Tara Fetherolf, Astronomy
MBRS Mentor: William F. Welsh, Ph.D.
Tara joined the IMSD-MBRS program as an astronomy major and math minor in September 2013. She has been working in the Eclipsing Binary Working Group under Dr. William Welsh and Dr. Jerome Orosz since spring 2011, and is finishing her project of accurately measuring the masses and radii of the eclipsing binary star system KIC 8736245. There exists a well-known discrepancy between the masses and radii of low-mass stars, in which the observed radii are larger than predicted. Knowing the masses and radii of the low-mass stars in KIC 8736245 will aid in understanding the nature of the discrepancy. In the summer of 2013, Tara was accepted into the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program at the California Institute of Technology, where she worked with Drs. Heather Knutson, John Asher Johnson, and Avi Shporer. Over the course of the summer, she developed an automated program which modeled the out-of-transit portions of thousands of Kepler transiting planet candidates, and has decided to continue working beyond the original scope of this summer project in order to to analyze the results. By systematically organizing the automated results, interesting systems can quickly be identified and later analyzed in detail. Tara will be graduating with her B.S. in Astronomy in May 2014, and is interested in transitioning into extra-solar planet research in her graduate studies. Her long-term goal is to stay in academia after earning her Ph.D. so she can continue her research as well as teach.
REY AYON, Zoology, Wildlife Biology & Animal Behavior
MBRS Mentor: Rulon W. Clark, Ph.D.
Rey joined the MBRS program in January 2012 as a biology major with an emphasis in zoology, and currently works in the Laboratory of Animal Behavior and Conservation with Dr. Rulon Clark. The Clark Lab focuses on squamate and small mammal ecology, and Rey’s current area of investigation focuses on levels of activation and sustainment of sympathetic nervous system arousal in California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) in response to in situ presentations of various visual and olfactory stimuli; including live tethered snakes, snake models, and novel, decontextualized objects. Rey’s goal is to obtain his Ph.D. and continue his research in the hopes of augmenting the current understanding of the modular, rattlesnake-ground squirrel predator-prey system, and apply its usage as a model for analyzing the physiological and behavioral consequences of predator recognition and deterrence in natural ecological systems. Aside from wildlife biology, Rey enjoys playing guitar and performing with his band at musical venues throughout San Diego. He will graduate from San Diego State University with his B.S. in Zoology and will begin applying for Ph.D. programs in Fall 2013.
In July 2013, Katrina joined the MBRS/IMSD program as a cell and molecular biology major. She is working in the lab of Ricardo Zayas, Ph.D., where they study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of nervous system regeneration in fresh water planarians Schmidtea mediterranea. Due to the abundance of pluripotent stem cells throughout the body, this model is able to regrow all of its body tissue after injury or amputation. Katrina is currently working on characterizing the patterns of expression and function of the SOX C, SOX H and several WNT genes in this model. Katrina would like to obtain her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology, specifically in the area of developmental epigenetics. She is interested in understanding the important link of developmental epigenetic markers and disease. She aspires to help develop gene therapies that will ease symptoms of incurable diseases.
ERIKA GARCIA, Biology/Zoology
MBRS Mentor: Marshal Hedin, Ph.D.
Erika joined the MBRS/IMSD program in February 2012 as a Biology with an emphasis in Zoology major. Her research experience began in the summer of 2011 as a Ronald E. McNair scholar in collaboration with postdoctoral student, Axel Schoenhofer, Ph.D. in Dr. Marshal Hedin’s lab. The Hedin lab focuses on arachnid evolution, systematics, and conservation with particular emphasis on mygalomorph (e.g. trap-door spiders, tarantulas, and kin) spiders and Harvestmen (Opiliones). Erika’s current research with Harvestmen aims to discover cryptic diversity in the Family Phalangodidae, more specifically within the genus Bishopella. The genus of Bishopella currently includes three described species, but studies indicate that this taxon includes many (at least 11) well-supported, genetically divergent lineages, perhaps representing distinct species. Using Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) Technology and the Exon-Primed Intron-Crossing (EPIC) research approach, the main goal is to identify molecular markers that can specifically enable to resolve shallow phylogenetic divergence within Bishopella. Erika’s goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in the Zoological sciences, particularly focusing on terrestrial arthropod biology. She aspires to contribute significantly to the scientific field with the intention of spreading awareness of the importance of conserving animal habitats and biological diversity.
EFREN REYES, Biology
MBRS Mentor: Kelly Doran, Ph.D.
Efren joined the MBRS program in December 2012. He is a biology major with an honors minor in interdisciplinary studies and conducts research in the laboratory of Dr. Kelly Doran, where the main interest is bacterial pathogens associated with Central Nervous System disease. Specifically, the Doran Lab focuses on the mechanisms by which bacteria penetrate the blood brain barrier to cause meningitis and seeks to identify gene and gene products associated with cellular invasion and characterize host innate immune response to infection. Efren’s project seeks to examine the effect of Group B streptococcus infection on the expression and distribution of the ZO-1 protein, the primary regulatory protein of tight junction formation in the BBB, as well as identify important bacterial factors responsible for BBB breakdown. Efren will apply to PhD programs in Fall 2013 and hopes to work at an academic institution, where he will be able to combine his passions for research and mentoring.
Alicia joined the MBRS IMSD program in April 2012. She is fascinated by the human brain and is double-majoring in psychology and biology. She is currently conducting research in the laboratory of Dr. Ralph Feuer. This laboratory is interested in looking at the effects that a previous coxsackievirus infection can have on the central nervous system of the host that survives it. Her project is specifically looking at a transgenic mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease to determine if a persistent infection can alter the course of this disease. The purpose of this project is to gain insight on the interaction between enteroviruses and neurodegenerative diseases. Thanks to the help of this program and her mentor, Alicia has been able to present her research at a national conference and on campus on multiple occasions. Since she joined the program, she has been recognized with a scholarship, a research scholar award and a presentation award. Alicia will be applying for Summer research programs this Spring to expand her research experience. In the future, she wants to obtain a Ph.D. in Neuroscience to apply her knowledge in biology and psychology and to further research on neurological diseases from an interdisciplinary perspective. Her ultimate goal is to become a university professor and inspire students to learn about the human brain. Summer 2013 Research: MIT Summer Research Program in Biology and Neuroscience
Jerrell joined the MBRS program in May 2012 as a chemistry major with an emphasis in biochemistry. His adolescent-age interest in the sciences came from his affinity for the traditional white lab coat–and to this day he thinks it looks pretty cool. Jerrell developed a deeper appreciation for the sciences over time, particularly during his junior year as an undergraduate intern at Prometheus Labs, a biotechnology company, where Jerrell entered into his first research position. Here he participated in cancer research focused on further developing proprietary cancer diagnostics instrumentation aimed at identifying various cancer cell phenotypes. Jerrell’s work at Prometheus earned him a competitive scholarship from the Biotech Employee Development Coalition (BEDC) who recognize and support San Diego County students who have demonstrated academic and workplace excellence. Currently, Jerrell is continuing to build his research experience at SDSU in a bioinorganic laboratory with Dr. Carl Carrano, Chair of chemistry department. This project is investigating the effects that an increasingly acidic ocean has upon the iron uptake (and storage and control) by a variety of algal-associated marine bacteria. Insight regarding this interaction is important given the critical role that iron plays as an essential marine micronutrient at all trophic levels. Jerrell intends to graduate from SDSU with a B.S. in BioChemistry with ACS certification and will begin applying for Ph.D. programs in Fall 2013. Summer 2013 Research: Harvard University
AARON WARD, Biochemistry
MBRS Mentor: Tom Huxford, Ph.D
Aaron joined the MBRS program in June 2012. He is biochemistry major and is currently doing research in Dr. Huxford’s lab. Dr. Huxford’s research focuses on the NF-kappaB signal transduction pathway, particularly the structure and function of the IkappaB Kinase complex. Aaron is currently investigating cation binding characteristics of a murine antibody. Aaron’s goal is to earn a PhD. in biochemistry. Aaron will graduate in the spring of 2014, and apply to PhD. programs in the fall of 2013.
Carlos joined the IMSD-MBRS program in July of 2013 as an undergraduate in Biology with an emphasis in bioengineering. Carlos joined Dr. Paul Paolini’s laboratory in the fall of 2012 through the NSF S-STEM program and is currently conducting his research project in the Paolini laboratory. This laboratory focuses on the mechanics and dynamics of the neonatal rat cardiocyte to further understand human heart. In the Spring of 2013, Carlos presented his first poster on his research done in the laboratory in the Student Research Symposium, titled Rosiglitazone Causes Gene Expression Changes in the Neonatal Rat Cardiocyte. His current project focuses on the comparison of cardiocyte cultures between paced and unpaced cells in order to create a model to observe changes in gene (e.g. neonatal vs. adult isoform) expression during development. Carlos is very interested in the application of bioengineering aspects in this project and plans to focus in the field of prosthetics, and intends to apply for a PhD program in Bioengineering. His prime goals in academics is to obtain his doctoral degree in bioengineering and have a laboratory of his own in a university where students will have the same opportunity, as he did, to unfold their passion and potential for the sciences.
ELIZABETH FORTIN, Mechanical Engineering
MBRS Mentor: Satchi Venkatamaran, Ph.D.
Elizabeth joined the MBRS Program in September 2012. She started working in Dr. Venkataramans’ Aerospace Structures Laboratory in Spring 2012. Over the past summer, Elizabeth participated in the Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) Research Program for Undergraduates at North Carolina State University, which was funded through the National Science Foundation. There she worked with Dr. Yong Zhu in developing a silver nanowire and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) based impedance sensor for hydration monitoring. Elizabeth is currently working with Dr. Venkataraman on observing the crushing pattern of the honeycomb core to be used in the tapered region of a sandwich composite. She is looking into applying homogenization methods to obtain the equivalent material properties of the densified honeycomb core. She will graduate in May 2014 with her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and will be applying to Ph.D. programs this fall.
ROSANNAE CHHOUK, Environmental Science and Sociology
MBRS Mentor: Richard Gersberg, Ph.D.
Rosannae Chhouk is a Sociology and Environmental Science major and began the MBRS/IMSD program in September 2011. She is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Gersberg in the Department of Public Health on measuring pyrethroids, particular bifenthrin and permethrin, in collected stream sediment samples. Understanding this pesticide is critical. They are known to be toxic to non-target invertebrates, like zooplankton, that are beneficial to our environment. To separate the pyrethroids from the sediment, ultrasonificaiton and microwave extraction techniques were used. Samples were processed using the liquid chromatography coupled to a quadrupole mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS). Parameters were manipulated to promote accurate pyrethroid detection. In summer 2012, Rosannae was granted another excellent opportunity to research aquatic ecosystems at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) as a summer fellow in the Summer Student Fellowship program. At WHO Rosannae worked in the Biology Department in Dr. Donald Anderson’s laboratory and under the direct mentorship of Dr. Michael Brosnahan and Dr. Katherine Hubbard. Her project focused on how advances in remote sensing shape our understanding of harmful algae blooms, particularly through two new developments: the imaging flow cytobot (IFCB) and the environmental sample processor (ESP). Harmful algae blooms (HABs) describe the proliferation of toxic phytoplankton and microalgae that adversely affect our natural resources and public health. Over 12 weeks, she explored how the ESP and IFCB can be used to detect cellular abundance and predict the growth rate of Pseudo-nitzschia seriata and Alexandrium tamarense respectively. Summer 2013 Research: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Integrated Biological Sciences Summer Research Program
NADIA OTT, Mathematics
MBRS Mentor: Andrew Cooksy, Ph.D. and Timothy Dunster, Ph.D.
Nadia joined the MBRS program in March 2012 as an applied mathematics major with an emphasis in physical science. She currently works in Dr. Cooksy’s lab. The project she is currently working on studies the vibrational quantum mechanics of reactive organic molecules. Nadia’s current are of investigation deals mainly with developing new software that will calculate properties, including vibrational spectra, of selected organic molecules using computational quantum chemical methods. The overall goal of this project is to develop computational means of predicting the spectra at which concentrations of reactive molecules hazardous to our health can be assessed and then appropriately dealt with. Nadia’s goal is to obtain a Ph.D in applied mathematics that will interface with a physical science such as physics or chemistry. She will graduate from San Diego State University with a B.S in Applied Mathematics/Science in Spring 2014. Summer 2013 Research: Cornell REU (Analysis on Differential Equations on Fractals)
Symone McKinnon joined the MBRS program in June 2013. Symone is a psychology major and has been working in Dr. Terry Cronan’s Health Outcomes Studies Lab since spring 2013. Dr. Cronan’s lab focuses on developing, implementing, and evaluating intervention programs to encourage healthy behaviors among people suffering from chronic diseases. The lab’s current study, entitled Fight FMS, is an intervention-based study which tests the effectiveness of two interventions (education or physical activity) on improving functioning in Fibromyalgia (FMS) patients. As a result of her early research experience in Dr. Cronan’s lab, Symone is now inspired to continue research in graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. In this career, she hopes to research ethnic health disparities, work with people suffering from mental health disorders, and develop treatment plans to help people overcome some of these issues. Symone is an EOP student and will graduate in May 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology.
Savanna joined the MBRS program in January 2013. She is a psychology major with a minor in biology and currently conducts research at the Center for Healthy Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease Research under the direction of Dr. Paul Gilbert. This lab investigates the effects of neurodegenerative disease on cognition, with a specific focus on memory function. The principal method of her current research is neuropsychological assessment of specific clinical populations, including individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, as well as cognitively healthy older and young adults. Her projects investigate the impacts these diseases have on daily activities and how to detect age-related changes and deficits earlier in individuals with these conditions. She transferred from San Diego Mesa College in the fall of 2012. As a Bridges to Baccalaureate Scholar, Savanna presented her summer project exploring source memory function in individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. In the future, she would like to apply her background in biology and physiology to concentrate not only on diagnosis, but also uncovering more information about the etiology of neurodegenerative diseases as well as effective methods of both treatment and prevention. Savanna will graduate in May of 2015 and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology. Summer 2013 Research: University of Oregon SPUR.
DUYEN TRANG, Psychology
BEP Mentor: May Yeh, Ph.D.
Duyen joined the IMSD Program in June 2013 as a psychology major with a minor in statistics. She is currently conducting research at the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center (CASRC) under the mentorship of Dr. May Yeh. The laboratory focuses on examining cognitive match, or agreement, between therapists and clients in psychotherapy. Duyen’s project investigates the relationship between cognitive match and contributing factors (e.g., parent-therapist ethnic match, parent-therapist acculturation match, and acculturation level of parent) that may increase therapeutic alliance between therapists and parents of youths receiving outpatient mental health services. The purpose of this study is to identify and understand factors of cognitive match that may help to increase youths’ therapy attendance, progress, and possibly outcomes. As a former Biomedical Exploratory Program (BEP) Scholar and a current IMSD Scholar, Duyen aspires to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology to learn more about children’s mental health with an emphasis on cultural issues. Her distal goal is to join academia as a university professor. Duyen will apply to graduate programs in Fall 2014 and earn her B.A. in psychology in Spring 2015.
ANNALIA VALDIVIA, Psychology
MBRS Mentors: Linda Gallo, Ph.D. and Patricia Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Annalia Valdivia joined the MBRS program in July 2012. Annalia is a psychology major and has been working in Dr. Linda Gallo’s research lab over the past year that focuses on health disparities with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease. Specifically, Dr. Gallo’s lab focuses on psychological and social factors in the etiology and course of cardiovascular diseases in three general domains 1) Psychosocial factors and interpersonal experiences in cardiovascular stress responses 2) Psychosocial factors and outcomes in cardiac patient populations and 3) Gender, ethnic, and cultural factors in psychosocial risk processes. Annalia’s ambition is to continue on to graduate school to obtain a Ph.D in Clinical psychology, Counseling, and/or Health psychology. She is involved in clubs/organizations such as Psi Chi, EOP, and Compact Scholar. Also, she enjoys helping the community by doing volunteer work whether it is in San Diego or Tijuana, Mexico. Annalia hopes to gain a great deal of research experience and other important skills that will lead her to her future goals. She will graduate May 2014 with a B.A in Psychology. Summer 2013 Research: University of Arizona: Minority Health Disparities summer program