Current Scholars

Abigail Cho

Abigail Cho  (2019 - present), email:
Abigail is currently interested in ecology and biomechanics. She is currently working with Dr. Misty Paig-Tran to compare the material properties of armadillo osteoderms of several different species. Abigail presented the SCERP summer grup project on microplastics at the Southern California Conference of Undergraduate Research in 2019.




 Alisa Hernandez Alisa Hernandez (2020 - present) email:
Alisa is interested in researching the biology and geography of terrestrial biomes. She is working with faculty mentor Dr. Bill Hoese to investigate the factors contributing to the geographic distribution of the pin-tailed whydah (
Vidua macroura ) in southern California. Alisa presented the 2020 SCERP cohort’s work on “the Blob” marine heatwave and commercial fishery catch at the 2020 SACNAS conference where she was awarded for an outstanding presentation in life sciences: ecology & evolutionary biology. She was featured in the CSUF News recognizing her achievement at the 2020 SACNAS conference. She received the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) student scientific conference expense award for her 2020 SACNAS conference registration. In the winter 2020 intersession Alisa participated in the microbiology abroad program with Dr. María Soledad Ramirez in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Alisa plans to pursue a graduate degree in ecology or conservation biology, and a career as a research biologist.
Joann Lam

Joann Lam (2020 - present). Email:
Joann is interested in conservation and restoration.
She works with faculty mentor Dr. Jennifer L. Burnaford to discover how population density and abundance of intertidal mollusks commonly targeted for collection and consumption have changed due to human activity by comparing data from before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Joann was in the 2019 Research Careers Preparatory program cohort ( and previously worked on manganese oxidation in cyanobacteria with Dr. Hope A. Johnson. She presented a poster on the 2020 SCERP cohort’s project at the 2020 Western Society of Naturalists conference on population density and abundance changes of the native and non-native oysters Ostrea lurida and Crassostrea gigas overtime in San Diego Bay, California.

Trina Miller

Trina Miller (2020 - present) Email: Trina is studying Marine Biology. She is really passionate about sustainability and conservation. She is currently in Dr. Burnaford's lab designing a project monitoring marine debris within the rocky intertidal because there is a significant lack of understanding/data about this topic. Other projects she has been a part of include data analysis on the effects of an abnormal marine heatwave off the West coast on fish populations and calculating the density and abundance of native and non-native oysters ( Ostrea lurida and Crassostrea gigas ) in San Diego, California. Trina also studied abroad to Baja California Sur, Mexico for a 482 capstone class with Dr. Darren Sandquist. She analyzed  the effectiveness of soil restoration efforts and contributed to documentation of sea turtle conservation efforts. Trina also helped build coral reef restoration beds during this trip. She was also a Desert Docent at CSUF in spring 2020.


Madison Panzino

Madison Panzino (2020 - present). Email:
Maddy is interested in ecology research that emphasizes wildlife conservation. She is working with faculty mentors Dr. Bill Hoese and Dr. Danielle Zacherl to investigate shorebird foraging use in areas restored with native Olympia oyster and eelgrass in Upper Newport Bay, CA. Her past research experience with Project RAISE was conducted with Dr. Kristy Forsgren and involved morphological analysis of surfperch anal fins. She had the opportunity to present her Project RAISE research at the CSUF research symposium and SCCUR. She also presented her cohorts’s research involving morphological analysis and ecological niche modeling of dwarf mistletoes at SACNAS. She is interested in attending graduate school and pursuing a career in conservation and wildlife management. 


Kassandra Rodriguez

Kassandra Rodriguez (2018 - present). email:
Kassandra’s interests reside in plant biology, specifically in the conservation of endangered, native California species as well as the controlling of invasive, non-native species. She currently works under Dr. Darren Sandquist studying the germination attributes of the endangered Eriastrum densifolium ssp. Sanctorum . Kassandra is a part of the California State University, Fullerton Desert Docent program in which volunteers go to the Desert Studies Center and spread important information about desert ecosystems and promote higher level education by aiding in immersive outdoor laboratory experiences of introductory biology students. She was also involved in the curation and digitization of the Fay A. McFadden Herbarium as part of the Capturing California Phenology Project.  Kassandra has presented at the Southern California Botanist Symposium, winning an award for best student poster presentation. She has also presented at the Southern California Conference of Undergraduate Research. After graduation, Kassandra hopes to work for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services as a conservation wildlife biologist.


Jada Smith

Jada Smith (2020 - present). email:
Jada currently works in Dr. Jennifer L. Burnaford’s lab investigating patterns of epiphyte growth on Pelvetiopsis californica under conditions of sea-level rise. She also participated in research looking at the effectiveness of soil retention dams and sea turtle conservation in Baja California Sur, Mexico as part of the BIOL 482 class under Dr. Darren Sandquist. Jada has presented her cohort’s research on density and abundance of native and non-native oyster species in San Diego Bay at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science 2020 conference. She also served on the ASI Environmental Sustainability Commission from 2019 to 2020 where she worked as a science communicator and event organizer promoting sustainability on campus. Jada continues to have a strong interest in a number of different ecosystems and organisms and is currently exploring the fields of science communication and environmental justice.


Mayra SilvaMayra Silva (2019 - present) email:

Mayra focused her concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with an emphasis in marine systems. She assisted on projects in the Burnaford rocky intertidal lab and is currently conducting research in the Zacherl lab. Her independent research project compares the biomass and condition index of common filter feeders that recruit to oyster beds with and without adjacent eelgrass beds in upper Newport Bay, CA . Mayra developed her passion for conservation and mitigating ocean pollution while working on a project involving microplastics during the SCERP summer course at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Mayra received a NSF-funded Geo-Futures travel scholarship to present her cohort’s work on microplastics at the 2019 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Stem conference in Hawaii where she won an Outstanding Research Presentation in Marine Sciences award for the project.

Julia TeepleJulia Teeple (2019 - present). Email: Julia works with faculty mentor Dr. Misty Paig-Tran. Her project uses anatomy and fluid mechanics to investigate the performance of teeth in filter-feeding elasmobranchs. She presented this research at the 2020 SICB conference where she was also part of the Charlotte Mangum Student Support Program. This research was also  featured on the CSUF News website ( ). Julia was part of the 2019 NSF Geo-Futures Program which provided the opportunity to present the 2019 summer cohort project on pipefish genotyping methodology at SACNAS. Julia went abroad for BIOL 482 with Dr. Darren Sandquist where she was part of research that investigated effectiveness of soil retention dams and sea turtle conservation in Baja California Sur, Mexico.


Nicholas Torres

Nicholas Torres (2020 - present). Email:
Nicholas is interested in conservation and restoration ecology focused on Southern California plant biodiversity and rocky intertidal organisms. A former research assistant in Dr. Jennifer L. Burnaford’s rocky intertidal laboratory, he is currently working with faculty mentor Dr. Joel K. Abraham to analyze the relationship between nitrogen levels in the soil and fennel plant herbivory. He presented the SCERP 2020 cohort’s work on the Arceuthobium complex under the mentorship of Dr. Joshua P. Der at the Southern California Botanists conference. Outside of research, Nicholas is also involved with Camp Titan and serves as an officer for CSUF SACNAS. After graduating, Nicholas aspires to become an environmental and life science high school teacher.