Peer Advisors

Listed below are the biology undergraduate peer advisors for the 2022-2023 academic year. Feel free to visit our peer advisors during their office hours to get a student's perspective regarding the undergraduate program in the biological sciences.

Biology Peer Advisor Office Hours*
Peer AdvisorMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
Fabian HalblanderNoon-1 p.m.
Gleason Library Studio 2
Thomas Heist5-6 p.m.
Gleason Library Studio 2
Federico Sanchez4:30-5:30 p.m.
Rush Rhees Library
Room 209
Humanities Center Conference Room A
Maria Schapfel3-4 p.m.
Gleason Library
Studio 2
Bridget Tokiwa2:30-3:30 p.m.
Rush Rhees Library
Room 209
Humanities Center Conference Room A

*For the week of 11/7 the peer advisors will have the following additional office hours in addition to the hours listed above:

  • Fabian Halblander—Wednesday 11/9, noon-1 p.m., Gleason Library
  • Thomas Heist—Monday 11/7, 3-4 p.m., Gleason Library
  • Federico Sanchez—Tuesday 11/8, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Gleason Library
  • Maria Schapfel—Monday 11/7, 10-11 a.m., Carlson Library
  • Bridget Tokiwa—Monday 11/7, 1-2 p.m., Gleason Library

Peer Advisors

Fabian Halblander ‘23

Headshot of Fabian Halblander.
Fabian Halblander

Major: Computational biology
Office hours: Fall 22—Monday, noon-1 p.m., Gleason library

Origins: Des Plaines, Illinois (a Chicago suburb)

Teaching assistant experience: I TA'd BIOL 198 for Dr. Stein in fall 2022.

Extracurricular Activities: I have been tutoring bio, chem, and bio chem with CETL since the start of my junior year. I was humor editor at the Campus Times for a short stint, and have written lots of humor articles for them, so I guess you could say I'm a bit of a jokester. I also ran my own FM radio show through WRUR, our on-campus radio station, through my sophomore and junior years.

What do you love about the UR and/or a recommendation for things to do or food to try while in Rochester: I love the people at UR. I appreciate how determined and unabashedly interest-driven your average UR student is. If you're looking for things to do, Gosnell Big Woods preserve in Webster is nice and has some relatively challenging hiking. I like to get lost there when I need to blow off some steam. After, you could try a garbage plate if you want, but they are not to be taken lightly.

Top ↑


Thomas Heist ‘23

Headshot of Thomas Heist.
Thomas Heist

Major: Molecular genetics
Minor: Movement studies, epidemiology
Office hours: Fall 22—Thursday, 5-6 p.m., Gleason Library

Origins: I was born in Fort Hood, Texas but consider my home to be Falls Church, Virginia where I live now.

Teaching assistant experience: I am currently a TA for BIOL 202: Molecular Biology with Dr. Sia.

Extracurricular activities: I have been involved in research in the Mello Lab in the Department of Biomedical Genetics at the Medical Center since the spring of 2020 and am currently working toward my senior thesis. I was awarded the Discover Grant in the summer of 2021 and the deKiewiet Summer Research Fellowship in the summer of 2022 to support my project investigating the role of tumor suppressor p53 in exocrine pancreas embryogenesis. I was also a D'Lion in Sue B last year.

What do you love about the UR and/or a recommendation for things to do or food to try while in Rochester: I love that UR puts so much effort into creating a supportive academic environment that makes sure everyone is taken care of. The peer advisor programs and workshop/recitation system are really great examples of that, and I am proud to be on the "taking care" side of both of those this year. I also think our campus and the surrounding parks are really pretty and would definitely recommend exploring them.

Top ↑


Federico Sanchez ‘23 (Take-5)

Headshot of Federico Sanchez.
Federico Sanchez

Major: Ecology and evolutionary biology
Minor: Psychology
Office hours: Fall 22—Wednesday, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Rush Rhees Library 209/Humanities Center/Conference Room A

Origins: Born in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where I lived until attending UR

Teaching assistant experience: Lab TA for BIOL 111/113, Professor Robert Minckley, spring 2021 and 2022; head TA for BIOL 210 (cell bio), Professor Anusha Naganathan, fall 2021; TA for BCSC 183 (Animal Minds), Professor Dora Biro, fall 2022

Extracurricular activities: Resident Advisor; HOPE Edu member and volunteer (in training!); Creative Arts Club member

What do you love about the UR and/or a recommendation for things to do or food to try while in Rochester: I love how close we are to really nice parks and natural spaces. Don't miss the chance to go to Letchworth or Chimney Bluffs state parks! I also appreciate how much people are willing to help each other succeed at this school, that's something really valuable. Go to Neno's for good Mexican food!

Top ↑


Maria Schapfel ‘23

Headshot of Maria Schapfel.
Maria Schapfel

Major: Molecular genetics
Minor: Chemistry, French
Office hours: Fall 22—Friday, 3-4 p.m., Gleason Library Studio 2

Origins: I grew up just outside of Boston, MA.

Teaching assistant experience: Fall 2020: BIOL 110L Principles of Biology Workshop with Dr. Clark; fall 2021: BIOL 110L Principles of Biology Lab with Dr. Stein; fall 2022: BIOL 198 Principles of Genetics Recitation with Dr. Stein

ExtracurricularActivities: I play trumpet in multiple ensembles on campus and take lessons at Eastman. In my free time, I like to run, and am hoping to run my second marathon this spring. I also volunteer at Highland Hospital as part of their Elder Life Program. I am a member of Chi Omega Sorority, and during my sophomore spring and junior fall, I was a member of the 2021 iGEM team.

What do you love about the UR and/or a recommendation for things to do or food to try while in Rochester: I love the community at UR, everyone is really friendly and eager to learn. Also,the campus and surrounding trails are beautiful. I would definitely recommend exploring the different trails and parts of GVP, or for more of an excursion, driving out to Lake Ontario. Food wise, I love Louisiana's and Jines restaurants.

Top ↑


Bridget Tokiwa ‘23

Headshot of Bridget Tokiwa.
Bridget Tokiwa

Major: Biochemistry
Minor: SART (studio art)
Office hours: Fall 22—Tuesday, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Rush Rhees Library 209/Humanities Center/Conference Room A

Origins: Before attending UR, I lived in Bucks County, PA.

Teaching assistant experience: I was previously a TA for CHEM 132 with Dr. Rothberg in spring semester of 2021.

Extracurricular activities: I have been one of the illustrations editors for our university newspaper, the Campus Times, since my first year at UR. Over the summer, I worked in the Grayhack lab as part of the de Kiewiet Summer Research Fellowship program.

What do you love about the UR and/or a recommendation for things to do or food to try while in Rochester: I love how easy it is to get involved in a wide range of activities at UR and explore interests outside of your major. I also love the way campus looks once the leaves change colors in the fall. While in Rochester, you have to try Dogtown for hot dogs and hamburgers—they also have vegetarian/vegan ones! Also, definitely stop by the public market and the Lucky Flea market on weekends.

Top ↑