2016-2017 ARCS Scholars

Congratulations to our
2016-2017 Scholars
ARCS Foundation Northern California Chapter

SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY

  • San Francisco State University
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Physics & Astronomy



  • Trevor Gokey
    Master's Program - Chemistry & Biochemistry
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  • Shervin Sahba
    Master's Program - Physics & Astronomy
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  • Anna Maria Schindler
    Master's Program - Mathematics
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Department of Biology
Master’s Program

Alma Ceja

Alma is interested in the application of biological sciences to the emerging field of exoplanetary science and looks forward to joining the field of exobiology in characterizing exoplanets. Her current project involves agent-based ecological modeling of intertidal crab distribution. Honors include Center for Student Research Fellow at CSU-East Bay, National Institute of Health Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program Scholar, Jenny Low Chang Memorial Scholar, San Francisco Bay Scholarship, and Gloria Spencer University Women’s Association Scholar. Alma has worked as a research assistant for two years and has extensive customer service and food industry experience. Her outside interests include nature and single-subject photography. Alma is of Hispanic heritage and speaks Spanish fluently as well as conversational French.

Department of Biology
Master’s Program

Dwayne Evans

An MBRS-RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) and Genentech Dissertation Scholar, Dwayne's research interests include the evolution of drug resistance in the Human Immunodeficiency Virus type-1 when exposed to Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). At SFSU, his research is focused on determining whether PrEP increases the number of patients with drug resistance. Dwayne plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in bioinformatics and continuing to study the relationship between HIV drug resistance and patient infection rates. Aside from research, Dwayne enjoys mentoring undergraduates, learning R programming language and teaching locking choreography in dance classes.

Department of Mathematics
Master’s Program

Luke Evans

Luke is currently pursuing research involving phase retrieval in regard to frames in Hilbert spaces. In general, his research interests are in harmonic, functional and applied analysis. In addition to academic research, Luke has worked as a student intern at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory developing hydrodynamics discretization schemes. Outside of academics, Luke enjoys running, exploring San Francisco neighborhoods, and reading.

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Master’s Program

Trevor Gokey

Trevor recently earned an MS in computer science at SFSU and plans to utilize his double MS in Chemistry and Biochemistry to research at the Ph.D. level. He enjoys leveraging aspects of computer hardware, operating systems, and programming to investigate biochemical problems, and particularly enjoys writing computational software. Trevor has already published four papers in the area of computational biochemistry, primarily using simulation techniques to study the structure and function of various macromolecules. Outside of research, Trevor's interests revolve around the science of cooking, coffee, optimization, and automation. He hopes to live long enough to witness an atomic-scale simulation of a synapse.

Department of Biology
Master’s Program

Monet Jimenez

Despite the various challenges she faced as a first-generation college student, Monet was awarded the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) fellowship during her first year and selected to continue her second year as an MS Dissertation Genentech Scholar. Her current research investigates how histone proteins influence the biology of chromatin and their contribution to male infertility in C. elegans. Additionally, as the co-founder and Vice President of SFSU SACNAS, she strives to create a community where her colleagues are connected to opportunities in science, and youth are empowered to pursue advanced degrees in science. In the future she intends to apply to MD/Ph.D. programs where she can study the impact of health disparities on a molecular level. She is determined to be a compassionate leader in both medicine and science.

Department of Physics & Astronomy
Master’s Program

Shervin Sahba

Shervin felt his calling to science after years working as a private tutor in San Francisco. Still active in education, he is now researching photonic materials, investigating the flow of light in media. His work seeks to design devices that can reinforce and ultimately supplant today’s electronic signal systems. Now in his second year as an ARCS Scholar, Shervin is interested in computational science that allows large scale exploration of physics, leading to his internship with the Blue Waters Petascale Institute on supercomputing. In his free time, he partakes in recreational mathematics, hiking, and cycling.

Department of Mathematics
Master’s Program

Anna Maria Schindler

Anna took an indirect route to mathematics, majoring in the humanities as an undergraduate at Wesleyan University and working as a restaurant cook for two years after graduating. It was tutoring that first drove Anna to return to the study of mathematics, and teaching continues to be one of her greatest passions. Anna’s research interests are in algebra and combinatorics. In particular, she is studying spectral graph theory and equivariant Ehrhart theory. She hopes to attend a Ph.D. program after graduating from SFSU, ultimately aspiring to continue a life of exploring, contributing to, and spreading mathematical knowledge.

STANFORD UNIVERSITY

  • Stanford University
  • Department of Applied Physics
  • Department of Bioengineering
  • Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Earth System Sciences
  • Department of Electrical Engineering
  • Department of Geophysics
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Department of Physics
  • Eva Gabriela Baylon
    Ph.D. Program - Mechanical Engineering
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  • Sarah Fakhreddine
    Ph.D. Program - Earth System Sciences
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  • Emily Hollenbeck
    Ph.D. Program - Chemical Engineering
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  • Kevin Scott Raines
    Ph.D. Program - Applied Physics
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  • Gennifer Smith
    Ph.D. Program - Electrical Engineering
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Department of Mechanical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Eva (“Gaby”) Baylon

Gaby is interested in the structure-function relation of fibrocartilage tissue in the knee joint, in particular, the role osmotic swelling plays in its mechanical behavior. Her Ph.D. project focuses on the creation of a finite element model to be validated using an experimental swelling model as well as establishing a relationship between osmotic swelling and non-invasive, quantitative MRI-based parameters for diagnostic purposes. Gaby has served as president of the Latino/a Engineering Graduate Organization at Stanford and is a member of several diversity advocacy committees. Upon completion of her Ph.D., Gaby will pursue an engineering faculty position at the university level.

Department of Mathematics
Ph.D. Program

Daren Cheng

Daren’s research focuses mainly on the analytical properties of harmonic maps and minimal surfaces, two of the most fundamental objects in geometric analysis. Currently he is studying the energy-concentration phenomenon for sequences of critical points of the Allen-Cahn functional, which models phase transition in iron alloys and superuids, among other things. After obtaining his degree, Daren plans to pursue an academic career and continue his research in geometric analysis. Aside from mathematics, he has a deep interest in Chinese history and literature. In fact, it is his belief that good historical writings have a lot in common with good mathematical expositions.

Department of Physics
Ph.D. Program

Christopher Davis

Chris thesis project deals with improving measurements of the accelerating expansion of the universe: by measuring the location and shape of three hundred million galaxies we can test General Relativity on cosmological scales. Chris is developing a novel method to infer the distances of galaxies by correlating their positions with the cosmic web of dark matter, and is also improving gravitational lensing measurements by modeling the distortions to galaxy shapes that arise from the complex optical system of the 4-meter Victor Blanco Telescope and the Dark Energy Camera. In his spare time, Chris plays jazz bass throughout the Bay Area.

Department of Earth System Sciences
Ph.D. Program

Sarah Fakhreddine

Sarah’s research focuses on understanding the geochemical processes that control the fate and transport of groundwater contaminants. Through the use of laboratory experiments and computational modeling, her work examines how artificial groundwater recharge can alter the native geochemistry of an aquifer and subsequently degrade the groundwater quality. She is particularly interested in applying a geochemical understanding of these processes to provide water managers with recommendations for methods to minimize the mobilization of groundwater contaminants. After completing her Ph.D., she plans to pursue a career in research either at the university level or in a national laboratory. Outside the lab, she enjoys exploring the area around Stanford, hiking, biking and scuba diving.

Department of Chemical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Emily Hollenbeck

Emily's research centeres on understanding different strategies used by microorganisms during the infection process from a biophysical perspective. This ranges from studying the initial adhesion of pathogens to host tissue to the formation of microbial communities that are difficult to eradicate with traditional antibiotics. During her time at Stanford, Emily has been a fellow in the Center for Molecular Analysis and Design, a program that fosters and supports interdisciplinary research. Upon graduating, Emily plans to pursue a career in human health, potentially developing novel therapies to treat bacterial infection.

Department of Chemistry
Ph.D. Program

Patrick Kramer

Patrick’s concentration is in Chemical Physics, studying the ultrafast vibrational dynamics of small hydrogen-bonding molecules (such as water and alcohols) in complex condensed-phase environments using two-­dimensional infrared (2D IR) spectroscopy. Patrick has contributed to the development of a theory allowing analysis and separation of the various structural and rotational contributions and applied it to his measurements on the experimental system of methanol in a room-temperature ionic liquid - a solvent system of great interest for new advances in chemical processing and batteries, for example. After graduation, Patrick would like to proceed to an academic career developing new methodologies for extracting ultrafast dynamical information from chemical systems. Outside of the lab, he enjoys travel, hiking, and Scotch whiskey.

Department of Geophysics
Ph.D. Program

Jeremy Maurer

Jeremy’s research focues on crustal deformation modeling and earthquake hazards. He is currently investigating overall seismic hazard in Southern California and magnitudes of earthquakes induced by disposal of wastewater deep underground, using theoretical studies, statistics, and modeling to try to quantify seismic hazard and reduce it when possible. Jeremy plans to pursue a career path in research and teaching. When he is not busy running models or looking at data, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, and playing sports with friends.

Department of Bioengineering
Ph.D. Program

Amanda Miguel

Amanda's graduate work focuses on understanding the shape and growth of bacteria under stressful environments, using a combination of high-throughput genetic assays, biochemical analysis of bacterial structure, and single cell level microscopy. Her research interests also include structural analysis of protein-drug relationships through computational modeling, with a specific interest in bacteria-targeting antibiotics. Outside of her research, Amanda pursues her passion for mentoring and teaching as a co-coordinator for the Bioengineering TA mentorship program, and also volunteers her time for educational outreach to nearby middle schools. Her hobbies include biking, playing guitar, and scrapbooking.

Department of Applied Physics
Ph.D. Program

Kevin Scott Raines

Kevin's research occurs at the intersection of biophysics and machine learning. In biophysics, his interests range from the atomic structure of proteins, to the epigenetic profile of kidney cancer, to correlations at the social scale between health and economics. Within each of these areas, he develops and applies computational techniques to extract patterns from copious data. Currently, he is working on a project to incorporate neural networks into phase retrieval algorithms in order to solve protein structures from limited and noisy measurements. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, exercise, drawing, traveling, and learning new (and old) languages.

Department of Physics
Ph.D. Program

Alexander Rider
ARCS Stanford Graduate Fellow

An Eagle Scout, Alex is interested in experiments that test the fundamental way nature works. Currently, he is building an experiment to see how gravity works when objects are separated by distances much less than the thickness of a human hair. He has published work looking for new particles and on radiation detectors. When not in the lab, Alex enjoys outdoor activities like bicycling, hiking, and camping.

Department of Electrical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Gennifer Smith

Gennifer's main research interest is low-cost medical diagnostics. As an undergraduate she was an intern at Sandia National Laboratories and helped develop a point-of-care device for diagnosing tuberculosis and assessing antibiotic resistance. She is currently working on a low-cost device for urinalysis, which will include antibiotic susceptibility testing. Gennifer has also been involved in several other projects including image quantitation and phantom fabrication for optical coherence tomography. Gennifer has mentored several undergraduate students performing research at Stanford and hopes to continue a career in academics. Outside of the lab, Gennifer enjoys playing board games and Minecraft with her son.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Department of Computer Science
  • Department of Materials Science & Engineering
  • Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Department of Microbiology
  • Department of Physics
  • Department of Plant Biology


  • Orianna DeMasi
    Ph.D. Program - Computer Science
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  • Audrey Ford
    Ph.D. Program - Mechanical Engineering
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  • Brianna Haining
    Ph.D. Program - Plant Biology
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  • Molly Nicholas
    Ph.D. Program - Computer Science
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  • Trenton Otto
    Ph.D. Program - Chemical Engineering
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  • Willie Mae Reese
    Ph.D. Program - Materials Science & Engineering
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  • Alexander Reinking
    Ph.D. Program - Computer Science
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  • Miklos Zoller
    Ph.D. Program - Civil & Environmental Engineering
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Department of Plant Biology
Ph.D. Program

Andrew Brandon

Andrew first became interested in alternative energy and biofuels as an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, where he spent 1-1/2 years working in an environmental microbiology lab and was introduced to all the recent advances in bio-energy research. At UC Berkeley, his focus is on gaining a deeper understanding of photosynthesis in a biochemical context and how these processes can be harnessed to produce energy useable by humans. After he earns his doctorate, Andrew hopes to pursue private industry research or possibly a career in academia.

Department of Computer Science
Ph.D. Program

Orianna DeMasi

Orianna is interested in applications of machine learning for high performance computing, specifically auto-tuning. Her research project involves how to efficiently find parameter values to make a code run quickly. It has been established that codes must be tuned to each machine, but it is not known how to do this quickly, without trying all parameter values. This interest was developed while she was working in the Complex Systems Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). When she isn’t on a computer, she can be found digging in her garden, keeping her cats out of her garden, and collecting butterflies. After obtaining her Ph.D., Orianna plans to pursue a staff scientist position at a DOE lab.

Department of Physics
Ph.D. Program

Samantha Dixon

As an undergraduate, Samantha conducted research in a lab on an experiment to detect ultra-high energy cosmic rays, and wrote an honor's thesis for her work on an experiment searching for dark matter. She spent one summer as an intern at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center studying the Cosmic Microwave Background. At UC Berkeley her research uses data from Type Ia supernovae, a special class of exploding stars, to probe the expansion history of the Universe. This expansion history provides us with an important piece of the puzzle for uncovering the nature of dark energy. In the future, Samantha plans to continue research in astrophysics and cosmology.

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Audrey Ford

Audrey’s research interests are in the biomechanics of soft tissue. She is interested in cartilage mechanics and repair strategies, with a focus on developing cartilage tissue engineering techniques to repair or replace damaged articular cartilage (i.e., in knees and hips). A polyethylene plastic bearing surface is used in the successful design of many hip, knee, and shoulder replacements. Polycarbonate urethane has been introduced as an alternative plastic for orthopedic implants due to its more elastomeric and cartilage-like properties. However, without 20 years of clinical data with this new material, it is difficult to predict the effects of repetitive loading over several decades. To try to predict the performance of polycarbonate urethane, Audrey is using fatigue analysis to understand how it can fail under cyclic loading and is also working to understand how the micro-level structure of the material influences its resistance to crack growth and fracture. A greater understanding of the fatigue properties of polycarbonate urethane will help to inform and improve the design of future orthopedic implants. Outside of her work as a graduate student, Audrey also trains and races with the UC Berkeley triathlon team.

Department of Plant Biology
Ph.D. Program

Lily Gu

Lily is a first-year Ph.D. student whose research interests broadly include plant-microbe interactions, plant cell biology, photosynthesis, and plant innate immunity. She received her MS in biology and a certificate in biotechnology from Ball State University, where her thesis investigated the impact of climate change on the microbial loop in an Alaskan peatland. For her BS in biology from Emory University, she researched pathways of fecal contamination of raw produce in Mexican farms. Lily also has two years of teaching experience in introductory biology laboratory. Outside of research, Lily enjoys hiking, sport climbing, and playing the piano.

Department of Plant Biology
Ph.D. Program

Brianna Haining

Brianna began her studies at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYU’s “World’s Honors College”) as a part of the school’s inaugural class. Now, she is a rising second year graduate student at UC Berkeley. As a joint student in the Hake and Blackman labs, she is pursuing research that lies at the interface of adaptation and development. Specifically, Brianna is investigating variation in the iron uptake properties of Setaria italica, or foxtail millet, which is a crop important in many regions of the developing world. While she is not at lab, Brianna enjoys knitting and SCUBA.

Department of Chemistry
Ph.D. Program

Mark Levin

Mark is working on the development of new transition metal catalyzed reactions. Synthetic catalytic reactions make up the toolbox by which virtually all new molecules are made - from pharmaceuticals, to plastics, to OLED light bulbs, to paints and fertilizers. As more sophisticated reactions are invented, the potential chemical space accessible to researchers in all fields is expanded, and the efficiency of existing production is increased. Mark's research is particularly focused on developing new concepts for catalytic reactions, focusing on the Au(l)/(111) and Pt(ll)/Pt(IV) redox couples as platforms for proof-of-concept reaction development. Recently, Mark began a collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Radiopharmaceutical division to employ new methodologies for the synthesis of PET tracers. In his spare time, he plays guitar and writes Wikipedia articles about organic chemistry.

Department of Computer Science
Ph.D. Program

Molly Nicholas

Bangladesh to Berkeley. Clown Conservatory to Qualcomm. These have been some of the stops on Molly’s journey so far. Her research goals are exploring how theatrical techniques and methods may influence the fields of electrical engineering and computer science, and vice versa. Her work as a performer developed Molly’s intuition about how to engage an audience. The time she spent in Bangladesh gave her a broader sense of the world, and helped her develop a more nuanced understanding of tough problems like poverty. The Qbadge she created at Qualcomm was a tantalizing taste for the work she is eager to do. Now Molly wants to be on the cutting edge of research at the University level, and solve problems that don't even exist yet.

Department of Chemical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Trenton Otto

Trenton came to UC Berkeley because of the university’s excellent catalysis research and its close collaborations with industry. His project concerns the encapsulation of catalytically active metal species within zeolites. In particular, he aims to develop synthetic strategies for the encapsulation of metal clusters -- such as gold nano-particles -- that have been found to have potential but are precluded from commercial use due to their poor stability or selectivity, or their propensity to adsorb poisons. Over the long-term, Trenton would like to work in Research & Development in the chemical industry or in a national laboratory on catalysis projects.

Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Willie Mae Reese
Lucille M. Jewett Scholar

Originally from Carlsbad, NM, Willie completed her BS in Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. After graduating she joined Teach for America, a non-profit organization that aims to increase awareness about educational inequality in urban and low income communities. In 2011, she began a co-op at Intel Corporation, successfully completing a short-term project to reduce operational costs on metrology equipment and the long-term project of developing tools to help track costs in other areas. In her current research project, she is using focused ion beam (FIB) lithography and electron-beam lithography to pattern surfaces with submicron pores or pits to create microenvironments for cells. She is studying two effects of the nano-pores and pits to specifically understand how these surfaces can be applied to better direct wound healing.

Department of Computer Science
Ph.D. Program

Alexander Reinking

Alexander’s research focus is in software synthesis, with the goal of designing algorithms that generate program source code from simpler specifications. His paper, "A Type-Directed Approach to Program Repair'', was published at Computer Aided Verification in 2015 and won second place in the Programming Languages Design and Implementation Student Research Competition. Alexander also spent two summers as a software engineering intern for Microsoft, where he worked on lntune, a cloud-based, enterprise, device management product.

Department of Plant Biology
Ph.D. Program

Ouwei Wang

Ouwei’s project investigates the regulation of perchlorate reduction enzymes in response to alternative electron acceptors. Perchlorate is a widespread toxic compound in drinking water, but it’s also used as an electron acceptor in a metabolism initiated by perchlorate reductase in some bacteria. The transcription of perchlorate reductase is inhibited by the presence of oxygen and nitrate, which are common alternative electron acceptors used by most perchlorate reducing bacteria. Ouwei’s work is focused on understanding the molecular mechanism and identifying the regulatory factors involved in perchlorate reductase regulation. This work has applied value, as both in situ and ex situ stimulation of perchlorate reduction must contend with the inhibitory presence of nitrate and oxygen. After coming to America as a teenager with little knowledge of the English language, Ouwei has worked very hard to pursue his dream of becoming a scientist. With a Ph.D. degree, he hopes to inspire other members of the immigrant community to pursue their higher education goals.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Miklos Zoller

Miklos’s research focuses on material modeling, as new materials are being discovered and created annually but constitutive relationships for their mechanical behavior have not yet been determined. He has been working on a micro-mechanics model for large deformation elastic and viscoelastic materials. The model approximates the complicated microstructure of polymer chains by a sphere, which is described by a few variables relating to the kinematics of the deformation. He has completed the work for the time-independent response for the large deformation case. He's now working on the time-dependent/viscoelastic response and getting closer to determining the best algorithm for the homogenization procedure.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS

  • University of California, Davis
  • Animal Behavior Graduate Group
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Department of Computer Science
  • Ecology Graduate Group
  • Geology Graduate Group
  • Neuroscience Graduate Group
  • Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Group
  • Population Biology Graduate Group
  • School of Veterinary Medicine/Integrative Pathobiology

  • Helen Chmura
    Ph.D. Program - Animal Behavior Graduate Group
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  • Mark DeBlois
    Ph.D. Program - Geology Graduate Group
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  • Joshua Greenfield
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Chemistry
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  • Neil Patrick Griffis
    Ph.D. Program - Geology Graduate Group
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  • Allison Injaian
    Ph.D. Program - Animal Behavior Graduate Group
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  • Steven Kubiski
    Ph.D. Program - School of Veterinary Medicine/Integrative Pathobiology
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  • Moria Robinson
    Ph.D. Program - Population Biology Graduate Group
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  • Amber Schedlbauer
    Ph.D. Program - Neuroscience Graduate Group
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  • Harrison Jesse Smith
    Ph.D. Program - Biomedical Engineering
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  • Michelle Stitzer
    Ph.D. Program - Population Biology Graduate Group
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  • Samantha Francis Stuart
    Ph.D. Program - Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Group
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  • Lily Ann Tomkovic
    Ph.D. Program - Civil & Environmental Engineering
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  • Eric Velasquez
    Ph.D. Program - School of Veterinary Medicine/Integrative Pathobiology
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  • Matthew Whalen
    Ph.D. Program - Ecology Graduate Group
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Animal Behavior Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Helen Chmura

Helen's passion for science began as an undergraduate at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory while studying marmot behavior. After graduating from Swarthmore College Phi Beta Kappa with Honors in Biology, she spent a year studying the biological and social consequences of climate change for communities in sacred mountain regions of Peru, Chile, Papua New Guinea, and Tibet as a Watson Fellow. Upon her return, Helen worked for National Wildlife Federation on climate change adaptation. Her current research studies the response of migratory songbirds to global climate change in the Arctic. Helen is also an avid hiker and flautist.

Geology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Mark DeBlois

Mark is studying the evolution of animal locomotion, specifically swimming in sauropterygians, a group of extinct marine reptiles that dominated Mesozoic oceans. They "flew" underwater, akin to penguins but with two sets of flippers working in tandem. Mark spent the summer of 2016 in China as an NSF fellow examining fossil sauropterygians, spanning their transformation from primarily terrestrial to the fully aquatic locomotion unique to this group. Mark believes a scientific community that reflects the diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ideas that make up our country is the key to the full potential of US scientific advancement.

Department of Chemistry
Ph.D. Program

Joshua Greenfield

Joshua's research is focused on the development of a solvothermal synthetic route to novel iron-based superconductors and low-dimensional hybrid-inorganic materials with exotic magnetic properties. He has presented his work at multiple national conferences and has authored five publications. In addition to performing his own research and mentoring undergraduate and high school students in the lab, Joshua is also active in educational outreach, performing chemistry demonstrations for local elementary schools and the public, including the annual Picnic Day Chemistry Shows.

Geology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Neil Patrick Griffis

After receiving his M.Sc. in Geology, Neil was hired as a Sedimentary Geologist for Schlumberger in Salt Lake City, Utah and in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. His current research focuses on reconstructing the timing and magnitude of Earth's penultimate icehouse. This project involves extensive fieldwork in Patagonia and Southern Brazil where he analyzes glacial deposits. In addition, Neil is gaining expertise in high-precision U-Pb geochemistry and radiogenic isotopic analysis of Earth materials. Outside of school he is an avid skier, whitewater kayaker and backpacker.

Animal Behavior Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Allison Injaian

Allison’s research interests lie at the intersection of animal behavior, conservation biology, and urban ecology. She has completed research demonstrating noise pollution impacts across multiple levels of biological organization in a native bird, the Tree Swallow. These results are currently being written up for publication. Future projects include noise pollution impacts on telomere attrition, stress levels, oxidative damage, and return rate to breeding grounds. Allison also truly enjoys teaching and received the UC Davis 2015 Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award.

School of Veterinary Medicine/Integrative Pathobiology
Ph.D. Program

Steven Kubiski

A DVM and board-certified anatomic pathologist, Steve completed a joint veterinary pathology residency through UC Davis and the San Diego Zoo, following a year as a post-DVM research associate and diagnostician. He has sustained a primary interest in the pathophysiology of infectious diseases, especially mechanisms by which viruses evolve to infect different target cells as well as new host species. His current research is focused on characterizing the seroprevalence, genetic diversity, and pathogenic potential of a circovirus recently discovered in dogs.

Population Biology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Moria Robinson

For her dissertation research, Moria is studying how variation in soil resources alters the structure of food webs between plants, caterpillars, and their natural enemies. Her work focuses on a diverse, yet understudied fauna of moth caterpillars in California chaparral vegetation, contributing life history data and images to online identification resources and upcoming field guides. Her research emphasizes undergraduate mentorship in the lab and field, and has led to independent student research that examines effects of wildfire on insect densities and growth.

Neuroscience Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Amber Schedlbauer

Amber has been working on a project that will use direct electrical stimulation of the human brain to improve memory performance in individuals. Her published work in Scientific Reports employed neuroimaging and graph theory techniques to construct whole-brain networks that are linked to the underlying biological process of memory retrieval. Amber’s interests involve using more integrative approaches to discover the underlying mechanisms of memory retrieval that can eventually be applied to other cognitive domains, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and normal aging. Outside of her research, she enjoys climbing and hiking in the beautiful California outdoors.

Department of Computer Science
Ph.D. Program

Harrison Jesse Smith

Jesse is fortunate to have found a research area at the intersection of two of his passions: theater and computer science. His current work focuses on understanding how motion capture data can be procedurally modified to influence an audience's perceptions of performer personality and emotionality. These insights could be applied to create more effective teaching simulations, more believable virtual companions, and more immersive video games and virtual reality experiences. When not in front of a computer screen, Jesse enjoys backpacking, cooking, soap making, and rock climbing.

Population Biology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Michelle Stitzer

Michelle’s work in Plant Sciences focuses on the evolutionary genetics of transposable elements in com and its wild relative teosinte. While most genes are reliably transmitted from one generation to the next, static in their position in the genome, transposable elements can move across and between chromosomes. Michelle is broadly interested in linking molecular changes generated by the movement of transposable elements to evolutionary innovation, genetic load, and adaptation. Outside of the lab, she enjoys exploring the California flora.

Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Samantha Francis Stuart

Samantha is researching the roles of aging and chronic inflammation following heart attack, focusing primarily on modulation of inflammation as a strategy to attenuate tissue remodeling and prevent eventual heart failure. Samantha has received a pre-doctoral fellowship from the NIH-funded Pharmacology Training Program at UC Davis, and she has experience teaching general nutrition and basics of pharmacology and toxicology. Outside of the lab, Samantha's interests include yoga, cycling, and Spurs basketball.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Lily Ann Tomkovic

During the course of her graduate career, Lily has been developing hydrodynamic models of natural systems. She is now applying this expertise in numerical modeling to an inter-tidal restoration project, exploring the linkage between hydrodynamics and ecologic function. As a graduate student, she has held an internship with the U.S. Army Corps' Davis office, the Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), and continues to maintain that relationship, bridging the resources of both UC Davis and HEC. She is an active member of the Society of Women Engineers, mentoring and engaging with young women interested in STEM fields. To complement her modeling work on the Yolo Bypass, she does volunteer work for the Yolo Basin Foundation. In addition, she is active in environmental stewardship through rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, and snowboarding.

School of Veterinary Medicine/Integrative Pathobiology
Ph.D. Program

Eric Velasquez

In 2011, Eric became the first person in his family to complete college when he graduated with a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Davis. He stayed to pursue the combined DVM-Ph.D. program and has earned numerous scholarships to fund all stages of his education. Eric studies how the gut microbiota protects us against diarrheal pathogens and intestinal inflammation. In addition to research, he manages a laboratory animal colony and mentors younger scientists. After biking home from school each day, Eric learns how to be a parent.

Ecology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Matthew Whalen

Matt is interested in the causes and consequences of biological diversity in the sea. His dissertation research explores how environmental variation across space and time mediates species coexistence and, in turn, ecological functions like primary production and water filtration. Matt has been very successful in supporting his research, having secured funds from UC Davis, Bodega Marine Laboratory, and the Environmental Protection Agency. He has experience working in natural and aquaculture settings, from the water’s edge to the deep sea, on questions ranging from basic ecological theory to global conservation concerns. He is a strong independent researcher and also a valued collaborator. Outside of his research, Matt enjoys hiking, cooking, and brewing beer with his wife, Sarah, a park ranger at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO

  • University of California, San Francisco
  • Department of Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
  • Department of Bioengineering
  • Department of Biomedical Sciences
  • Department of Biophysics
  • Department of Developmental Stem Cell Biology
  • Department of Epidemiology
  • Department of Genetics
  • Department of Neuroscience

  • Jeremy Bancroft Brown
    Ph.D. Program - Bioengineering
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  • Candace Britton
    Ph.D. Program - Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
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  • Lauren Byrnes
    Ph.D. Program - Developmental Stem Cell Biology
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  • Stephanie Holden
    Ph.D. Program - Neuroscience
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  • Lucas Smith
    Ph.D. Program - Biomedical Sciences
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  • Adrienne Stormo
    Ph.D. Program - Biomedical Sciences
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  • Andrew Norman
    Ph.D. Program - Stem Cell Biology
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Department of Epidemiology
Ph.D. Program

Sarah Ackley

Community needs drive the research agenda in epidemiology, challenging researchers to hone and redirect their focus to solve important problems. Sarah is attracted to infectious disease modeling because it draws on her existing skills, while at the same time challenging her to gain skills in fields that she finds exciting: biology, computer science, and mathematics. For her Ph.D. dissertation, Sarah is using branching process theory with causal inference techniques to determine whether large measles outbreaks in California can be explained with information collected during routine surveillance. The ultimate goal of this research is to improve contact investigations and to better target vulnerable populations for vaccine campaigns. The results of her work will contribute to evidence-based decisions to improve policy decisions in California, nationally, and internationally.

Department of Bioengineering
Ph.D. Program

Jeremy Bancroft Brown

Jeremy is an MD/Ph.D. student in Bioengineering at UCSF and UC Berkeley. His research is focused on engineering a radiofrequency microcoil-bioreactor system for MRI-based microarchitecture and metabolism studies of individual living human prostate biopsies. A working prototype of the system has been constructed and tested in living prostate cancer cells. These techniques may be able to noninvasively predict the aggressiveness of a prostate tumor or predict individualized responses to therapy. Jeremy has contributed to publications in Radiology, Medical Physics, the Journal of Digital Imaging, and the Canadian Journal of Physics. In his spare time, Jeremy relaxes with his family and runs on the alternately foggy and sunny trails of Golden Gate Park.

Department of Biophysics
Ph.D. Program

Ben Barad

Ben is interested in understanding the role that protein dynamics play in the regulation of biological function. He has pursued this goal from two angles. The first is the development of new tools for doing analysis of models and data from electron cryomicroscopy, to which end he has written a software package which uses dihedral analysis to provide novel information comparing models with the EM maps from which they were generated. The second involves research into enzymes involved in the recognition and degradation of chitin in mammalian lungs. Outside of research, Ben is obsessed with finding the perfect cup of coffee, a quest that has included learning to roast his own coffee beans.

Department of Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
Ph.D. Program

Candace Britton

Candace is interested in discovering the molecular bases of how organisms evolve. In her current research project she is studying a transcriptional regulatory protein across hundreds of millions of years of its evolution in order to ask how a regulatory protein evolves to coordinate the expression of new sets of target genes. Her data indicate that these regulatory proteins gain intermolecular interactions with other complexes of proteins that are then co-opted to regulate new gene sets. Before joining the Tetrad Graduate Program at UCSF, Candace graduated with a BSc in Molecular Environmental Biology with High Distinction from UC Berkeley.

Department of Developmental Stem Cell Biology
Ph.D. Program

Lauren Byrnes

Lauren is interested in the role of the microenvironment in regulating cellular behavior. Currently, she is working on defining the microenvironment of the pancreatic beta cell niche, and understanding the role of niche cell types in the maturation and maintenance of beta cell function. Previously, Lauren completed her Master’s degree under a DAAD and Fulbright Scholarship at Heidelberg University, where she studied the interaction of the innate immune response and endoplasmic reticulum stress in bronchial epithelial cells. Outside of the lab, Lauren enjoys running, watching basketball, exploring new cities, and cooking.

Department of Neuroscience
Ph.D. Program

Witney Chen

Witney graduated from Brown University, magna cum laude, with a B.S. in neuroscience. At UCSF she studies neural circuits in Parkinson’s disease patients to characterize the underpinnings of various motor, affective, and cognitive symptoms. She aims to better understand these circuits in order to inform advances in therapies. The lab is currently developing closed-loop deep brain stimulation, which detects maladaptive neural signals in real time to drive therapeutic, symptoms-targeted stimulation.

Department of Neuroscience
Ph.D. Program

Stephanie Holden

Stephanie is investigating how maladaptive neural circuit plasticity after traumatic brain injury may lead to the development of seizures. She hopes her research will contribute to the identification of new neural targets for preventing or treating post-traumatic epilepsy. In a separate project, she is exploring whether cell transplants into the brain can reduce cortical circuit excitability after stroke. Stephanie is pursuing her interest in science outreach through programs such as the Science & Health Education Partnership and NeuWrite San Francisco. Outside of science, she enjoys baking, planning social events, and partaking in outdoor activities such as hiking, running, kayaking, and soccer.

Department of Bioengineering
Ph.D. Program

Jean Kim

Jean’s research focuses on development and preclinical evaluation of polycaprolactone implants for glaucoma. By developing intracameral implants that achieve zero-order release of therapeutics over six months, she aims to provide better therapy for glaucoma patients. This year, Jean received the Mary Anne Koda-Kimble Seed Award for Innovation to pursue one of her projects in glaucoma therapy. In addition, Jean dedicated time to mentor a graduate rotation student and a high school summer intern in the lab. She has also worked as a peer advisor for junior graduate students since she joined the program in 2012.

Department of Genetics
Ph.D. Program

Charles Seller

Charles is studying the developmental regulation of DNA replication in the Drosophila embryo. His project is focused on understanding how the protein Rif1 is deployed by the fly embryo to delay the replication of heterochromatin at the mid-blastula transition. Charles enjoys running and reading when not in the lab.

Department of Biomedical Sciences
Ph.D. Program

Lucas Smith

During his time in San Francisco, Lucas has had the opportunity to work in both industry and academia and to contribute to a number of publications. Lucas is interested in cancer and aging, and he is currently working on a project aimed at identifying rejuvenating factors that mitigate the age-related decline in learning and memory seen in mice and humans. He is specifically interested in uncovering the sources of the “pro-aging” factors found in old blood, such that we can mitigate their production and hopefully slow the aging process. Outside of science, he enjoys hiking, biking, and cooking.

Department of Biomedical Sciences
Ph.D. Program

Adrienne Stormo

Adrienne developed an interest in basic scientific research as a child, when she would spend weekends and summers working in her mother’s genetics lab. She became curious about what genetics and cell biology can tell us about human health and disease. Currently, she is studying the function of LRRK2 (leucine-rich repeat kinase 2), a large kinase that plays a role in both familial and sporadic forms of Parkinson’s Disease. Outside of the lab, Adrienne has a passion for teaching and mentoring. Since high school, she has been tutoring students and volunteering at local public schools in hopes of encouraging kids to pursue science in college and beyond.

Department of Developmental Stem Cell Biology
Ph.D. Program

Andrew Norman
Roche/ARCS Foundation Scholar

Andrew is interested in the evolution of sperm development among primates. In other developmental systems, evolution of non-coding genomic regions (gene enhancers) has been shown to underlie the evolution of phenotypes. However, classical enhancer screening systems are typically used to discover embryonic enhancer activity and are impractical for the discovery of enhancer activity in adult developmental systems, such as sperm formation. To overcome this, he has recently developed a novel, in vitro method of screening potential sperm development enhancers, and is using it to screen enhancer candidates that cannot be otherwise verified. This knowledge could lead to therapeutic interventions in sperm formation. In his spare time, Andrew is an avid gardener, hiker and all-around naturalist. He is continually inspired by the great works of science fiction literature, both new and classic. Andrew’s goal is to lead his own research group or entrepreneurial effort, either in academia or the private sector.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ

  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
  • Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Science
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology
  • Department of Physics
  • Science Communication Program

  • Caleb Bryce
    Ph.D. Program - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
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  • Emma Hiolski
    Graduate Certificate - Science Communication
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  • Zachary Jennings
    Ph.D. Program - Astronomy & Astrophysics
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  • Zeka Kuspa
    Ph.D. Program - Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology
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  • Claire Masteller
    Ph.D. Program - Earth & Planetary Sciences
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  • Anna Rosen
    Ph.D. Program - Astronomy & Astrophysics
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  • Laurel Stephenson-Haskins
    Ph.D. Program - Physics
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  • Jennifer Teschler
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology
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  • Aylin Woodward
    Graduate Certificate - Science Communication
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Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Ph.D. Program

Caleb Bryce

Caleb’s research interests in animal behavioral ecology and field physiology are united by his commitment to answering critical questions and disseminating results of conservation relevance. His formative undergraduate research in Costa Rica and New Zealand inspired his affinity for fieldwork and dedication to scientific community outreach. Eager to understand how large carnivore physiology drives behavior and trophic interactions in a changing world, Caleb has contributed to cutting-edge conservation science for pumas, wolves, and African lions, with results published in top-tier journals including Science and Ecology. At the same time, he has emphasized outreach, mentoring, and personal leadership skills to continue developing as an effective environmental problem solver.

Department of Science Communication
Graduate Certificate

Emma Hiolski

As a Ph.D. student in Environmental Toxicology, Emma always enjoyed explaining her projects and lab adventures to family and friends, but something was missing. Her passion for science communication was kindled when she took a science writing course through her department and discovered that she could combine her enthusiasm for both science and writing into an exciting and fulfilling career. Emma is especially eager to learn more about new multi-media approaches to sharing science in accessible and engaging ways. Ultimately, her goal is to help increase science literacy and ensure that she reaches as diverse an audience as possible.

Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Ph.D. Program

Zachary Jennings

Zach’s primary research focus is the study of extragalactic globular cluster systems. He is also very interested in modern machine learning and statistical techniques, and has taken supplemental coursework to add a formal "Emphasis in Statistics" to his Ph.D. His dissertation work will include one of the largest globular cluster catalogs ever published and will be the first such catalog to employ modern statistical techniques in the process of globular cluster selection, greatly increasing the quality of the catalog. This dissertation will complete his graduate school career, which already includes four published papers.

Department of Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology
Ph.D. Program

Zeka Kuspa

Zeka believes science is not useful unless it is shared, and that science should be translatable and have measurable impact. Her research on the effects of lead exposure on the endangered California condor is novel and necessary, with a primary goal to fill important knowledge gaps on the sublethal effects of lead exposure in condors and other impacted avian species world-wide. Achieving this goal will require compelling and effective science communication; this, along with quality science, is a main focus of her graduate effort. Zeka has sought opportunities to share her work on condors and her passion for conservation at every turn, be it authoring peer-reviewed journal articles, teaching Girl Scouts about wildlife toxicology, or organizing educational nature walks. Her hope is that these efforts will inform effective decision making from the level of individuals to policy makers.

Department of Science Communication
Graduate Certificate

Laurel Hamers
Linda Dyer Millard Scholar

Growing up in a family that carried out chemistry experiments during Thanksgiving dinner, Laurel always planned to be a scientist. In college, though, she realized that instead of focusing intensely on one subject, she was more excited about taking ideas hatched in the lab and placing them in the context of bigger questions. Science writing satisfied her intellectual wanderlust, allowing her to frame seemingly obscure findings in a way that made sense to the general public. Laurel graduated from Williams College in June 2014 and currently writes for the American Institute of Physics. She is attending UCSC's Science Communication program to sharpen her reporting skills and build connections in the science writing world.

Department of Computer Science
Ph.D. Program

Stephanie Lukin
Devlin Family Endowment Fund Scholar

Stephanie's research focuses on natural language generation in storytelling, specifically varying the way a story is told through the implementation of general narratological variations, such as varying direct speech and character voice, or the point of view from which the story is told. She can also automatically generate variations through changes in lexical selection and syntactic structure. She co-authored and presented a full length conference paper on this work at ICIDS 2013, a workshop at GAMNLP 2014, and submitted to IVA 2015. In summer 2015, Stephanie was a research intern with Microsoft Research working on data mining and machine learning. Stephanie regularly provides leadership in the lab, mentoring incoming students and helping other students get started on their projects using data that she has curated. She completed the Graduate Student Leadership Certificate Program run by DGS and has advanced to candidacy.

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
Ph.D. Program

Allison Pfeiffer
Greene Van Arsdale Foundation Scholar
Niantic Charitable Trust Scholar

Allison studies fluvial (river) processes. Her research explores the controls on bed surface grain size in rivers, with implications for salmon habitat. This subject gives her the opportunity to apply quantitative, process-based geomorphology tools to important questions related to watershed management. The combination of rigorous science and societal importance drives her passion for this work. In addition to her research and time spent as a teaching assistant, Allison recently helped to found a new student-led group at UCSC focusing on issues related to women and minorities in the geosciences.

Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Ph.D. Program

Zachary Rubin
ARCS Foundation Scholar

Zach’s primary research focus is the study of extragalactic globular cluster systems. He is also very interested in modern machine learning and statistical techniques, and has taken supplemental coursework to add a formal "Emphasis in Statistics" to his Ph.D. His dissertation work will include one of the largest globular cluster catalogs ever published and will be the first such catalog to employ modern statistical techniques in the process of globular cluster selection, greatly increasing the quality of the catalog. This dissertation will complete his graduate school career, which has already included four published papers.

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
Ph.D. Program

Claire Masteller

Claire is interested in the physical conditions under which sediment begins to move and the processes that affect its mobility. She uses a combination of computer modeling, field observations, and novel physical experiments in miniature rivers to study sediment transport. The application of physics to problems grounded in the landscape that we interact with every day fuels her passion for research. In 2015, Claire cofounded a UCSC student-led group focusing on diversity in geoscience.

Department of Mathematics
Ph.D. Program

Danquynh Nguyen

Danquynh’s primary research interests lie in Vertex Operator Algebra theory, a mathematical framework whose importance reaches well outside of mathematics. It is prevalent in theoretical physics, in particular, as well as in conformal field theory and string theory, which attempts to provide a unified description of all the forces of nature. She currently studies integral forms and was recently awarded an NSF Fellowship to go to China to do research on the topic. As her path to being a graduate student was a rather non-traditional one, she tries to give back as much as possible. Danquynh believes in leaving a legacy; and she wants hers to be that of a mathematician whose contributions expanded scientific knowledge and a teacher who inspired generations of students, especially women.

Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Ph.D. Program

Anna Rosen

Through the use of analytical and numerical methods, Anna’s research focuses on the formation of massive stars as well as how stellar feedback - the injection of energy and momentum by stars into their surroundings - affects their formation and environment. The computational tools that she has developed have taken star formation simulations to the next level in complexity while also increasing our understanding of how the most massive stars form and how their formation affects their environment. Anna is also active in outreach and mentoring to increase both diversity and retention in the field of Astrophysics.

Department of Biology
Ph.D. Program

Leah Schwiesow

Leah graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 with a BS in Chemistry. After a couple of years of working in the biotech industry, she discovered her love for microbes. In the lab, she is interested in determining how a transcription factor, lscR, works to sense changing environmental conditions within the host to optimize expression of the virulence factors in the enteric pathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. After graduation, Leah hopes to continue research in microbial pathogenesis and work to discover novel targets for antimicrobial therapies. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the world with her friends and family.

Department of Physics
Ph.D. Program

Laurel Stephenson-Haskins

Laurel is conducting research on problems in theoretical particle physics and cosmology. She has three publications to her credit and two in progress. Her work has the potential to alter current paradigms for building models of inflation, and to resolve fundamental issues in quantum field theory and the theory of the strong interactions. Laurel is also an outstanding teacher and has sought opportunities to develop her skills in a variety of settings.

Department of Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology
Ph.D. Program

Jennifer Teschler

The goal of Jennifer’s project is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying virulence and environmental survival in the human pathogen Vibrio cholerae. During its residence in the aquatic environment and the human host, V. cholerae encounters a number of shifting environmental factors. V. cholerae utilizes two-component signal transduction systems (TCSs) to monitor and respond to these changing conditions, as TCSs are the primary signaling mechanism in most bacteria. Jennifer’s research group has identified a novel TCS, VxrAB, that regulates both intestinal colonization and biofilm formation, a process that is critical for environmental survival and transmission to human hosts. Further study of this TCS may lead to the identification of new targets for the inhibition and treatment of gastroenteric pathogens, as TCSs are absent in mammals and represent an attractive target for future antimicrobial agents.

Department of Science Communication
Graduate Certificate

Aylin Woodward

Throughout her undergraduate career, Aylin studied fossil foot bones and the evolution of bipedalism. And yet, the common theme that emerged was that she loved to write and could do it rather well. Ultimately she determined that her future belongs in the world of teaching, particularly in the world of melding science and communication. Having a background as both a woman in science and a previous varsity athlete with ties throughout the professional, collegiate and youth alpine skiing worlds, she is well positioned to disseminate her work to others via athletic training clinics and education of coaches working day-to-day, on the ground, in the sport. Often the assumed gap between a field of study like biological anthropology and its relevance to today's world serves as a barrier to empowering and impassioning burgeoning interests and future engagement with the subject. Aylin hopes that her science writing will serve to break down such barriers and encourage others to engage with paleoanthropology in a meaningful, intellectual manner.