Student Research Symposium

Saturday, October 14th, 2017, 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.


Anthony J. Albert

Major: Chemistry and Psychology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Oyster Bay, New York

Anthony J. Albert is from Oyster Bay, New York. He is currently a senior at CLU, pursuing a BS in Psychology and a BA in Chemistry. Upon graduating he hopes to enter a Ph.D. program for Organic Chemistry. His long term-goal is to work for a pharmaceutical company, designing and studying the syntheses of various medicinal compounds. He says, “This summer has been filled with challenges, and has encouraged me to adapt to new situations in order to overcome any obstacles I was faced with. I learned just how frustrating chemistry research can be, but those frustrating times made the successful experiments that much more rewarding. The experience also helped improve my skills in terms of problem-solving, ability to design experiments, working as part of a team, and data analysis. My experience this summer has definitely helped support my decision to pursue a career in organic chemistry, whereas I was uncertain what career path I wanted to pursue at the start of my research this summer.” His project was mentored by Dr. Jason Kingsbury, and was funded by a John Stauffer Research Fellowship in the Chemical Sciences.  


Jennifer Anderson

Major: Mathematics and Physics
Class: 2018
Hometown: Simi Valley, California

Jennifer Anderson is from Simi Valley, CA. She is a senior, pursuing a BS in Physics and Mathematics. Upon graduating, she plans to enter a Master's program in Electrical Engineering. Eventually, she would like to work as an engineer. Jennifer says, “This summer challenged me to work independently and solve problems that do not have an answer yet. I learned to speak to others about my work in a way that is easily understandable, a skill that will help me in my professional career. I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity that helped me grow as a scholar and a person.” Jennifer’s mentor was Dr. Christopher Brown, and her work was funded by the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship


Emily Armbruster

Major: Biology
Class: 2019
Hometown: Simi Valley, California

Emily Armbruster is from Simi Valley, CA.  This year she is a junior at CLU pursuing a biology major and chemistry minor.  After graduation, she plans on entering a Ph.D. program to prepare for a career in biochemical research. Emily says, “My chemical synthesis project allowed me to develop my critical thinking and problem-solving skills, but also taught me a lot about myself as a student and growing scientist.  Having the opportunity to apply the knowledge I learned in my classes was deeply empowering, and I have become much more independent and confident in my abilities in the lab. I look forward to more opportunities to participate in research.”  Emily’s mentor was Dr. Jason Kingsbury, and she was funded by a John Stauffer Research Fellowship in the Chemical Sciences.  


Alanna Bauman

Major: Economics
Class: 2018
Hometown: Kapa'a, HI

Alanna Bauman is from Kapa’a, Hawai’i. She is a senior, pursuing a BA in Economics and a minor in Business Administration. Upon graduating, she plans to continue her education through California Lutheran University’s Graduate School to obtain a Masters in Quantitative Economics which she has begun Fall 2017. She hopes to work as a data analyst in the future. Alanna says, “Having the opportunity to do summer research has been extremely beneficial in allowing me to apply what I have learned in a real world setting.” Her project was mentored by Professor Matthew Fienup and was funded by a fellowship from the Overton Summer Research Program in Economics. 


Samantha Bever

Major: Biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Frazier Park, CA

Samantha Bever is from Frazier Park, CA. As a senior, she is pursuing a BS in biology and a minor in Spanish. When she graduates, she plans to enter a master’s degree program and eventually, she would like to become a research scientist. She hopes to continue in school to earn her Ph.D. and pursue a career in medical research. Samantha says, “Over the course of the summer, I have been able to develop my problem-solving skills and learn how to deal with challenges when they arise. I believe that my research experiences this summer have prepared me well for future work.” Samantha’s mentor was Dr. Andrea Huvard, and her work was funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship


Nicholas Bui

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, minor in Mathematics
Class: 2018
Hometown: Simi Valley, CA

Nicholas Bui is from Simi Valley, CA. He is a senior, attaining a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with two minors in Mathematics and Psychology. After graduation, he hopes to apply to a Medical School M.D. Program. Thinking back to the Summer Research Program, Nicholas says, “This research program has helped me pursue a challenging research question and think critically about a problem. I am incredibly thankful for this experience because it will undoubtedly assist me in my future endeavors." Nicholas’s mentor was Dr. Dennis Revie, and his work was funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.  


Nathaniel Burola

Major: Environmental Science, minor in Political Science
Class: 2018
Hometown: Toulon, France

Nathaniel Burola is an American international student who grew up abroad. He is a senior, pursuing a BS in Environmental Science and a minor in Political Science. Upon graduating, he plans to enter a Master’s program in an aquatic or marine ecology related field to continue further to a Ph.D. program. His long-term professional plans include teaching as a professor and pursuing a career in ecology research. Of the summer research experience, Nathaniel says, “This was my first time conducting aquatic ecology research abroad at the University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland. Seeing as how this was in a different subject area and a foreign location, these two factors forced me to develop and improve upon my skills of adaptability and ensured my continued growth as a scientist. In addition, the members of the aquatic ecology lab and my advisor at UCD were extremely valuable in refining my choices for a Master’s degree in the near future. I feel that the entire experience was instrumental in preparing me for the rigorous academic future of graduate school.” Nathaniel’s mentor was Dr. Mary Kelly-Quinn, and his work was funded jointly with grants from California Lutheran University and Arcadia University.  


Jeffrey Burr

Major: Chemistry
Class: 2018
Hometown: Glendale

Jeffrey Burr is a Senior from Glendale, CA.  He is pursuing a BS in Chemistry. Upon graduating, he plans to either enter a master’s program in chemistry or to go into industry as a lab chemist. Eventually, he would like to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry performing research and design. He says, “I feel that this research opportunity has provided me with much experience and the great opportunity to work with a talented and practiced analytical chemist throughout my research. Determination and self-discipline were the key skills that I took of this valuable opportunity. The eight weeks spent carrying out my research has helped me get a better understanding of what I would be doing as a full-time chemist in a lab setting and reassured me that it would be something I would consider doing for the rest of my life.”  His research project was mentored by Dr. Grady Hanrahan and was generously funded by the John Stauffer Charitable Trust Board of Trustees.


David "Andrew" Crago

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Livermore, CA

David “Andrew” Crago is a research student whose hometown is Livermore, California. He is a senior, completing a major in Biochemistry and Molecular biology and a minor in Religion at CLU. After graduation, he plans on going to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Biology. He hopes to be someday a College Professor who is active in research. He says, “This summer has taught me that research is full of surprises, so it is important to stay positive even when difficulties arise. I also learned that cell biology is my passion in biology and I plan on continuing research in cell biology in graduate school.” His summer research would not have been possible without the support of the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship and his faculty mentor, Dr. Chad Barber


Kacey Egusa

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Auburn, CA

Kacey Egusa is from Auburn, CA. She is a senior, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a minor in Physics. Upon graduation, she hopes to be accepted into a PharmD/Ph.D. program. Her professional goal is to earn a PharmD/Ph.D., which is a dual doctoral degree for a pharmacist–scientist that will include working in clinical medicine and medical research. Of the summer research experience, Kacey says, “This opportunity meant a great deal to my undergraduate career. This fellowship allowed me to investigate my passion for scientific research and showed me what it takes to be an innovative, skilled, and professional researcher. During this fellowship, I learned that I could approach a problem that may arise during an experiment and reconsider and evaluate ideas that can improve my technique.” Kacey’s mentor was Dr. Robert Richards, and the John Stauffer Chemical Sciences Research Fellowship funded her work. 


Cole Epel

Major: Computer Science
Class: 2019
Hometown: Redwood City, CA

Cole Epel is from Redwood City, California. He is a junior, pursuing a BS in Computer Science. Following graduation, he plans to enter a graduate program in Computer Science. Eventually, his goal is to work as a Software Engineer or as a professional in Web Security. In regards to his independent research, he says, “I am honored to have been able to partake in this year’s independent Summer Research Program. Creating my project allowed me to learn a wide variety of new skills that will aid me in working with and understanding topics that may have seemed difficult at first in my field of study. I’m glad that I was able to participate in this research program and I would love to do it again in the future.” Cole’s project was mentored by Dr. Chang-Shyh Peng and was funded by a fellowship from the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Grant Escandon

Major: Music
Class: 2018
Hometown: Newbury Park, CA

Grant Escandon is from Newbury Park, CA. He is a senior at CLU completing a BA in Music with emphases in composition and education. Following graduation, he will enroll in the teaching credential program at CLU and then teach part-time while pursuing a master’s degree in music. Grant would ultimately like to see himself teaching music at the university level. When asked about the summer, he said “This summer I had the fantastic opportunity to write music full-time. I gained insight and knowledge into the composition process that would not have been possible during the school year. Not only have I learned new skills, but I also have a new piece to add to my portfolio.” Grant was funded by the Cal Lutheran Summer Undergraduate Research  Fellowship, with Dr. Mark Spraggins as his mentor. 


Ryan Fisher

Major: Mathematics
Class: 2018
Hometown: Ridgecrest, CA

Ryan Fisher is from Ridgecrest, CA. He is a senior, pursuing a BS in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. Upon graduating, he hopes to enter grad school to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics. His long-term professional plan is to become a math professor at a liberal arts school similar to Cal Lutheran to teach the next generation of mathematicians. Ryan Says, “This summer research has prepared me for graduate school by exposing me to Graduate level mathematics, independent study of difficult and rigorous material, and allowing for presentation of difficult mathematics to a general audience and pushing for one of more mathematical background outside of campus.” Dr. Nathan Carlson mentored Ryan, and the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship funded Ryan’s work.


Savanah Gallegos

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Agoura Hills, CA

Savanah Gallegos is from Agoura Hills, CA. She is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a Spanish minor. After finishing her studies at CLU, she hopes to attend medical school. Her long-term professional goal is to care for premature infants as a neonatologist and encourage family involvement as an integral part of healing. Reflecting on her summer research, Savanah says, “This summer was filled with personal growth. I gained a new understanding of persistence and developed confidence in my ability to face challenges and creatively solve them. I formed meaningful relationships with faculty and students and am grateful for the opportunity.” Savanah’s research mentor was Dr. Paloma Vargas, and her work was funded by the Dept. of Ed. Title III HSI STEM grant #P031C160190.


Spencer Gottmer

Major: Exercise Science
Class: 2018
Hometown: Somis, CA

Spencer Gottmer is from Somis, CA. He is a senior, pursuing a BS in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Human Performance. Upon graduating, he hopes to continue his education and pursue a masters or doctorate in biomechanics or begin a career in a research laboratory. His long-term professional plans include working in a research lab and working closely with athletes to help them increase their performance in competition. Of the summer research experience, Spencer says, “This summer research opportunity has truly helped me grow as an individual and a professional. There are many different aspects of research with human subjects, and every day has provided me with a new lesson in persistence, positivity, problem-solving, and professionalism. I feel that Cal Lutheran gives undergraduate students an opportunity to participate in a graduate-level research experience. One that can truly prepare the student for what is to come in their next level of education and their future work endeavors.” Spencer’s mentor was Dr. Michele LeBlanc, and his work was funded by the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Gubidxa Gutierrez Seymour

Major: Exercise Science
Class: 2018
Hometown: Gig Harbor, WA

Gubidxa Gutierrez Seymour is from Gig Harbor, WA. He is currently a senior pursuing a B.S. in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Health Professions. After taking a gap year, he hopes to attend medical school to pursue an MD. His long-term professional plans are to combine his knowledge of exercise, nutrition, and medicine to promote healthy lifestyles as part of a family practice dedicated to serving low-income individuals. Gubidxa says, “This experience has taught me how to communicate with people professionally while also helping them feel comfortable as they participate in my research. These skills will be invaluable as I pursue my goal of becoming a physician and performing human subjects research.” Gubidxa’s mentor was Dr. Michele LeBlanc, and his research was funded by the Department of Education Title III HSI STEM Grant #P031C160190.


Karam Malki Hajjar

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Al-hassakeh, Syria

Karam Malki Hajjar grew up in a small town located in northeastern Syria called Al-Hassakeh. He moved out of the country a few years ago because of political conflicts in the region. He is a Sophomore at California Lutheran University working towards obtaining a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Upon graduation, he plans on joining a graduate program where he will be perusing a Ph.D. in chemistry. His long-term plans professional plans include working for pharmaceutical companies or perhaps continuing research. Of his Summer experience, Karam says “This summer has taught me what it is like to be a researcher and live the life of a graduate student. I have gained a lot of skills that are practiced daily in graduate school and will allow me to pursue high levels of education.” This summer, Karam worked with Dr. Kingsbury in efforts to synthesize phenyl-substituted vinyl aziridine and creating a novel methodology for the behavior of such molecule. Karam was funded by a  John Stauffer Chemical Sciences Research Fellowship.


Mary Jarjour

Major: Biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Thousand Oaks, CA

Mary Jarjour is a Thousand Oaks local. She is a senior at California Lutheran University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology. After graduating, she hopes to continue her education at nursing school and get an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Her eventual goal is to work as a pediatric oncology nurse at a children’s hospital. Mary says “This summer gave me invaluable experience in a laboratory setting. I learned how to troubleshoot problems in the lab, how to communicate effectively and how to be professional in the lab. Even though I want to work with oncology patients, getting the chance to study the research side of cancer rather than just the clinical aspect is an opportunity that I will always be thankful for.” Mary’s research mentor was Dr. Chad Barber, and she was funded by the Department of Education Title III HSI STEM Grant #P031C160190. 


Jacob Jasper

Major: Biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Reno, Nevada

Jacob Jasper is an LA native, but he and his family now live in Reno, Nevada. He is a senior majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology. Jacob plans to go on to medical school after he graduates. He aspires to become a surgeon and is particularly interested in orthopedics and surgical oncology. On his field research in Brazil over the summer, Jacob says, “Having the opportunity to travel to the Amazon to conduct my research project with wild squirrel monkeys was invaluable to me. In addition to gaining practice in conducting research in challenging conditions, it also gave me the opportunity to be fully immersed in a culture completely foreign to my own. I am certain that this experience will help prepare me to serve patients from varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds in my future career as a physician.”  Jacob’s mentor was Dr. Anita Stone (Biology Department), and his work was funded by the Jung Summer Research Fellowship for Biological Science.


Kailey Jordan

Major: Biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Orange County, CA

Kailey Jordan is from Orange County, CA. She is a senior, pursuing a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry as well as Psychology. Upon graduating, she hopes to attend Medical School, where she will work to earn an MD. Her long-term professional plans include working in clinical medicine, more specifically, neurology, and perhaps neurological research. Of the summer research experience, Kailey says, “This summer opened my eyes to an entirely new field of biology, and I feel that the knowledge and experience I was able to gain was imperative to my growth as not only an undergraduate student but also as a person. This research project allowed me to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in the professional world I am about to embark upon. I am so thankful that California Lutheran University has provided me with the opportunity to advance myself and gain invaluable skills.” Kailey’s mentor was Dr. Kenneth Long, and a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship funded her work for Biological Science. 


Kevin Hwa Lee

Major: Computer Science and Mathematics
Class: 2019
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Kevin Hwa Lee is a junior from Los Angeles, California. He is pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics. Upon graduating, he plans to enter a Ph.D. program in Computer Science. His long-term professional goal is to conduct research either as a research scientist in industry or as a professor in a university. He says, “Summer research has given me an opportunity to tackle a ubiquitous problem that many are still trying to solve. It has required much persistence, commitment, and creativity from me and I’ve grown as a problem solver because of it.” Kevin also says, “Before the summer, I was uncertain of my future career aspirations. But I gained insight into the process of computer science research, and I now feel committed to pursuing a professional career in it.” Kevin was mentored by Dr. Graham Matthews, and his work was funded by the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Julie Martinez

Major: Biology and English
Class: 2019
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Julie Martinez is from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. She is a junior, double-majoring to obtain a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and a B.A. in English. She seeks to pursue graduate studies immediately upon completion of her undergraduate studies, hoping to enter a Masters program in Immunology and Microbiology, further seeking to enter an M.D.-Ph.D. program in Molecular Biology. She ultimately aspires to become a doctor specializing and working in clinical research about Immunology. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Chad Barber, and she was supported by a STEM Summer Study Abroad fellowship granted by California Lutheran University. Of the experience, Julie says, “This summer’s research experience wholeheartedly confirmed my desire to pursue research in Immunology, further igniting the ardor and zeal I have for the subject while presenting me with one of the most challenging experiences I have faced. Being able to experience this in Australia at a top-tier research university contributed all the more to my appreciation of the subject, as I was introduced to some of the authors on the frontier of this project, and engaging in such a professional environment with such sophisticated equipment is something I highly appreciated.”


Damian Mirizzi

Major: Computer Science
Class: 2018
Hometown: Carlsbad, CA

Damian Mirizzi is from Carlsbad, CA. He is currently a Senior at California Lutheran University studying Computer Science. After Graduation, he plans on entering the workforce doing software engineering and development. A few years after that he will seek out a masters program in data science or business, with the eventual goal of opening his own data analytics company. The faculty mentor that assisted him was Dr. Craig Reinhart. He was granted a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship. Damian’s research has taught him multiple skills such as robotic vision, spatial awareness, and how to deploy large systems. 


Asia Moore

Major: Biology
Class: 2020
Hometown: Ventura, CA

Asia Moore’s hometown is Ventura, CA. Asia is a sophomore; she is currently pursuing a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Upon graduating, she strives to enter a doctorate program or possibly a combination of a Ph.D./ MD. Eventually, she would like to pursue a career in either the medical, biotech or environmental field. Respecting her summer research experience, Asia states, “This fellowship has taught me a great deal, from scouring for articles to read to the fine detail of pipetting one microliter of the solution. Exposure to the lab and the experience of what research is really like has helped me gain a better understanding of my desired future. The troubleshooting, mistakes, and roadblocks that I have experienced have taught me that science is about how to work to resolve the unexpected challenges and to learn from them.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Theresa E. Rogers and was funded by the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship


Ryan Mundy

Major: Political Science and Environmental Science
Class: 2019
Hometown: Northridge

Ryan Mundy is a junior from Northridge, California. He is double majoring in Political Science and Environmental Science. Upon graduating, he plans to enter a graduate program pursuing political science or work on a political campaign. Eventually, he hopes to work for an environmental lobbying organization or in the realm of politics. Ryan says, “This summer helped me further my research, but also forced me to pose new, unaddressed questions. Our research team had a general idea of what we wanted to study, and this summer allowed us the chance to refine our research and continue with data collection. Our work culminated in a presentation at Ohio State University for the annual Political Networks Conference. That was a great opportunity and provided me my first experience at an academic conference. I am tremendously grateful to everyone who guided me through this process, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.” Ryan was mentored by Dr. Jose Marichal, and his work was funded by the Culver Research Fellowship and the Center for Equality and Justice: Research to Service in Communities Fellowship.


Johanna Paine

Major: Physics and Math
Class: 2020
Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA

Johanna Paine is a Physics and Math major from Santa Rosa California. She plans to go to grad school to get her Ph.D. in Physics. In addition to physics research, she enjoys horseback riding and dancing. Her summer research was supported through a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


William Parquette

Major: Physics
Class: 2019
Hometown: Yucca Valley, CA

William Parquette is from Yucca Valley, California. He is a junior pursuing a BS in Physics and a minor in Mathematics. Upon graduating, he plans to attend graduate school and study electrical engineering or high energy physics. His goal is to work an industry as an electrical engineer or work at a particle physics research lab. He says of the summer experience, “My research experience this summer has taught me how to work in collaboration, but also be more independent. I have also learned how to work in a professional setting and participate in professional camaraderie. My research has given me invaluable experience and knowledge in my field and has improved my problem-solving skills.” His work is funded by a Darling Summer Research Fellowship for Applied Scientific Computing.  His faculty mentor is Dr. Sebastian Carron Montero.


Alexia Rojas

Major: Geology
Class: 2019
Hometown: Belmont, CA

Alexia Rojas is a junior from Belmont, California studying geology at Cal Lutheran. Upon graduating she hopes to enter a Ph.D. program where she will continue conducting research. During this time she would like to travel the world and study the geology of other countries. After earning her doctorate, she wants to gain some experience working as a sedimentologist or structural geologist but eventually aspires to teach at a university. Alexia states, “This summer has opened my eyes to the methodology of geologic research. I have improved my critical thinking skills and gained confidence in my abilities as a geologist. Conducting research has grown my passion for the subject, and I am thankful for the opportunity.” Alexia’s project was mentored by Dr. William Bilodeau, and she was funded by the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship


Lorena Rosales

Major: Psychology and Chemistry
Class: 2018
Hometown: Simi Valley, CA

Lorena Rosales is a senior from Simi Valley, CA. She is pursuing a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Chemistry. Upon graduating, Lorena hopes to enter graduate school, where she will pursue an M.S. or a combination M.S. and Ph.D. in psychology. After graduate school, she plans to continue researching psychotherapy as a career. Lorena says, “This fellowship has given me valuable professional experience on the research process from start to finish. The eight weeks offered a fast-paced immersion to the progression of making an idea a complete project I can call my own.  Not only has this summer prepared me for the rest of my college experience, but now I have a better understanding of what I want to do and continue to pursue after graduation.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Andrea Sell and was funded by a Cal Lutheran Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.


Anthony Enzo Seddio

Major: Exercise Science
Class: 2019
Hometown: Valencia, CA

Anthony Enzo Seddio is from Valencia, CA. He is a Junior, pursuing a degree in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Health Professions. Upon graduating, he hopes to attend medical school where he will pursue an MD degree. His long-term aspirations include pursuing a career as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Anthony says, “My experiences this summer working in the clinical biomechanics laboratory setting has surely helped sharpen my critical thinking skills in an academic research setting, but arguably, more importantly, interacting directly with my research participants has helped develop a new set of communication skills for me. I learned how to effectively build trust with my participants and make them feel comfortable by recognizing the importance of the researcher-participant interaction. I learned the importance of not being solely focused on the data collection, but rather building a friendly, professional relationship with the participants of the study for the time we were together. I will undoubtedly use this skill in my career as a physician to someday improve the patient-physician interaction”. Anthony’s mentor was Dr. Michele LeBlanc, and his work was funded by a Biomechanics Research Fellowship.


Kirby Sigler

Major: Psychcology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Granada Hills, CA

Kirby Sigler is from Granada Hills, CA.  She is a senior, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a minor in Spanish.  After graduation, she plans continue her education at CLU and obtain an MBA.  Her long-term professional plan is to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology and continue research in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.  Kirby explains that “Having the opportunity to get hands-on experience and one-on-one mentoring throughout a project has given me important tools and knowledge about the research process.  I gained a foundation that I will be able to build from as I continue to research in the future.”  Dr. Ariana Young mentored Kirby throughout this research process, ensuring Kirby’s ownership of the study and development of research knowledge.  


Brian Song

Major: Biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Stevenson Ranch, CA

Brian Song is from Stevenson Ranch, CA. He is a senior majoring in biology. Upon graduating he hopes to enter Dental School, where he will pursue a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Eventually, he would like to open a dental practice. Brian says, “This summer has allowed me to grow as a person. I learned the importance of perseverance and patience during the arduous task of collecting data. This research opportunity has better prepared me for the difficult journey in pursuing a professional degree.” Brian’s mentor was Dr. Kristopher Karsten, and his work was funded by the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Amanda Souza

Major: Communication
Class: 2019
Hometown: Moorpark, CA

Amanda Souza is from Moorpark, CA. She is currently a junior at California Lutheran University, majoring in Communication with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations, and a minor Political Science. Upon graduating Amanda plans to start working in the advertising or sales field, and her long-term professional plan includes a career in health communication. Amanda says, “This summer taught me so much about the exciting world of academic research, and it was truly an honor to help add to the overall knowledge of academia. The direction and encouragement I received from my mentors not only helped me complete this research but also helped me gain confidence in my ability to persevere when the project seemed overwhelming.  These are life skills that I will take with me throughout my life and my career.” Amanda’s mentors for this summer research were Dr. Monica Gracyalny, and Dr. Ryan Medders and her work was funded by the Cal Lutheran Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.


Gabriella Steffon

Major: Psychology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Encino, CA

Gabriella Steffon is from Encino, CA. She is a senior obtaining a B.S. in Psychology with an emphasis in Health and Wellness. After graduation, she plans to begin a Ph.D. program in Clinical Child Psychology. Her ultimate career goal is to work in a hospital setting providing psychological services to children and families that have been diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness. Gabriella says “Being involved in summer research has been a both a challenging and rewarding experience. It has taught me how to be self-motivated and work independently and with others. Most importantly, it has deepened my passion for research and helped me make personal and professional connections. I could not be more thankful for this wonderful opportunity.” Gabriella’s mentor was Dr. Andrea Sell and was funded through the Culver Behavioral Sciences Research Fellowship


Stephanie Straw

Major: Biology
Class: 2018
Hometown: Thousand Oaks, CA

Stephanie Straw is from Thousand Oaks, CA. She is a senior who is pursuing a BS in Biology. Upon graduating, she plans to enter a veterinary school where she will pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine. After she obtains her DVM, she plans to practice small animal and exotic medicine in a general or emergency practice. About her experience, this summer Stephanie says, “Conducting my research project gave me a fantastic introduction to biological field research and furthered my passion for discovery. During the eight weeks that I was in Brazil, I feel that I have grown personally and professionally while working through trials and tribulations of the research process.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Anita Stone (Biology Department) and was funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


Xin (Catherine) Tang

Major: Economics and Applied Mathematics
Class: 2018
Hometown: Guangzhou

Xin Tang (Catherine) is from Guangzhou, China. As a senior at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, she came to California Lutheran University during the summer as a visiting researcher. She is a double major in Economics and Applied Mathematics and a triple minor in Finance, Business, and Mathematics. Upon graduation, she plans either to enter an Economics program in a graduate school or go to the industry as a Data Analyst. Eventually, she wants to pursue a Ph. D in Economics and become an Economics professor. Catherine thinks that she benefits a lot from the research experience, as she says, “The summer spent at California Lutheran University doing research is one of the best summers in my life! California Lutheran University is a warm, encouraging, and inclusive community that makes me feel home in the summer. During my stay, I devoted myself to Economics research, enjoying the excitement as well as the struggles along with the research. The insightful and interesting research project, which is designed based on my interests, helps me determine my career goal as I get to explore the materials in graduate school. Also, my various skills such as writing, speaking, researching, self-learning, and programming have been improved significantly. The summer research program helps me prepare myself for my future career.” Her mentor was Dr. Dan Hamilton, and her research project was funded by Overton Economics Research Fellowship


Alanna Walsh

Major: Physics
Class: 2019
Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma

Alanna Walsh is from Edmond, Oklahoma. She is a junior, pursuing a BS in Physics and a minor in Mathematics. After graduating, she hopes to enroll in a master’s program for astrophysics and eventually earn her Ph.D. Her long-term professional goal is to work in a research lab like JPL. She says, “This summer research program has allowed me to learn many useful skills that will be very helpful in my future endeavors as an astrophysicist. I have also learned that failing is not a bad thing—it just means that I’m one step closer toward success.” Alanna’s mentor was Dr. Mary Oksala, and her research was funded by the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

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