The STEM Team

The STEM Connections Team 



2016-2017 CNAS STEM Peer Mentors


Bassam Theodory

Transferred from: Citrus College                                                              

Bassam TheodoryAfter graduating from high school in Aleppo, Syria (2012). The United States was the only open door for my family and I. Upon my arrival, I spent the majority of my time improving my proficiency in English so I can go to college and start working on my future dream, and that is becoming a physician. I attended Citrus College for two years and a half where I worked as a supplemental instruction leader for biology and math tutor. Simultaneously, my involvement at Citrus College included joining an honors society and clubs such as Phi Theta Kappa and Med-Health Society. During the summer of 2015, I was one of the participants of the Summer Bridge Research program at UCR. I was also lucky enough to be placed in Dr. Eugene Nothnagel's lab, where we analyze methylated sugars, using gas chromatography mass spectrometry, and their different effects on plants. This gave me the opportunity to present our lab and research in two symposia, at UCR and Citrus College. I am currently active in Dr. Nothnagel's lab and working collaboratively with Dr. Rolshausen on almond trees. Besides research, I am very dedicated to service events and giving back to the community. I am the project founder and leader of the diabetes project through Mini Medical School. As aspiring physicians, we are trying to raise awareness and educate underrepresented communities about diabetes and its complications in Riverside. Additionally, being the president of Young at Heart gave me the opportunity to recruit more members and reach out to local nursing homes. We volunteer regularly at Sunrise nursing home and assist in a variety of events such as Bingo game days and Thanksgiving. Away from school involvements, I enjoy my time playing soccer, going to the beach, mountain biking and trying new restaurants!

Duane Kim

Transferred from: Golden West College

 Duane KimMy college experience started at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach where I had a great experience academically and professionally.  During the 5 years I attended, I wasn’t able to get heavily involved on campus due to the fact that I was working roughly 75 hours a week at my parent’s business.  However, I did get a chance to work on campus as an employee of the Financial Aid department which allowed me to learn an enormous amount of useful information while also developing professional work skills.  Once I transferred to UCR, I decided to become heavily involved and make the most of my time at the campus.  I was lucky enough to get a summer internship for research at Prof. Quinn McFrederick’s lab in the Entomology Dept. through the STEM program which helped me start my journey at UCR off on the right foot.  In my lab, I got to work with a variety of bees and help pursue research pertaining to gut microbes and their effects on individual bees and the hive as a whole.  I decided to stay involved in the research lab during the school year while also getting involved in many different clubs and organizations on campus to help make me a competitive applicant for medical school.  Other campus involvements include: STEM Pathway Peer Mentor, Supplemental Instruction Leader for Genetics, Inter-Organizational Representative for Phi Delta Epsilon, Vice Chair of the Transfer and Non-Traditional Student Committee, Patient Intake Member for Riverside Free Clinic, Emergency Dept. Volunteer Trainer and Volunteer at Loma Linda, and UCR CNAS Science Ambassador.  Outside of school I like to do a variety of activities such as swimming at the beach, hiking, and discovering new places to eat at.  If you ever have questions on how to get involved on campus, tips for the pre-med field, or just want to talk, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to assist!


Jennifer Madrigal

Biochemistry/Chemistry Minor
Transferred from: Riverside City College

 Jennifer MadrigalAfter graduating early from high school in Utah at the end of 2005 I knew I wanted to continue my education, so I moved back to my hometown and took some classes at Riverside Community College. I ended up living in Washington for several years and got a decent office job with a software reseller, but I was unsatisfied and decided to go back to school as a business administration major. After a stint at Spokane Community College in Washington I decided to pursue my passion for science. I moved back to California, waited a year for residency tuition rates, and then completed my biochemistry prerequisites at RCC. Along the way I received two A.A. degrees and one A.S. degree. I transferred to UCR in the Fall of 2014, and I have enjoyed worked in Dr. Song’s protein crystallography lab, but have since learned about computational chemistry in Dr. Chang’s lab, and am currently investigating computational methods for accurately modeling and analysis of molecules and molecular interactions. I hope to continue computational chemistry research in graduate school, and develop a career in academia as a faculty member at a research university. 

Joel Fuerte

Transferred from: Riverside City College

jessieLike many students, I struggled with deciding on a direction for myself after graduating high school in 2010. Much of my time at Santa Ana College, and Riverside City College was spent flip-flopping between different majors and questioning if I had what it takes. I finally decided on Biochemistry with an emphasis on Biology after falling in love with the subjects, thanks in part to the passion and guidance of my biology and organic chemistry professors at RCC. I chose UCR as my school due to the collaborative atmosphere, beautiful campus, and countless research opportunities and student support programs. The summer before my first quarter at UCR I had the opportunity to participate in the Summer Bridge to Research program. I was placed in the lab of Dr. Richard Cardullo where I spent time researching the quaternary protein structure that contributed to the distinct morphology of water strider sperm to better understand protein folding via incorporation of enzymatic cofactors. Currently, I am an undergraduate researcher in the molecular biology lab of Dr. Ted Karginov where we investigate RNA-binding proteins and their role in the development of cells of the immune system. In addition to undergraduate research, I also volunteer with hospice patients and their caretakers, serve as a mentor for young underserved children through Kindling Intellectual Development, am Outreach Coordinator for the California Alliance for Minority Participation, and assist incoming Highlanders adjust to the university environment as a STEM Connections Peer Mentor. After obtaining my B.S., I plan on going to graduate school to obtain my M.S. in Genetic Counseling. Ultimately, my goal is to get my Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology and become a professor at a research institution. When I do have time to relax, I enjoy traveling to new areas, hiking, reading, and going to as many concerts and music festivals as I can.

Rosa McGuire

Transferred from: Victor Valley College
Rosa McGuire

In 2011 I moved to the United States from Peru. I spent two years at Victor Valley College working on my A.S. in Math/Science before transferring to UCR as a Biology major. During Summer 2015, I was part of the Summer Bridge to Research Program. I worked in the Anderson Lab, where I worked on bacterial population dynamics. During my first year at UCR, I continued working in the same lab but in a different project that studies effect of spatial configuration on species interactions using computer modelling and protist microcosms. I really enjoy doing research and I have presented at various symposia including the UCR Undergraduate Research Symposium and the AAAS Pacific Division Meeting. Aside from research, I am also part of the UC LEADS program, Honors Program, and STEM Connections Program. Now that I am a Peer Mentor, I feel motivated to help other college students that might have similar stories to mine. I am looking forward to sharing my experience in the STEM program and be a resource to other fellow Highlanders. After I graduate from UCR I plan to attend graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in Ecology. I hope to become a professor at a research university. My hobbies include photography, reading, and spending time with my pets.

Tuong "T" Cao

Transferred from: Mount San Antonio College

Tuong Cao

I spent nearly six years at  Mt. San Antonio College with the first couple years wasted trying to figure out what i was passionate about but could not committed to anything. I then had to take an academic gap due to financial issue. On my last job as a EMT, I had finally decided to go back to school for I soon saw the limitation within the scope of practice for an EMT and I wanted to do so much more for my patients rather than just be able to transport them from one place to another. I transferred to UCR with a major in Biochem and Medicine emphasis with the ultimate goal of getting into medical school. To make up for my lack of involvement in college, I am now fully committing to multiple organizations, doing volunteering work as well as research. I am a cofounder of the Diabetes group and a member of Mini Medical School which is a student organization that tries to raise awareness about common diseases in our community. I am currently working in Dr. Martin Garcia Castro lab where we try to  improving our understanding of Neural Crest Stem cells’ biology which offers a great potential for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools. Since I have to work on weekends, I often to try to volunteer at Loma Linda emergency department as much as i could on my spare time during the weekdays. Some of my guilty pleasures includes trying out exotic restaurants and foods, Netflixing and listening to all kinds of music.


More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Department Information

College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
Nhi Tran
S.T.E.M. Connections Coordinator
Pierce Hall 1104

Tel: (951) 827-1764