Volunteers

Rana Yousif
Hi! I am a second-year pre-med biology student here at SDSU. I’ve been working in Dr. Sussman’s cardiopulmonary research lab for almost a year now and my main focus in the lab is echocardiography. I am also the new undergrad coordinator! I am currently involved in NAAMA Next-Gen as the co-president of the club. I volunteer weekly at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in the ER or SICU department and I run my church’s youth group by planning weekly events for the children. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with family, friends, and spending time with my dog!
Nicholas Konja
Nicholas Konja.jpg

I am a first-year pre-dental, biology student, and a member of the Sussman research lab studying the effects of vaping on the body. Vaping affects a majority of my generation and I want to learn how it will affect my peers later on in life. Outside of school I am a radiographer at Saint Orthodontics and also make patients retainers. I also teach church school to 1st graders every Saturday morning at my local parish. I look forward to learning about the effects of vaping and getting more hands-on experience in a lab.
Donatella Daniel
Hi! My name is Donatella Daniel and I am a pre-med student studying biology at SDSU. I am so excited to be a volunteer in Dr. Sussman’s lab and learn the effects of vaping on the  cardiopulmonary system. I look forward to working with Dr. Sussman along with the masters/ PhD students and getting hands-on experience. Previously, I have volunteered at Scripps Memorial Hospital in the radiation center. I have shadowed Dr. Thomas, who is a neurologist, watching his work on nerve studies. In my free time, I love to run, go on hikes, go to the beach and spend time with my family and friends.
IlaydaAkdeniz
My name is Ilayda Akdeniz and I’m going into my third year at SDSU. I am a biology major hoping to pursue a career in medicine after my undergraduate studies. I am very excited to be joining the Sussman Lab, researching the long-term effects of vaping on the heart, and expanding my knowledge and hands-on experience. I am also a part of other pre-health clubs on campus including APPHO and BPO. In my free time, I love spending time with my friends and family and being outdoors.
Jake Tepper-DeCarlo
Hi, my name is Jake! I am currently a first-year student here at San Diego State. I am currently studying cellular and molecular biology so I am very excited to get started doing research in Dr. Sussman’s lab. I’m eager to learn more about the effects of vaping on the cardiovascular system as I believe it’s a growing issue continuing to harm today’s youth. I have volunteered as an EMT and a Firefighter in my hometown and am currently working with the Flying Samaritans Club at SDSU. The Flying Samaritans Club delivers zero-cost health care to underprivileged communities in Tijuana, Mexico. In my free time, I enjoy surfing, practicing Jiu-Jitsu, and spending time with friends and family.
Lena Adnan
Hi! I am a second year pre-med biology student and am part of Sussman’s Lab researching the effects of vaping on the cardiopulmonary system. I love being in a laboratory setting, and I’m excited to be a part of this lab to learn and get hands-on experience researching something so prevalent in my generation. Apart from the lab some things I do is volunteer at my local hospital in the ER department and I enjoy being a part of clubs such as NAAMA Next Gen. I also enjoy hanging out with family, friends, and playing sports/ exercising whenever I can!
Morgan Wright
Hi! I am a systems neuroscientist from UCSD (2017). Using neuroprosthetics to modulate autorhythmic neurons, I explored neural circuits underlying the oscillitory governance of spike timing in the hippocampus, and clarified their role in processing of episodic memories. I also recently assisted with SARS CoV 2 aerosol collection under Dr. Rohwer and Dr. Mokili at SDSU. Currently, I am an instructor for lab courses at SDSU and community colleges across San Diego county while I apply to MD/PhD programs. In my spare time, I help people with disabilities race Martin 16 sail boats, and I’m also on a S2 Racing Yacht team (Team Fiasco). When I’m not on the water I am usually under my car or elbow deep in an engine bay.
Dylan Dawood
As much knowledge or information I thought I had known about certain subjects, I have always been humbled by the great amount of information which exists and new discoveries being found at incomprehensible speeds. This realization ultimately guided me towards research and the biotech industry where I hope to someday make a difference. I, currently, am pursuing both my B.S. degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, as well as a B.A. degree in Physics at San Diego State University where I plan to graduate in 2026. Discovering how things work has always been a great passion of mine, and I believe that this education allows me to channel this interest to bring something new into the vast sphere that is scientific research.
Farah Jaafar
Hi my name is Farah Jaafar and I am a volunteer in Dr. Mark Sussman’s lab. As a senior in high school, I can see how prevalent vaping has become in our society. I wanted to join this lab to learn more about how vaping affects the heart and the lungs in hopes to inform my fellow classmates on the topic to encourage them to quit or never start. Currently I focus on practicing echo analysis as well as shadowing other mentors and and aiding with their projects. Outside of the lab I work as a hostess at DiLeones, enjoy playing basketball, and volunteer for animal adoption centers! I’m excited to be a part of this lab and experience what it’s like to work in a research environment. Not only that but I hope I can spread awareness on the negative affects of vaping and why people should quit.
Rosemary Annunziata
Hello! I am a fourth-year Cellular/Developmental Biology Major + Chemistry Minor. I am so excited to be part of such a big and collaborative lab. I wanted to join Dr. Sussman’s lab so that I could gain more laboratory experience and know what working in a lab may look like, before searching for a job. I love that everyone is willing to teach each other new skills. I come into the lab to shadow Grads/ PH.D students and assist them with any tasks they may need done. I have already learned a lot!
Olha Kushnir
Hello! My name is Olha Kushnir, I am a second year student majoring in Biology with an interdisciplinary studies minor, on the pre-dental track. I am beyond excited to be a part of the Sussman Lab, studying the effects of vaping on the cardiovascular system. Collaborating with supportive and like-minded individuals, I am eager to develop valuable skills and immerse myself in the field of research. I look forward to gaining both knowledge and hands-on experience while offering my contributions to the lab.
Leona Bazzi
Hi, my name is Leona Bazzi, a Biology student here at SDSU and a member of the Sussman Cardiopulmonary Lab. I am the founder and President of the Society of First Generation PreHealth Students, focused on aiding others on their journey to find their place in the healthcare field by listening to guest speakers and offering community service and volunteer opportunities. Outside of school, I teach Catechism at my church, love going on hikes, being at the beach, and spending time with family and friends. I am thrilled to contribute my dedication and skills to the forefront of cardiovascular and pulmonary research.
Tamara Jamil
Hi! My name is Tamara and I am a third year pre-med biology student here at San Diego State. I’m excited that this year I finally found time to be able to join a research lab and I’m so excited that I found a lab I’ll enjoy. Working under Dr. Sussman I hope to understand the effects that vaping has on the cardiovascular system. Previously, I’ve had a lot of clinical experience as I’m a certified medical assistant and certified EKG technician and have worked as such for 2 years. I’m also the Vice President for Society of First Generation Pre-Health students & Special Events Planner for Careers in Health which are both clubs on campus. In my free time I like to hike, shop, and hang out with my friends and family. I’m very interested in anything to do with health and the heart is a major part of this so I’m excited to see the effects that vaping has on the heart!
Leavandra Eblahed
My name is Leavandra Eblahed and I am a third year pre-med student studying biology at SDSU. I am so excited to be a volunteer in Dr. Sussman’s lab and learn the effects of vaping on the cardiopulmonary system. I look forward to working closely with the masters/PhD students and getting hands-on experience. Outside of school, I volunteer at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in the stroke/neurology department. I also work as a respite worker helping kids with special needs. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends, family, going to the gym, and hot yoga!
Cecilia Rosas Cortez
Hi! I am a third-year student at SDSU studying microbiology. I am pursuing a pathway in pre-medicine with the hope of going to medical school in the future. I am thrilled to be working in Sussman’s lab, researching the effect of vaping on the cardiopulmonary system. This will be my first year volunteering in the lab. I’m very excited to gain more hands-on experience and knowledge during my time in this lab, along with getting more involved on campus. Aside from school, I have a part-time job at Javiers in La Jolla. In my spare time, I enjoy staying active and spending time with my family and friends.
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