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Social Entrepreneur and dedicated STEM student, Katie Heath, is a senior at the Bloomfield Hills High School (BHHS) in Bloomfield Hills, MI.  Since the age of ten, Katie has volunteered at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit where she has worked at numerous health fairs and led patient activities.  She is conducting research in the field of cancer imaging where she is mentored by two world-class faculty in the clinic as well as in the laboratory.  These unique experiences inspired Katie to develop FocuSStem NextGen, a program which provides a path for STEM—interested students from under-resourced high schools in Southeastern Michigan to learn about careers in science, technology, and healthcare.  Recognized for her commitment and dedication to STEM, Katie has been selected as the Junior Ambassador for the American Cancer Society ResearcHERS Campaign. She also serves as the Junior Fellow at the prestigious PuLSE Institute, an anti-poverty think tank in Detroit.  In addition, as President of the BuildOn BHHS chapter, Katie has also led the initiative to contribute to the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, including fundraising that resulted in providing 1,000 meals for the Detroit community.  In 2020, Katie was selected as a Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leader, joining 34 of her peers from 18 countries on 6 continents to continue their journey of innovating technologies and harnessing creativity to positively impact the world.. Katie also enjoys being the Principal Flutist of the BHHS Symphony Band and Orchestra, Drum Major of the BHHS Marching Band, President of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, Medical Careers Club and DECA, and dedicated member of the National Honor Society.



Karim is a second year medical student at Wayne State University School of Medicine.  Heis the President of the National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA) NextGen chapter at Wayne State and the national student body representative for NAAMA.  His focus is on the advancement of equitable healthcare for all in the city of Detroit, to further involve the youth in STEM careers, and aid in shaping the next generation of scientists in the state of Michigan.


Kendall is a Wayne State University graduate who holds a bachelor's degree in biology.  After working in the hospital setting, he discovered his passion for patient care and community education.  He is currently enrolled in a BSN program at Chamberlain College of Nursing while working at the Karmanos Cancer Center as an Oncology Care Associate.


Mahek Nasser is currently a junior at Novi High School. She is an interviewer for Girls For Science, a student representative on the City of Novi’s Library Board, and Secretary of the American Red Cross club at her school. Mahek enjoys volunteering frequently at hospitals, with Kids are Scientists Too, and with her church. She is a part of her school’s  HOSA and DECA clubs and sings in both her church and school choirs. Mahek had the honor of participating in the FocuSStem NextGen Summer Intensive and was able to further her interest in and gain more knowledge about the medical field.

Prior Student Executive Board Member: Ziad Fehmi and Ibrahim Tsolakian


Alex Boerner is a sophomore at Plymouth High School in the Plymouth-Canton Community School District.  He is in the Biomedical Sciences STEM academy and a member of the cross country team.  Alex has actively volunteered through his church with Kids Against Hunger, as well as other programs, for several years.  He also has worked with his brother’s elementary school to establish a Family Science Night where he volunteers his time assisting children with experiments, explaining the how and why the experiment worked. He had the honor of participating in the FocuSStem Next Gen Intensive in the summer of 2019 which further fostered his excitement for biomedical research.   


Nikhil Kondagunta is a sophomore at Salem High School in the Plymouth Canton Community School District. He is in the STEM program at school and plays on Varsity Tennis.  Nikhil has done after school clubs such as The Health Occupation Students of America or HOSA. Nikhil has also volunteered at many places such as Gleaner’s Food Bank and around his temple during special days. Nikhil wants to be a biomedical engineer and is grateful the FocuSStem NextGen Summer Intensive which opened his eye to the variety in the medical field.


Bianca Palicha is a senior at Novi High School. Bianca is a captain of the cross country team, the track team, a founder and treasurer of her school’s psychology club, and works a part time job. She volunteers frequently at local hospitals, hunger walks, and other charitable organizations. She is a member of the ABA program at her school, providing therapy to young children with autism. Bianca had the honor of participating in the FocuSStem NextGen Summer Intensive and was able to gain more knowledge and interest about lesser known medical careers while fostering her own interest in medicine.


Laura Zubeck, RN, BSN, MBA

Director of Patient, Community, and Nursing Education and

Volunteer Services

Michele Cote, PhD

Associate Center Director of Education

Larry Matherly, PhD

Associate Center Director of Basic Science

Joe Weertz

Educational Outreach Coordinator at

Wayne State University

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Katrina D. Studvent


Chief Development Officer

Rouba Ali, MD


Director, Surgical Pathology Fellowship Program

NAAMA National President

Tamara Collins


Multimedia Manager

Marketing and Communications

Mary Ellen Kearney


Corporate Relations Director

Leslie Cortes


FocuSStem NextGen

Program Coordinator