EPI Ambassadors Shaping the next generation of Leaders in research

The Emerging Pathogens Institute ambassador program consists of 12 undergraduate students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in academics, research and student leadership to serve as trainees to engage in outreach and play a direct role in enhancing the student research experience at the EPI.

Introducing a Program like no other

6 colleges The EPI ambassador program selects students from six UF colleges to form a cohort that drives the EPI mission.

$1,500 stipend Each ambassador will receive a $1,500 stipend on an annual basis for professional development.

2-day symposium Ambassadors will participate in a 2-day training symposium with an internationally recognized senior researcher.

EPI Ambassador Program

Become an ambassador!

The EPI ambassador program is designed to answer two key questions: what undergraduates can do to further the EPI mission and what can the EPI do to strengthen their academic experience? Students will help increase engagement among the student audience, assist in key administrative functions and serve as volunteers for institutional events. In exchange, the EPI will offer professional development opportunities, instrumental mentorship and skill-based training sessions.

Ten of the EPI ambassadors and the EPI Director of Outreach and Community Partnerships pose together in business causial attire for a group photograph.

Meet the Program Advisor

Headshot of EPI Director for Outreach and Community Partnerships Shantrel Canidate

Shantrel Canidate, Ph.D., MPH, a social and behavioral epidemiologist and health equity researcher, joins the institute’s leadership team as the EPI Associate Director for Outreach and Community Partnerships. This role is dedicated to nurturing the internal relationships between multiple UF units, identifying opportunities for external partnerships and fostering research collaboration with Southeastern universities.

Canidate is an assistant professor in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions Department of Epidemiology. In addition, she serves as a faculty member within the social and behavioral science program and the Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium. Her research focuses on applying interdisciplinary approaches to identifying, understanding and addressing substance use and HIV-related health disparities among marginalized populations, such as men who have sex with men (MSM). Her work also aims to leverage electronic health records data through artificial intelligence and utilize causal inference approaches to identify biomedical and behavioral interventions that can reduce racial disparities in HIV care among marginalized populations.

As a double gator, Canidate received both her master’s in public health and a doctorate in public health from UF, specializing in social and behavioral sciences. She later completed a two-year T32 postdoctoral fellowship in the department of epidemiology with the UF Substance Abuse Training Center in Public Health. She is currently funded as a principal investigator through the first-ever Health Equity Scholars for Action grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and through a five-year K01 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Furthermore, she is also funded as a co-investigator by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.

Meet the Ambassadors

Ambassador

Meghan Hamberg, she/her

Hi, I’m Meghan! I’m a first-year zoology major on the pre-vet track! I was born and raised in Windermere Florida, where I was just 15 minutes away from most Disney parks! I have two brothers: one at FSU and one still in high school. Additionally, I have a dog and three cats that I love. I used to participate in competitive swimming for 7 years and then Irish Dance for another 7 years! I volunteer at a lab here on campus that works with crawfish. My favorite class is Chemistry, but it’s still a little hard. I’m excited to be joining the EPI through the ambassador program and can’t wait to get started!

Headshot of EPI ambassador Meghan Hamburg

Ambassador

Jeff John, he/him

Hi, my name is Jeff John, and I’m a third-year student at the University of Florida majoring in microbiology and cell science and minoring in public health! In the future, I hope to attend medical school in a MD/PhD program and eventually work as a clinical researcher studying infectious diseases. Currently at my research lab at the Cancer and Genetics Institute, I work as a research assistant to understand the mechanisms that underlie the development of blood cancer. Outside of EPI, I’m involved in my fraternity and the multicultural greek council, the UF Mobile Outreach Clinic, and the UF Senate.

Headshot of EPI ambassador Jeff John

Ambassador

Katherine Kim, any/all

Hi! I am Katherine, Kai or Hayeon. I am a first-year animal science major, specialized in animal biology. I am originally from Madison, Wisconsin, but graduated high school from South Korea. In campus, I am involved in AASU (HEAL/KUSA/KSA), STAAR, the vetSMART program and UFPVM, as well as working in the EPI as a lab member. My passion lies upon sustainability and integration among environmental, veterinary and human medicine to create a healthier and greener future for all.

Headshot of EPI ambassador Katherine Kim

Ambassador

Victoria Keraluz, she/her

Hi, my name is Victoria, and I am a second-year undergraduate majoring in microbiology and minoring in Russian. I work in the Boulant-Stanifer lab studying the innate immune response of intestinal epithelial cells. I also work at the UF Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education as a trip leader, taking UF students on backpacking and kayaking excursions. In my free time, I play on the UF Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team and spend time outdoors with my friends. I love going on adventures, trying new activities and learning something new!

Headshot of Victoria Keraluz.

Ambassador

Davit Kobaidze, he/him

Hi, I’m Davit. I am a second-year biotechnology major. After graduating, I plan on attending medical school. For the last year and a half, I have been a part of a research team at EPI, where we studied the effectiveness of the Active Plasma Sterilizer for decontamination in planetary protection. Most of my days are filled with studying, however, I thoroughly enjoy reading, writing, playing the guitar and working out in my free time. Even when I don’t have free time you will most likely see me with my brown beats on listening to music. Music is what keeps me moving.

Headshot of EPI ambassador Davit Kobaidze

Ambassador

Ange Louis, she/her

Hi, I’m Ange! I am a first-year public health major from Orlando, FL, and am currently on the pre-med track. I have always been passionate about people and forming new connections. With a high interest in understanding health at both individual and community levels, I aspire to merge my love for science with my desire to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. From volunteering at local clinics to engaging in research projects, I’m dedicated to learning and contributing to the Emerging Pathogens Institute. I am excited to embark on this journey of growth and discovery!

Headshot of EPI ambassador Ange Louis

Ambassador

Sloane Murphy, she/her

Hi, I’m Sloane! I’m a second-year microbiology and cell science major on a pre-medical track with minor studies in health disparities in society, medical geography in global health, and pathogenesis. I work in a research lab with UF’s Pharmacodynamics department studying substance abuse, and I authored my own project investigating the phenology of Chagas disease in Florida. I enjoy spending time with my friends from my medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon, relaxing with family at the beach, reading and doing yoga! In my future, I aim to attend graduate medical school to work in global health, focused in epidemiology and health justice.

Headshot of EPI ambassador Sloane Murphy

Ambassador

Gene Pozas, he/him

Hello! My name is Gene, and I am a second-year microbiology and cell science major born and raised in Miami, Florida. I am involved in research in the Opavsky Lab at the Cancer and Genetics Research Complex, as well as research under Dr. Derek Cummings and Dr. Matt Hitchings in the Emerging Pathogens Institute. During my time at the University of Florida, I discovered my passion for public health through my internships and coursework. I hope to promote community wellness through education, advocacy and my future research.

Headshot of EPI ambassador Gene Pozas

Ambassador

Ayana Price, she/her

Hello, my name is Ayana Price. I’m a senior student majoring in microbiology and cellular sciences, with a minor in bioinformatics. Originally from Pompano Beach, FL, I am actively involved in various organizations including Tau Sigma and SISTUHS Inc, as well as being recognized as a University Scholar. In terms of academic endeavors, I have participated in research focused on computational modeling of proteins within the JAK/STAT pathway. Throughout my undergraduate years, I co-founded a programming club and assumed the role of vice president. Additionally, I have received accolades for mathematics.

Headshot of EPI ambassador Ayana Price

Ambassador

Ellie Shannon, they/them

Hi, my name is Ellie! I am a third-year zoology major, minoring in entomology. I have been doing research at UF on the topic of bovine genetics since my first semester. In my free time, I like to sew, listen to music and dance. I am excited to help other students at UF understand the importance of research and discover how they can get involved at the EPI!

Headshot of EPI ambassador Ellie Shannon

Ambassador

Ted Stronkowsky

Hi, I’m Ted. I study mathematics primarily. I enjoy simple pleasures like running, swimming, weightlifting and hiking, often with my dog, Mike, by my side. Mike is a Pitbull with a big personality, making every outdoor adventure that much more enjoyable. One of my favorite escapes is into the world of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series. Its storytelling depth always gives me something to ponder. As for music, I have a fondness for everything from the catchy tunes of 80’s synth to the intricate harmonies of Baroque classical music.

Headshot of EPI ambassador Ted Stronkowsky

Ambassador

Max Taylor, she/her

Hi, I’m Max, a third-year microbiology major. I am currently researching crustacean parasites with the Behringer Lab at EPI and working on developing a mouse model for lung malaria with the Moore Lab at EPI. In my free time, I run a volunteer student publication called Girls For Science Magazine where I mentor an international staff in science communication. I also love playing beach volleyball and backpacking with the UF Outdoor Adventure Recreation Club.

Headshot of EPI ambassador Max Taylor