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PROUD Newsletter

2015 PROUD Nominees

The CSU- LSAMP Program for Recognition of Undergraduate Distinction (CSU-LSAMP PROUD) is a new program designed to recognize and highlight the achievements of our outstanding CSU-LSAMP students. Each year, the LSAMP Statewide Office requests that campuses select up to four students based upon their achievements such as outstanding academic performance, research accomplishments, service, leadership, or personal triumph. These PROUD Scholars will be featured in an annual CSU-LSAMP publication that will be made available on the CSU-LSAMP Statewide website. All students featured in the publication will receive a certificate acknowledging their distinction. Below are the 2015 PROUD Nominees from CSUF! We congratulate all of their success!

Michelle Barboza

Michelle BarbozaMichelle Barboza is a major in Geological Sciences at Cal State Fullerton with a long list of academic accomplishments. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Michelle learned the importance of education at an early age. Her father was a teacher, and her mother dreamed of being one. Both of her parents earned their bachelor’s degrees, and Michelle always knew she would do the same. She is, however, surprised to find herself in a STEM field because she always just imagined men in labs. At CSUF, she came to realize two things: 1) that STEM involves many disciplines, including some, like Geology, that require significant fieldwork and 2) She enjoys and has an aptitude for STEM. Since becoming a Geological Sciences major at CSUF, Michelle has participated in a prestigious paleontology internship studying fossils in Panama, fieldwork in Joshua Tree National Park, and is traveling to Argentina this summer to study volcanoes. Michelle draws from these experiences to promote science outreach for the general public, and as an example of success for minorities. She has participated in an NSF-funded initiative run to provide professional development for K12 science teachers. In November of 2014, she met with 300 students introduce students to science as a career, not only with her experience in paleobiology, but with all of STEM. She was recently (Feb 2015) hired as the “STEM Ambassador” at the Center for Careers in Teaching. STEM Ambassadors are funded through ENGAGE in STEM, a joint program between Santa Ana College, Fullerton College, and CSUF. As a STEM Ambassador, Michelle is the ENGAGE in STEM liaison to high school students in the Orange County area. Over the course of an academic year, she will travel to >75 high schools to present about STEM opportunities in college and beyond.


Alejandro Camacho

Alejandro CamachoAlejandro Camacho first started his college years at California State University, Fullerton by taking pre-calculus, not knowing he would eventually pursue a mathematics degree.  As a first generation college student, he was unfamiliar with the numerous career opportunities such a major would provide.  After exploring the various mathematical fields, he found his path.  Alejandro is pursuing a career in industrial research, and in order to reach this goal, he is completing his degree in mathematics with the modeling and computational applied mathematics concentration.  

Alejandro has been able to successfully apply the knowledge he has learned from the mathematics degree through an internship. At Matrix Shafts, Alejandro used clustering algorithms to create a golf club that has become the fourth most popular golf club for the 2014 PGA Tour. 

After joining the LSAMP program, Alejandro worked on a yearlong research project that produced computer simulations to study different policing strategies to mitigate crime.  He presented his results in oral presentations at the Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research and the CSUF Natural Sciences and Mathematics Interclub Council Research Symposium.  He further presented posters at national conferences, including the Joint Mathematics Meetings and the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.  His research is currently in preparation for submission to an academic journal. 

Upon completion of his degree, Alejandro will participate in the Research in Industrial Projects for Students program at UCLA.  At this program, he will work on a project with the industrial sponsor the Los Angeles Police Department, further utilizing his mathematics degree.  

Alejandro plans to attend a master’s program in applied mathematics in the fall to further increase his knowledge and skills.  Alejandro has come a long way from his first pre-calculus course, and he is on the path to a successful career in industrial research. 


Jeff Lopez

Jeff LopezJeff Lopez transferred from Citrus Community College to study Electrical Engineering at California State University, Fullerton. Jeff conducts research in different remediation methods and received funding from the Inter-club Council to incorporate a microcontroller system to his project. He mentors transfer students through (STEM)^2, hosting professional development workshops and doing outreach to community colleges, where he is a resource to students looking to transfer to a 4-year university. Jeff has also been involved with helping create two clubs, holding leadership positions in both. The first is the STEM Outreach Club, which focuses on providing opportunities for students that major, minor, or simply have an interest, in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. The second is the Titan Rocket & Engineering Society (TRES), which provides students with opportunities and exposure to aerospace related collegiate competitions, research, and professional development. In the future, he hopes to aid in the development of high frequency integrated circuits to produce sophisticated, real time applications, as well as improve productivity and conserve energy. In his spare time, he enjoys rock climbing, yoga, and trying new food.


Isaac Magallanes

Isaac MagallanesIsaac Magallanes was fascinated with paleontology from an early age, but did not consider it a valid career choice. While taking a general education class in geology, his passion for paleontology was reignited. Isaac changed his major to Geological Sciences and has become a fixture in the vertebrate paleontology research lab at Cal State Fullerton. Isaac and other students presented on a fossil bone bed study at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Meeting (Los Angeles, Nov 2013). His leadership and hard work on that  project led to an opportunity to serve as a mentor for community college students who were participating in the SRE (Summer Research Experience). He is currently a mentor for students at Cal State Fullerton and Santiago Canyon College and helps connect students with research opportunities and scholarships. Isaac leads workshops, gives presentations, and works one on one with students. His LSAMP research is a high profile project: a seven million year old complete fossil walrus specimen that is the logo of the Cooper Center. He has taken full advantage of his LSAMP research opportunity to make tremendous progress on this project, which is almost equivalent to a master’s thesis. Isaac presented on the fossil walrus, as lead author, at the Secondary Adaptations Meeting (Washington D.C., Jun 2014) and the Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists (CSU Stanislaus, Feb 2015) and has submitted an abstract to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Meeting (Dallas, Oct 2015). He was a Co-PI for a funded grant proposal for research visits to the San Diego Museum of Natural History (Fall 2014). Isaac has distinguished himself in service and leadership while excelling in research. He is on his way to accomplishing his career goal, to get a PhD in paleontology and study fossils in an academic setting while inspiring future generations of students.

David Morales

David MoralesDavid Morales is a first generation college student that started attending Cal State Fullerton in 2010. Even though he was the first in his family to go to college, he was raised with that goal from an early age. Because of his diverse interests he changed his major from Biology to Psychology, before finally deciding on the Geological Sciences. Because of his stellar performance in the classroom, he was invited to do research in the vertebrate paleontology lab. There he has been working with faculty and graduate students, and getting a firsthand look at the next steps of the academic process. Thus, he might not be just the first in his family to get a college degree, but also to get an advanced degree. David is remarkable because he has been able to balance classwork with extensive involvement in research opportunities. He maintains a very high GPA while performing LSAMP research on how fossil bird communities changed over 10 million years in relation to climate change. David’s research was chosen to be an oral/platform presentation at the Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists, which is an honor for an undergraduate. Although it was his first presentation, he did an excellent job. He is continuing this research with the goal of submitting it to a peer reviewed scientific journal. In addition to his LSAMP research, David has been involved in doing geological mapping of Joshua Tree National park and will be going to Argentina this summer to study volcanoes. David has found himself in an exciting position in life; he has discovered potential and passion for STEM research and the motivation to realize his goal of becoming a professor at a university.

Miguel Tellez

Miguel TellezSince Fall 2013, Miguel has been getting outstanding grades in all his courses.  He is in a major (biochemistry) that is considered very demanding and tough.  Since adjusting to the CSUF environment in the first year, where he started with mostly “B” grades, he has jumped to getting virtually all “A”s (A- to A+) in courses ranging from organic and quantitative chemistry, to calculus and physics.

Miguel started research on a “hot” project in Dr. Linder’s laboratory last June.  This project is focused on characterizing and understanding the origins and functions of a small copper carrier (SCC) discovered serendipitously in the blood plasma of humans, and now determined to be present in other mammals, and may provide an alternative means of preventing the toxic buildup of copper in the liver.  Despite having no previous research experience, Miguel has already made several significant contributions to the project.  He presented some of these at the recent Experimental Biology 2015 meeting in Boston, and they are important as preliminary data for a major grant proposal being written by his mentor to fund the work.  Getting to the point of making significant contributions so soon after starting research is highly unusual for an undergraduate and loudly speaks to Miguel’s potential as a developing scientist. 

Miguel Tellez is a junior Biochemistry major at California State University, Fullerton and has been involved in LSAMP since Fall 2014.  He is currently participating in research in Dr. Linder’s biochemistry laboratory as an LSAMP Research Scholar, and has been doing that since June 2014.  Miguel’s project involves identifying and characterizing small copper carriers (SCCs) found in blood plasma of Wilson Disease model mice and in other conditions of copper toxicosis.  This work is of importance to Miguel because the identity of the SCCs will be used to clarify its possible peptide nature, origin and functions.  Miguel’s research has already resulted in several significant findings, some of which he presented at the Experimental Biology meeting (EB2015) in Boston in April 2015, and some of which provide critical preliminary data for a grant proposal being written by his mentor.  His specific contributions so far include establishing how much of the copper in blood plasma is in the form of SCC; showing that SCC levels in the blood plasma of Wilson disease mice are markedly increased; developing means of purifying SCC; and determining the tissue origins of SCC, the latter using radioactive copper tracer.  Miguel is not only excelling in research but also academically, having received virtually all “A”s (A- to A+) in his rigorous classes in chemistry, biology and physics during the last three semesters.  His funding from LSAMP has allowed him to focus on research and academics.  His career goals include obtaining a PhD in Biochemistry, and he hopes to continue his research involving mammalian processes. Miguel expects to apply to graduate school for entry in Fall, 2017.