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The STEM Team


2016-2017 CNAS STEM Peer Mentors

 

Bassam Theodory

Biochemistry
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!

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

Biochemistry
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.

Tuong "T" Cao

Biochemistry
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.


 

 

2015-2016 CNAS STEM Peer Mentors

 

Alberto Corona  

Biology
Transferred from: San Bernardino Valley College                                                                

claudiapipetAfter I graduated from high school in Mexico, I decided to move to the United States. I attended San Bernardino Valley College for four years because I did not know English when I started. After my second year, I became a biology, math, and pharmacy calculations tutor at the SBVC Student Success Center. During Summer 2013, I applied for the SBVC-UCR Summer Bridge Research program, and I was placed in Dr. Susan Wessler’s lab where I was introduced to molecular genetics and bioinformatics for the first time. I presented my research at the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research, and two UCR symposia. I graduated from SBVC in 2014, and I received four associate degrees in Biology, Biochemistry, Pharmacy technology, and Liberal arts. The summer before I transferred to UCR (2014), I applied for a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program and was accepted. Without hesitation, I went to the Garrity lab at Brandeis University in Massachusetts where I was involved for the first time in neurobiology research – an area of great personal interest. I presented my research at the Summer Brandeis 2014 symposium. After transferring to UCR, I became an undergraduate research assistant in the Wessler lab under the direction of Dr. James Burnette. I also joined the UCR honors program, and the STEM Pathways program which provided me with the opportunity to become a STEM Peer mentor. Last quarter, I was nominated to be the outreach coordinator for the CAMP program, and I accepted the position. I was also nominated by Dr. Susan Wessler to apply for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute EXROP fellowship, and I was selected among many applicants in the country. I was placed in the Anderson lab at California Institute of Technology where I had the opportunity to study the neural circuits that mediate aggression. These studies may lead to a better understanding of human psychiatric disorders. I will have the opportunity to present my work at a Caltech symposium and the HHMI EXROP meeting in Washington DC. After graduating from UCR, I plan to attend graduate school to obtain a PhD in neuroscience. I would like to join a biomedical sciences program and become a professor someday. 

Gabriel Martinez

Biology
Transferred from: Chaffey College

 jackieI spent four years at Chaffey College, of which I spent the first two years deciding on my major. During my time at Chaffey, I was an officer for two different clubs, The Pre-Med society and the Biology club. After four years, I transferred to UCR as a Biology major. During that summer, I was accepted to the Summer Bridge Research Program in which I worked in a lab under Dr. Chronister. My research project involving removing iron from native cytochrome c and replacing it with Zn so that we could study the protein folding kinetics of Zn cytochrome c. During my first year at UCR, I continued to work on my research project in Chronister's lab and was accepted into Tau Sigma’s Honor Society and as a peer mentor. Though my initial interest was in dentistry, my time here at UCR has made me change my mind. After graduating with my BS in Biology, I plan to apply to pharmacy school and become a pharmacist. Im very excited to work as a peer mentor this year; I look forward to meeting and helping out the new student who are joining STEM this upcoming year.

Jackie Gigante

Biology/Anthropology
Transferred from: Mount San Jacinto College

 jackieDuring my four year stay at my community college, I involved myself with our Honors Program and served as an Honors Mentor to students in the program. When I transferred to UCR, I also applied and was accepted into the University Honors Program here. I was involved and eventually became a Co-Chair for the University Honors Outreach Committee and spent a great deal of time getting current and potential students interested in UCR and our Honors program. Upon my transfer to UCR, I also became involved in the STEM Pathways program and would eventually become a Peer Mentor. In the spring of my first year at UCR, I became an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Lyubovitsky’s  Bioengineering lab. I work on detecting the fluorescence intensity that results when various sugar molecules cross-link with the collagen in our bodies. I had the opportunity to present this work at the Bioengineering Symposium held at UC Irvine in Summer 2014. After I graduate with my two degrees, a B.S in Biology and a B.S in Anthropology, I hope to find a staff position at UCR.

Jennifer Madrigal

Biochemistry/Chemistry Minor
Transferred from: Riverside City College

jessieAfter 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. 

Minh Tran

Biology
Transferred from: Cypress College/Fullerton College
lyna

After three years of community college, I welcomed the experience of being a small fish in a big pond at UCR with open arms--and I received more challenges than I had ever anticipated. Luckily, I survived my first year due to the generous support of the STEM program. During my three years at UCR, I volunteered in underserved communities in Riverside as an AmeriCorps tutor and I worked with an Environmental Microbiology Ph.D. student under the guidance of Dr. David E. Crowley. As an undergraduate researcher, I helped to develop a bioremediation method that encourages microorganisms to efficiently degrade oil in the petroleum contaminated beaches of the Prince William Sound. I am immensely grateful for my research experience; my expanded knowledge of sterility, lab techniques, and formulations will be extremely useful for my future pharmaceutical endeavours. Now that I am a peer mentor, I am thrilled to be a resource, pillar of support, and friend to fellow STEM students. After I graduate from UCR, I will return to my community college roots to complete pharmacy school requirements and pursue a career in drug synthesis and formulation.

Noe Quiñones

Mathematics
Transferred from: Cerritos College/Cypress College

rafael

During my 5 years of commuting between two junior colleges, I was involved in student body, a honor society, and was part of Teacher TRAC. Through Teacher TRAC I was able to do two internships at high schools in both the AVID and STEM programs. When I transferred to UCR,  I came in as a Computational Mathematics major, but I learned that my passion was in teaching mathematics. I am now part of Tau Sigma and the STEM Pathways program. STEM is very welcoming and has made me feel home being away from home. I very highly enjoy the members and the support of STEM. I eventually became a Peer Mentor in STEM where I am able to meet and network with such great people. I look forward in being able to offer my knowledge and experience over my understanding of mathematics and computer science.  After I graduate from UCR, I intend to take a year break, but shortly after will strive for a master’s degree. My career goal is to teach at a community college and give back to schools that have given me such great opportunities

Sanjay Ghai

Biology
Junior

 reginaldI entered UCR straight out of high school and chose to major in Biology. Biology allowed me to enjoy a broad range of classes without being too concentrated in a particular field. I participated twice in summer research opportunities as well as during the academic year. I studied electronic cigarettes and thoroughly enjoyed the scientific process employed on a daily basis as a researcher. My hard work in lab paid off as I eventually published a research article. I eventually resigned from research to focus more on academics and peer mentoring. Aside from my previous experiences and focus on academics, I enjoy any kind of physical fitness. In particular, I enjoy the practice of yoga and the therapeutic effects it brings to my body and mind. I value the gift of health and encourage you to get enough sleep, have a balance diet, and make time for physical activity. You will notice a positive difference, trust me. I enjoy helping others out in any way possible. Don’t be afraid to approach me in person...I don’t bite:) 

 

2014-2015 CNAS STEM Peer Mentors

 

Claudia Marin   

Environmental Sciences
Transferred from: Riverside City College                                                                 

claudiapipetAside from being a STEM Peer Mentor, I previously worked in the McGiffen Lab in the Botany and Plant Sciences department as a participant of the Summer Bridge to Research in the Summer of 2013 and continued in that lab for a year and a half.  I worked on Biochar soil amendments on a variety of crops and ornamental plants. I presented my labs research at the AAAS Pacific Division Conference and received an Honorable Mention. At this conference, I was also nominated for associate membership to Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. This past summer, I was awarded the Botanical Society of America and National Science Foundation PLANTS travel grant to attend the Botany 2014 conference in Boise, Idaho. I am a recipient of the Eugene Cota Robles graduate fellowship and will be beginning the Environmental Sciences PhD Program here at UCR starting in Fall 2015. I plan to continue in academia after receiving my PhD as a community college professor

 

 

Jackie Gigante

Biology/Anthropology
Transferred from: Mount San Jacinto College

 jackieDuring my four year stay at my community college, I involved myself with our Honors Program and served as an Honors Mentor to students in the program. When I transferred to UCR, I also applied and was accepted into the University Honors Program here. I was involved and eventually became a Co-Chair for the University Honors Outreach Committee and spent a great deal of time getting current and potential students interested in UCR and our Honors program. Upon my transfer to UCR, I also became involved in the STEM Pathways program and would eventually become a Peer Mentor. In the spring of my first year at UCR, I became an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Lyubovitsky’s  Bioengineering lab. I work on detecting the fluorescence intensity that results when various sugar molecules cross-link with the collagen in our bodies. I had the opportunity to present this work at the Bioengineering Symposium held at UC Irvine in Summer 2014. After I graduate with my two degrees, a B.S in Biology and a B.S in Anthropology, I hope to find a staff position at UCR.

Jessica Nunes

Biochemistry
Transferred from: San Bernardino Valley College

jessieAfter I graduated high school I attended Crafton Hills Community College for two years and then I spent another two years at San Bernardino Valley College which is where I found my love for biochemistry.  Besides being a STEM peer mentor I am currently doing undergraduate research in Professor Song’s Biochemistry lab.  We are working on finding better crystallization techniques and parameters to obtain the best crystal structure possible in order to view proteins and track protein to protein interactions with x ray crystallography.  After I graduate from UCR with my BS in biochemistry with medical emphasis I plan on going back to a community college to finish up prerequisites and then going on to get my Masters in Occupational Therapy. I can not wait to get into the occupational therapy field, I want nothing more than to help patients regain freedom, achieve their goals and most importantly gain self esteem and self worth.

 

Lyna Le

Biology
Transferred from: Sacramento City College
lyna

I spent two years over in Bakersfield City College, and then an additional two more years over in Sacramento City College before transferring into UCR as a biology major.  The summer I was accepted into UCR, I was accepted in the Summer Bridge Research Program and was placed into Dr. Sue Wessler’s lab as an undergraduate researcher in the University Lab Building under Dr. James Burnette.  In that lab, I gained skills involving with molecular lab techniques in order to analyze genomic sequences along with basic bioinformatics techniques.  I am aspiring to become a midwife. After getting my bachelor’s degree in biology, I will be applying into an accelerated nursing program to get a B.S. in RN and then apply to a Master’s program for Midwifery

 

Rafael Romero

Biology
Transferred from: Cañada College

rafael

After high school graduation in 2010, I decided to attend community college, where I spent 3 years working to transfer as a biochemistry major. Upon completion in 2013, I received 2 A.S. degrees, one in Biological Sciences and another in Chemical Sciences. I then transferred to the University of California Riverside as a Biochemistry major, but had a change of heart and decided to become a biology major instead. During my time at UCR, aside from being a CNAS S.T.E.M. Peer Mentor, I was involved in undergraduate research as part of Dr. David Reznick’s Laboratory for the full 2 years of my stay. Our lab’s main focus was studying the process of evolution by natural selection from an experimental perspective and testing evolutionary theory in natural populations; primarily guppies. In addition, I was a Mentorship Project Coordinator for the Latino Medical Student Association Plus (LMSA+), where we strived to motivate high school students in neighboring areas to pursue higher education by providing mentorship and awareness to both the students and their parents. After graduating from UC Riverside in Spring of 2015, I plan on taking a year off before pursuing a masters degree in Public

Reginald Arnedo

Chemistry
Transferred from: Santa Ana College

 reginaldAs a very non-traditional student here at UCR, my path to get here involved spending a lot of time at my community college.  I was working full time so it was an experience of just taking classes when I could during the evenings.  Eventually I did make my way here in the hopes of finishing my undergraduate degree and entering medical school.  My time here has far exceeded my expectations both academically and extracurricularly.  One of the opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of is participating in the research offered here which is something I never thought I’d ever get a chance at.  I’m participating in both Chemistry Materials Science and History research.  This involved research during the academic year as well as paid summer opportunities to contribute to research.  Separate from this, I have two community endeavors that I’m amazingly proud to be a part of.  One is I run an outreach group of undergrads that visits a underserved high school in the area to provide after school science and math tutoring to students that wouldn’t have the after school help if we weren’t there.  The second one is I’m a proud volunteer at our Riverside Free Clinic.  it’s a free clinic we hold every other wednesday that is open to everyone but with emphasis on providing medical care for the underserved and homeless of our community.  I’m hoping to be accepted into our new medical school here at UCR after graduating and become a physician.

 

 


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

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

Tel: (951) 827-1764
nhi.tran@ucr.edu

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