2018-2019 ARCS SCHOLARS Celebration

Congratulations to our
2018-2019 Scholars
ARCS Foundation Northern California Chapter

SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY

  • San Francisco State University
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Geosciences
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Image Stephanie Bazarini
    Master's Program - Biology
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  • Image Lawrence (Haruchika) Fujiwara
    Master's Program - Geosciences
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  • Image Jeshu Dastidar
    Master's Program - Mathematics
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Department of Biology
Master’s Program

Stephanie Bazarini

Stephanie’s research interests include the role of hormones, particularly estrogens, in the development of chronic pain. She is currently investigating how environmental exposure to ethinyl estradiol when combined with injury contributes to the development of an abnormal pain-like state in the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes. She approaches her science teaching with the same dedication and enthusiasm as she does her research; she was recognized as an outstanding graduate teaching assistant for the 2018-2019 school year for her work in teaching the Introductory Biology Lab for biology majors. Stephanie is also an active supporter of public elementary school literacy programs and has volunteered for the past two years with Reading Partners, working one-on-one with 3rd grade students who struggle with reading.

Department of Biology
Master’s Program

Vivian Garcia

Vivian, a native of Ventura County, is a NIH MBRS-RISE scholar pursuing a M.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology. Vivian’s research interests stem from a fascination with the interconnectedness of network systems and their ability to respond to internal and external signals. Her graduate research focuses on using a synthetic notch receptor circuit system to manipulate cells’ ability to create different outcomes. Vivian’s future goal is to attend a Ph.D. program in synthetic biology. Aside from research, Vivian enjoys spending time exploring the food scene of San Francisco with her sister.

Department of Biology
Master’s Program

Destinee Lanns

A native of Southern California, Destinee is currently pursuing her masters in Cellular and Molecular Biology. She is working in Dr. Laura Burrus’ lab investigating the role of filopodia in Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) cell lines through the lens of Wnt signaling. She is interested in researching women’s health such as breast cancer and social disparity issues that afflict specific persons. Outside of school she plays an influential role in her community by actively volunteering to help those who are in need. She is also an active member of her current church, Bay Apostolic Church in Oakland, and her home church in Southern California, and volunteers at both regularly. Destinee’s inspiration to purse a M.D./Ph.D. was sparked by the birth of her younger sister Miracle. She bases her life on her family’s foundation built on “Love, Prayer & Blessing.”

Department of Biology
Master’s Program

Rachel Weinberg

Rachel studies fusion in the invasive colonial tunicate Didemnum vexillum. She is interested in the evolution of chimerism across a wide variety of invertebrate taxa and in applying molecular techniques to better understand the evolution and ecology of colonial invertebrates. She is a graduate assistant for the Marine Invertebrate Zoology and Marine Ecology courses at SF State and works in the Romberg Tiburon Center genetics laboratory. In summer 2017, she traveled to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to participate in a field course on the taxonomy and biology of tropical tunicates.

Department of Biology
Master’s Program

Lindsay Young

Lindsay grew up in Alameda and attended UC Santa Cruz, where she was awarded the Robert Noyce Teacher Fellowship, before teaching high school chemistry in East San Jose. During her undergraduate studies, Lindsay was a peer mentor in the Academic Excellence Program, a collaborative learning community for minority STEM majors at UCSC. She is currently performing a theodolite study of humpback whales in the San Francisco Bay, as a member of the Hines Lab, for her M.S. in Interdisciplinary Marine and Estuarine Science at the Estuary and Ocean Science Center. In the future, she plans to develop partnerships between scientific institutions and Bay Area public schools that foster innovative conservation strategies and allow students to gain hands-on experience in scientific research.

Department of Biology
Master’s Program

Dasha Zaytseva

Dasha is a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Bridges Scholar pursuing a M.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology with an emphasis in Stem Cell Research. As an undergraduate, Dasha helped to identify a novel ion channel responsible for proprioception in muscle sensory neurons. In her graduate research internship at UC Berkeley, she uses induced pluripotent stem cells to study the relationship between apolipoprotein E and blood-brain barrier dysfunction in a human model. Outside of research, Dasha is a passionate science educator with years of teaching and tutoring experience.

Department of Geosciences
Master’s Program

Lawrence (Haruchika) Fujiwara

Lawrence is a second-generation Japanese American whose research interests are in building sustainable water resources and using his scientific knowledge to finding innovative and practical solutions. His career goal and dream is to one day become a proficient scientist and solve water resource issues by communicating and collaborating with not only scientists from his own field but with professionals from various disciplines and the community. Lawrence believes that communication and understanding of scientific knowledge are key to solving various challenges we face today.

Department of Mathematics
Master’s Program

Jeshu Dastidar

Jeshu is still exploring his research interests as there are many areas in math. He participated in the MSRI–UP REU in summer 2017 and got a taste of what research is like. The team worked on a project that involved a blend of algebra, complexity theory, and number theory. They were interested in finding the maximum number of roots of trinomials over a prime field. He participated in a summer school in May at UConn that exposed him to ideas in contemporary number theory, as well as in the IAS/PCMI summer school in July where he learned about harmonic analysis. These experiences have been very valuable not only because of the interesting math Jeshu has learned, but also because of the people he has met through them.

STANFORD UNIVERSITY

  • Stanford University
  • Department of Bioengineering
  • Department of Biophysics
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Department of Geological Sciences
  • Department of Geophysics
  • Department of Materials Science & Engineering
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Department of Physics
  • James Kintzing
    Ph.D. Program - Bioengineering
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  • Image Amory Martin
    Ph.D. Program - Civil & Environmental Engineering
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  • Image Robert Spragg
    Ph.D. Program - Civil & Environmental Engineering
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  • Image Will Gearty
    Ph.D. Program - Geological Sciences
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  • Image Andrew Meng
    Ph.D. Program - Materials Science & Engineering
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  • Image David Ching
    Ph.D. Program - Mechanical Engineering
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Department of Bioengineering
Ph.D. Program

James Kintzing

James works in Dr. Jennifer Cochran's lab, where he is researching protein-drug conjugates for targeted drug delivery to brain tumors. Several of James' publications at Stanford have been featured on the covers of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Angewandte Chemie, and Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. James has previously been awarded numerous scientific honors including an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the Zeiss Grand Prize for Scientific Acclaim. Outside of lab, James has worked as a consultant for numerous companies ranging from small startups to multinational biotech corporations. Recently, he has also worked on a medtech startup through Stanford's Biodesign Innovation program and has won several awards for this innovation, including a prize for best solution to a medical need, and a grant for extended funding to continue developing this solution.

Department of Biophysics
Ph.D. Program

Lauren Lahey

In the laboratory of Dr. Lingyin Li, Lauren is investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms of 2'3-cyclic-GMP-AMP (cGAMP) as an immunotransmitter released by cancer cells and detected by innate immunity. In addition, Lauren hopes to identify regulatory mechanisms of cGAMP transmission and signaling. Previously, she worked in the laboratory of Dr. William Robinson at Stanford where she led identification of mechanistic biomarkers in autoimmune diseases and developed a multi­antigen diagnostic for Borrelia burgdorferi infection. Lauren holds a B.S. in chemistry from Southern Methodist University.

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 two­dimensional 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 in developing new methodologies for extracting ultrafast dynamical information from chemical systems. Outside of the lab, he enjoys travel, hiking, and Scotch whiskey.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Amory Martin

Amory earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering with a double major in Mathematics and Highest Honors at Johns Hopkins University in 2014 and completed his M.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering at Stanford in 2016. Under the supervision of Professor Gregory Deierlein, his current research focuses on improving the seismic performance of self-centering rocking systems using topology optimization. Amory has received the Johns Hopkins Civil Engineering Award, the Stanford School of Engineering Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He enjoys outdoor sports including tennis, skiing and kitesurfing.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Robert Spragg
ARCS Stanford Graduate Fellow

Robert is a student in the Atmosphere/Energy program of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has previously worked with the City of Palo Alto, where he helped develop a thermal micro-grid plan for the utility. His research thus far at Stanford has focused on parameter estimation for various Li-Ion battery models. He has also worked in the Ruhr region of Germany through the Ruhr Fellowship program, which was developed to promote collaboration and innovation between Germany and the United States. In his free time, Robert enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing volleyball.

Department of Geological Sciences
Ph.D. Program

Will Gearty

Will’s research in Paleobiology focuses broadly on the interactions that take place between life and earth, specifically how these interactions impact biodiversity through time. The overall goal of his research is to improve our understanding of the requirements and effects of major evolutionary environmental transitions. Specifically, Will is using paleontological and phylogenetic data and methods to understand how transitions between living on land and in water impact the evolution of body size across various animal groups, including mammals, crocodiles, and snails. Outside of research, he is actively involved in education outreach, student government, and mentoring.

Department of Geophysics
Ph.D. Program

Alex Kendrick

Alex first experienced the thrill of designing and conducting experiments in elementary school, participating in the local science fairs. Involvement with science fairs continued through high school, with Alex completing projects on a wide range of topics all of which allowed him to explore ways of measuring and monitoring natural systems. His fascination with science led him to major in physics for his undergraduate degree at Harvey Mudd College. For his graduate education at Stanford, Alex is combining his interests in physics and natural systems by using nuclear magnetic resonance to study fluid flow through geologic materials.

Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Andrew Meng

Andrew obtained a B.S. in Chemistry and Physics from the California Institute of Technology and an M.Phil. in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar. Andrew works on germanium-tin nanowire photonics in Professor Paul McIntyre's lab, and is interested in semiconductor growth for optoelectronic applications. He is co­-author on 12 publications. Past research includes silicon microwire growth for solar energy conversion applications (Caltech) and density functional theory based molecular dynamics for calculating band alignments at gallium nitride-water interfaces (Cambridge).

Department of Mathematics
Ph.D. Program

Tony Feng

Tony’s research interests are primarily focused on applications to number theory, often with an emphasis on finding connections with other fields such as algebraic geometry and topology. He is currently working on a diverse collection of projects, involving Euler systems, cohomology of locally symmetric spaces, and spherical varieties. While these are mainly theoretical topics, Tony has also worked on more applied subjects such as cryptography. He is interested in mathematics pedagogy, and is currently designing and producing an online course on probability and statistics for high school students.

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

David Ching

David received his B.S. from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2014 and his M.S. from Stanford in 2016. Now specializing in Fluid Dynamics, he has done research studying highly sensitive flows and heat transfer in gas turbine engines, and currently works on using machine learning to improve fluid dynamics simulations. In his spare time, David enjoys running and playing piano.

Department of Physics
Ph.D. Program

Warren Morningstar

Warren is currently working on measuring the number of low mass satellite dark matter halos in distant galaxies by examining the ways that their gravity causes light rays to deflect, in a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. This measurement may be an important test of the physical nature of dark matter. He is also working on ways to perform these measurements potentially billions of times faster, using deep learning techniques. When not in the lab, Warren spends most of his time competitively rowing on the San Francisco Bay.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Department of Computer Science
  • Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Department of Microbiology
  • Department of Molecular & Cell Biology
  • Department of Physics
  • Department of Plant & Microbial Biology

  • Image Jared O’Leary
    Ph.D. Program - Chemical Engineering
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  • Trenton Otto
    Ph.D. Program - Chemical Engineering
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  • Vera Belaia
    Ph.D. Program - Civil & Environmental Engineering
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  • Image Miklos Zoller
    Ph.D. Program - Civil & Environmental Engineering
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  • Molly Nicholas
    Ph.D. Program - Computer Science
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  • Image Alexander Reinking
    Ph.D. Program - Computer Science
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  • Alanna Cooney
    Ph.D. Program - Mechanical Engineering
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  • Audrey Ford
    Ph.D. Program - Mechanical Engineering
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  • Madeline Arnold
    Ph.D. Program - Molecular & Cell Biology
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  • Brianna Haining
    Ph.D. Program - Plant & Microbial Biology
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  • Nicholas Karavolias
    Ph.D. Program - Plant & Microbial Biology
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Department of Chemical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Jared O’Leary

After graduating from Stanford, Jared worked for three years as a Systems Integration and Validation Engineer and Team Lead at Theranos, Inc. His current research project is titled "Stochastic Optimal Control of Self-Assembly Systems." Self-assembly is the process by which discrete components spontaneously organize into an ordered state, but is inherently stochastic, prone to kinetic arrest and variability in materials manufacturing. The goal of this project is to fuse concepts from stochastic optimal control theory and directed self-assembly to reproducibly manufacture advanced, defect-free materials with unique properties (e.g., semiconducting materials from quantum dots for biological imaging or photovoltaic cell applications). Jared wants to devote his career to solving these intellectually stimulating, and likely high-risk projects.

Department of Chemical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Trenton Otto

Trenton came to UC Berkeley because of the university’s excellent catalysis research and 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 propensity to adsorb poisons. Thus far he has developed a synthetic method which allows the encapsulation of nanometer-sized Au, PdPt bimetallic, AuPd bimetallic, and AuPt bimetallic particles in the LTA and ZSM-5 zeolites using ligand stabilized precursors. In the long term, he would like to extend this method to base metal species (Cu, Ni, Co) as well as a broader variety of zeolites (Faujasite, Zeolite Beta, and Chabazite) to widen the applicability of the method.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Vera Belaia

Vera’s research interests include hydrology, numerical modeling, and climate change. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in Civil Engineering with Honors in Engineering. She is a member of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honors society, and over the course of her undergraduate career she spent five semesters on the executive board of the Maryland Shakespeare Players, which included directing two full plays: Romeo & Juliet and Henry V.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Miklos Zoller

Miklos’s research interests include micro- and nano-mechanics. Mechanics is the study of how materials deform under various loading conditions, and he is interested in how knowledge of a material’s given microstructure can make better approximations to structural behavior at a macroscopic level. His current research is called “microsphere modeling” and involves approximating a polymer’s microstructure by a unit sphere with uniformly distributed orientation vectors in space. From here we can average the micro-scale deformations that are occurring via an energy functional to determine macroscopic mechanical behavior.

Department of Computer Science
Ph.D. Program

Karima Ma

Karima is a member of the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab. She is currently pursuing ways to systematically design deep neural network architectures to make them reusable across tasks, computationally efficient, and humanly interpretable. Prior to joining Berkeley, she received her M.S. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, where she worked on designing a domain specific language for expressing and answering questions about visual content. In her spare time Karima enjoys metalsmithing to make jewelry pieces and tackling bouldering walls with her friends.

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. This past year was a wonderful, whirlwind experience with Eric Paulos’s Hybrid Ecologies Lab. She jumped right into research in her first month, helping out a 3rd-year student with his work. They were lucky enough to win a Best Paper Award at CHI, the largest conference in their field, and presented their work in Denver, CO this past May. As she moves forward on her own projects, Molly looks forward to incorporating her experience as a puppeteer into her work with robots, textiles, and novel user interfaces.

Department of Computer Science
Ph.D. Program

Alexander Reinking

Alex's main research area is programming languages, specifically in program synthesis. His paper "A Type-Directed Approach to Program Repair'', which described a graph-based system for synthesizing Java expressions either from scratch or from a broken expression, won 2nd place at PLDI 2015. In the last year, he has worked to extend this system with deep reinforcement learning techniques to generate more accurate repairs, and drawn on text generation techniques from NLP to generate larger snippets of code. During the past summer he interned at MSR to extend the P programming language with new features. 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 Mechanical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Alanna Cooney

After graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Alanna spent four years working as a project manager and HVAC designer specializing in mission critical facilities and high-tech workplaces. She recently completed her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, where her research focused on developing new computational methods for modeling vaporizing multicomponent droplets to investigate the effects of preferential vaporization on combustion behavior. Alanna is excited to begin work on her Ph.D. where she hopes to combine her industry experience in HVAC design with her past research experience on droplet vaporization while working in Berkeley’s Energy and Multiphase Transport Laboratory. Outside of research, she teaches a weekly ESL citizenship class for refugees, takes every opportunity to travel, and enjoys the friendly competition of her playing card league. Motivated by a passion for both research and teaching, Alanna plans to pursue a career in academia.

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Audrey Ford

Audrey is a third-year Ph.D. student focusing on the biomechanics of soft tissue. She is interested in cartilage mechanics and repair strategies, with a research 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 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.

Department of Molecular & Cell Biology
Ph.D. Program

Madeline Arnold

Madeline is interested in research at the intersection of engineering, molecular biology, and neuroscience. As an undergraduate at Carleton College, she wrote her senior thesis on protein degradation pathways in Alzheimer’s disease, which sparked her interest in neurobiology. While working as a Post-Baccalaureate Researcher at the National Human Genome Research Institute, she got a taste for translational research. She characterized mouse and zebrafish models of a rare genetic disorder, cobalamin deficiency type C, and developed a successful gene therapy. During her Ph.D. work she hopes to engineer new tools to study neurodegenerative or neurodevelopmental disorders, and investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms at work in these diseases. Additional interests include drug discovery and synthetic biology. She loves teaching and mentoring students, and looks forward to participating in teaching and community outreach activities. In her free time Madeline enjoys swing dancing, playing the piano, and making pottery.

Department of Department of Physics
Ph.D. Program

Samantha Dixon

A fourth-year Ph.D. student, Sam has studied the cosmic microwave background (at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and UC Berkeley) and built instrumentation to search for dark matter (at the University of Chicago). Her current research focuses on using measurements of Type la supernovae, a special subclass 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 the dark energy driving the accelerating expansion of the Universe. She is additionally interested in the applications of data science and machine learning techniques to problems in astrophysics and cosmology.

Department of Plant & Microbial Biology
Ph.D. Program

Brianna Haining

As a third year Ph.D. student, Brianna conducts research on the genetics of iron uptake in the subsistence crop species Setaria italica. Her hope is to one day identify variants that can be leveraged to increase the concentration of vital micronutrients in this and other cereal crops. Previous to UC Berkeley, Brianna completed an undergraduate thesis on the biogeography of the date palm at New York University Abu Dhabi. Outside of the lab, Brianna enjoys fiber arts, biking, and cooking elaborate meals.

Department of Plant & Microbial Biology
Ph.D. Program

Nicholas Karavolias

Nicholas has recently completed research investigating aluminum stress tolerance in the tropical japonica subpopulation of rice (Oryza sativa). He hopes to continue researching food crops in his pursuit of a Ph.D., working to improve the accumulation of essential micronutrients in grains of global significance through biotechnological approaches. Nicholas is passionate about addressing societal inequities. Previously he has completed a range of research projects in this vein, facilitated the opening of a grocery store present in a food desert, and founded a library that offers free loans of textbooks to students. His background as a first-generation American and college student has inspired his dedication to improving the quality of life for all global citizens.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS

  • University of California, Davis
  • Department of Agricultural & Environmental Chemistry
  • Animal Behavior Graduate Group
  • Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Ecology Graduate Group
  • Geology Graduate Group
  • Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology Graduate Group
  • Neuroscience Graduate Group
  • Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Group
  • Population Biology Graduate Group
  • School of Medicine/InteThi Nguyengrative Pathobiology

  • Image Thi Nguyen
    Ph.D. Program - Agricultural & Environmental Chemistry
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  • Image Gabrielle Names
    Ph.D. Program - Animal Behavior Graduate Group
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  • Image Emmet Francis
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Biomedical Engineering
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  • Image Jacklyn Whitehead
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Biomedical Engineering
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  • Image Lucy Luong
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Chemistry
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  • Image Eric Chin
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
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  • Image Harrison Jesse Smith
    Ph.D. Program - Computer Science Graduate Group
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  • Image Gina Tarbill
    Ph.D. Program - Ecology Graduate Group
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  • Image Madeline Gottlieb
    Ph.D. Program - Ecology Graduate Group
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  • Image Caroline Webb
    Ph.D. Program - Geology Graduate Group
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  • Image Grace Or
    Ph.D. Program - MCI Physiology Graduate Group
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  • Lauren Fink
    Ph.D. Program - Neuroscience Graduate Group
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  • Eduardo Gonzalez
    Ph.D. Program - Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Group
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  • Image Jacklyn Skye Kelty
    Ph.D. Program - Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Group
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  • Image Melissa Kardish
    Ph.D. Program - Population Biology Graduate Group
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  • Image Michelle Stitzer
    Ph.D. Program - Population Biology Graduate Group
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  • Image Kelly Lima
    Ph.D. Program - School of Medicine/Integrative Pathobiology
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Department of Agricultural & Environmental Chemistry
Ph.D. Program

Thi Nguyen

Born and raised in California, Thi is an aspiring wine chemist whose research currently focuses on wine aging and oxidation, particularly the roles of phenolic compounds and iron. He received his B.S. in Viticulture and Enology with highest honors from UC Davis and has worked at wineries in Napa and Mendoza, Argentina prior to returning to Davis to pursue a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry. While aiming for a career in higher education, he is also broadly interested in scientific literacy for all students. Off-campus, he enjoys drawing and exploring food, film, and music.

Animal Behavior Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Gabrielle Names

Gabrielle is pursuing an independent Ph.D. project involving how an introduced disease, avian malaria, affects the immune function, physiology, and behavior of an endemic Hawaiian forest bird, the Hawaii Amakihi. Thanks to support from USGS collaborators in Hawaii and multiple funding sources, Gabrielle has collected samples from over 500 Amakihi and is preparing her initial findings involving circulating hormone levels, morphology, and population fluctuations for publication. In addition to her work in Hawaii, last year Gabrielle earned a Chateaubriand Fellowship to conduct nine months of her Ph.D. research in Dr. Frédéric Angelier’s lab in Chizé, France. ARCS funding will allow Gabrielle to return to Dr. Angelier’s lab this year to finish her analyses of aging in Amakihi infected with avian malaria. In her free time, Gabrielle enjoys watching French films and is an avid distance runner, having qualified for and run the Boston Marathon three times.

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Emmet Francis

Emmet began research as a sophomore Biomedical Engineering student, performing experiments exploring calcium dynamics in human immune cells (neutrophils) during chemotaxis and phagocytosis. This research has brought him great success; he has presented at three international conferences and co-authored three research articles. As a first-year Ph.D. student in the Heinrich Lab, he is currently building on his past research and developing an interest in computational modeling. Emmet’s long-term goal is to continue high-impact research and instruction as a professor.

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Jacklyn Whitehead

Jackie is from a small, rural town in Northern California. As an undergraduate in Bioengineering at California Lutheran University she graduated with university and departmental honors, conducted research in the fields of developmental biology and renewable energy, and maintained a part-time job all four years of college. In addition, she led interactive, hands-on engineering lessons for three years with IEEE Middle School Outreach and was the lead student presenter for two years at conferences sponsored by the American Association of University Women. When she came to UC Davis for her Ph.D. she continued her outreach and leadership activities while conducting research. She is a NSF GRFP fellow currently engineering functional replacement and temporary bridging tissues with adult stem cells derived from human bone marrow. Jackie is an enthusiastic leader determined to have an impact in terms of both research and outreach.

Department of Chemistry
Ph.D. Program

Lucy Luong

A first-generation college student, Lucy received her B.A. in Chemistry at Dartmouth College. As a Ph.D. student in the Balch Lab, her research focuses on gold chemistry. She works on synthesizing, crystallizing, and structurally determining gold clusters and gold(l) complexes. For the gold(l) complexes, she studies luminescent properties of complexes that exist in multiple crystalline forms that are sensitive to environmental stimuli. In addition to research, Lucy initiated and manages the Chemistry Peer Mentoring Program, which helps new undergraduate chemistry majors transition into college. She also enjoys mentoring her own undergraduate student in the lab.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Eric Chin

Eric earned his B.S. at UCLA and his M.S. at UC Berkeley, both in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He first explored his interest in fracture mechanics as an engineer at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, where he helped pioneer new methods to model crack growth, ensuring the safe operation of the nation’s nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. His interest in fracture mechanics subsequently inspired him to pursue further education at UC Davis. His current research focuses on computational mechanics – specifically, improving numerical integration in computational physics simulations and modeling pervasive fracture using polygonal and polyhedral finite elements. Recently, Eric has completed research on simulating fracture using randomly oriented polygonal finite elements. Going forward, Eric is working on a collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories to explore possible applications of this technology for modeling fracture in metals. Further, Eric is also conducting research on applications of improved integration in other computational settings. Outside of his work, Eric enjoys hiking, backpacking, golf, and basketball.

Computer Science Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Harrison Jesse Smith

As an animation researcher, Jesse’s focus lies at the intersection of theater and computer science. He primarily focuses on the ways in which people’s subconscious impressions of virtual characters can be influenced through nonverbal behavior modulation. In the past year, Jesse has presented work at a top graphics conference and human computer interaction conference and collaborated with the research teams of multiple virtual reality and augmented reality companies. When not in front of a computer screen, Jesse enjoys backpacking, cooking, soap making, and rock climbing.

Ecology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Gina Tarbill

Three major themes link Gina’s research interests: investigating wildlife response to largescale disturbance, understanding the effects of positive interactions on community structure and ecosystem function, and improving management and conservation strategies. In her Ph.D. research, Gina seeks to understand how “megafires” affect plant-pollinator communities by examining interaction networks to determine how robust communities are to disturbance. Gina's passion for increasing diversity in STEM fields led her to volunteer to teach science, critical thinking skills, and environmental stewardship to students from underserved elementary schools and join the UC Davis Diversity Committee. After completing her Ph.D., she plans to continue teaching and conducting research in community ecology. Gina enjoys birding, hiking, and traveling with her family.

Ecology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Madeline Gottlieb

Madeline’s research focuses on community impacts of unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD). Before coming to UC Davis, she worked at Resources for the Future, a Washington, DC-based think tank, on a multi-faceted project examining public perceptions and regulatory aspects of UOGD. Madeline is an active participant in her community - she co-chaired the Ecology Graduate Student Association, she co-founded a new publication to increase the visibility of ecology students' research, and she co-chaired the Policy Committee for the Society for Conservation Biology. Most recently, she was the only graduate student selected in an otherwise all-faculty cohort of Wikipedia Fellows who were charged with improving public access to scientific information.

Geology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Caroline Webb

Caroline’s research bridges the gap between hydrology and geophysics by using magnetotelluric imaging to understand groundwater systems in volcanoes, particularly Mount Shasta. Last year she completed a 3D Modflow model of the water flow system at Mount Shasta, which included inputs such as precipitation, spring flows, an estimate of geologic structures, and river fluxes. She is now working on a new model of the aquifer using Feflow, a finite element modeling program that can better handle complex geological structures and temperature inputs. In addition, she is working with Lawrence Livermore National Lab to gather water samples from springs and wells in the area to get isotopic data that can help determine the age of the waters, their flow paths, and how they interact with magma. All of these various approaches are helping to create a comprehensive understanding of the whole aquifer system at Mount Shasta. Caroline has been collaborating with Siskiyou County's Groundwater Sustainability Agency, and her research is being used to justify a new water basin boundary at Shasta that will help the county to regulate water usage in the area. Caroline is an animal lover and enjoys playing the ukulele.

MCI Physiology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Grace Or

Grace’s thesis project, under the mentorship of Dr. Lin Tian, involves the development of a genetically encoded small illuminant that can be used as a voltage sensor to integrate neural activity. Grace hopes to one day be able to use the tools she develops in the Tian lab to investigate metabolic involvement in neurological diseases in her own research laboratory. Grace is also the recipient of the 2017 Loren D. Carlson Prize in Physiology and the winner of the Center for Biophotonic Sensors and Systems 3 Minute Pitch competition. Prior to graduate school, Grace conducted research at UC San Francisco where she studied neonatal cerebral hypoxia ischemia. Grace received her B.S. in Physiology and Neuroscience at UC San Diego in 2010. In addition to research Grace is passionate about teaching abroad and has volunteered in Thailand, Uganda, China, Mexico and Kenya. Additionally, Grace loves to read and exercise.

Neuroscience Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Lauren Fink

Lauren’s research, in the lab of Dr. Petr Janata, revolves around understanding how the brain responds to rhythmically structured sound and provides insights for harnessing the effects of music to enhance or alter attentional states. In 2017 Lauren was a visiting researcher at the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience (UC San Diego) and the scientific chair of a conference on music and eye tracking at the Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany. Last year, she submitted a first author manuscript which was accepted for publication, and a paper she was second author on was published. Lauren holds a B.M. in percussion performance from the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music and an M.Phil in Music Studies: Music & Science from the University of Cambridge.

Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Eduardo Gonzalez

Motivated by neurodevelopmental disorders impacting his family, Eduardo quickly developed a passion for studying the adverse effects of chemical exposure on brain development. Over the past three years he has engaged in neurotoxicology research, studying the adverse health effects of flame retardants, pesticides, nanoparticles, and chemical threat agents. His dissertation research focuses on the developmental neurotoxicity of an organophosphate cholinesterase inhibitor, diisopropylfluorophosphate (DFP), a chemical listed by the US Department of Homeland Security as a credible chemical threat. Eduardo was recently awarded a 2017-2018 NIH IMSD Predoctoral Fellowship and received 1st place at the 2018 Graduate Student of Color Research Symposium for his oral presentation on mechanisms of DFP toxicity. In his free time, Eduardo enjoys backpacking, science museums, and Latin dancing.

Pharmacology & Toxicology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Jacklyn Skye Kelty

Skye received her B.S. as a double major in Biochemistry-Cell Biology & Environmental Science from Rice University. Skye's training also includes extensive community-engaged research including a 4-year position as president of the Rice Environmental Club; a community engagement internship for Houston Metro; and an environmental justice internship with Ride for the Future in support of highly polluted communities in TX and LA. Skye's Ph.D. dissertation expands upon her training in the lab and into the rural community of Knights Landing. Skye loves biking to Knights Landing from the university on the weekends. As a career scientist, Skye will design studies beneficial to the participating communities while also improving the scientific understanding of environmental health risks.

Population Biology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Melissa Kardish

Melissa is fascinated with the interactions among disparate groups. In her doctoral dissertation at UC Davis, she researches the interactions of seagrass microbial communities with their hosts. She studies this by attempting to shift, manipulate and alter these microbes and then examining corresponding changes in plant health and microbial community. Previously, Melissa did her undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago where she studied patterns of malaria in warblers and then went to work at the University of Texas, Austin to study leaf cutter ant mutualisms. She enjoys that her work allows her to spend time in the lab, in the field, and analyzing big datasets and sharing each of these experiences with her mentees.

Population Biology Graduate Group
Ph.D. Program

Michelle Stitzer

Michelle’s research focuses on transposable elements in plants. Although the most commonly studied fraction of genomes are genes, their sequence makes up less than 10% of most plant genomes. The majority of DNA is made up of transposable elements – “jumping genes” that can move between positions in the genome. In the maize genome, which Michelle focuses on, transposable elements make up over 85% of all DNA - over 2 billion base pairs. She uses greenhouse experiments and computational techniques to understand their impact. Outside of the lab, she enjoys sailing with the UC Davis sailing team and exploring the botanical treasures of California.

School of Medicine/Integrative Pathobiology
Ph.D. Program

Kelly Lima

Kelly has been employed since 2014 in Dr. Nam Tran’s research laboratory. Her research experience in this lab has focused on the use of novel in vitro diagnostic testing to improve patient care, particularly in high risk populations such as burn patients. With her graduate training, she has transitioned to investigating differential healing rates in burn patients by looking at changes in a patient’s skin microbiota following injury. In the future, Kelly hopes to attend veterinary school to continue research as an academic veterinarian. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities and volunteering at the local animal shelter.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO

  • University of California, San Francisco
  • Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Department of Bioengineering
  • Department of Biomedical Medical Informatics
  • Department of Biomedical Sciences
  • Department of Biophysics
  • Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology
  • Department of Developmental Stem Cell Biology
  • Department of Epidemiology
  • Department of Neuroscience
  • Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Pharmacogenomics
  • No Photo Available R.A. Greenstein
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
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  • Image Natalie Korn
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Bioengineering
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  • Image Seth Axen
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Biological Medical Informatics
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  • Image Austin Hsu
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Biomedical Sciences
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  • Image Tara McIntyre
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Biomedical Sciences
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  • Alexander Wolff
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Biophysics
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  • Image Paul Klauser
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology
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  • Ryan Boileau
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Developmental Stem Cell Biology
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  • Amanda Irish
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Epidemiology
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  • Nerissa Hoglen
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Neuroscience
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  • Michael Ryan
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Neuroscience
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  • Image Beau Norgeot
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Pharmacogenomics
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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Ph.D. Program

R.A. Greenstein

R.A. Greenstein is a fourth-year graduate student in the Al-Sady lab whose research is focused on understanding how heterochromatin, an epigenetic nuclear ultrastructure involved in genome partitioning and differentiation, is controlled both spatially within the genome and over generational timescales. Taking a combined systems biology and molecular genetics approach, R.A. built a fluorescent sensor system and computational pipeline to track heterochromatin formation in single cells. Outside the lab, R.A. enjoys the outdoors and prior to graduate school worked for AmeriCorps performing trail maintenance and wilderness conservation all over California.

Department of Bioengineering
Ph.D. Program

Natalie Korn

Natalie’s work is varied, and she works on parts of many studies at UCSF. But one commonality is the development of advanced processing and automation software. Her lab work in predictive analytics to advance prostate cancer diagnostic imaging incorporates her background in electrical engineering and biomedical engineering. Natalie has had many teaching experiences as part of graduate study as well, instructing boot camps in calculus for undergraduate engineering students and MatLab image processing for graduate imaging students.

Department of Biological Medical Informatics
Ph.D. Program

Seth Axen

Seth is developing a probabilistic approach for determining protein conformations using primarily Second Harmonic Generation data in the lab of Andrej Sali. He has also designed a powerful technique for encoding the 3D structure of small molecules as input to machine learning methods for predicting novel protein-drug relationships. He previously was employed at the DOE Joint Genome Institute, where he wrote curriculum and led workshops in the education outreach program while studying bacterial micro-compartments and cyanobacterial genomes. Seth enjoys powerlifting and hiking with his wife and newborn son.

Department of Biomedical Sciences
Ph.D. Program

Austin Hsu

Austin has had a longstanding interest in gene regulation and disease pathophysiology, which led him to pursue his graduate training at UCSF and the Gladstone Institutes. He is devoting his graduate thesis work to studying and uncovering novel molecular mechanisms underlying heart failure pathogenesis. Outside of the lab, Austin enjoys teaching science lessons in local San Francisco public schools and volunteering as a HIV test counselor with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Department of Biomedical Sciences
Ph.D. Program

Tara McIntyre

During her time in San Francisco, Tara has had the opportunity to work in both industry and academia and contribute to a number of publications in the immunology field. Tara is interested in reproductive immunology and fetal maternal tolerance and is currently working on a project investigating the epigenetic processes that drive term parturition in humans. She is especially interested in identifying epigenetic modifiers, either endogenous or environmental, that may lead to preterm labor or pregnancy complications. Outside of science, Tara enjoys hiking, swimming and painting.

Department of Biophysics
Ph.D. Program

Alexander Wolff

Alex earned a B.S. in Kinesiology & Health Promotion and a M.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Wyoming. During his time there, he became fascinated with the role that protein dynamics play in molecular mechanisms. Thus, Alex’s work in the Fraser Lab seeks to understand how proteins move, and whether these movements can be altered to help treat human disease. Outside of the lab, Alex tries to interlace art, science, and outdoor adventures while honing his communication skills.

Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology
Ph.D. Program

Paul Klauser

Paul’s research focuses on incorporating unnatural amino acids as a chemical biology tool to study proteins in cells and model organisms. He is currently developing tools for photomodulation of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) activation. He earned his B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017. During that time, he worked to identify and characterize deoxyribozymes that catalyze hydrolysis of amide bonds and oxidative cleavage of DNA. This work led to two publications and allowed Paul to win the Carl S. Marvel award for outstanding undergraduate research. Outside of lab, Paul enjoys volunteering for UCSF’s Science and Health Education Partnership, bringing science education to K-12 students.

Department of Developmental Stem Cell Biology
Ph.D. Program

Ryan Boileau

Ryan graduated from the University of Oregon in 2014 with majors in human physiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry. There he first developed a passion for basic research in the life sciences, which has compelled him to pursue academic research. He is currently a second year graduate student in the lab of Robert Blelloch. The aim of his thesis is to determine the molecular mechanisms regulating enhancer dynamics using genomic and proteomic approaches. In his free time Ryan enjoys rock climbing, cycling, and eating excessive quantities of chips and salsa.

Department of Epidemiology
Ph.D. Program

Amanda Irish

Amanda’s research interests center around infectious disease epidemiology, particularly in the spatial epidemiology of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. Her current research projects focus on using cutting-edge data sources and approaches (remote sensing data and machine learning algorithms) to help on-the-ground malaria prevention teams in sub-Saharan Africa improve the efficiency of their indoor residual spraying campaigns, which translates into preventing more cases of malaria. She was a practicing small animal veterinarian prior to transitioning into public health, and has gained some teaching experience through TA positions during her MPH and Ph.D. programs. Outside interests include travel, running, and art.

Department of Neuroscience
Ph.D. Program

Nerissa Hoglen

Nerissa’s thesis project combines her interests in social behavior and sensory processing: She is investigating the role of vocalizations in the formation of both mate and parental bonds and the social and auditory neural circuitry that supports vocal processing in the socially monogamous prairie vole model. She is also passionate about science communication and teaching. She enjoys writing about neuroscience for a general audience and editing both technical and general writing for friends and colleagues. Outside of lab, Nerissa’s hobbies include baking, candy-making, digital art, watercolor painting, and bar trivia.

Department of Neuroscience
Ph.D. Program

Michael Ryan

The goal of Michael’s doctoral work is to understand how we execute movements. Having studied sensory processing and decision making as a research technician, he entered the Neuroscience Graduate Program with a keen interest in how the brain orchestrates the transformation of thought into action. This interest led him to the lab of Alexandra Nelson MD/, which investigates the neural mechanisms underlying our ability to select and execute movements. Currently, Michael’s project is focused on determining how dopamine loss, as occurs in Parkinson’s Disease, alters neural activity, thereby interrupting this translation of action selection into movement. Ultimately, the goal of his research is to identify novel targets for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Pharmacogenomics
Ph.D. Program

Beau Norgeot

Beau started three small businesses and managed a division at an international business intelligence firm before getting his undergraduate engineering degree. His research leverages cutting-edge artificial intelligence and electronic health records data, to discover new biomedical findings on disease processes, and can help the physician of the future to optimally select treatments on an individual basis. Beau is extraordinarily strong in forging his own scientific collaborations and is a skilled communicator, able to lecture on complex topics to diverse groups of physicians and researchers. He is frequently called upon to explain what is or is not possible for challenging projects. Beau built a deep learning approach to automatically extract genomic and other text from PubMed that led to an ICHS Assistant Professor’s winning of a new NIH U grant. He has also won a prestigious internship at Microsoft Research in addition to competitive awards from Amazon Web Services for his deep learning projects and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for his Natural Language Processing work.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ

  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • Department of Biomolecular Engineering
  • Department of Computer Engineering
  • Department of Computer Science
  • Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • Department of Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology
  • Department of Ocean Sciences
  • Department of Physics
  • Science Communication Program

  • Image Emily Cunningham
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
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  • Image Ying Kat Feng
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
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  • Image Charles Cole
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Biomolecular Engineering
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  • Image Dawn Hustig Schultz
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Computer Engineering
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  • Image Jared Duval
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Computer Science
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  • Image Chris Law
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
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  • Image Carla Sette
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
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  • Image Kevin Johnson
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology
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  • Image Kimberly Bitterwolf
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Ocean Sciences
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  • Image Kaitlin Hellier
    Ph.D. Program - Department of Physics
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  • Image Ben Lehmann
    Graduate Certificate - Department of Physics
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  • Image Bailey Bedford
    Graduate Certificate - Department of Science Communication
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  • Image Erin Garcia
    Graduate Certificate - Department of Science Communication
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Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Ph.D. Program

Emily Cunningham

Emily’s research focuses on the formation and evolution of our own Milky Way Galaxy. She measures the motions of the Milky Way’s oldest, most distant stars, called halo stars, using two world-class telescopes: the Keck Telescope on Mauna Kea and the Hubble Space Telescope. Emily studies the kinematic properties of halo stars in order to learn about the dwarf galaxies that were consumed by the Milky Way as it assembled its dark matter halo. Prior to her graduate work at UCSC, Emily was awarded a Fulbright grant for a year of research at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris. Outside of research, she enjoys hiking in the Santa Cruz redwoods and practicing yoga.

Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Ph.D. Program

Ying Kat Feng

Ying is a NSF graduate research fellow and fourth-year Ph.D. student working on the characterization of exoplanet atmospheres. She uses statistical tools to investigate the accuracy of atmospheric inference given the assumptions adopted in models, with important implications for measured chemical abundances, especially in the era of higher precision data that will come with the James Webb Space Telescope. She also develops frameworks to determine the constraints on the habitability of Earth-like planets in the context of future space-based direct imaging missions. Ying is passionate about teaching and the retention of students in STEM fields.

Department of Biomolecular Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Charles Cole

Prior to UCSC, Charles worked as a bioinformatician for the FDA and a financial statistician for the NIH. He currently works in the lab of Dr. Christopher Vollmers as a molecular biologist and bioinformatics software developer. His research is focused on B-cell genetics and the behavior of the antibody loci. He is currently working a project to measure the structural diversity of the Heavy Chain locus in the general population and its impact on the antibody repertoire. He is also working on a method to generate highly accurate assemblies from metagenomic samples using the Oxford Nanopore. Charles is an avid powerlifter and mixologist.

Department of Computer Engineering
Ph.D. Program

Dawn Hustig Schultz

Dawn’s current research in control systems entails the development of a hybrid switching system for the heavy-ball gradient descent method, to improve the speed and stability of convergence of a system to desired parameters. A potential application of the work includes platooning of autonomous vehicles, to improve congestion and fuel efficiency for highway transportation. She has presented conference papers at IROS 2016 and 2017 and has participated in research assistantships at NASA Ames Research Center and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In addition, Dawn was awarded the UCSC Graduate Division Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for the 2016-17 academic year.

Department of Computer Science
Ph.D. Program

Jared Duval

A second-year Ph.D. student, Jared leads a large interdisciplinary project called SpokeIt: A Co-Created Speech Therapy Game aimed at improving the at-home speech therapy experience for children born with Orofacial Cleft. Jared collaborates with medical professionals at UC Davis and developmental psychologists at UCSC to improve the speech therapy experience using novel speech recognition techniques that can distinguish correct and incorrect speech without the need for an internet connection. His experience as a respite nurse, technical degrees, and aesthetic eye perfectly suit him to create serious games for health, which have been published in multiple venues.

Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Ph.D. Program

Chris Law

Chris’s research investigates the variation in phenotypic traits and its contributions to the overall maintenance of biological diversity. He takes an integrative approach to examine how morphological variation affects the performance, behavior, and ecology of different species across evolutionary time as well as between individuals within single populations. This whole organism approach elucidates the ecomorphological mechanisms that contribute to the diversification and fitness of both species and individuals. The four primary projects Chris is currently working on involve examining 1) the effects of body elongation on musteloid (weasels, otters, raccoons, and badgers) diversification, 2) the effects of sexual dimorphism on skull disparity between musteloids, 3) effects of intraspecific variation in feeding morphology and performance in sea otters, and 4) biomechanics and profitability of tool use between individual sea otters. 

Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Ph.D. Program

Carla Sette

Carla’s research spans both theoretical research into evolutionary mechanisms and practical conservation applications. In the theoretical realm, she uses game theory to study the evolution of alternative tactics to understand how complex systems evolve in nature. She has also travelled to the Amazon to study how climate change will affect the survival of tropical ectotherms, given their physiological response to changing temperatures. Carla is the president of the local chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology and is active in undergraduate mentoring.

Department of Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology
Ph.D. Program

Kevin Johnson

Kevin is pursuing a Ph.D. to develop the skills he’ll need to become a successful, independent researcher in the field of bacterial pathogenesis. His thesis work in the Ottemann Lab aims to understand how the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori utilizes its chemotaxis system to modulate host inflammation. Chemotaxis enables the bacteria to sense environmental signals within the stomach, directing its motility towards preferred niches. In this system, signals are sensed through chemoreceptors. The lab has shown that H. pylori lacking the chemoreceptor TlpA causes hyperinflammation. Kevin’s work aims to understand what TlpA senses in the stomach and to characterize the hyperinflammatory immune response driven by the loss of TlpA. Individuals that develop severe inflammation in response to H. pylori infection are more likely to develop ulcers or gastric cancer. Therefore, by understanding how TlpA tempers host inflammation, we can better understand how H. pylori causes disease.

Department of Ocean Sciences
Ph.D. Program

Kimberly Bitterwolf

Kim is studying isotope geochemistry to better constrain the chemical composition of important inputs to the ocean, specifically riverine and groundwater discharge. Alongside her interdisciplinary interests in chemical analyses, modeling, and international collaborations, Kim is passionate about undergraduate mentoring and science communication. She serves as a mentor to four UCSC undergraduates and co-founded a graduate student organization, Communicating Oceanography Research Effectively, which serves to improve education, outreach, and diversity in the marine sciences. When not busy with her academic and professional pursuits, Kim enjoys adventuring with Pawesome, her Rottweiler/Husky.

Department of Physics
Ph.D. Program

Kaitlin Hellier

As a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz, Kaitlin has worked not only on developing her own skills and knowledge in physics and the world, but on expanding those of students around her. In her research she focuses on sustainability and renewable energy materials, preparing our civilization for our future energy needs. Alongside her efforts in the lab, she works with undergraduates through teaching and mentoring, helping them navigate life at the university and learn research skills to be successful after their time at UCSC. Kaitlin is also a vocal advocate for diversity in the sciences and believes that communicating with people outside STEM is essential for the progression of our society.

Department of Physics
Ph.D. Program

Ben Lehmann

Ben is a physics graduate student who works on the dark side of the universe. He studies invisible dark matter from the perspective of particle physicist, astrophysicist, and cosmologist all at once, finding new ways to use astronomical data to learn about this mysterious component of our universe. In his spare time, Ben is a social scientist as much as a physicist—he has published work on the statistics of the scientific community itself, and his computer is always running out of space to hold datasets from congressional transcripts to census blocks. Ben is also a dedicated teacher and has taught college students from Stanford to UCSC to San Quentin State Prison. But when time permits, his favorite hobby is a different kind of science: baking!

Department of Science Communication
Graduate Certificate

Bailey Bedford

Bailey is eagerly transitioning into science communication after having been an experimental condensed matter graduate researcher at Pennsylvania State University. His experiences as a physics researcher and teaching assistant make him eager to eliminate perceptions that science is incomprehensible to the average person, and his experiences growing up as the son of farmers in rural Oklahoma have shown him the importance of eliminating the divides between rural and urban America. Bailey is eager for a career that will allow him to grapple with many diverse topics and to share what he has learned with the public.

Department of Science Communication
Graduate Certificate

Erin Garcia

Erin is a microbiologist turned science writer, inspired by remarkable writers like David Quammen, Carl Zimmer, and Mary Roach. While earning her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Washington, she realized her strengths lay in communicating science and decided to change career paths. She is particularly fascinated by infectious diseases and wildlife, resulting in a deep interest in viruses that are transmitted between animals and humans. Erin hopes to learn how to be an immersive and informative communicator during her time at UC Santa Cruz. Outside of science, she is an avid reader and bicyclist who loves spending time in the sunshine.