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CNAS Students Recognized at Honors Convocation

Riverside, Ca –

Students from the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences were recognized at the 30th Annual Honors Convocation hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Education in the University Theatre on Monday, May 23, 2016.

Congratulations to students for the following honors. Included are the comments about their achievements provided during the ceremony:


Marguleas/Weiman Humanitarian of the Year Award

Established in 1990 by Anthony Marguleas in honor of his grandparents, Joe and Belle Marguleas and Louis and Jessie Weiman, who dedicated their lives to the betterment of their community, this award recognizes a UCR undergraduate student who serves as a role model and inspiration to others.

Taylor Le, Biochemistry

“As soon as Taylor Le arrived at UCR, she sought ways to support the needs of underserved youth in the Riverside area. She began volunteering with KID (Kindling Intellectual Development) as a tutor and mentor, then became involved with patient support at the Riverside Free Clinic, a nonprofit organization providing interdisciplinary health and wellness care to underserved communities in the Inland Empire. She has now become the leader of the Stress Relief Committee and is also actively involved with Peer Support and Peer Mentor programs on campus, contributing to the overall success of her fellow UCR students. I am pleased to honor Taylor as the Marguleas/Weiman Humanitarian of the Year.”

Rosemary S.J. Schraer Awards

Given in memory of Rosemary S.J. Schraer, UCR Chancellor, 1987-1992, this award recognizes the academic excellence of two outstanding graduating seniors in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

Micaelina Sarmiento Martinez, Environmental Science

“Landing a coveted research position on campus can be tough. Yet, Micaelina has worked as a research assistant for three different faculty members since she started at UCR, after transferring from community college. Drs. James Sickman and Darrel Jenerette describe her as a top recruit for the Environmental Sciences department. Micaelina recently conducted field research alongside graduate and postdoctoral students, collecting water samples from study sites in the Sierra Neveda Mountains. In the future, Micaelina plans to obtain a graduate degree in hydrogeology or hydrology.”

Connor Richards, Physics

“Drs. Owen Long and John Ellison describe Connor as one of the most impressive undergraduate students they’ve seen in all their years at UCR. Over the past two years, Connor received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and was a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship, two of the most prestigious awards in the United States. This year, Connor was awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world, making him one of 40 American students. This fall, he will read for a Master of Advanced Study in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, and the following year will begin doctoral studies at Princeton University.”

UCR Alumni Association Commencement Award

The UCR Alumni Association Commencement Award was established in 1965 and is given to a distinguished student leader who has devoted significant time and effort in community service projects and programs.

Jericha Viduya, Biology

“Jericha Viduya is receiving her bachelor’s degree this spring in Biology. During her time as an undergraduate, she immersed herself in service to the Riverside campus and community. She is part of the University Honors Program, was a participant in the Leadership Pathway Program, and a peer counselor in the Academic Resource Center. She founded Rhythm and Brains, a music service organization that serves the UCR campus and local homeless community. Jericha also volunteers at Riverside Community Hospital and the Riverside Free Clinic. This fall she will be attending the UC Riverside School of Medicine.”

The Academic Excellence Awards for College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences:

Biochemistry: Alyssa Rodriguez

“In addition to her academic work and research, Alyssa has participated in several programs to help raise awareness of science and science literacy in the Inland Empire. Alyssa has served as a Science Ambassador in CNAS, a Supplemental Instructor in the Academic Resource Center, and a participant in the nationally competitive Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Exceptional Research Opportunities Program. Through this program, Alyssa will do research in an HHMI Investigator’s laboratory this summer and will attend two meetings at HHMI headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland.”

Biology: Eunice Adinata

“Over the past two years, Eunice has been an undergraduate apprentice in Dr. Joel Sachs’ lab, where they study plant-microbial interactions and run large experiments that involve thousands of plants in the greenhouse. Aside from majoring in biology, she’s also completing a minor in psychology, actively participates in the Future Pharmacists Interested in Learning Leadership Skills (PILLS) student organization, and also works as a lifeguard at the UCR Recreation Center.”

Chemistry: Noah Angel

“Noah has been very involved in the Chemistry department since joining the Chemistry Club his freshman year, and working in Dr. Jack Eichler’s lab since fall 2013. Prior to his junior year, Noah received the UCR MARC-U STAR research fellowship, which covered his tuition in full for two years. Noah has presented his research at the UCR Undergraduate Research Symposium, the MARC-U Summer Research Symposium, the Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the Southern California Section of the ACS Undergraduate Research Symposium. Noah was also coauthor in a manuscript published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry.”

Environmental Sciences: Mariejo Plaganas

“Mariejo’s academic record is outstanding, a fact made more impressive when considering her work as a paid researcher at the Salinity Lab for the US Department of Agriculture. Mariejo also joined Dr. Samantha Ying’s biogeochemistry lab a year ago to gain experience in lab work that is more closely related to her own research. Dr. Ying has been impressed by Mariejo’s maturity as a researcher. This summer, Mariejo has been accepted to Stanford University’s extremely competitive Summer Undergraduate Research for Geosciences and Engineering Program.”

Geology: Christopher Gentile

“Christopher has been a central figure amongst the undergraduates in the Earth Sciences Department. Christopher has revived the Geo Club by injecting a new sense of purpose into the once-declining student organization. He has coordinated multiple trips to local geological landmarks, improved member participation, and helped connect members to local geological organizations like the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists. Christopher also earned the highest GPA among Geology seniors and led his own R’Course entitled, ‘Dinosaurs: the Mesozoic Titans.’”

Geophysics: David Guenaga

“David has been one of the best students in the Geophysics major. His passion for geophysics led him to intern with mining companies in Peru, and last summer he was selected as an intern for the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program. Through this last internship, David planned, executed, and processed GPS measurements in the Inland Empire, and presented a poster on this work at the 2015 SCEC Annual Meeting.”

Mathematics: Jonathan Dugan

“Dr. Kevin Costello describes Jonathan as possessing the mathematical maturity that easily puts him head and shoulders above his peers. As a Computational Mathematics major, one of his recent projects involved developing android applications that would help patients connect and communicate better with doctors, and also allow caregivers to record better information about patients. One of the goals of the Computational Mathematics major is to produce students who can bridge the gap between mathematics and computer science, and Jonathan has excelled at this translational work.”

Microbiology: Taryn Barsotti

“Taryn has been conducting research for her Honors Thesis in Dr. Emma Aronson’s lab, for which she was recently awarded a UCR Mini Grant. Dr. Aronson has been impressed by Taryin’s intelligence, preparedness, and work philosophy. Taryn and Dr. Aronson have partnered with the UCR School of Medicine to measure the impacts of exposure to certain pollutants and natural products on mammalian health. Taryn’s long-term goals are to conduct research or inspections at the US Department of Agriculture or the California Department of Food & Agriculture.”

Physics: Brian Stelts

“Brian has been an excellent Physics major, and has maintained a nearly perfect GPA. Dr. Owen Long considers Brian to be one of the brightest students in the Physics department. In fact, Dr. Long groups Brian with former UCR Physics students who are currently in graduate programs at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, such as CalTech, MIT, and Stanford.”

Statistics: Lauren Perry

“Before transferring to UCR, Lauren excelled academically at Oregon State University and Portland State University. Currently, Lauren is working on her senior Honors Thesis. She was a National Merit Semifinalist, and has been the recipient of multiple scholarships, including the Andy Aitkenhead Memorial Scholarship (at Oregon State University), the Chancellor's Transfer Scholarship (at UCR), and the UCR Honors Program Scholarship. Lauren is an active member of several student organizations and serves as a CNAS Science Ambassador.”

CNAS’ Outstanding Achievement Award

Connor Richards

“As noted earlier, Connor is one of the most impressive undergraduate students in UCR’s history. Over the past two years, Connor received the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the Donald A Strauss Scholarship, was a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship, and most recently was awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Connor also serves the UCR community as a CNAS Science Ambassador and an Advancement Ambassador.”

Winners of prestigious national and international awards:

Connor Richards

“Connor has worked on high-energy physics research with Prof. Owen Long since his freshman year. Connor won the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the Donald A. Strauss Scholarship, Chancellor’s Research Fellowship, and the Gates-Cambridge Fellowship. He was also a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship. Following his Gates-Cambridge year, he will pursue a Ph.D. in Physics at Princeton University.”

Geoffrey Pronovost

“Geoff will graduate with a B.S. in biochemistry this spring. He worked in Dr. Monica Carson’s research lab at UCR, where he investigated inflammation associated with traumatic brain injury. Geoff is a recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship. He will pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry at UCLA beginning in the fall.”

Amanda Tedesco

“Amanda is a second-year Biology major who works in the lab of Professor Manuela Martins-Green and is a recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of few second-year students nationally to win this prestigious award. She has also been awarded a 2016/2017 Chancellor’s Research Fellowship.”

Hanni Schoniger

“Hanni will graduate this spring with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience and Education. She conducted research with Dr. Dahanukar in Entomology. Her service led her to receive the Donald A. Strauss Scholarship. She will attend Claremont Graduate University for a Masters of Arts in Education.”

Jade Zamorano

“Jade will graduate this spring with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience. Together with Hanni Schoniger, Jade co-founded the organization, Change in Scientific Importance for Youth, and received the Donald A. Strauss Scholarship.”

Suketu Dudhat

“Suketu is studying biology and conducting research in the laboratory of Professor Sue Wessler. Suketu won the Donald A. Strauss Scholarship to provide STEM education at local high schools.”

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