2024 Outstanding Senior Award Winners

The Division applauds the following graduating seniors who were selected for this year's Outstanding Senior Awards in Biological Sciences. 

Yaser Al Rawi

Outstanding Senior Research Award in Biological Sciences
Endowment: Blackburn-Hesemann

Yaser’s passion for research started early on in his career as a student.  In his first semester in college, he joined a research lab where he worked on a project studying vascular stiffening. His current research investigates neuromuscular diseases. He quickly became motivated to contribute to understanding and finding treatments for these diseases. Yaser’s hard work resulted in presentations at several conferences, both at the local and national levels, a research internship at Johns Hopkins University, and co-authorship on a forthcoming peer-reviewed publication. Yaser also has been active in the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity in Research, the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, Student National Medical Association, and the Muslim Student Organization. At MU, Yaser saw how both research and medicine can change people’s lives for the better. These experiences inspired him to pursue a path toward becoming a physician researcher, and he hopes to “directly impact disadvantaged communities on a personal level by providing patient care while influencing the direction of research experiment for minorities.” 

Brooke Bowman

Outstanding Senior Research Award in Biological Sciences
Endowment: John C. Hagan, III, M.D., and Rebecca J. Hagan Opportunities for Excellence in Biological Sciences

Brooke traces her interest in research to watching her parents create a breeding program for livestock. These early examples of inheritance led her to become interested in genetics and genealogy, which eventually led her to major in Biological Sciences at MU.  Brooke initially thought she would pursue medicine, then found a passion for research after being given the opportunity to work in a lab as a Cherng Scholar. She worked on research projects that included COVID-19 and science education and ultimately discovered that she loved computational genetics. She taught herself how to code and how to manage large genomic datasets. She participated in a project that sheds new light on “when certain mutations arose in human history and how it impacts the genetic makeup of humans today.” This research has been submitted to the prestigious journal Science, and she has presented it at local and national conferences. Brooke will be continuing her genetics training at the University of Chicago, where she will start a PhD program this fall. 

Audrey Garoutte

Outstanding Senior Scholar Award in Biological Sciences
Endowment: Mary Margaret McCarty Scholarship 

Audrey is an excellent example of a true liberal arts scholar: she has majors in Biological Sciences and Spanish, minors in Environmental Sciences and Chemistry, and certificates in Neuroscience, Sustainability, Multicultural Studies, with an Honors Certificate from the Honors College. She completed all these while maintaining a near perfect GPA. She expanded her perspectives on science through research experiences in the Molecular Genetics and Soybean Genomics lab and, more recently, completed an REU and senior capstone work in the Finegan-Bergstralh Lab on a cell adhesion molecule that led to a recent publication in G3.  Audrey also has been an active participant in Tri Beta, the Asian American Association, and Sustain Mizzou. She founded Mixed at Mizzou, a group for multiracial students to find community with advocacy, service, and social events. She is confident that “the problem solving, experimental, and science communication skills” she’s gained during her time in Biological Sciences will be invaluable to her in medical school and beyond. 

Jack Ogilvy

Outstanding Senior Research Award in Biological Sciences
Endowment: Clarence Clinton Crouch Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar 

Jack, a Biological Sciences major with minors in Chemistry and Computational Neuroscience, immersed himself in research throughout his undergraduate career. As a freshman, he used gene editing techniques to study the molecular basis of the immune response in plants, an experience that ignited his interest in research. It was in his Evolution and Ecology course, however, where his gaze moved from individual genes and molecules to “the diversity of life and the interconnectedness of complex ecological systems.” Fueled by this fascination, he joined a lab studying anoles and geckos in Puerto Rico. He delved into these animals’ ecology and physiology to gain a deeper understanding of the processes of evolutionary adaptation. Along the way, Jack also discovered a joy for teaching others about science. As a supplemental instructor for General Genetics, he honed his ability to make learning engaging and capture his audience’s interest. After graduation, Jack plans to leverage his research experience to work as a lab technician while pursuing a path to graduate school. 

Kassandra Ramos

Outstanding Senior Research Award in Biological Sciences
Endowment: Professor Stanley Zimmering Prize in Biology 

Having always felt like a “scientist at heart,” Kassandra gravitated toward STEM fields from a very young age. She craved role models who reflected her identities as a Filipina woman in science. This motivated this Biological Sciences major with a Sociology minor to seek out opportunities that provided not only valuable research experience but also mentorship from strong women in science who were studying topics close to her heart: women’s health and reproductive issues. Kassandra’s dedication to science shone through her presentations at local and national conferences, and her achievements were recognized with prestigious awards like the Amgen Scholar designation at Washington University St. Louis and becoming a Fulbright Semi-Finalist. Kassandra eventually became a mentor herself, offering similar support and representation to students in the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity in Research/MARC program. Her commitment to diversifying STEM fields will continue as she pursues her Ph.D. at the University of Kansas Medical Center, starting next fall. 

Harjeev Singh

Outstanding Senior Scholar Award in Biological Sciences
Endowment: John I. Hardy Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Award

Harjeev is an exceptional Biological Sciences major with a perfect 4.0 GPA. He excels at bridging the gap between classroom knowledge and real-world application. This talent is evident in his research at the Thompson Laboratory for Regenerative Orthopaedics, where he conducted research on the pathology and assessment of osteoarthritis in the knee under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Aaron Stoker. In the summer after his sophomore year, he designed and executed his own project in the lab as a Cherng Summer Scholar. His extensive research experience has led to two podium presentations and a poster presentation at the national Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) conference. He is also co-authored on eight additional posters presented by his colleagues in the lab. 

Harjeev’s drive to make a difference extends well beyond the lab through his volunteer work with numerous community organizations. As a volunteer, he has visited with hospice patients, supported the operations of the MedZou Community Health Clinic, and provided help to shelters and food banks. Further, recognizing the financial burden textbooks and course materials place on students, Harjeev addressed this issue by creating The Mizzou Education Bank. Through annual school supply drives, a partnership with the Mizzou Store, and generous donations, this innovative campus resource has provided over 300 students facing financial hardship with free school supplies and course materials. Recently, after working with the undergraduate student government leadership, he has helped establish the organization as an official auxiliary of the Missouri Students Association. As Harjeev reflects, “The Mizzou Education Bank has been instrumental in developing my advocacy skills, which I will undoubtedly use alongside my passion for medicine.”

Harjeev was selected as one of 39 seniors for the Mizzou ‘39 award this year. He will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a minor in psychological sciences. He will begin medical school this fall.