Current Group Members

Group Photo

Graduate Students

Courtney Weber (G2)

Courtney Weber is a second-year graduate student in the Simoska group. Her research interests and experiences are primarily in analytical chemistry. She works on designing electrochemical sensors to monitor stress and cancer biomarkers. Courtney is originally from Charlotte, NC, and loves living in the Carolinas. She attended the Univ. of South Carolina where she received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree from the Honors College. Courtney was also a dual-sport Division I student-athlete, competing on both the Gamecock volleyball and beach volleyball teams. Her undergraduate research experience was in environmental chemistry, studying emerging contaminants in drinking water, including DBPs and PFAS. In her free time, Courtney enjoys serving at her church, visiting family, going to the beach, and cheering on Gamecock sports teams!

Olivia Clay (G1)

Olivia Clay graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2023 with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and started her graduate studies in the Simoska Lab in the summer of 2023. Olivia is originally from Fairfax, VA but is proud to call South Carolina home! Her research interests lie in the electrochemical characterization of antibiotic resistance mechanisms in clinically relevant bacteria. In addition to her research, Olivia loves to teach and hopes to bring her passion for teaching to her research and future career.  Outside of the lab, Olivia is a proud mom to her cat Mochi and a Jeopardy enthusiast.

Megan Whisonant (G1)

Megan Whisonant is a first-year graduate student in the Simoska group. Megan received her B.S. in Biochemistry and B.A. in History from Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where she developed a passion for microbiology and all things spectroscopy-related. Her undergraduate research was supported through the SC-INBRE Program under Dr. Stuart Gordon utilizing computational platforms to study the effects of dietary iron on the taxonomic composition of the Zebrafish gut microbiome with a metabolomic spectroscopical analysis. Megan was awarded the Copenhaver Research Fellowship beginning in the Summer of 2023 to pursue her Ph.D. in Chemistry. She is eager to begin her research at the University of South Carolina with the Simoska Lab! In her free time, she enjoys spending time at church, cooking new foods, reading, and practicing cursive calligraphy.

Undergraduate Students

Savanah Belt (UG4)

Savanah is originally from Fort Mill, South Carolina, and she is in the process of obtaining her bachelor’s degree from the Univ. of South Carolina. She is currently involved in research on electron transfer mechanisms of pathogenic gut-based bacteria. In her free time, Savanah loves to do anything outdoors, including hiking, snowboarding, and kayaking. She also loves to paint and make embroidered bracelets.

Reese Lycan (UG3)

Reese Lycan is a junior from Lexington, Kentucky pursuing a major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a minor in Computer Science. Post-grad, she plans to continue in the medical field and become involved in policy advocacy, specifically for Appalachian communities. Reese is involved on campus as the Director of the Congressional Advisory Board for student government, and the student representative for the Ada B. Thomas Award Committee, and a member of Delta Zeta sorority. She loves to read and has tried a variety of hobbies such as hiking, painting, photography, and kayaking, however, these have all proved that she should stick to STEM-related activities.

Gracie Anderson (UG3)

Gracie Anderson is a junior from Spartanburg, SC, pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in data science. She has existing experience in bacterial biofilm research, and following graduation, she plans to continue conducting research in microbiology and molecular biology at the Ph.D. level and explore a career developing research-driven approaches to better understand, treat, and prevent human disease. She is involved on campus as the president of the ACS student chapter and as a member of the ASBMB chapter. Gracie also enjoys volunteering to demonstrate STEM concepts to local K-12 students, playing violin in the campus orchestra, running, and hiking.

Natalie Strom (UG3)

Natalie Strom is an undergraduate student majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry. She is from Pinehurst, North Carolina, and she is on the club golf team. In her free time, Nat loves to surf, volunteer at an animal shelter, and read books. As a science major, she finds scientific methodology both interesting and important, and she feels fortunate to begin her career as a scientist in the Simoska lab. 

Addie Meeker (UG2)

Addie Meeker is a sophomore pursuing a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Addie has lived in Rock Hill, South Carolina her entire life and is a self-proclaimed, die-hard Gamecock! While her post-grad plans are somewhat unclear, she knows one thing is for certain: she LOVES chemistry and wants to pursue a STEM-related career. Outside of the classroom, Addie is involved in several campus organizations, such as the sorority Alpha Gamma Delta and USC Dance Marathon. She also loves to spend time with friends and family, shop, and run! She is so excited to join the Simoska lab!

Emma Vagnoni (UG2)

Emma Vagnoni is a sophomore biochemistry major and theater minor from Anderson South Carolina. In her free time, Emma really likes to crochet, watch tv and cook for all of her friends and family. In the future, she is interested in practicing medicine in a clinical setting, but for now she is so excited to get to work in the lab!

Jessica Bunge (UG1)

Jessica Bunge is a freshman pursuing a degree in chemistry. She is interested in attending graduate school and conducting research as a career, and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to begin research in the Simoska Lab. Jess is from Fort Mill, SC, and in her free time, she enjoys watching movies and going on walks.

Maeve Lembke (UG1)

Maeve Lembke is a freshman from Buffalo, NY, pursuing a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of South Carolina. She plans on attending graduate school and pursuing research as a career. She is so excited to be able to begin research early on and work in the Simoska lab. In her free time, she enjoys sewing and making things, as well as spending time outdoors. 

Helen Vrouvakis (UG1)

Helen Vrouvakis is a freshman biochemistry and molecular biology major from Easley, SC. She is an active member of Delta Delta Sigma, HSA, and is head of marketing for MUN. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, and picking up new hobbies. She plans to attend dental school after graduation to pursue a career in dentistry. She is so excited to join the Simoska lab!

Sophia Woytowitz (UG1)

Sophia Woytowitz is from Baltimore, Maryland, pursuing a major in biochemistry with a minor in data science at the Univ. of South Carolina. In her leisure hours, you can find her either exercising at the gym, out in nature , or spending time with friends. Engaged within the Carolina community, she participates in activities such as Ballroom dance and is an active member of Galen Health Fellows, ASBMB, and Dance Marathon. Down the line, her aspirations involve practicing medicine in a clinical setting; however, as of now, she is excited to get to work in the lab. 

Brienne Hingst (UG1)

Brienne Hingst is a freshman from Atlanta, Georgia and is perusing a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In her free time, Brienne loves to read, cross stitch, and watch tv. She is unclear about her post-grad plans but wants to pursue a STEM-related career. Brienne is excited to start researching and to join the Simoska lab.