LSAMP Research Scholars

2018-2019 Research Scholars 

We are extremely proud of each of our LSAMP Research Scholars, and would like to share their success! LSAMP Research Scholars have distinguished themselves in many ways: through their academic achievements, research experiences, service to their campuses and communities, and through their compelling personal stories.

Photo of Alejandra Angulo seating next to a microscopy

Alejandra Angulo

Alejandra Angulo is a Geology major with Junior standing at California State University, Fullerton. She is excited to start her first semester as a Research Scholar for the LSAMP program. Alejandra is in Dr. Valbone Memeti’s research group and specializes in studying enclaves in the Jack Main Intrusive Complex in Yosemite National Park. The purpose of her research is to do petrographic and whole rock analysis on enclaves which will give us a clue about how they interacted with the magma they intruded. This semester, Alejandra will examine patterns of enclave geochemistry by searching for geochemical analyses in online databases and study migrating plutons in the Sierra Nevada. Alejandra’s academic goal is to attend graduate school following her Summer 2019 graduation.


Judith Avila at Geology field trip

Judith Avila

Judith Avila is a senior Geology major and has been involved in LSAMP for half a year. Presently, under the mentorship of Dr. Matthew Kirby, Judith is researching hydroclimatic variability in Northern California during the Late Holocene within her mentors Paleolimnology lab. Judith’s project involves using lake sediments from a lake in Northern California to infer a 3000-year water history. This research is of importance to Judith because it will allow paleoclimatologists to predict and anticipate the spatiotemporal intensity of future extreme climatic events and its possible effects on the local and regional population. Funding from LSAMP, as an academic scholar, has allowed Judith’s research to move forward. With the funds, Judith was able to purchase software necessary to perform data analysis and handling. Her career goals include obtaining a Masters and Ph.D. in Geology. She hopes to continue to produce knowledge that will contribute to aiding those affected by high magnitude droughts and flooding. Judith is applying to graduate school for the 2019 academic year.


Alejandra Garcia is holding a test tube

Alejandra Garcia

Alejandra Garcia is a junior biology major with a concentration in Cellular and Developmental Biology at California State University, Fullerton. This is her first semester as an LSAMP Research Scholar. She has been working with Dr. Maria C. Linder for over a year conducting research on protein Alpha-2-macroglobulin. Her research is on the mechanisms of how protein Alpha-2-macroglobulin binds to carbon in human and pig blood plasma. The findings will enable scientists better understand how the mammalian body interacts with copper to help people with Wilson’s disease. Funding from LSAMP has allowed her to participate and present at conferences where she is able to share her research findings. Alejandra’s career goals include obtaining a Master’s and Ph.D. in biological science. She will be applying to graduate school for the 2020 academic year.


Jamie Hayward shows a display of micro-organisms

Jamie Hayward

Jamie Hayward is a senior Geology major at California State University, Fullerton, and this is her first year as an LSAMP research scholar. She has just begun participating in research in Dr. Memeti’s Igneous Petrology lab as an LSMAP research scholar. Jamie’s project involves tracking chemical and mineralogical changes across cooled magma chambers to learn about how magma chambers evolve through time. Thanks to LSAMP funding, she could devote more time mireralogically analyzing collected rock samples in Yosemite National Park in a two-week adventured filled backpacking trip last summer. In doing this project, Jamie hopes to contribute to the broader knowledge of how magma chambers form and evolve, which helps predict and inform the public on potential volcanic eruptions. Her academic goals include obtaining a bachelor’s degree and applying to graduate school for the 2020 academic year, with the higher goal of working for the USGS as a research scientist.


Kimi Koval next to Rocky Intertidal

Kimi Koval

Kimi Koval is a senior Biology - Ecology major at California State University, Fullerton and has been involved with LSAMP since the fall of 2018. Currently she is participating in research in Dr. Jennifer Burnaford’s marine/intertidal lab as a SCERP scholar and newly appointed LSAMP scholar. Her project involves studying the effects of water flow on aggressive behavior in an aggregating sea anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima. While the project is still in its preliminary stages, due to funding received from LSAMP and SCERP the project will launch no later than mid-November, continuing through April or May of 2019. Kimi hopes to work for a state or federal agency aiding in wildlife conservation with research focus on predator/prey relationships and trophic cascades and plans to apply to graduate schools in three years.


Photo of Erick Leon

Erick Leon

Erick Leon is a senior Physics major at California State University, Fullerton and
is in his second year as an LSAMP scholar. Erick did research at the University of Birmingham, England during the Summer of 2018 on calculating noise curves for future gravitational wave detectors. He is currently working with Dr. Read in
comparing gravitational waveform templates. The goal is to to improve parameter estimation from observed signals received during coalescences of with neutron stars. Erick is interested in general relativity and the scientific details involving neutron stars and their compositions. LSAMP support has helped Erick pursue further research into this field. His career goals involve further research into the emerging field of gravitational wave physics, especially involving neutron stars. Erick hopes to apply to graduate school for the academic year of 2019.


Gabriel Martinez smiles while studying mathematics

Gabriel Martinez

Gabriel Martinez is a senior majoring in applied mathematics at California State University, Fullerton.  He has participated as an LSAMP Scholar since the fall of 2017. His newfound interest in dispersive partial differential equations has led him to his current project on elasticity and asymptotic reductions for thin sheets under the mentorship of Professor Nicholas Brubaker. Gabriel is interested in dispersive equations because they describe the propagation of waves for a certain medium, such as the energy of elastic surfaces, which could lead to properties of interactions at the quantum level. Understanding and investigating these mathematical systems is Gabriel’s primary goal for graduate school. He will be applying to graduate school for the 2019 academic year in hopes of achieving a Ph.D. to become a professor of mathematics.


Denyz Melchor poses next to life size Einstein

Denyz Melchor

Denyz Melchor is a senior Physics major at California State University, Fullerton. This will be her first year to be involved in LSAMP. She has been participating in research at the Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy Center with her advisor Professor Geoffrey Lovelace for the past year. Melchor’s work focuses on simulating computer generated binaries of black holes and neutron stars. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) has yet to observe these type of binaries, and these simulations that model the gravitational waves produced by the binaries and the behavior of the nuclear matter can help give LIGO insight into what characteristics they can expect to observe. She hopes that with the help of LSAMP her work can progress to aid LIGO in these experimentations. Denyz will attend graduate school upon completing her Bachelor of Science in Physics in 2020.


Isabella Molina showing off lines of codes

Isabella Molina

Isabella Molina is a physics major from Cal State University Fullerton. She has been participating in LSAMP since 2017. Dr. Jocelyn Read in the Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy Center guides her research. Isabella has conducted research there since summer 2016 that focuses on measuring characteristics of neutron stars using third generation gravitational wave detectors. When dense objects in space orbit around each other and merge, they produce ripples in space-time called gravitational waves. Last year gravitational waves were detected from a binary neutron star merger. Isabella’s work includes analysis of the post merger and inspiral portion of the gravitational wave signal. The analysis will determine which detector configurations are best for measuring properties of neutron star matter. This research is important to her because it will hopefully broaden our understanding of neutron star matter and contribute to gravitational wave research. Isabella is a Junior working towards her Bachelors in Physics at CSUF and will be applying to grad schools to earn her PhD degree in physics.


Duy Nguyen with Prof. Dr. Thomas Murphy

Duy Nguyen

Duy Nguyen is a senior Applied Mathematics major at California State University of Fullerton and has been involved in LSAMP for 2 weeks. Since Fall 2017, he has been doing research on vector calculus, fluid dynamics and electromagnetic theorey Dr. Thomas Murphy who is a Associated Professor in the Math Department. The research question is:” What is a convenient method of finding the electrostatic field given the distribution of electric charges which produce it?”. In Summer 2018, Duy presented his research poster at the Summer Research Symposium at Cal State Fullerton about Maxwell’s Conjecture on Four Colinear electric charges. His academic goal is becoming a Math professor at one of the California universities. He believes that educated people have the power to turn their dream into reality, make them confident no matter where they go. Therefore, he wants to pursue Ph.D degree in Mathematics, conduct researches and mentor undergraduate students in the future.


Andy Pham demonstrates a software specialized in modeing molecules.

Andy Pham

Andy Pham is a senior student at California State University, Fullerton.  His major is chemistry and he has been involved in LSAMP as a minor for 1 year.  Andy is currently working on a research project for 1 year in Dr. Andrew Petit lab.  Dr. Andrew Petit is also his mentor for LSAMP research scholar.  Andy’s research project use computation methods to look at the excited states of the molecular orbital for the Kynurenine molecule and map out the conical intersections between the ground and excited electronic states.  The Kynurenine molecule is found in our eye’s lens and it act as UV-filters that help protect our eye from photodamage cause by UV light.  Andy’s research has progressed into finding the conical intersection of Kynurenine.  His research goal is to map out the pathways of Kynurenine as it absorbed UV light to get excited to the excited states then relax to the ground states.  Andy career goals include getting into a graduate school to obtain his Ph.D. in Chemistry with the knowledge he learned from LSAMP research scholar program.


Teresita running a simulation program

Teresita Ramirez Aguilar

Teresita Ramirez Aguilar is a senior majoring in physics at California State University. This is her first semester in LSAMP program. She has been doing research with Dr. Geoffrey Lovelace at the Gravitational Physics and Astronomy Center for about a year and a half. Her research involves using the Spectral Einstein Code to run numerical relativity simulations of colliding binary black holes. She has been working on a project that visualizes the apparent horizons of all of the binary black holes that produced the gravitational waves LIGO had detected. Her current tasks are to automate the process via a script for future detections and to create an education outreach tool demonstrating orrery of the binaries. She is also learning PyCBC and the Spectre code so that in her research she could create waveforms of gravitational waves. Teresita  would like to become a professor at a 4 year university and continue to do research. She is anticipating to apply for graduate school for the 2021 school year.


Samuel in front of a Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy Center computer

Samuel Rodriguez

Samuel is a senior in the physics department, and looking to get a computer science minor. His area of research includes visualizing the curvature of spacetime around merging binary black holes and numerically modeling the Brownian thermal noise on optical coatings. Samuel transferred from Cypress community college in the fall of 2016. He began working with Dr. Geoffrey Lovelace in the summer of 2015 through a REU provided by STEM^2. He started off as an LSAMP participant and became and LSAMP scholar in the spring of 2018.  Samuel hopes to go to graduate school after he graduates in the spring of 2019 and continue to get his PhD in theoretical computational physics.


Jennifer  stands smiling next to her poster co-investigated with Denyz Melchor.

Jennifer Sanchez

Jennifer Sanchez is a sophomore physics student at Cal State University, Fullerton. This is Jennifer’s first year being involved with LSAMP. She is currently working at CSUF’s own Gravitational Waves Physics and Astronomy Center, also known as GWPAC. Jennifer has been working at the GWPAC for two years with her advisor, Dr. Lovelace. Her research is focused on simulating and modeling black hole-neutron star (BHNS) mergers using the Spectral Einstein Code. Creating these simulations is a step in helping the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) search for gravitational waves. Jennifer’s research has progressed into simulating BHNS mergers with high spins and realistic equations of state. Her career goals include attending graduate school to obtain a doctorates degree and hopes to continue to do research in gravitational waves.


Danielle Torres running a specialized chemstry modeling software.

Danielle Torres

Danielle Torres is a junior biochemistry major at California State University, Fullerton and has recently joined LSAMP for fall 2018. She is currently participating in research in Dr. Petit’s computational chemistry lab as a LSAMP research scholar and has been involved in this lab for four months. Danielle’s project involves understanding the propensity of unstudied oxime ethers to cyclize under photoinduced electron transfer conditions. This research is of importance to Danielle because understanding reactive trends of oxime ether intermediates can lead to a greener approach to synthesizing heterocycles. Danielle’s research has progressed into exploring the effect of added electron withdrawing and electron donating groups on thiophene-containing oxime ether radical cations and predicting their possible reaction mechanisms. Her career goals include commissioning into the army as a second lieutenant and working in a research lab as well as obtain a Master’s and Ph.D. in chemistry or biochemistry. Danielle hopes to apply to graduate school for the 2022 academic year.


Roger stands next to a scientific tank linked to various controllers and pipes.

Roger Vuong

Roger Vuong is a senior Biochemistry major at California State University, Fullerton, and this will be his first year as a LSAMP Research Scholar. Since the summer of 2016, Roger has been doing research in Dr. Peter de Lijser’s Drug Discover lab. The lab collaborates with Dr. Nilay Patel’s lab in the department of Biological Science. The Drug Discover lab focuses on designing and synthesizing organic molecules that can be used as anti-cancer drugs. It has been shown that some of the larger molecules Roger and others have synthesized have done well at decreasing cell proliferation in cancer cells, the goal is to continue to build on a library of drugs that can successfully decrease cell proliferation. He would like to pursue  a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry and continue research.