Student Research Symposium

Saturday, October 29th, 2016, 9am-12pm

Student Bios

Numerous students were on campus at Cal Lutheran conducting research through the summer. Some were volunteers; others were funded by fellowships or departmental funds. The biographies that follow include primarily those students who were officially funded with the assistance of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship to conduct mentored scholarly projects, full time throughout the summer.


Marina Marisela Alvarez is from West Los Angeles, CA. She is a senior, majoring in Global Studies and Spanish. Following graduation, she hopes to enter a graduate program in Cultural Anthropology or Cultural Studies, ultimately to become a museum curator. Marina enjoys traveling and reading. Of the summer research experience, Marina says, “If it were not for the summer research, I would have never gained the experience I needed to be able to apply to graduate programs. I have been able to learn so much about myself, as well as my future career goals.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Rafaela Fiore Urízar and funded by the Pearson Scholars Summer Program for Leadership and Engagement in a Global Society.


Tyler Berg is from Winters, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Exercise Science. Following graduation, he hopes to enter a Doctor of Physical Therapy program, to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist with an Orthopedics or Sports Rehabilitation Specialty. Tyler enjoys swimming, hiking, hunting, and fishing. Of the summer research program,hesays, “The Swenson summer fellowship program allowed me to immerse myself into the biomechanics field, which has prepared me for grad school and future work with patients, as well as give me the knowledge and more importantly the experience, of a field that I will need to use as a Physical Therapist. I will be able to take this knowledge and understanding and maybe one day apply it to my own practice.” His project was mentored by Dr. Michele LeBlancand funded by aSwenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Jared I. Berman is from Westlake Village, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Biological Sciences. He hopes to attend an MD/PhD program with an emphasis in Molecular Biology, with a long term professional goal of serving as a faculty member of a Medical School and conducting Biomedical Research. Of his hobbies and other interests, Jared says, “As the descendant of Swedish immigrants, I actively promote Scandinavian heritage on campus. I helped create the CLU Scandinavian Student Club in 2011. On my free time I create digital graphics, tinker with programming, or work with computer hardware.” Of the summer fellowship program, he says, “The Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to learn how to work on an independent basis with my mentor’s guidance—an experience that would otherwise be unavailable at an undergraduate level. Conducting full time research reaffirmed my passion for a career in the Biological Sciences, and provided me with indispensible experience that has undoubtedly prepared me for graduate research and beyond.” Jared’s project was mentored by Dr. David Marcey and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Salvador I. Brito is from Oxnard, CA. He is currently a junior, pursuing a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a BA in Psychology, and a minor in Mathematics. Of his future, Salvador says, “After graduation, I would love to enter a PhD program in Neurobiology. I believe that the brain holds many secrets we have yet to discover. In the long run, I plan to dedicate my life to research. Specifically, I would like to explore brain degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.” Regarding hobbies, he says, “Although learning is my biggest passion, I also enjoy watching and playing soccer, spending time with my family and friends, watching movies, and playing League of Legends.” Of the summer fellowship experience, Salvador says, “This summer fellowship program has further affirmed my desire to end up in the research field. I am fascinated by the unknown and exploring it would be a dream come true.” His project was mentored by Dr. Dennis Revie and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Luis Patricio Burgos is from Whittier, CA. He is currently a junior, majoring in Biology. After graduation, he hopes to apply to enter a PhD program, to pursue a career as a field biologist. Luis says that he likes animals, playing the trumpet, and swimming. Of the summer fellowship experience, Luis says, “This fellowship definitely cemented in my mind that my future lies in research, I thoroughly enjoyed being out in the field. I learned that I can definitely see myself as a field biologist.” His project was mentored by Dr. Kris Karsten and funded by aSwenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Jacob S. Burman is from Chatsworth, Los Angeles, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Mathematics. After graduation, he hopes to enter a PhD program, and is considering a future in either academia or industry. His interests include "tinkering away at the unfamiliar,” going to the beach, hiking, theatre, and listening to music. Of the summer research experience, Jacob says, “Working this summer with Dr. Kingsbury has been eye-opening to say the least. There’s so much that I don’t know about my field and every day has been an adventure in learning all the advance techniques professional chemists employ in expertly manipulating materials.  While my experience has grown greatly since the start of my research endeavors, the most valuable piece of information is knowing that I still have plenty to learn.” His project was mentored by Dr. Jason Kingsbury and funded by a John Stauffer Research Fellowship in the Chemical Sciences.


Tristen Burt is from Simi Valley, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and minoring in Music. Following graduation, he hopes to pursue medical graduate studies and enter an MD program, with the goal of becoming a Medical Doctor. He says of his hobbies and outside interests, “Piano. I accompany for 3 separate churches in the local area, and love every minute of it! Additionally, I love to hike and rollerblade.” Of the summer research experience, Tristen says, “The Swenson Summer Science Fellowship has granted me an opportunity to see where and what I want to be doing in ten years down the road. This summer has really solidified a passion in me for biological and biomedical research, and hopefully one day, I will get the opportunity to work just as hard with patients in this same manner!” His project was mentored by Dr. Chad Barber and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

 

Carla De Lira is from El Sereno, Los Angeles, CA. She is a senior, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in both English and Mathematics. Following graduation, she says, “I hope to enter a PhD program in computer science at a … university (with a) … strong research focus in human computer interaction or cross platform development.” Her long term goal is “To become a full time professor at a university and mentor students.” Her hobbies include creative writing, web development, graphic design, and learning new languages. Of the summer research experience, Carla says, “Since there are many facets of computer science you can discover, my research experience served as a way to focus on a specific issue in the field and allowed me to delve deeper and learn more about cross platform development. I gained insights of the field that I would have otherwise not been able to explore had I not had the opportunity to do research.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Craig Reinhart and funded by a Darling Summer Research Fellowship for Applied Scientific Computing.


Katherine Dubsky is from Livermore, CA. She is currently a junior, majoring in Biology and minoring in Computer Science. Upon graduation, she hopes to enter a PhD program in Biology, with a long term professional goal of continuing research or entering a career working with animals. Outside interests include crochet and other crafts, reading, playing music, and video games. Of the summer research experience, she says, “This summer, I found that the research I was able to do with this program is something I want to continue after I graduate from CLU.” Katherine’s project was mentored by Dr. Kris Karsten and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Jordan Felipe is from Ventura, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Bioengineering. He is considering a career in Biomedical Engineering and may take a year off following graduation to prepare for graduate school. His outside interests include, “playing music, running (not necessarily from a wild animal), and anything that has to do with computers.” Of the summer fellowship program, Jordan says, “This summer research has provided me the opportunity to learn technical skills and develop methods for gaining a deep understanding of a topic in limited time that will help me to be a better, more suited individual in whatever situations I may encounter.” His project was mentored by Dr. Theresa Rogers and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Chelsea M. Feller is from Simi Valley, CA. She is a senior, majoring in Psychology with an Emphasis in Clinical/Behavioral Psychology. Following graduation, she hopes to enter a PsyD program, ultimately to become a Psychologist to conduct therapy with children. Chelsea enjoys running and hiking. Of the summer fellowship experience, she says, “My summer research opened my eyes to how wide the field of psychology truly is. The differences among individuals with the same diagnosis was astounding. The research I conducted allowed me to understand that no two people are the same and that every person deserves to be heard. Through my research I have realized how much I want to work in the field of psychology in order to help people. Over this past summer I was able to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and how life might be different for those with ASD. Conducting summer research helped me develop skills such as planning, being able to work well with others, presenting and much more, all of which I will use throughout the rest of my life.” Her project was mentored byDr. Jodie Kocur and was funded by a SURF.


Amanda Hamilton is from Simi Valley, CA. She is currently a junior, majoring in Exercise Science. Following graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school to earn a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, with a professional goal of working as a Physical Therapist. Amanda loves to run track. Of the summer research experience, she says, “The summer fellowship program has provided me with hands on experience with testing and data recording that is similar to my future career goal of being a physical therapist. This experience also helped me improve my organization and communication skills through data collection and scheduling appointments.” Amanda’s project was mentored by Dr. Steven Hawkins and was funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Su Ji Hong is from Jeju, South Korea. She is a senior, majoring in both Mathematics and Physics. Following graduation, she hopes to enter a PhD program in Mathematics, with a professional goal of becoming a Math Professor. Su Ji enjoys playing games such as Sudoku, Kakuro, and set game. Of the summer research experience, she says, “This summer has been a trailer to my future career and it was an eye-opening experience to (the) life of a real mathematician. It provided experiences that are not available in a classroom.” Su Ji’s project was mentored by Dr. John Villalpando and was funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Trevor Hougen is from San Diego, CA. He is currently a junior, majoring in Biochemistry. Following graduation, he hopes to go to Medical School to pursue an MD. Trevor enjoys playing soccer, writing, and swimming. Of the summer research experience, he says, “The most important thing I learned from my summer fellowship program was what it is like to work in a research setting on a day to day basis, and by way of this routine, I learned how to continue to problem solve and be flexible in order to complete a project successfully.” Trevor’s project was mentored by Dr. Jason Kingsbury and was funded by a John Stauffer Research Fellowship in the Chemical Sciences.


Hillis Edward Nguyen Johnson is from Livermore, CA. He is currently a junior, majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Mathematics. His goal is to enter a PhD program in Materials Chemistry, with the aim of becoming a professional Research Chemist, either in academia or industry. He also enjoys playing music, especially jazz, on clarinet and saxophone. Of the summer research experience, Hillis says, “This summer has allowed me to expand my research thinking. It has taught me how to think around problems and to concisely prove an idea. I feel more confident in my own independence as well as closer to my lab mates. The summer has showed me what it is like to be a research chemist, and as a result, piqued my interest even more.” Hillis’ project was mentored by Dr. John Tannaci and was funded by a John Stauffer Research Fellowship in the Chemical Sciences.


Blin Kazazi is from Gjakove, Kosovo. He is currently a junior, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Mathematics. Following graduation, he hopes to “continue working as a web developer and hopefully advance in my career.” Blin says, “I have always wanted to go to grad school, get an MBA degree, and then have my own software company. I would love to work on revolutionary new technologies, such as 3d printing, or maybe cool web technologies.” Of outside interests, he says, “ I really enjoy paragliding, skiing, swimming. Bicycle riding is my favorite sport. Recently I have also started taking flight classes.” Of the summer research program, he adds, “It has made me realize that I have chosen the right major. This has been one of the coolest projects I have done at CLU. I have learned more during this summer than during an entire school year. Thank you!” His project was mentored by Dr. Chang-Shyh Peng and was funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Malina Keaton is from Castro Valley, CA. She graduated from CLU last May, with a major in Theology and Christian Leadership with an Emphasis in Youth and Family Ministries and a minor in Psychology. She is now hoping to attend Seminary. Her outside hobbies include reading, playing the guitar, and collecting Frida Kahlo paraphernalia. Malina was funded during the school year to conduct a research project in religion. Of her experience, she says, “In many institutions, research is something done through extracurricular avenues with many students having to work without much support. Luckily I had the opposite experience with my research endeavor. Through the Foster Family fellowship, I was able to get class credit for my research along with financial support for my budgetary needs. I cannot tell you how supported I felt as a beginning student researcher, and am so grateful that I could pursue a passion I didn't originally know I had through the generosity of the Foster Family Foundation and the wonderful faculty of this university.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Peter Carlson and was funded by a Foster Family Foundation Undergraduate Student Research Fellowship in Religion.


Danielle Renee Montoya is from Oxnard, CA. She is a senior, majoring in both Biology and Global Studies. Danielle is currently applying to Medical School and hopes to become an Emergency Medicine Physician, specializing in natural disaster relief. Her hobbies include writing poetry, going to concerts, and gardening. Of the summer fellowship experience, Danielle says, “The Swenson Science Summer Fellowship has helped me learn more about research as a whole, what to expect out of the trial and error, and the unexpected things in research. It taught me patience, and allowed me to express creativity with my ideas. I learned to trust my capabilities in lab and that my research was worth it.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Theresa Rogers and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Lauren Neiger is from Costa Mesa, CA. She is currently a junior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in both Biology and Religion with an Emphasis in Children, Youth and Family Ministry. She hopes to attend a PhD program in Clinical Neuropsychology, with a professional goal of practicing as a Clinical Neuropsychologist for children and adolescents. Her hobbies include yoga, traveling, and cooking. Of the summer research program, Lauren says, “I gained some really good insight into the wonderfully complicated field of research within the psychology field. This opportunity has affirmed my aspirations to carry on with research in my academic and career goals.” Her project was mentored byDr. Andrea Sell and funded by a SURF.


Maxine Nelson is from Simi Valley, CA. She is a senior, majoring in both Bioengineering and Multimedia and minoring in Chemistry. Upon graduating, she hopes to enter a PhD program in Biology. She says, “Long term, I hope to work in science communication visually, especially using video, animation, photography, and design to communicate scientific concepts and discoveries to the broader community.” Her hobbies include traveling, drawing, writing, and participating in multicultural and interfaith groups and activities. This past summer, Maxine participated in a research program at UCLA. Of this experience says, “My summer experience at UCLA taught me how challenging significant research in angiogenesis can be but also the importance of understanding vascular development. I learned essential molecular biology techniques, especially how to optimize immunofluorescence imaging.” Her CLU mentor was Dr. Chad Barber and UCLA mentor was Dr. Luisa Iruela-Arispe. The Amgen Foundation funded her participation as an Amgen Scholar.


Alicia Vanessa Nuñez is from Canoga Park, CA. She is a senior and is pursuing a BS in Psychology with an Emphasis in Psychobiology, a BA in Spanish, and a minor in Biology. She hopes to enter a PhD program in Clinical Psychology, with the goal of becoming a Clinical Neuropsychologist. Of her hobbies, she says, “Since entering college, travelling throughout Latin America has caused me to become increasingly interested in Street Art. While many don't consider this a true art form, I have grown to see Street Art as a way of understanding that particular location's views on a wide variety of subjects.” Of the summer fellowship program, she says, “Completing this summer fellowship program has allowed me explore the multifaceted world of research and academia. Further development of my strengths and awareness of my weaknesses have showed me that I do want to continue my path towards graduate school.” Alicia’s project was mentored byDr. Andrea Sell and funded by a SURF.


Nickel Revie is from Thousand Oaks, CA. He is currently a junior, majoring in Computer Science. Upon graduating, he hopes to either pursue a Master’s degree in graduate school or to get a job at a game studio to develop games. His long term professional goal is to work as a Game Designer or Narrative Writer. About his summer fellowship experience, Nickel says, “I had to teach myself a new programming language, read up on materials that I was to work on and implement them to the best of my ability. I also learned to never be afraid to ask questions if you can’t figure out a solution.” Nickel’s mentor was Dr. Craig Reinhart and he was funded by a Darling Summer Research Fellowship for Applied Scientific Computing.


Sharena Rice is from Simi Valley, CA. She is a senior, majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in both Psychology and Philosophy. She hopes that upon graduation she will have the opportunity to teach math and/or science with Teach for America or AmeriCorps. Her long term professional goal is to become a Neuroscience Professor. Her hobbies include playing the oboe, public speaking in Toastmasters, interning at the Community Service Center and civic engagement. Of the summer research program, Sharena says, “Summer research has allowed me to gain mastery of lab techniques, making me not a mad scientist, but a happy one.  This fellowship challenged me to gather information and to be able to discuss ideas on a higher level.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Kenneth Long and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Timothy Schwochert is from Simi Valley, CA. He is a senior, pursuing a BS in Biochemistry. He hopes to enter a PhD program in Chemistry. He enjoys hiking and spending time with friends. Of the summer research program, Timothy says, “Scientific research is a colossal effort from all laboratories around the world, and it felt humbling and thrilling to be a part of something larger than myself. Having this opportunity to see what research looks like in an academic setting will greatly prepare me in my pursuit of higher scientific education.” His project was mentored by Dr. John Tannaci and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Brittany Smolarski is from Oak Park, CA. She is currently a junior, pursuing a BS in Biochemistry. Upon graduating, she hopes to attend Medical School, and then enter “…a highly-ranked surgical residency program, where (she) can learn and practice surgical techniques and eventually become a top surgeon.” Her hobbies include horseback riding, reading, spending time with family, and trying new things. Of the summer research program, she says, “The Swenson Summer Research Fellowship has provided me with the opportunity to not only expand my organic chemistry knowledge, but to also delve into the world of scientific discovery and grow as a student, researcher, and a person.  I believe that the work I did this summer has prepared me for the demands I face in pursuing medical school by allowing me the opportunity to develop the skills to interpret data, analyze information, and drive the intellectual process.” Brittany’s project was mentored by Dr. Jason Kingsbury and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship


Anthony Sotelo is from Sylmar, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Biochemistry. Upon graduating he hopes to earn a PhD in Chemistry and work in Pharmaceuticals. Of the summer research experience, he says, “This summer research provided me with the experience of adapting to the ever changing problems that arise when you are developing a project, and the collaboration between different departments as well as other students.” Anthony’s project was mentored by Dr. Chad Barber and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

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