Biosciences Peer Mentors (Biopeers)

The Biosciences Peer Mentors (BioPeers) provide free and private peer-to-peer support for the Biosciences graduate student community. BioPeers are graduate students in their second year or higher who have volunteered to help their peers cope with the feelings of stress, inadequacy, or uncertainty that are often experienced during graduate school. BioPeers are trained to provide nonjudgmental support through listening, informal counseling techniques, and campus and community referrals.

If you’d like to talk to a peer mentor, you can contact one of us directly via email, or use the Contact the BioPeers form. We’ll be in touch with you soon!

Not sure which mentor you’d like to meet with? Use the Contact the BioPeers form at, and we’d be happy to match you with one of the mentors below!

Meet the BioPeers

  • Alex ScharrAlex Scharr
    6+, Neurosciences
    Hometown/place I call home: Reading, MA (K-12) & San Francisco, CA (now)
    Other schools attended (college/graduate school): Pomona College
    Interests/hobbies: Reading, writing, drawing, backpacking, hiking, training my dog, ESL tutoring, *attempting* to be a casual athlete (swimming, running, sailing, golf) now that my competitive college days are over (soccer, rugby, track & field)
    Note from the mentor:  “Things I have experience with:

    • getting involved in campus activities
    • multiracial heritage
    • international culture shock (have lived abroad)
    • elite private school culture shock (college)
    • starting PhD after some time off from school
    • having to change thesis project
    • learning to work with animals in research
    • finding & using mental health/campus resources”
  • Ariel CalderonAriel Calderon
    3rd year, Immunology
    Hometown/place I call home: New York City
    Other schools attended (college/graduate school): Hunter College
    Interests/hobbies: I enjoy hiking, video games, cooking, playing basketball, baseball & soccer, latin dancing and photography.
    Note from the mentor:
    “My name is Ariel Calderon and I’m a second year Immunology PhD student. I was raised in New York City and am the first in my family to be born in America after my parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic. Ask me about making the direct jump from undergraduate to graduate school, being from an underrepresented group in the sciences, being a first generation college/graduate student, getting involved in outreach and student groups and navigating short/long term mental health challenges.”
  • Brittany FlowersBrittany Flowers
    3rd year, Cancer Biology
    Hometown/place I call home: Bristow, VA
    Other schools attended (college/graduate school): The College of William & Mary
    Interests/hobbies: I enjoy swimming in the pool, going to the gym, hanging out with friends, and going on long walks with my dog. I also enjoy cooking and decorating. I have collaborative pinterest boards that I often update and reference new recipes and decorating ideas for my apartment.
    Note from the mentor:

    • “Having the support and encouragement of my peers has definitely helped in my transition to graduate school. Discussing my challenges with my peers has often shown me that others have struggled with similar issues. As a BioPeers mentor, I hope to be a resource to you. Ask me about being an underrepresented group in the sciences, managing homesickness or long-distance relationships, navigating campus resources, transitioning from the work force to graduate school, and any other related topics.”
  • Jessica MartinJessica Martin
    5th year, Biology
    Hometown/place I call home: New Mexico
    Other schools attended (college/graduate school): University of New Mexico
    Interests/hobbies: My two main passions outside of science are music and the outdoors. I enjoy going hiking on weekends, and also like to go camping and snowboarding. This year I want to get into surfing and outdoor rock climbing! Musically speaking, I play guitar and sing, I’ve put out a couple of solo EPs over the last few years. I also square dance every Sunday 🙂
    Note from the mentor:

    • “Fun fact: In high school, I had 50 pet tarantulas. Ask me about:
    • navigating mental health challenges
    • feeling like you’re bad at science
    • getting involved in campus and off-campus activities
    • good hiking spots near Palo Alto
    • open mics in the area (Half Moon Bay has a great one)”
  • John CoanJohn Coan
    3rd year, Cancer Biology
    Hometown/place I call home: Oshkosh, WI
    Other schools attended (college/graduate school): University of Wisconsin – Madison
    Interests/hobbies: Video games, foreign languages, cooking/baking, etc.
    Note from the mentor:

    • “Hi, I’m John! I was interested in becoming a BioPeers mentor because I wanted to be a resource for those people that want to talk about the daily struggles of grad school life, or anything else for that matter. And as a queer person myself, I would also love to hear from and help members of the LGBTQ+ community with any issues they may be facing. I look forward to hearing from you!”
  • Opher KornfeldOpher Kornfeld
    5th year, Chemical & Systems Biology
    Hometown/place I call home: Portland, OR
    Other schools attended (college/graduate school): University of Oregon
    Interests/hobbies: Working as an EMT with Stanford EMS, skiing, swimming, rock climbing, watching netflix, singing (in the shower, in the car, or with friends)
    Note from the mentor:

    • “I became a BioPeers mentor to help graduate students navigate through the challenges they have to overcome during their time here at Stanford. I am a U.S. immigrant from Israel who fell in love with the West Coast. Ask me about getting involved in campus activities, managing homesickness or feelings of isolation, finding resources on campus, or being an international student at Stanford.”
  • Ruben LandRuben Land
    3rd year, Neurosciences
    Hometown/place I call home: Rochester, NY
    Other schools attended (college/graduate school): Haverford College, University of Cambridge
    Interests/hobbies: Ultimate frisbee, hiking, podcasts, spikeball, cooking, mindfulness
    Note from the mentor:

    • “I was born in the UK but have now lived most of my life in the US. In college, I studied stem cell biology. After graduating, I continued research in my thesis lab and helped move it to NYC. I then switched directions and came to Stanford to study neuroscience. Contact me any time to chat. Feel free to ask me about navigating rotations, switching specialties, balancing diverse interests, getting involved in campus events or biosciences community activities, managing failure, or anything else.”
  • Sarah Elizabeth BarnesSarah Elizabeth Barnes
    4th year, Immunology
    Hometown/place I call home: Denver, CO
    Other schools attended (college/graduate school): University of Chicago, BS ’14
    Interests/hobbies: indoor rock climbing, yoga, volleyball
    Note from the mentor:

    • “I became a BioPeers mentor to encourage students to discuss the challenges that they are facing in and out of the lab. I believe that a more open discussion of these issues that so many of us face but so few of us talk about is essential towards improving student wellbeing. Feel free to ask me about any difficulty you may be facing but especially those related to the PhD experience, mental or physical health challenges, feelings of isolation, and work-life balance.”