Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship Announcement

July 7, 2021

Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship

Zoe Ge has been selected by the Department of Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology (MCDB) as the 2020-2021 Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship recipient. Congratulations, Zoe!

This award is made possible by the generosity of Courtney Cochran, Sarah Wagman Ellenbogen and Jennifer Cohen Bogan.

When MCDB graduate Kristen Hanson passed away in 2012, her friends Courtney, Sarah and Jen raised $25,000 to dedicate a bench at the UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden in Kristen’s honor.

That experience inspired further philanthropy, and the group then raised $100,000 to endow the Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship, which further extended Hanson’s legacy by awarding a $5,000 scholarship to a Life Sciences student each year. This award honors a female undergraduate who exemplifies the positive traits that Kristen embodied, which include not only academic accomplishment and a passion for science, but also well-rounded interests, leadership, originality and commitment to engage with the world.

Courtney, Jen and Sarah describe, in their own words, what prompted them to endow the Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship:

Going beyond – it’s what science allows us to do. To think big, to imagine what could be. When we created the Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship in the Division of Life Sciences, none of us knew how greatly the process would broaden our perspectives and invigorate our worldviews on what’s possible when innovation, academia and talent come together. We set out to create a legacy for our dear friend Kristen, and in doing so have been humbled to meet and support some of the brightest young minds in science today.

Each year, we’re encouraged to think courageously and creatively about the future, and what can be, thanks to the students who are nominated for the award—and the stories they share about their own journeys, hopes and dreams. In these dreams we see a brighter future for all, and each year find a renewed sense of hope about what’s possible tomorrow. It has a lot to do with lifting each other up, and creating a path for others to follow—and that seed started with Kristen. Here’s to celebrating this year’s extraordinarily deserving honoree, Zoe—and all of those to come.

About the 2021 Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship recipient, Zoe Ge:

Zoe is a third-year Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics major and Film and TV minor at UCLA, pursuing a career in medicine. As an undergraduate student researcher in the Miller Lab, she is working on her departmental honors research project on the mutagenesis of various strains of E. coli to study its repair mechanisms and ability to acquire antibiotic resistance. Zoe also works as a medical assistant at Cedars-Sinai, where she helps the head physician with examinations and surgeries and documents each patient’s electronic health records. Previously, she worked as an Emergency Medical Technician for seven months in 2020, providing one-on-one basic life support to COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients during ambulance transports. As a first-generation and pre-med student, Zoe is passionate about the intersectionality of her cultural identity and her pursuits in healthcare. In the future, she hopes to apply her personal experiences to better care for underrepresented groups within the healthcare industry.

Q&A with Zoe:

How did you hear about the Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship and what prompted you to apply?
I was actually just hanging out one night when I suddenly got the email telling me I had been nominated. I couldn’t believe it at first. I dropped everything and immediately started researching the award. I was absolutely blown away by what an incredible honor it was to be nominated, so I just had to apply!

Why is receiving this scholarship meaningful for you?
The most meaningful part of this entire experience has been meeting and talking with the award committee. I was on a Zoom call with Sarah, Jen and Amander, the Chair of the MCDB Department. It was inspiring to hear from Sarah and Jen about their love for and memories of their dear friend Kristen and about everything they have done in their careers to build up the women around them.

How did Kristen’s story specifically inspire you?
I’m inspired by Kristen’s legacy and everything that’s been done in her memory. I think a lot of times we undergraduates tend to doubt the impact and potential we have, but Kristen’s story really proves that no action is too small and it’s never too late to make a difference in the world.

What are your future career aspirations?
It has always been my lifelong dream to pursue a career in medicine, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do! After finishing med school and working for a couple of years, I hope to open my own health clinic.

What is your advice for aspiring female scientists?
Like my Mom always said, take advantage of every opportunity. If you do not see a path ahead laid out for you, forge your own.

To donate to the Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship, and to support other promising scholars like Zoe, please visit:

Previous Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship recipients:
Daniela Wong
Laila Sathe
Pagé Goddard
Esmeralda Isabel Villavicencio González