Student Spotlight: Yazeed Alroogi


Over the course of their time in the Program, KGSP students engage in activities and experiences that enrich their academic and professional careers. Through the guidance of Advisors and the Enrichment team, the Program fosters an environment of intellectual curiosity; encouraging and supporting students through their personal goals. Often times, students are able to identify their topics and subjects of interest, which they spend time developing through academic coursework, research, and internship opportunities in their undergraduate careers.

Yazeed Alroogi

Image 1: Yazeed Alroogi, Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University

One such student, Yazeed Alroogi, a senior at Northwestern University majoring in Biomedical Engineering, has spent the better part of his undergraduate career conducting research in synthetic biology. Yazeed’s interest in the field peaked after taking a cell biology course in the fall of his sophomore year. In the following winter quarter, he had a class with Professor Neha Kamat of Northwestern’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, during which he used his networking skills to land summer research opportunities in both the Kamat and Leonard Labs, working alongside faculty and graduate students on projects related to extracellular vesicles and drug delivery. “The first [of two projects] was developing a coating strategy to increase the circulation time of extracellular vesicles in order to achieve better drug delivery,” Yazeed noted on his work in the lab. “My second project was developing a Python image analysis program to quantify protein binding in order to select binder proteins for extracellular vesicle targeting.” To support his summer research, Yazeed was awarded the Michael Jaharis Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a grant that supports biomedical engineering (BME) students at Northwestern in full-time, 9-week summer research experiences in BME faculty labs. “As a sophomore who had just started research in a field that was new and exciting for me, receiving the Michael Jaharis Fellowship was an incredible start in my synthetic biology career that assured me that I have a place in this field.”

While still engaged in research, Yazeed worked as an intern scientist during the summer of his junior year at Syenex, a biotechnology startup working on developing targeted delivery technologies for cell and gene therapy. In the Leonard Lab, Yazeed expanded on his work with extracellular vesicles, and had the opportunity to incorporate his computer science minor in developing a DNA sequencing analysis tool. “I think the most valuable thing I took from Syenex is just how fun it is to do research as a team. All of us were working on solving the same exact problems, and we would work in the lab together. Achieving that feeling of community while doing research is now what I look for the most in any research experience.”

In October 2023, he was accepted to present a poster titled “A cell-based assay and image analysis program to evaluate protein binders for EV targeting” at the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington. “Being in the same place as some of the most prolific experts of Biomedical Engineering was an experience like no other,” Yazeed said on his presentation at the BMES conference. “I had the amazing opportunity to present a poster for my image analysis program, and it was so exciting to engage in thoughtful conversations about the project with some incredible scientists in the field.” Yazeed’s presentation covered the research he did under the guidance of Professors Kamat and Leonard and his graduate mentors. Culminating his scientific research, Yazeed was awarded the Biomedical Award for Research from Northwestern’s BME department, recognizing his hard work and dedication to the field of synthetic biology. “It was an incredible sign of validation that I still have a place in this field,” Yazeed added.

Yazeed has displayed an incredible work ethic and dedication to his passions, evident in his accomplishments from his time in the KGSP. As his tenure comes to an end, he credits his friends and family for pushing him to unwaveringly pursue his dreams. “My life is the people around me, and the unyielding support of family and friends has been and will always be my greatest motivation. I am a firm believer that a good life outside of work makes the work all the more manageable, and I am so lucky to have my family and friends as a support system that keeps me motivated.” To his fellow KGSP students, he pressed on the importance of having a dependable support system and exploring a wide range of subjects. “We are not simple machines built to perform specific tasks; we are people who need other people to live a meaningful life. Also, take interesting humanities classes. There is a wealth of interesting topics to learn!”

The KGSP is proud of Yazeed, and of its community of young changemakers already making an impact in the field of STEM. The Program continues to support its students through identifying and developing their passions, and looks forward to witnessing their continued contributions to the advancement of the world.