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

 

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.

KARINA PASTRANA, Biology
IMSD Mentor: Anca Segall, Ph.D.

Karina Pastrana joined the IMSD program in the Spring of 2022. She is a transfer student from San Diego Miramar College and is now in her last year of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Before joining IMSD, Karina was an intern for the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (SCRM). At SCRM, she was using hIPSC derived hepatocytes to model the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in the PNPLA3 I148M risk variant genotype. She is currently working in Dr. Anca Segall’s lab, where she is participating in an exploratory research project that studies the gut microbiome and virome of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The research project aims to further understand the gut microbiome and virome composition in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. After the completion of her bachelor’s degree, Karina will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Science.

CHEMISTRY 

ADEN ALEMAYHU, Biochemistry

IMSD Mentor: Tom Huxford, PhD.

Aden Alemayhu joined the IMSD Program in Spring of 2022. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry and a minor in Sustainability. Prior to joining IMSD, she participated in UCI’s Chem-SURF program developing a project analyzing the crystallin proteins within the lenses of the local blackgill rockfish. Currently, she is working in the Huxford Lab analyzing the components of the IκB kinase complex. Her project is specializing in the NEMO protein, as she aims to express, purify, and characterize it through a variety of experimental techniques. She eventually hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Biochemistry after completing her Bachelor’s Degree, specializing in protein structure and function.

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.

VAYLE VERA CRUZ, Chemistry

IMSD Mentor: Andrew Cooksy, Ph.D.

Bio coming soon!

AUDREY WASHINGTON, Chemistry

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

HAILEY ADNEY, Psychology and Microbiology

IMSD Mentor: Jillian Wiggins, Ph.D.

Hailey Adney joined the IMSD program in the spring of 2022. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Microbiology and Psychology, with minors in Statistics and Mathematics at San Diego State University (SDSU). Hailey has been working in Dr. Jillian Wiggin’s Translational Emotion Neuroscience and Development Laboratory (TEND Lab) since August 2021 and plans to continue work within this lab as part of the IMSD program. Within this lab, Hailey will focus her research on the development of social and emotional functioning in children and adolescents who have psychological disorders with a specific focus on treatment. Following her graduation, Hailey hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

ELIZABETH FENELON, Psychology

IMSD Mentor: TBD

Elizabeth Fenelon was accepted into the IMSD program during the Spring 2022 semester. She is in her third year, hoping to obtain a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology. Her other involvements on campus include being the Vice President of Academic Excellence for Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, Director of Public Relations for Active Minds (she was also just recently appointed the Secretary for the 2022-2023 school year), Psi Chi scholar, and a new initiate of Mortar Board Senior Honor Society. Elizabeth’s psychological research interests include anxiety disorders, depression, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), specifically in college-aged students. After graduating from SDSU, she hopes to enter a Ph.D. program for Clinical Psychology, where she will get to apply her research experience and knowledge.

EDUARDO HERNANDEZ MOZO, 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.

MEGAN KORHUMMEL, Psychology
IMSD Mentor: Vanessa Malcarne, Ph.D.

Megan Korhummel was accepted into the IMSD Program in the spring semester of 2022. She is in her third year pursuing a Bachelors of Arts degree in psychology. As a research assistant at the Chronic Illness Research Laboratory, she studies the quality of life and survivorship of children and adults with chronic illnesses, as well as cancer health disparities. With the guidance of her faculty mentor, Dr. Vanessa Malcarne, Megan has assisted in the development of a codebook for future medical use to describe benefit findings in children and adolescents with Craniofacial Conditions and their parents. Following her graduation, Megan hopes to apply her research experience and knowledge in behavioral and psychosocial understandings of health and illnesses by pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include health disparities in marginalized populations and adjustments to chronic illnesses in children and adults.  

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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