Bios

Current Students: Academic Year 2021-2022

AEROSPACE ENGINEERING

ALEX DONABEDIAN, Aerospace Engineering
IMSD Mentor: Margherita Capriotti, Ph.D.

 

Alex Donabedian joined the IMSD program in the Fall of 2021. Currently, he is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in Aerospace Engineering at San Diego State University. Prior to joining the IMSD program, he has worked with the Supplemental Instruction program on campus, holding guided study sessions for a Calculus 1 class. As of now, he works in Dr. Capriotti’s lab, using ultrasonic waves to detect defects within composite materials. His current project focuses on finding the optimal angle to send these ultrasonic waves through the material that maximizes the probability of detecting such defects. After completing his undergraduate work, Alex plans to pursue a Ph.D. in structures and material science. 

BIOLOGY

RONNESHA “RONI” JOHNSON, Biology
IMSD Mentor: Jeffrey Gustafson, Ph.D.

Roni joined the IMSD program in the summer of 2020. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s of science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry at SDSU. Prior to her acceptance into IMSD, she took part in USCD/SDSU Partnership Scholars Program where she worked in Dr. Silvio Gutkind’s lab at UCSD Moores Cancer Center. There, she studied the mechanisms of uveal melanoma to find overexpressed proteins that can be treated with well known inhibitors. As of now, Roni is working in Dr. Gustafson’s lab where she synthesizes small molecules known as proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTACs) and is developing a cell-based bioluminescence assay to study the degradable effects of PROTACs on a protein of interest. The purpose of her research is to create an effective assay to test the efficacy of PROTACs which can lead to novel and more successful treatments for diseases caused by overexpressed proteins such as cancers, immunodeficiencies, and Alzheimer’s disease. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, Roni plans to join a dual degree program surrounding surgical oncology. 

EMILY MORGAN, Biology
IMSD Mentor: Robert Luallen, Ph.D.

Emily Morgan joined the IMSD program in the fall of 2020. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology at San Diego State University. Prior to her acceptance to the IMSD program, she committed and successfully completed one year with the SDSU Bridges to Stem Cell Research Internship under the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Emily joined the Luallen Lab in 2018 and her research goal is to continue searching for C. elegans in San Diego and to discover new pathogens within nematodes. Primarily, the focus is to identify new pathogenic species found within wild-type C. elegans or other Caeonorhabditis. After graduating from San Diego State University, she plans to further her education by pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomedical science.

EDUARDO CHARVEL, Evolutionary Biology
IMSD Mentor: Jeet Sukumaran, PhD.

 

Eduardo Charvel joined IMSD in the Fall of 2020. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and minors in Computer Science and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies. Eduardo joined the Sukumaran Lab in 2019, where he has focused on doing computer-based research in evolutionary biology. Right now, he is working on analyzing shark and tapeworm co-phylogenies through machine learning algorithms in hopes of understanding the role biogeography plays in the evolution of these organisms. After graduating in Fall 2021, he hopes to be admitted into a Bioinformatics or Computational Biology PhD. program.

CHEMISTRY 

JOSEPH HATTON, Biochemistry

IMSD Mentor: Gregory Holland, PhD.

Joseph became part of the IMSD program in May of 2021. He is in his fourth and final year of his B.S. in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry. Since January of 2021 he has worked in Dr. Holland’s lab involving peptide creation and analysis in regards to spider silk gaining practice in NMR, UV Vis and general polypeptide synthesis. Now in efforts to gain more experience in the organic field he is working collaboratively with Dr. Gustafson’s lab, learning about complex drug synthesis. Ultimately he hopes to pursue his PhD in Organic Chemistry.

RACHEL KHOURY, Chemistry
IMSD Mentor: Christal Sohl, Ph.D.

Rachel Khoury was accepted into the IMSD program in Fall 2021. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and is in her third year. Prior to joining the program, she assisted in daily product testing and development of skincare and cosmetics at Above Rinaldi Labs Inc. Currently, she is working in Dr. Christal Sohl’s biochemistry research lab where she is using steady-state kinetics to characterize the catalytic parameters of tumor-driving IDH1 mutants to better understand their tumorigenic role in patients. Following her graduation, Rachel plans on utilizing her passion for chemistry and biomedical research by pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology. She hopes to focus her graduate and post-graduate studies on pharmaceutics pertaining to women’s health issues and psychological disorders.

SAVANNAH ORTH, Chemistry
IMSD Mentor: Christopher Harrison, Ph.D.

Savannah was accepted into the IMSD program in January of 2021, and is a fourth year pursuing a bachelor’s of science in chemistry. After working on a chemical engineering project as part of an NSF undergraduate research program at Arizona State University in summer of 2018, Savannah returned to SDSU and joined Dr. Harrison’s analytical chemistry research lab. In Dr. Harrison’s lab Savannah is working on a project using capillary electrophoresis to quantify and explore lithium extraction from saltwater brine, with the goal of understanding and quantifying the most effective and efficient way to extract lithium from high salt brine environments. Upon graduation in Spring of 2022, Savannah is hoping to use her analytical chemistry experience to pursue a Ph.D in chemistry with a focus on biomedical research. 

CHRISTINA RIVERA, Biochemistry

IMSD Mentor: Byron Purse, Ph.D.

Christina Rivera joined the IMSD program in the Fall of 2021. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry, with an emphasis in biochemistry, at San Diego State University. Prior to her acceptance into IMSD, she took part in a summer biochemistry REU program at Texas A&M University. There, she studied the inhibition of cancer cell growth through the use of polyphenolic phytochemicals flavonoids. She is currently mentored by Dr. Byron Purse and is learning more about current synthetic methodologies. After graduating from San Diego State University, she plans to further expand her education by pursuing a Ph.D. in organic chemistry.

NICOLE SIERRA, Biochemistry

IMSD Mentor: Christal Sohl, Ph.D.

Nicole Sierra joined the IMSD program in the summer of 2021. She is currently acquiring a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry. Nicole is currently an undergraduate research assistant, under the mentor Dr.Kinoshita in the disturbance hydrology lab in the department of civil, constructional, and environmental engineering. She will transition in the Fall of 2021 to Dr.Sohl’s lab, investigating the molecular mechanisms of disease. Nicole’s study interest is to pursue a Ph.D. in researching biomedical sciences, furthermore in human diseases. Certain research career interests include drug development, vaccine development, and/ or antibiotic resistance.

AUDREY WASHINGTON, Biochemistry

IMSD Mentor: Jing Gu, Ph.D.

Audrey joined the IMSD program Spring 2021. She is obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry and minors in Interdisciplinary Studies. Audrey’s study interests lie in improving and designing materials that enhance the performance of energy storage and conversion devices, such as converting solar energy into H2 fuels, or reducing CO2 into more valuable chemicals (like carbon monoxide). She is currently mentored by Dr. Jing Gu and is learning how to modify silicon surfaces to reduce their reflectance and enhance their photocurrent generation. In the future, Audrey plans to achieve a PhD in materials science or chemistry.

FOODS & NUTRITION

CHELSIE MILLER, Foods & Nutrition
IMSD Mentor: Christal Sohl, Ph.D.

Chelsie was accepted into the IMSD program in Summer of 2021, following a semester in biochemistry with Dr. Sohl. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition, with a minor in chemistry at San Diego State University (SDSU). Prior to her acceptance into the IMSD program, Chelsie did not have much experience in research and is taking this opportunity to learn as much as she can within the intersection of biochemistry and nutrition. This is a jumping off point for her research in which she will research the effects of prune extract on chondrosarcomas. Her goal is to successfully culture cells and extract phytochemicals from prunes to test the effects of such extract at different concentrations. The purpose of her research is to determine whether prune extract has an effect on cancerous bone cells. Following her graduation, Chelsie hopes to use her passion for biochemistry and apply her knowledge of nutrition by pursuing a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry.

PSYCHOLOGY

EDUARDO HERNANDEZ, Psychology and Microbiology

IMSD Mentor: Aaron Blashill, Ph.D.

Eduardo Hernandez was accepted into the IMSD program in June 2021. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Microbiology and Psychology. Before entering into the program, Eduardo worked as a research assistant at South Bay Latino Research Center (SBLRC) under Dr. Linda Gallo where they researched preventative measures on decreasing cardiometabolic conditions and other comorbidities. He recently joined Dr. Aaron Blashill’s lab where he will focus his research on eating disorders, HIV prevention, and suicidality among sexual and ethnic minorities. Upon graduating in spring 2023, Eduardo hopes to be admitted into a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program.

CHLOE SOBOLEWSKI, Psychology
IMSD Mentor: Sarah N. Mattson, Ph.D.

Chloe Sobolewski was accepted into the IMSD Program in the fall semester of 2020. She is in her fourth year pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, with minors in honors interdisciplinary studies and child and family development. As a research assistant at the Center for Behavioral Teratology, she studies the brain and behavior of youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. With the guidance of her faculty mentor, Dr. Sarah Mattson, Chloe has examined the validity of neuropsychological examinations and behavioral questionnaires used in assessing externalizing and internalizing problem behaviors in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Following her graduation, Chloe hopes to apply her research experience and knowledge in abnormal behavior by pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include the etiology of and the risk and protective factors for developing anxiety disorders and internalizing behavior problems, particularly in adolescents and emerging adults.

 

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