Post-Baccalaureate Scholars

The University of Arizona Cancer Center prepares post-baccalaureate scholars to pursue doctoral degrees in cancer-related fields through The Diversity in Cancer Research Post-Baccalaureate Program. 

Activies Led by the Office of Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination (CRTEC)

Diversity in Cancer Research Post-Baccalaureate Program - The University of Arizona Cancer Center was one of only 8 institutions to be sponsored by the American Cancer Society to launch the new Diversity in Cancer Research Post-Baccalaureate Program. This program will expand diversity in the cancer research workforce by increasing the number of under-represented minorities in the biomedical field. The goal of this program is to expose the participants to cancer research and provide career development activities that will help them prepare for a career in cancer research.

About the Program

The Diversity in Cancer Research Post-Baccaureate Program at UACC will offer a paid, two-year, full-time cancer research experience to individuals with a bachelor’s degree who intend to pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical science, a health profession, or in population health/public health (e.g., Ph.D., MD, DO, PharmD, DrPH). A high priority will be given to individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the cancer workforce.

Over the 24-month program, the four (4) participants who are selected will engage in:

  1. Mentored research experiences that teach them to identify and address important questions in the cancer field.
  2. Professional development workshops to enhance their competitiveness for doctoral degree programs.
  3. Seminars and graduate-level coursework through which they learn about cutting-edge cancer research.
  4. Networking activities building their connections to peers and role models in the cancer field.

The program will start on July 31, 2023.

Applications are no longer being accepted for 2023.


  • Member of a group underrepresented in the cancer workforce
  • Bachelor's degree in any STEM discipline
  • 2.75 minimum GPA
  • Motivation to pursue a doctoral degree and a career in the cancer field
  • Commitment to participate in the program full-time

These faculty will support the participants in identifying a project that aligns with their general area of career interest and provides direct experience with the scientific process. The participants will develop a formal oral presentation of their research project to present at the UACC annual research retreat in their second year and at an end-of-program celebration.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with Cancer Center mentors including:

Alicia Allen, PhD; Family and Community Medicine
Area of Research: Nicotine/tobacco, addiction, women's health, cancer prevention

Jennifer Barton, PhD; Biomedical Engineering
Area of Research: Optical imaging, endoscopes, early detection, microscopy

Jennifer W. Bea, PhD; Health Promotion Sciences
Area of Research; Body composition, cancer prevention, lifestyle interventions

Ali Bilgin, PhD; Biomedical Engineering
Area of Research: Magnetic resonance imaging, image processing, machine learning, deep learning

Alfred Bothwell, PhD; Immunobiology
Area of Research: Cancer immunology stem cells molecular biology

Ross Buchan, PhD; Molecular and Cellular Biology
Area of Research: Stress Granules; P-bodies; Proteostasis; Stress Response

Carlos Caulin: PhD; Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Area of Research: Head and neck cancer, p53, mouse models, immunoprevention

Kellen Chen, PhD; Surgery
Area of Research: Fibrosis, regeneration, single-cell transcriptomics, tissue engineering, cellular mechanics

Zelieann Craig, PhD; Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences
Area of Research: Toxicology, infertility, reproduction

Anne E. Cress, PhD; Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Area of Research: Cancer invasion and metastasis prevention

Sally Dickinson, PhD; Pharmacology
Area of Research: Skin cancer, TLR4, prevention

Nathan Ellis, PhD; Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Area of Research: Cancer genetics, cancer susceptibility, cancer health disparities, cancer epigenetics, replication stress, and DNA repair

Rina Fox, PhD, MPH; College of Nursing
Area of Research: Quality of life, survivorship, sleep disturbance, stress management, adolescent and young adult

David Garcia, PhD; Health Promotion Science
Area of Research: Health equity, Hispanic health, and community-engagement

Judith Gordon, PhD; Nursing
Area of Research: Tobacco, Integrative Health, Behavior Change, Digital Health

Geoffrey Gurtner, MD; Surgery
Area of Research: Wound healing, fibrosis, regeneration, mechanotransduction, surgery

Dongkyun Kang, PhD; College of Optical Sciences
Area of Research: Optical microscopy for cancer diagnosis, skin cancer diagnosis, cervical cancer diagnosis

Nam Lee, PhD; Pharmacology (College of Medicine) and Chemistry & Biology
Area of Research: Pancreatic cancer, tumor angiogenesis, and therapeutics

Purnima Madhivana, MD, PhD; Health Promotion Sciences
Area of Research: Global Health, Cancer Continuum of Care, Intersection of Infectious & Chronic Diseases, Women's Health, Public Health

Michael Marty, PhD; Chemistry and Biochemistry
Area of Research: Membrane proteins, lipids, nanodiscs, mass spectrometry 

Juanita L. Merchant, MD, PhD; Medicine
Area of Research: Transcriptional regulation, inflammation, gastric and colon cancer

Cindy Miranti, PhD: Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Area of Research: Prostate cancer, bone tumor microenvironment, bioengineering, signal transduction, oncogenesis

Steffan Nawrocki, PhD; Medicine
Area of Research: Cancer therapeutics, autophagy, apoptosis, drug resistance, oncolytic virus

John Purdy, PhD; Immunobiology
Area of Research: Virus infection, metabolism, metabolomics, lipidomics

Travis Sawyer, PhD; Optical Sciences
Area of Research: Imaging, gastrointestinal cancer, biomedical engineering, image analysis, cancer screening

Jacob Schwartz, PhD; Medical Pharmacology
Area of Research: Sarcoma, molecular biology, pediatric, bone cancer

Curtis Thorne, PhD; Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Area of Research: Colon Cancer, Organoids, Signal Transduction, Drug Discovery

Koenraad Van Doorslaer, PhDAnimal and Biomedical Sciences
Area of Research: HPV, innate immunity, oncogenes, persistent infection, evolution

Wei Wang, PhD; Pharmacology and Toxicology
Area of Research: Cancer drug discovery, autophagy inhibitors, targeted protein degradation, AML

Shamar J. Young, MD; Department of Medical Imaging - Division Chief, Vascular and Interventional Radiology Associate Professor, Medical Imaging
Area of Research: Clinical translation and research, interventional oncology, portal hypertension, and advanced emboltherapy.

Donna Zhang, PhD; Pharmacology and Toxicology
Area of Research: NRF2, chemoresistance, lung cancer, Ovarian Cancer, anti-cancer drug development

Chi Zhou, PhD; School of Animal Comparative Biomedical Sciences 
Area of Research: Angiogenesis, Endothelial Function, TNF-α, Cytokines, Fetal Programming

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