am getting a minor in Informatics. I am an international student from Kolkata, India. After graduation, I plan to go to graduate school and ultimately pursue a career in research. I began getting involved with research in my freshman year when I volunteered in an Ecology lab and helped create a census of all the trees in a local forest. I changed labs in my sophomore year and started working in the Sokac lab, cell and developmental biology lab. I participated in a project where we tried to see if glyoxal fixation could be used as an alternative to formaldehyde fixation in Drosophila melanogaster embryos. On-campus, I work as a tutor in the Office of Minority Student Affairs, am involved with the GLOBE program as a blue member, am involved with Beta Psi Omega, a professional biology fraternity, and am a member of Phi Eta Sigma, an honors society. I use all of my on-campus involvements as an opportunity to make new friends and learn things that can only be learned outside a classroom setting. In my free time, I enjoy reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching films. Please feel free to contact me about getting involved with undergraduate research, learning more about the Integrative Biology Honors program, adjusting to life at UIUC, life as an international student, getting involved on campus, and balancing your commitments in college. I look forward to hearing from you!

Meghan at Foellinger with Quad and Union in background

Meghan Blaszynski

Hello! I’m Meghan Blaszynski, a junior in Integrative Biology with a minor in Earth, Society, and the Environment. Following my graduation, I hope to earn a master’s degree in Marine Biology, followed by a career researching coral reefs. I aspire to study the impacts of climate change on the reef ecosystem and researching solutions to protect the reefs! Since coming to the University of Illinois, I have held leadership positions in my RSOs, participated in undergraduate research, played intramural sports, and held two jobs through SIB. Additionally, I have received academic scholarships and had intended to study abroad in Belize over Spring Break of 2020 to partake in coral reef research, which was unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic. I would gladly help with anything pertaining to various opportunities here at the University, whether it be choosing classes, study tips/how to best approach IB classes, or how to apply for things such as undergraduate research or study abroad. Navigating college can be tricky, and I personally have learned a lot talking with my peers. I would love to pass along my knowledge to help everyone make the most out of their time here at the University of Illinois!

Kelli in a plaid dress shaded by flowering trees

Kelli Cigelnik

Hi everyone! My name is Kelli Cigelnik and I am currently a Senior in IB with a double major in Political Science and a minor in Earth Sciences. I am currently on the pre-law track to become an environmental lawyer, but I don't plan to attend law school right after graduation. I am involved in many activities on campus such as being a member of Phi Sigma Pi, a National Honors Fraternity, Students for Environmental Concern, a Lab and Field Assistant at the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI), and I also serve on the Senate Committee for UIUC on campus. Last semester I was studying in Washington, D.C. interning for Congressman Brad Schneider of Illinois District 10. I would say that I have great insight on getting involved in campus activities because I have been through my fair share of activity involvement. Additionally, I would love to share my study tips from previous classes in IB! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions on IB, courses outside the IB major, or just college life in general.

Jessica in a black dress smiling for formal portrait

Jessica Cuthbert

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Cuthbert, and I am a junior majoring in Integrative Biology. I have always wanted to go into medicine since I was a little girl, and this passion has stuck with me throughout all of these years. I am a transfer student from Loyola University Chicago, where I studied abroad for a semester in Rome, Italy and I participated in a summer research program using Kalman Filters to track the movement of lung tumors. At UIUC, I am a learning leader for FSHN 120 where I assist in activities such as helping students answer questions, creating exam questions, and creating ADA compliant PowerPoints. I also work with the football team in athletic training, providing me with hands on experience when it comes to injured players where I always get to relate anatomy topics to. I am also part of a social sorority, where multiple members are also IB majors allowing me to have an extra group to study with and get support from. Outside of school, I love to travel, snowboard, golf, and try new restaurants! I brought my passion of snowboarding to UIUC and became the social chair for our ski and snowboard club! After I graduate, I plan to go on to medical school and eventually study medicine in radiation oncology, sports medicine, or emergency medicine. I love to be involved on campus and especially love helping others. College can seem like a lot, but sometimes all you need is to talk to students with similar goals as you. So, feel free to reach out to me with any questions and I’ll be here for you!

Erica smiling in the city wearing a v-neck t-shirt

Erika Dettlo

Hi! My name is Erika Dettlo and I am a senior majoring in Integrative Biology. At UIUC, I am the Treasurer for the Pre-PA Club and I was the Secretary last year. I am also in Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Sigma Honor Society, and National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Outside of UIUC, I volunteer, work in the medical field, and spend time playing with and training my dog, Bodhi. After graduation, I am taking a gap year to gain more experience in the medical field and then I will attend a graduate program in the health sciences. I am also a transfer student to UIUC so reach out to me if you have questions about transitioning to UIUC, getting involved, finding help, studying or time management tips, graduate school/physician assistant programs, or anything else. Best of luck!

Caroline dressed up in a park with flowering trees

Caroline Hunsaker

Hi! My name is Caroline Hunsaker. I am a senior majoring in Integrative Biology. Being an SIBSA has been one of my favorite ways to get involved on campus. I also work for Dr. McCoy at the UIUC Veterinary Clinic as a research assistant. I isolate DNA from horse blood and hair samples. Other activities I’m involved in include the Carle Student Volunteering Program, Alpha Epsilon Delta (a pre-health fraternity), Alpha Omicron Pi, and Order of Omega. These extracurricular activities have not only been some of the most rewarding opportunities but have also helped my enthusiasm for the sciences to grow. Therefore, I hope to attend medical school after graduation. I love talking to new students so feel free to ask me anything. You can talk to me about studying abroad as a biology major, how to get involved in research on campus, being in a sorority while still balancing schoolwork, or any other questions you might have!

Harsha is a guy smiling in a restaurant booth

Harsha Namburi

Hi, everybody! My name is Harsha Namburi and I am a senior majoring in IBH with a minor in Chemistry. I am on the pre-med track focusing mainly on research, volunteering, and advising. I am an undergraduate researcher at Dr. Gillette’s Clockworks Lab where I study the relationship between circadian rhythms and the brain. I volunteer at DRES where I assist students and world-class athletes with their workouts and stretches. Outside of school, I enjoy playing tennis, golfing, cooking, watching movies and tv shows, and hanging out with my friends. There are so many misconceptions regarding what to do as an incoming student, especially for aspiring pre-meds, so I am here to clear all of that up! If you have any questions about the pre-med track, how to get into research, how to do well in class, or anything else in general, do not hesitate to reach out.

Labake standing in Union basement with a balloon crown

Labake Oyetayo

Hi everyone! My name is Labake Oyetayo and I am a junior majoring in IB on the pre-med track. After graduation, I hope to go to medical school to become a neurosurgeon and help provide medical services in underdeveloped countries. Outside class, I work as an undergraduate research assistant in the Heath Lab for Coevolutionary Genomics, act as an active member of MEDLIFE as well as the Campus Honors Program, and volunteer for different on-campus organizations such as Jubilee Cafe and Books to Prisoners. A fun fact about me is that I was born in Nigeria and moved to the US when I was 8. In my free time, I love to eat out, sing, watch Netflix, workout, and facetime friends. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions concerning classes, study tips, research, the pre-med track, the campus honors program, or if you just need someone to talk to. I am always happy to help!

Jessica in a vest visiting an ancient coliseum

Jessica Padron

Hello! My name is Jessica Padron and I am a junior majoring in Integrative Biology. I am currently on the pre-health track to attend medical school after graduation and become a doctor. I have volunteered and began attending virtual shadowing classes. My interest in biology began in high school taking biology honors my freshman year. All the different elements and experiments we learned about and performed gave me so many great ideas about how I wanted to continue my education. While deciding what colleges to attend, learning what IB here at UIUC had to offer helped me make my decision. With the variety of courses offered, research opportunities, and groups to get involved in I knew it would be a great fit for me. The advisors were so helpful with the many questions I had and there were so many different resources available to me. Outside of school, I enjoy hanging out with friends and family, traveling to new places, and going on bike rides. I understand the stress college has on an individual and I’m here to answer any questions you might have regarding general college questions, the pre-health track, and ways to get involved on campus!

Emily smiling wide in a sweater out in a prairie

Emily Terrill

Hello! I’m Emily, a senior majoring in Integrative Biology. Throughout my undergrad career, I have taken a lot of interesting classes and helped with research in a few labs on campus. I am also a student parent, which has shaped my college experience in a very unique way. In my free time, I like to spend time with friends and family, garden, travel, and explore new restaurants/foods. After I graduate, I plan to go on to grad school to obtain my PhD. With that, I would like to pursue a career in research with a museum, a government agency, or a university, where I could double as a professor. I love to help others, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or need advice. College is overwhelming, especially as a freshman. Ask me about study tips, time management, cool classes, research experiences as an undergrad, or just reach out to chat!