MARC Scholars (Current and Past Cohorts)

2019-2021 Cohort

 

Vanessa Bruno

Vanessa (2019-2021) works in the laboratory of Dr. Aaron Lukaszewski in the Department of Psychology. There, she is developing empirical tests of formal and computational models from theoretical biology in order to understand the effects of cues to intrinsic and extrinsic mortality risk on aspects of psychological variation that are relevant for the prediction of human health, success, and flourishing.

 

Kellen Henning

Kellen (2019-2021) works in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie Sacco in the Department of Biological Science using the BioID approach to identify viral targets important in ubiquitination and autophagy that mediate protein degradation. The turnip yellows virus will be used as a model to gain insight into virus interactions with highly conserved cellular processes.

 

William Kim

William (2019-2021) works in the laboratory of Dr. Hope Johnson in the Department of Biological Science. There, he is investigating the link between manganese photosynthesis and carbon fixation in order to determine the physiological relevance of this potentially ancient metabolism.

 

Shereen Lam

Shereen (2019-2021) works in the laboratory of Dr. Kristy Forsgren in the Department of Biological Science, where she is elucidating the female reproductive tract of internally-fertilizing surfperches. Shereen is using diffusible iodine-based contrast-enhanced computed tomography and software platforms to create three-dimensional images that will aid in identifying the pathway for sperm through the female reproductive tract, resulting in fertilized ova.

 

Kimberly Lopez-Zepeda

Kim (2019-2021) works in the laboratory of Dr. Nina Robson in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. There, she is exploring the possibility of using mechanical engineering principles (rigid body kinematics in particular) to design and manufacture mechanisms and machines at the nanoscale using DNA as a structural material

 

Shaina Nguyen

Shaina (2019-2021) works in the laboratory of Dr. Nicholas Salzameda in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry designing small molecules that can bind to and inhibit the NS2B-NS3 protease, a viral protein essential for West Nile virus replication in human hosts.

 

Trevor Zimmerman-Thompson

Trevor (2019-2021) works in the laboratory of Dr. Adam Roberts in the Department of Psychology, where he tracks synapses during memory formation and identifies memory traces in transgenic zebrafish larvae.

 

2018-2020 Cohort

 

Yasmine Alam

Yasmine (2018-2020) works in the laboratory of Dr. Maria Linder in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, investigating the peculiar characteristics of copper metabolism in dogs. Yasmine is determining whether protein(s) are binding to ceruloplasmin, the main copper protein in blood plasma, causing it to behave like a larger protein. 

 

Amanda Golden Eddy

Amanda (2018-2020) works in the laboratory of Dr. Jessie Peissig in the Department of Psychology, studying the role of eyelashes on female facial attractiveness as a predictor of fertility.

 

Elizabeth Hitch

Liz (2018-2020) works in the laboratory of Dr. Niroshika Keppetipola in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, determining the role of linker regions and phosphorylation in Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein 2 neuronal splicing regulation.

 

Jesus Ortega

Jesus (2018-2020) works in the laboratory of Dr. Esther Chen in the Department of Biological Science. There, he investigates the regulation of gene expression by the ExoS/ChvI two-component signaling pathway in Sinorhizobium meliloti, a bacterium that is able to fix nitrogen during an endosymbiotic relationship with legume plant hosts.

 

Kendra Paquette

Kendra (2018-2020) works in the laboratory of Dr. Iris Blandón-Gitlin in the Department of Psychology, investigating cognitive processes of facial recognition, as well as forensic applications for improving the accuracy of identification of disguised suspects.

 

Gerardo Sandoval

Gerardo (2018-2020) works in the laboratory of Dr. Adam Roberts in the Department of Psychology, using optogenetics to visualize memory formation in zebrafish. Specifically, Gerardo will measure the role of inhibitory transmission within a defined neural circuit during habituation.

 

Monika Tadrous

Monika (2018-2020) works in the laboratory of Dr. Wylie Ahmed in the Department of Physics, investigating the dynamics of cells in confined geometry.

 

Graduating Class of 2019

 

Erick Aguinaldo began his doctorate work within the Departments of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan (UM) in the fall of 2019. UM is where Erick participated in a summer research program in 2018. While in the MARC Program, Erick worked in the laboratory of Dr. Jessie Peissig in the Department of Psychology examining the effects of makeup on facial attractiveness and perceived competency.

 

Christina Chavez was accepted into the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (IGP) at Vanderbilt University. She has deferred her start in the IGP to the fall of 2020. While in the MARC Program, Christina worked in the laboratory of Dr. Nikolas Nikolaidis in the Department of Biological Science. There, she used bioinformatic techniques to determine the effects of natural variation on the function and evolution of heat shock proteins in humans.

 

Joshua Fonbuena entered the Graduate Program in Molecular Biology at the University of Utah in the fall of 2019. While in the MARC Program, Joshua worked in the laboratory of Dr. Veronica Jimenez in the Department of Biological Science investigating differences in gene expression between wild type and mutant Trypanosomes. Using RNA sequencing, he investigated the mechanisms of response to environmental conditions that influence the infectivity of the parasites.

 

Sara Garcia has delayed entry into a Ph.D. program while she explores additional opportunities in the coming year. While in the MARC Program, Sara worked in the laboratory of Dr. Eriko Self in the Department of Psychology. There, she investigated the effects of normal aging on attention, particularly top-down and bottom-up controls of attention mechanism.

 

Katia Niño entered the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical School in the fall of 2019. While in the MARC Program, Katia worked in the laboratory of Dr. Marcelo Tolmasky in the Department of Biological Science. There, she investigated the design of molecules that inhibit the resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics that is spreading among pathogenic bacteria. Combination therapies, including an aminoglycoside and the inhibitor, can be effective treatments infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria.

 

Vanessa Sanchez entered the Ph.D. Program in Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2019. While in the MARC Program, Vanessa worked in the laboratory of Dr. Math Cuajungco in the Department of Biological Science, analyzing the effects of candidate NIH Clinical Collection drugs on MCOLN2 and MCOLN3 gene expression. 

 

Allyson Weir started her Ph.D. journey in the fall of 2019 within the Graduate Group in Horticulture & Agronomy at the University of California, Davis. While in the MARC Program, Ally worked in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie Sacco in the Department of Biological Science identifying genes associated with defense against Polerovirus in Nicotiana glutinosa through the construction of a de novo transcriptome using RNA sequencing.

 

Graduating Class of 2018

 

Jessica Barragan entered the Ph.D. program in Applied Cognitive Psychology at Claremont Graduate University in the fall of 2019. After graduating from Cal State Fullerton in May 2018, Jessica participated in the UCI Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychology and Social Behavior for one year. While in the MARC Program, Jessica worked in the laboratory of Dr. Iris Blandón-Gitlin in the Department of Psychology, investigating how face recognition of previously-seen disguised faces is affected by identification procedures.

 

Alexis Drain entered the Social Psychology Ph.D. Program at the University of Delaware in the fall of 2018 and is conducting her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Mende-Sieddlecki. While in the MARC Program, Alexis worked with Dr. Jessie Peissig in the Department of Psychology, studying the impact of eyebrows on facial recognition of unfamiliar faces.

 

Collin Marshall began his doctorate work within the Biomedical Sciences Program at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2018. He decided to conduct his thesis research in the lab of Dr. Daniel Beard in the Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, investigating the mechanism underlying myocardial substrate switching under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. While in the MARC and HHMI Programs, Collin worked in the laboratory of Dr. Niroshika Keppetipola, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He investigated how differences in post-translational modifications, which occur in Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein 1 and 2, influence partner protein interactions, and in turn, splicing repression activity demonstrated by the two paralogous proteins.

 

Julia Ngo started her Ph.D. research within the Department of Biology Graduate Program at the University of Oregon (UO) in the fall of 2018. UO is where Julia participated in a summer research program in 2017. After completing several laboratory rotations, Julia decided to be co-mentored by Dr. Karen Guillemin in the Department of Biology and Dr. Raghu Parthasarathy in the Department of Physics. Julia is working to develop a doctoral project that explores the gut microbiome in zebrafish. While in the MARC program, Julia worked in the laboratory of Dr. Hope Johnson in the Department of Biological Science investigating how bacterial manganese (Mn) oxidizing proteins can oxidize Mn(II) to Mn(III)/Mn(IV), forming strong oxidants that can potentially be used for bioremediation.

 

Trini Nguyen entered the Graduate Program (Ph.D.) in Mathematical, Computational and Systems Biology at the University of California, Irvine in the fall of 2018. She joined the laboratory of Dr. Jun Allard, where she investigates motor protein transport using mathematical modeling that simulates the transport process in order to further understand important cellular processes such as mitochondrial movement. While in the MARC Program, Trini worked in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Lee in the Department of Mathematics, developing a mathematical model that will help to detect dry-eye diseases. She developed and implemented computer codes that validated the model with actual laboratory data, which was gathered after rapidly bouncing light into the eye at different wavelengths and measuring the reflectance.

 

Janice Reynaga finished her first year in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania in the spring of 2019. She joined the lab of Dr. Benjamin Garcia, where she utilizes mass spectrometry to decipher the histone code that regulates gene expression throughout neurodevelopment. While in the MARC program, Janice worked in the laboratory of Dr. Niroshika Keppetipola in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry to determine whether post-translational modifications affected the different splicing activities of the paralogous RNA binding proteins, Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein 1 and 2.

 

Isabel Serrano entered the Computational Biology Ph.D. Program at the University of California, Berkeley in the fall of 2018 and is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Sudmant where she is investigating somatic mutations in the mitochondrial genome and how these variants affect aging and age-related diseases. While in the MARC Program, Isabel worked in the laboratory of Dr. Anael Verdugo in the Department of Mathematics analyzing and modeling evolutionary processes of macro elements through differential equations. Ideally, the identified algorithms may be used to describe the long-term behavior of such processes and be generalized to explain the evolution of micro populations.

 

Graduating Class of 2017

 

Criselda Dillague entered the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the fall of 2017. She is working in the laboratory of Dr. Myles Akabas, investigating the Plasmodium falciparum Equilibritive Nucleoside Transporter 1 (PfENT1) and how it interacts with novel antimalarial drugs that were discovered using high throughput screens. Criselda’s MARC thesis was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Esther Chen, Department of Biological Science. There, Criselda investigated genes that were controlled by the ExoS/ChvI two-component signaling pathway of the nitrogen-fixing bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti. She constructed S. meliloti mutants and examined their phenotypes to investigate gene function.

 

Mansour Dughbaj is a Ph.D. student in the Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics program in the USC School of Pharmacy. He is constructing and evaluating host defense peptide-based cyclotides for their therapeutic potential in cystic fibrosis under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Beringer and Dr. Julio A. Camarero. During his two-year appointment in the MARC Program, Mansour worked in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie Sacco in the Department of Biological Science. He investigated potential protein interactions with the Polerovirus P0 protein in Nicotiana benthamiana and Nicotiana glutinosa using a yeast two-hybrid system.

 

Amanda Iglesias is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Michigan. There, she is completing her graduate thesis in the behavioral neuroscience laboratory of Dr. Shelly Flagel. The focus of Amanda's work is to elucidate the role of subcortical hypothalamic-thalamic-striatal circuits in driving individual differences in cue-motivated behaviors. She recently received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and will be fully funded through the remainder of her graduate program. While in the MARC Program, Amanda worked with Dr. Jennifer Trevitt in the Department of Psychology investigating how high-fat diets, high-sucrose diets, and physical activity impacted decision making and anxiety in an animal model.

 

N. Carolina Mendoza entered the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall of 2017. Carolina is characterizing the interactions between non-pathogenic protozoans and defined bacterial communities within the human gut in the laboratory of Dr. Laura Knoll. Her MARC thesis research was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Esther Chen in the Department of Biological Science. There, Carolina studied how the ExoS/ChvI signaling pathway controls gene expression in Sinorhizobium meliloti, a nitrogen-fixing bacterium able to develop a symbiotic relationship with certain legumes.

 

Maedeh Mousavi completed the UCI Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychology and Social Behavior, which she entered in the fall of 2017. There, she worked with Dr. Elizabeth Loftus on a number of memory-related topics, including how memory impacts the legal system. Maedeh is working full-time as a Patient Account Specialist while also preparing to apply to MBA programs. While in the MARC Program, Maedeh worked in the laboratory of Dr. Jessie Peissig in the Department of Psychology on the effects of eyelash fullness and length on the perception of facial attractiveness mediated by hormone levels.

 

Robert Jordan Ontiveros began his doctoral work in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2017. Jordan is completing his doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Kathy Fange Liu, where he is studying how different chemical modifications to RNA regulate gene expression. Jordan was recently awarded a second year on a T32 structural biology and molecular biophysics training grant. While in the MARC Program, Jordan worked to identify and characterize the minimal functional form of the splicing regulator, Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein 1, in the laboratory of Dr. Niroshika Keppetipola, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

 

Deshawn Sambrano entered a Ph.D. program in Cognition and Perception at New York University in the fall of 2017. He joined Dr. Elizabeth Phelps’s laboratory and recently moved with other members of the Phelps lab to Harvard University, where he will complete his Ph.D. There Deshawn is working in neuroeconomics, exploring whether physiological arousal is a possible mechanism for ambiguity aversion. During his tenure in the MARC Program, Deshawn studied the interactions between emotion and cognition in the laboratory of Dr. Iris Blandón-Gitlin in the Department of Psychology. More specifically, he looked at the effects of angry, sad, happy, and neutral moods on information processing style, judgments, and decision making.

 

Graduating Class of 2016

 

Nicholas Armada entered a Ph.D. program in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the fall of 2016. He is working on his thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Jian Zhang, where new nanoporous materials are synthesized and characterized using synthetic and physical techniques. While in the MARC Program, Nicholas’ MARC thesis research was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Peter de Lijser in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on intramolecular reactions of oxime and oxime ether radical cations with alkenes as nucleophiles.

 

Alyssa Bormann began her doctoral appointment in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley in the fall of 2016. She works in the laboratory of Dr. Craig Miller investigating pattern formation during development. During her two-year appointment in the MARC Program, Alyssa worked in the laboratory of Dr. Math Cuajungco in the Department of Biological Science. She created TRPML1 and TMEM163 knockout cell lines using CRISPR-Cas9 technology in order to study these proteins in relation to the cellular pathology observed in Mucolipidosis type IV disease.

 

Jacqueline Castro entered a Ph.D. program in Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas in the fall of 2016 and chose to do her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Alice O'Toole in the Department of Psychology. While in the MARC Program, Jackie worked in the laboratory of Dr. Jessie Peissig in the Department of Psychology investigating how the race of the perceiver and those being perceived impacts the recognition of disguised faces.

 

Aneta Jelowicki began her Ph.D. appointment in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the fall of 2016. Aneta is completing her doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Alison Butler in the area of Bioinorganic Chemistry. Her research focuses on isolating and characterizing bacterial siderophores predicted through genome mining techniques. During her two-year appointment in the MARC Program, Aneta worked in the laboratory of Dr. Peter de Lijser in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in collaboration with Dr. Nilay Patel in the Department of Biological Science. Aneta synthesized small organic molecules that were used in biochemical and biological assays to determine how the structure of the molecules affected cancer cell lines.

 

Miranda Petty entered a Ph.D. program in Cognition and Perception at the University of Washington in the fall of 2016. Miranda is working with Dr. John Palmer and Dr. Geoffrey Boynton in the Vision and Cognition Group on two projects. The first focuses on selective attention and uses a paradigm called "partially-valid cueing," while the second focuses on the neural basis of divided attention and uses the multiple-object tracking paradigm. During her tenure in the MARC Program, Miranda worked with Dr. Iris Blandón -Gitlin in the Department of Psychology on the influence of moods and discrete emotions on the cognitive processes involved in evaluating deceptive messages.

 

Bianca Ruiz began her doctoral work in Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in the fall of 2016. Bianca works in the laboratory of Dr. Stan Fields studying the effects and mechanisms of mistranslation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.   While in the MARC Program, Bianca worked with Dr. Hope Johnson in the Department of Biological Science. She investigated the role of microbial Mn oxidation in Pseudomonas putida GB-1 through competition experiments, using a microbe with a bacteriolytic secretion system.

 

Graduating Class of 2015

 

Michael Ko entered the Department of Chemistry Ph.D. Program at Dartmouth College in the fall of 2015. He is completing his doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Katherine Mirica. There, Michael studies the design and synthesis of conductive, responsive materials that will enable home-based, patient-centered electron wireless monitoring of small molecule biomarkers for chronic diseases. His MARC thesis research was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Peter de Lijser in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on mechanistic studies of reactive intermediates derived from o-alkenylaryl oximes and oxime ethers under photochemical conditions.

 

Sean Page is currently a research assistant in the Department of Molecular Immunology at the City of Hope. While in the MARC Program, Sean worked in the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Trevitt in the Department of Psychology examining the benefits of vitamin D and physical exercise on cognitive and immunologic factors in an animal model of depression.

 

Carissa Romero began her doctoral appointment in the Cognitive and Brain Sciences Program in the Department of Psychology at the University Nevada, Reno in the fall of 2015. She chose to do her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Jacqueline Snow in the Department of Psychology, studying object perception and decision making; specifically, the analysis of the valuation of consumer goods based on caloric content and the presence of real-life exemplars versus images. During her two-year appointment in the MARC Program, Carissa worked in the laboratory of Dr. Eriko Self in the Department of Psychology examining visual search performance in relation to competitiveness.

 

Joshua Silva entered the Pharmaceutical and Translational Sciences Ph.D. Program at the University of Southern California in the fall of 2017. His doctoral project, which is entitled, “Dihydromyricetin (DHM) Increases Alcohol Metabolism and Reduces Alcohol-Induced Liver Injury,” in being carried out in the laboratory of Dr. Daryl Davies. After graduating from Cal State Fullerton, Joshua entered the NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate (LSAMP-BD) Program at California State University, Los Angeles in September of 2015. There he worked on his Master’s thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Nathan Lanning in the Department of Molecular and Developmental Biology. As a MARC scholar, Joshua worked in the laboratory of Dr. Math Cuajungco in the Department of Biological Science analyzing how point mutations in the Transient Receptor Potential Mucolipin-1 protein affected its ability to bind with a membrane protein interaction partner.

 

Jennifer Spencer entered the Ph.D. program in the Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology within the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in August of 2015. She chose to do her dissertation research under the co-mentorship of Dr. Rebecca Rico-Hesse and Dr. Jason Kimata. Jennifer is studying the sexual transmission of Zika virus, including urogenital tract tropisms, viral pathogenesis mechanisms, and entry receptors. During her tenure in the MARC Program, Jennifer worked in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie Sacco in the Department of Biological Science investigating the defense responses of Nicotiana benthamiana to the 14-3-3 gene family using virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS).

 

Rebecca Vargas entered the Cellular and Molecular Bioscience Program at the University of California, Irvine in the summer of 2018. She is working in the laboratory of Dr. Wenqi Wang in the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, investigating the protein-protein interaction network of the human protein Phospholipase D superfamily and its role in endometrial cancer. Before beginning her Ph.D. journey, Rebecca earned her Master’s degree in the laboratory of Dr. Xin Wen (Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry) on the influence of antifreeze proteins from cold-adapted beetles on the thermal inhibition of enzymes while in the NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate (LSAMP-BD) Program at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). While in the MARC program, Rebecca worked in the laboratory of Dr. Maria Linder in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on the identification and characterization of an additional copper uptake transporter in the membrane of cells that do not possess a copper transporter.

 

Graduating Class of 2014

 

Katherina Chua entered the Ph.D. program in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics at the University of California, San Francisco in the fall of 2014. After finishing several rotations, she chose to complete her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Deanna Kroetz in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences. There, Kat is studying the genetic variation in an F-actin binding protein during neuronal development and response to injury. While in the MARC Program, Kat worked with Dr. Michael Bridges in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on structural studies of stathmin oligomerization and measurements of interspin distances using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy.

 

Leonila Lagunes will enter her sixth year as a doctoral candidate in the Department of Mathematical and Computational Biology at the University of California, Irvine. Leo is using a combination of mathematical modeling and experimental analysis to better understand the interaction of MAP kinase with Gli1 and the function and mechanisms associated with multi-site phosphorylation in the laboratories of Dr. German Enciso (Math) and Dr. Lee Bardwell (Developmental and Cellular Biology). She recently received a President’s Dissertation Year Fellowship that will help her to complete her thesis research in the coming year. For her MARC research, Leo worked with Dr. Charles Lee in the Department of Mathematics on the use of biomimetic algorithms in detecting different types of cancers using DNA microarray data.

 

Jaime Muñoz entered a Ph.D. program in Psychology at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2014. For his doctoral thesis, Jaime is working in the Translational and Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory of Dr. Chris Monk, where he is investigating how early childhood exposure to material hardship (poverty) affects adolescent brain function. During his tenure in the MARC Program, Jaime worked with Dr. Nancy Segal in the Department of Psychology on a twin study that qualitatively judged the presence of creativity traits expressed by reared-apart fraternal and identical twins.

 

Eric Yik remained at Cal State Fullerton, working toward his Master’s in Biochemistry in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Meyer in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Eric defended his thesis in the spring of 2017 and entered a Ph.D. program in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California, Irvine in the fall of 2017. Eric works in the laboratory of Dr. John Chaput where he is studying protein engineering. As a MARC scholar, Eric worked with Dr. Meyer on structure-function studies of the diverse ADPGlucose Pyrophosphorylase from Thermodesufovibrio yellowstonii.

 

Aspen Yoo completed her fifth-year of doctoral study in the Cognition and Perception Ph.D. Program at New York University. After she defends her thesis in September 2019 on the effects of top-down cognitive processes on visual perception and memory, she will continue as a postdoc in the laboratory of Dr. Wei Ji Ma in the Center for Neural Science within the Department of Psychology. While a MARC scholar, Aspen worked with Dr. Iris Blandón-Gitlin in the Department of Psychology to test a short cognitive load interview approach on detect deception.

 

Graduating Class of 2013

 

Christina Adams entered the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at the University of California, San Francisco in the fall of 2013. For her doctoral thesis, Christina worked in the laboratory of Dr. Rushika Perera in the Department of Pathology on the trafficking and regulation of oncogenic signaling in pancreatic cancer. Christina received her Ph.D. in June of 2019 and is now a postdoctoral research associate at Pfizer in La Jolla, CA. During her tenure in the MARC Program, Christina worked on developing C. elegans as a model system for studying the action of antisense oligonucleotides on antibiotic resistance gene expression in pathogenic bacteria in the laboratories of Dr. Chandra Srinivasan in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Dr. Marcelo Tolmasky in the Department of Biological Science.

 

Jorly Chatouphonexay began her graduate (Ph.D.) appointment in September 2013 in the Applied Mathematics Program at Arizona State University (ASU) and worked with Dr. Eric Kostelich in the School of Math & Statistical Sciences, applying an algorithm called the Kalman Filter (KF) to predict a patient’s prostate specific antigen (PSA) level. Jorly received her Master’s from ASU in 2017 and is now working as an Information Security Analyst at Charles Schwab. While in the MARC Program, Jorly studied the maximum likelihood estimation of the fat fraction in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in the laboratory of Dr. Angel Pineda in the Department of Mathematics.

 

Reinalyn Echon is participating in the Psychology Ph.D. Program at Idaho State University. She is working in the laboratory of Dr. Kandi Turley-Ame investigating whether the ability to lie is related to working memory span (i.e., the cognitive ability to both process and maintain relevant information to solve the problem/task at hand). Reinalyn uses an eye tracker to determine whether working memory span relates to different magnitudes of eye movement when lying or telling the truth. Reinalyn will be working as a Programming Specialist at Idaho State University's TRIO department after she defends her dissertation in December of 2019. For her MARC research, Reinalyn examined the effect of cognitive load on improving deception detection in the laboratory of Dr. Iris Blandón-Gitlin, Department of Psychology.

 

Jessica Morgan entered the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the fall of 2013, completing her Ph.D. dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Victoria Auerbuch Stone in the Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology. Jessica defended her thesis in August 2018 and accepted a research associate position at Claret Bioscience, a new biotech company that develops “tools and assays for better characterizing the biology of cancer-derived molecules.” While in the Stone Auerbuch lab, Jessica worked on developing high throughput screening techniques that can be used to identify type-three secretion system inhibitors. As a MARC scholar, she investigated the participation of the membrane proteins, DMT1 and Zip8, in the release of ferrous iron from the lysosome in the laboratory of Dr. Maria Linder, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

 

Brayan Ortiz entered a Ph.D. program at the University of Washington in the Department of Biostatistics in the fall of 2013, investigating with Dr. Noah Simon the properties of high-dimensional inference methods in small to large sample sizes. He specifically compared “state-of-the-art methodology and classical methods for sparse problems.” In July of 2018, Brayan earned his doctorate and accepted a research scientist position with Amazon in their Modeling and Optimization group. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Biostatistics at the Sonora Cancer Research Center. For his MARC thesis project, which was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Mori Jamshidian in the Department of Mathematics, Brayan evaluated the statistical modeling and application to the cognitive aspects of Multiple Sclerosis.

 

Graduating Class of 2012

 

Macarena Aloi participated in a one-year post-baccalaureate research program at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill during the 2012-2013 academic year. In the fall of 2013, Macarena entered the Molecular Medicine and Mechanisms of Disease (M3D) Ph.D. Program at the University of Washington to pursue a Ph.D. After several rotations, she chose to complete her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Gwenn Garden in the Department of Neurology. There, Macarena studied the role of micro-RNAs in the microglia-mediated immune response to central nervous system injury and neurodegenerative disease. In 2016, Macarena was awarded the HHMI Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Studies. Macarena defended her Ph.D. thesis in August of 2019 and will start a postdoctoral appointment in October 2019 in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Noebels at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. While a MARC scholar, Macarena worked on identifying a putative phytochrome-like photoreceptor which regulates the expression of red light-induced psbA RNA binding protein genes in the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in the laboratory of Dr. Amybeth Cohen, Department of Biological Science.

 

Eric Starr earned his doctorate in 2017 at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences in Medical Science under the guidance of Dr. Joseph F. Margiotta. While there, Eric worked on understanding which factors are associated with changes in synaptic plasticity within the autonomic nervous system. In November of 2017, Eric began a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Health in the lab of Dr. Andres Buonanno. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Howard University. As a MARC scholar, Eric completed his thesis research on the effect of unilateral 6-OHDA lesions of the pars compacta (SNc) and adenosine on effort-based decision making in the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Trevitt, Department of Psychology.

 

Erin Steelman chose not to enter a Ph.D. program after receiving her B.A. in Psychology at Cal State Fullerton. Instead, she pursued a Master’s in Psychology for MFT (Marriage and Family Therapy) at Chapman University. She worked as a paraeducator in the Torrance Unified School District before deciding to become a realtor. While in the MARC Program, Erin worked in the laboratory of Dr. Iris Blandón-Gitlin, Department of Psychology, evaluating the role that the hormone Oxytocin plays in face recognition.

 

Graduating Class of 2011

 

Adrienne Dougherty (Conant) entered a Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2011. Her thesis research was conducted under the guidance of Dr. Denise Sekaquaptewa. Adrienne received her Ph.D. in June of 2016, which focused on “how emotions, and the way that we regulate them, influence the effects of stereotype threat, mostly in terms of academic motivation.” Adrienne was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Whittier College in California from 2016-2017 and an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Texas State University from 2017-2018. She is currently Vice President of Statistics and Data Analysis at Dissertation-editor.com where she manages a team of statisticians and works directly with clients who require assistance with qualitative or quantitative studies. During her tenure in the MARC Program, Adrienne examined how the adenosine antagonist caffeine hinders effort-based decision making in a rodent model in the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Trevitt, Department of Psychology.

 

Ashley Watson entered the Family and Human Development Ph.D. Program at Arizona State University (ASU) in the fall of 2011. After one year, she took a leave of absence. Ashley permanently left ASU in the fall of 2013 and entered the International College of Christian Ministries to work toward a Bachelor's in Ministry. While in the MARC Program, Ashley investigated the misbinding of visual feature sizes using psychophysical methods; specifically, color, shape, and motion, in the laboratory of Dr. Eriko Self, Department of Psychology.

 

Joshua Pando remained at Cal State Fullerton after graduating with his B.A. in Psychology, working toward his Master’s in the Psychology Department. He left the program to explore other career goals. While completing his MARC thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Trevitt in the Department of Psychology, Joshua addressed how caffeine attenuates tacrine-induced c-Fos expression in the dorsal and ventrolateral striatum of the rat brain.

 

Graduating Class of 2010

 

Amanda Cook-Sneathen completed her doctorate in Organic Chemistry at the University of Michigan in 2015. She worked in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie Sanford investigating arene/methane functionalization. Amanda held a postdoctoral appointment at Applied Biosciences ETH in Zürich, Switzerland from 2015-2018. In the fall of 2018, she accepted an Assistant Professorship at the University of Oregon in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. While in the MARC Program, Amanda investigated “Asymmetric Aziridination of Alkenes using N-Heterocyclic Carbenes” in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Hyland, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

 

Harold Pimentel entered a PhD program in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley in the fall of 2010. He worked in the laboratory of Dr. Lior Pachter developing RNA-Seq analysis methods. Harold defended his thesis in May of 2016 and accepted a postdoctoral appointment in the laboratory of Jonathan Pritchard at Stanford University. There, Harold has been developing techniques for understanding gene regulation in the human population. In 2017, he was awarded the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Hanna H. Gray fellowship. During his tenure in the MARC Program, Harold evaluated “high-performance computing methods for speedup of crystallographic applications” in the laboratory of Dr. Spiros H. Courellis, Department of Computer Science.

 

Diana Rigueur entered the UCLA ACCESS Graduate Program in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Life Sciences in September of 2010, and defended her doctoral thesis in May of 2016. At UCLA, Diana worked in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Marie Lyons on BMP signaling in the absence of Smad4 during cartilage development the requirement of the BMP type I receptor, ALK2, during skeletogenesis. She is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar-Research Associate at the University of Southern California in the laboratory of Dr. Amy E. Merrill, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. There, Diana studies craniofacial development; in particular, the mechanisms of craniosynostosis through Fgfr2M391R in the Bent Bone Dysplasia Mouse Model. She also serves on as a Postdoctoral/Graduate Student Board Member for the American Association for Anatomy. For her MARC project, Diana studied “MAGP-2 expression on ovarian carcinoma cell lines” in the laboratory of Dr. Alison Miyamoto, Department of Biological Science.

 

Rolando Ruiz participated in a Post Baccalaureate Research Education Program at Tufts University from 2010-2011. He entered the Cellular and Molecular Biosciences Ph.D. Program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in the fall of 2011, working in the laboratory of Anand Ganesan, M.D., Ph.D. Rolando received his doctorate in May 2017 and has remained at UCI for his postdoctoral appointment in Computational Biology. While at Cal State Fullerton, Rolando conducted his MARC thesis research on the “Localization of protein kinase C in Ascidia ceratodes sperm cells” in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Koch, Department of Biological Science.

 

Graduating Class of 2009

 

Gary Gallego received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in December of 2013. He is currently a Principal Scientist in Oncology at Pfizer in San Diego, CA. While in the MARC Program, Gary worked to further understand "Cyclopropenes: highly strained building blocks for organic synthesis" in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Hyland, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

 

Vanessa Harris received her Ph.D. from the Department of Cognitive Development at the University of Miami, Ohio in the spring of 2014. Her doctoral thesis examined the parenting challenges experienced by previously incarcerated mothers. Vanessa has been a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Indiana University- Kokomo for the past three years. She will take a leave of absence in order to become a Certified Behavioral Analyst and work at a local clinic that prepares children with autism for the classroom. After advancing in the clinical arena, she plans to go back into the college system to work with college students with autism. While in the MARC Program, Vanessa examined the effects of losing a twin: the bereavement-related behaviors of identical and fraternal twins, as well as the consequences of losing a twin versus a non-twin. Her MARC research was carried out in the laboratory of Dr. Nancy Segal, Department of Psychology.

 

Graduating Class of 2008

 

Jose Corleto entered the Ph.D. program in Biomedical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 2009. He received his Ph.D. in 2015 for research completed in the Neuroregeneration Laboratory of Dr. Martin Marsala, where translational, cell-based approaches are used to study Huntington’s disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in rat and mouse models. Jose completed a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California, and recently accepted a second postdoctoral fellowship at UCSD. There, he works in the laboratory of Dr. Steve Dowdy and is studying "development of new nucleic acids chemistries in RNAi and the optimization of delivery methods as a therapeutic approach against various types of cancers." While in the MARC Program, Jose completed his thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Koch, Department of Biological Science, on “the role of RhoGTPases and their effector proteins on myosin II activation in the sperm of Ascidia ceratodes.”

 

Jacob Gonzalez received his Ph.D. from the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Yale University in 2014. He completed a postdoctoral research position in 2016 in the laboratory of David Cheresh at the University of California, San Diego and now works as a ‎STEM Career Advisor at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. While in the MARC Program, Jacob worked on the structure and function relationships of ADP-Glucose Pyrophosphorylase from Thermus thermophilus in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Meyer, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

 

Graduating Class of 2007

 

Kevin Chavarria is currently a Senior Producer at EA Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment in Los Angeles, CA. His MARC research evaluated the social relationships in twins and their families in the laboratory of Dr. Nancy Segal, Department of Psychology.

 

Anita Nosratieh received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, Davis in February 2014. She worked in the laboratory of Dr. John Boone, in the Department of Radiology, designing instruments for improved breast cancer screening. She then transitioned to the FDA and worked as the Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Center of Devices and Radiological Health until 2018. Anita is currently an Associate Director at FasterCures, which is a center of the Milken Institute - “a non-profit action-tank driven by a singular goal: to save lives by speeding up and improving the medical research system.” While a MARC scholar, Anita worked on the development and characterization of novel substrates for the Bcr-Abl kinase in the laboratory of Dr. Nancy Albritton, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine.

 

Eric Nuñes obtained his Ph.D. in 2012 from the Behavioral Neuroscience Program at the University of Connecticut. For his doctoral thesis, Eric investigated effort-related impairments, including the psychomotor slowing and fatigue that is seen in depression in the laboratory of Dr. John Salamone. Eric is a postdoctoral research associate in the laboratory of Dr. Nii Antie Addy in the Psychiatry Department at Yale University. During his MARC tenure, Eric investigated the relationship between adenosine and dopamine in the brain and its relation to Parkinson's disease in the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Trevitt, Department of Psychology.

 

T. Richard Parenteau entered the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 2009. He received his M.D./Ph.D. in 2018 and studied the genetic regulation of aging with Dr. Cynthia Kenyon. He is now completing an Internal Medicine residency at UCSF, as a member of their Molecular Medicine Program. Directly after receiving his B.S. at Cal State Fullerton, Richard participated in an M.D./Ph.D. PREP program at the Mayo Clinic. While in the MARC Program, Richard worked in the laboratory of Dr. Marcelo Tolmasky, Department of Biological Science, using real time PCR to determine the half-life of the antibiotic resistance aac(6')-lb mRNA.

 

Graduating Class of 2006

 

Diego Miranda received his Ph.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in December of 2011. He completed his first postdoctoral appointment in the laboratory of Dr. David Silver at Duke University's international campus in Singapore, and his second postdoctoral appointment in the laboratory of Dr. Holly Ingraham at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2018, Diego accepted a Research Scientist position at Gilead Sciences in San Francisco, CA. While in the MARC Program, Diego worked on the identification of peptide inhibitors of aminoglycoside modifying enzyme 6’-N-acetyl transferase type lb in the laboratory of Dr. Marcelo Tolmasky, Department of Biological Science.

 

Paul Gerard completed the UC Irvine PREP Program before moving into the laboratory of Dr. Larry Marsh for his Ph.D. He is currently a molecular biologist - manager at a biotech company in Orange County, CA. As a MARC scholar, Paul investigated Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a viable bioreactor for formation of three single-chain variable antibody fragments against botulinum neurotoxin in the laboratory of Dr. Amybeth Cohen, Department of Biological Science.

 

Graduating Class of 2005

 

Richard Ancheta received his M.D. from UCLA Medical School in 2010. After competing an internship and residency at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, CA, he joined Overlake Medical Center in Seattle, WA where he specializes in hematology/oncology. While in the MARC Program, Richard conducted loss of function studies of the zig-6 gene in C. elegans in the laboratory of Dr. Oscar Aurelio, Department of Biological Science.

 

Ronald Coleman received his Ph.D. from The Scripps Research Institute (TSIR) in May of 2014. He remained in the laboratory of Dr. Jeanne Loring at the TSIR as a postdoctoral research associate. In January of 2018, Ron moved to Lifeline Cell Technology, assuming a Senior Research Scientist position. His MARC research focused on the design, construction, and assembly of a single chain antibody variable region cocktail against botulinum neurotoxin for expression in the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in the laboratory of Dr. Amybeth Cohen, Department of Biological Science.

 

Lawrence Gray received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in June of 2013 under the direction of Dr. Svetlana Lutsenko. Larry recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Computational Biology at the National Institute of Health. He is now working as a Data Scientist at Maxar Technologies, while also holding an adjunct faculty position at Georgetown University, teaching Data Science. His MARC research was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Maria Linder, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and focused on ceruloplasmin and non-ceruloplasmin ferroxidases in mouse and rat sera.