People

Gwendalyn King, Ph.D., grew up on Loveland, CO. She earned her B.S. in Molecular Biology from the Purdue University School of Science. There she got her first taste of discovery science, investigating leech nerve cord regeneration as her honors thesis research. She obtained her Neuroscience M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan School of Medicine where she studied protein:protein interactions with the amyloid precursor protein. Her first postdoctoral fellowship was at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles developing gene therapeutic approaches to treating glioma. Her second postdoctoral fellowship focused on normal brain aging at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. King joined the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2011 as an Assistant Professor. There she mentored Ph.D., post-bac, and undergraduate students through their honors or dissertation research, published numerous peer-reviewed papers, directed the Summer Program in Neuroscience, and taught for the undergraduate neuroscience program and graduate in biomedical sciences graduate program. She joined the Department of Biology faculty at Creighton in July of 2019. Having personally seen the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Frontotemporal dementia, and ALS in her own family, Dr. King is committed to discovery level research to treat and prevent devastating neurodegenerative diseases.

Tavian Sanchez is from Sergeant Bluff, IA. He is studying Neuroscience with minors in Psychology and Spanish. He aspires to be a physician scientist working to bring research from the lab bench to the exam room. Tavian’s interest in the brain stemmed from his personal experience of his grandma’s cognitive decline . In the lab, Tavian hopes to gain experience and knowledge into discovering ways to not only treat but also prevent neurological disease. Tavian works as a marketing intern for Creighton Athletics and as an online tutor for ACT prep. When not studying or working, Tavian is probably watching soccer, drinking coffee, streaming YouTube, or even scrolling through TikTok. In Omaha, Tavian is an active attendee of My City Church and experimenter of the city’s food scene.

Nicholas Sande is from Owatonna, MN. He is studying Neuroscience with a minor in mathematics, on the pre-med track, and a member of the CCAS Honors Program. His interest in neuroscience was sparked by shadowing experience with physicians and neuropsychologists in a concussion clinic. Introduction to literature on CTE while working in the clinic led to an intrigue in neurodegenerative disease. Outside of scholastic undergraduate life, Nicholas enjoys working with New Student Orientation, swimming with the swim club, and going to Sozo Coffeehouse.

David Amorim Caldas originates from Brazil.  At Creighton he is a Neuroscience major on a pre-med track and a member of the CCAS Honors Program. Since he was was young, he aspired to help others by finding innovation in the most fascinating field of study: neuroscience. To invest in his future pursuing innovation, he left home while in high school and is now at Creighton. Currently, he is the president of the Inter-Residence Hall Government (IRHG) and of the International Student Association (ISA). He has worked as a Marketing Intern for Sodexo and as a Chemistry Lab TA. In his free time, he enjoy watching TV shows and playing the piano (or going to Taco Bell….we forgive him….).

Maximus Lauritsen was born and raised in Papillion, NE (meaning he’s a local but not fully claiming Omaha…). Max is pursuing a Neuroscience major and Spanish minor on the pre-med track. His interest in neuroscience was piqued by a UNMC camp introducing him to the basics of the nervous system and the many diseases which impact it. He is also connected to this subject on a personal level, as his brother suffered from severe anxiety as a child. Max’s larger interests include enhancing our understanding of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and epilepxy.  Outside of school, Max works as a math tutor (show off), is a lector for Creighton Campus Ministry and is part the running and neuroscience clubs. During his free time, you can find Max at the gym, watching YouTube videos, or talking at night with friends.

Hailing from the greatest state, Colorado, and growing up practically next door to Dr. King (but Loveland is way better than Greeley… ask anyone), Ayden Chavez is majoring in Neuroscience on the pre-med track and is a member of the Creighton Honors Program. Informed by his work in a Memory Care unit near home, Ayden understands why science matters. Developing research skills Ayden hopes to gain more of an understanding of the neurological disease processes and nervous system as a whole. When not in the classroom Ayden works in the Creighton University PT/OT Department and Honors Program, for the CDPHE on Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education, is a part of the EMS, Neuroscience, Students for a National Health Program, and Memories of Kids Club, and the Pre-Medical Society. In his free time, he enjoys watching Netflix, hanging out with friends, and exploring downtown Omaha. 

Sarah Freeman is from El Dorado Hills, CA and Dean’s fellow. She is a Chemistry major also seeking a minor in business administration. Sarah intends on earning a Ph.D. in Chemistry and using it to help discover new therapies. As many, her family has been touched by neurodegeneration and from that tragedy her interest and desire to better understand and support the brain was born. She believes better understanding of the brain is critical to treatment that will cure. Sarah is VP of Mentoring for Creighton’s Women in STEM society, a Kid’s Can volunteer, and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Ameera Naif is still deciding between biology and neuroscience as majors, mostly because she’s new to the King lab and not fully indoctrinated! Seeking an MD ultimately, she is from Lincoln, Nebraska, but was born and raised in Sinjar, Iraq, until immigrating to the US under the threat of genocide in 2016. She is fluent in 3 languages, besides English. Her interest in neuroscience stems from a curiosity of how the brain works and how complexity can lead to healthy function or terrible disease. With the goal of becoming a neurologist or neurosurgeon, Ameera feels called to help people and use medicine to changes lives. Since it all starts from the brain and how it works she is hoping her time in lab will expand her knowledge both intellectually and through hands-on experience. When not doing schoolwork, she enjoys spending time with my friends, listening to podcasts, working out, and journaling.

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