Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship

March 5, 2024

Elsa Couvillon has been selected by the Department of Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology (MCDB) as the 2023-2024 Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship recipient. Congratulations, Elsa!

This award is made possible by the generosity of donors to the Division of Life Sciences.

When MCDB graduate Kristen Hanson passed away in 2012, her friends Courtney Cochran, Sarah Wagman Ellenbogen and Jennifer Cohen Bogan raised $25,000 to dedicate a bench at the UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden in her 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 scholarship to a Life Sciences student each year, chosen by a committee of faculty. This award honors an 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.

Elsa is a senior in the Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) department at UCLA, with a minor in biomedical research. At UCLA, she conducts research in the Braybrook Lab with the aim of developing the first known application of RNAi in giant kelp, a severely understudied but ecologically critical species.

Elsa is also a student athlete at UCLA and competes for the Dl women's rowing team. Additionally, she is a committed member of the student organization Bruins Fighting Pediatric Cancer (BFPC), through which she volunteers with pediatric cancer patients and their families at Mattel's Children's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House in Downtown Los Angeles. Outside of UCLA, she volunteers for the Crisis Textline, where she counsels individuals through crises such as suicide attempts or self-harm.

Elsa's professional interests include cancer biology, medicine, pediatric oncology, and lab research. Her extracurricular interests include hiking, sailing, running, and spending time around the ocean.
To donate to the Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship, please visit this link:

Previous Kristen Hanson Memorial Scholarship recipients:
Gianna Colombo
Avril Rincon
Zoe Ge
Daniela Wong
Laila Sathe
Pagé Goddard
Esmeralda Isabel Villavicencio González