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Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation

CSU-LSAMP Program for Recognition of Undergraduate Distinction (PROUD)

The CSU-LSAMP Program for Recognition of Undergraduate Distinction (CSU-LSAMP PROUD) is a program designed to recognize and highlight the achievements of our outstanding CSU-LSAMP students. Each year, the Statewide Office will request that campuses select four students based upon their achievements such as outstanding academic performance, research accomplishments, service, leadership, or personal triumph. These PROUD Scholars are featured in the annual CSU-LSAMP PROUD publication.

Please visit links below to see the CSU-LSAMP PROUD Publication that showcases the talents of LSAMP undergraduate student across the CSU-LSAMP alliance by year.

CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholars 2019 Publication

CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholars 2018 Publication

CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholars 2017 Publication

CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholars 2016 Publication

CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholars 2015 Publication

CSU-LSAMP PROUD Scholars 2014 Publication

2019 CSU-LSAMP Fresno State PROUD Scholars

 Marina Flores

California State University, Fresno (Fresno State)

B.S. BiochemsitryMarina Flores PROUD Scholar

Marina earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from Fresno State in May 2019 graduating with an impressive 4.0 GPA and dual honors from the Smittcamp Family Honors College and the Chemistry Honors Program. She was selected as the Chemistry department nominee for the Dean’s Medalist award and served as a standard bearer for the College of Science and Mathematics at graduation. Early in her career, Marina began conducting independent research with Dr. Joy Goto on neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia. Marina participated in the CSU-LSAMP Academic Year Research program and during summer 2018 conducted research at Harvard through the Amgen Scholars program. Marina presented her research at numerous symposiums including the Central California Research Symposium (CCRS). She also served a CSU-LSAMP Peer Mentor for two years providing support for incoming Biochemistry students and specifically other underrepresented minority women. Through her research experience as a member of the CSU-LSAMP Research Program and the Harvard-Amgen Scholars Program, Marina decided to pursue her PhD at Yale University in the molecular, cell, genetics, and developmental biology (MCGD) track. She hopes to ultimately manage her own laboratory conducting research on immediate medical problems that face our community at the National Institutes of Health or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

 Ravinder Kang

California State University, Fresno (Fresno State)

B.S. ChemistryEdwin Rivas PROUD Scholar

Ravinder Kang completed her B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics at California State University, Fresno, in May 2018. As a first-generation college student and daughter of immigrant parents, she received a scholarship to attend Fresno State through the Smittcamp Family Honors College. With the support of CSU-LSAMP, Ravinder was able to secure a position in a research lab under the mentorship of Dr. Kalyani Maitra and was supported by the CSU-LSAMP Summer and Academic Year Research Program. Her project had a two-pronged approach to using algae as a way to improve wastewater quality and explore it for its potential as a biofuel. She has presented her research at the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Symposium, the Central California Research Symposium (CCRS) and the International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels, and Bioproducts. Ravinder also participated in an internship with Food Safety Net Services, where she learned to run chemical and microbiological tests on food samples. Ravinder also served as a CSU-LSAMP Peer Mentor for first-year and transfer chemistry majors and assisted them with their transition to Fresno State. In addition to her research, Ravinder remained connected to her community service roots through leadership roles on the S.E.R.V.E Committee and Reflection Facilitator team through the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State. Ravinder is pursuing her PhD in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry at the University of California, Davis. She hopes to serve as a mentor for young women of underrepresented groups and encourage them to pursue higher education in STEM fields. 

 

 Edwin Rivas

California State University, Fresno (Fresno State)

B.S. GeologyEdwin Rivas PROUD Scholar

Edwin received his B.S. in Geology from Fresno State in May of 2019. His undergraduate career consisted of a multitude of opportunities in lab, field and industry settings. Under the mentorship of Dr. Beth Weinman, Edwin connected with various opportunities including serving as an intern with the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service where he conducted soil surveys in Tuolumne, Calaveras, and Solano Counties along with an experiment relating soil drainage properties and hillslope positions to soil color. Edwin was also employed by the Regional Water Quality Control Board in Fresno where he was tasked with assisting in complaint and compliance inspections and other software-based work in an effort to preserve, enhance, and restore the waters of California. In his final year, Edwin conducted research at Fresno State under Dr. Beth Weinman and Dr. John Wakabayashi where they tracked the mobility of Rare Earth Elements and assessed their viability as tracers for geologic provenance. Edwin had the opportunity to present his undergraduate research at several campus symposiums and conferences such as the GSA Cordilleran Section Meeting. Edwin also participated in numerous outreach events and mentorship programs including serving as a Peer Mentor for CSU-LSAMP. The summer following his graduation, Edwin conducted research at the University of California Merced studying the effectiveness of a solid phase amendment in soils to prevent the methylation of mercury prior to beginning his graduate studies at the University of California Merced in pursuit of a PhD in Environmental Systems. Edwin plans to become a professor in an effort to encourage students to pursue a STEM field.

 

 

 Melissa Sanchez

California State University, Fresno (Fresno State)

B.S. ChemistryMelissa Sanchez PROUD Scholar

Melissa Sanchez completed her B.S. Chemistry degree from Fresno State in December 2018. Melissa began her research in organic chemistry under the mentorship of Dr. Hubert Muchalski. Her first research project primarily focused on the stablization of sulfenic acids.  Her research progressed to the synthesis of benzothiophenes from alkynes. Melissa presented during the CSU-LSAMP Summer Research Program at Fresno State and then went on to present at the 38th Annual Central California Research (CCRS) and the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting. In the summer of 2018, Melissa participated in undergraduate research at the University of Louisville in Dr. Gerald Hammond’s lab under the Jean Dreyfus Lectureship. Throughout her time in college, Melissa also served as a positive role model for transfer and first year chemistry students as a CSU-LSAMP Peer Mentor and served in a leadership position in the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Fresno State chapter.  As a first generation college student, Melissa is proud to be pursuing her PhD in organic chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Melissa not only has a passion for discovery, but is also looking forward to continuing to serve as a role model and helping build a larger community of women of color in STEM.

2018 CSU-LSAMP Fresno State PROUD Scholars

 Aldo Garcia

California State University, Fresno (CSU, Fresno)

B.S. Plant ScienceAldo Garcia PROUD Scholar

Aldo earned his BS in plant science in May 2018. As the son of immigrant farm-workers, Aldo was determined to pursue a higher education. He initiated his research early in his academic journey under the mentorship of Dr. Anil Shrestha focusing on the effects of moisture, temperature and sun exposure on the breakdown of various herbicides. In 2017, he was selected to receive funding from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture to collaborate with Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell (UC Davis) and Dr. Shrestha on determining key soil physical functions including water infiltration and aggregation to assess changes associated with the notill and cover crop management practices. Aldo presented his research at the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America conference and at the California Plant and Soil Conference. Aldo participated in an internship funded by the Water Resources Institute at CSU San Bernardino working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service assisting with soil climate project planning in the Fresno, Kings, and Kern Counties of California. In addition to research, Aldo participated in the Soil Judging Team competing at national conferences and volunteered to provide lectures to students from the Migrant Institute of STEM and Leadership to expose young students to various careers in science and agriculture. Aldo is pursuing an MS degree in plant science at CSU Fresno with aspirations to continue to the doctorate, while continuing to serve as a mentor for disadvantaged students

 Maizee Lee

California State University, Fresno (CSU, Fresno)

B.S. ChemistryMaizee Lee PROUD Scholar

Maizie completed her BS in chemistry from CSU Fresno in May 2018. After transferring from Fresno City College, she conducted research in medicinal chemistry with Dr. Qiao-Hong Chen. Her research focused on synthesizing natural product derivatives from flavonols to be tested as potential drug candidates. Maizie presented her findings at the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Symposium. As a first-generation student, inspired by research and opportunities, she continued her research and went on to present at the 38th Annual Central California Research Symposium, Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, and American Chemical Society National Meeting. At the 2018 CSUPERB conference, she was awarded the Research Scholar award for her current research on synthesizing derivatives for Triple Negative Breast Cancer by the Doris A. Howell Research Foundation and was a Glen Nagel Undergraduate Research finalist. Maizie was also selected by the chemistry department as the 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate for BS chemistry. Maizie is pursuing PhD at Emory University in chemistry with an emphasis in organic chemistry and is being supported by the Quayle Student Achievement Fellowship. Maizie has a passion for discovery and wants to find a career to help lives through chemistry.

Yvette Espinoza

California State University, Fresno (CSU, Fresno)

B.S. Computer EngineeringYvette Espinoza PROUD Scholar

Yvette earned a BS in computer engineering with minors in mathematics and Mandarin Chinese from CSU Fresno in May 2018. She graduated with an impressive 3.83 GPA and was the recipient of the Undergraduate Dean’s Medal for the Lyles College of Engineering. As a first-generation student and daughter of immigrant parents, she received a scholarship to attend the university through the Smittcamp Family Honors College. Early in her undergraduate career, Yvette was selected to participate in the iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3) University of Pittsburgh summer research program. She also participated in two international cultural awareness and linguistic trips to China as part of her studies. Yvette served as a leader and role model for students as a CSU-LSAMP Peer Mentor assisting other disadvantaged freshmen and first-year community college engineering majors, tutored engineering courses, and was an active participant in various engineering student organizations on campus. Motivated by her interest in research, Yvette actively participated in the CSU-LSAMP Academic Year Research Program. Her research team worked on a watercraft capable of mapping an underwater surface using an Extended Kalman Filter as the watercrafts state estimator. Her team designed the watercraft and performed mapping using nontraditional equipment, providing a cost-efficient solution. Additionally, Yvette participated in two internships with Raytheon Missile Systems, before accepting a position with Northrop Grumman, a global aerospace and defense company. Yvette plans to pursue graduate studies in computer engineering and continue serving as a mentor and role model especially for young girls in engineering.

 Abigayle Dirdak

California State University, Fresno (CSU, Fresno)

B.S. MathematicsAbigayle Dirdak PROUD Scholar

ln May 2018, Abigayle earned a BA in mathematics and a minor in physics from Fresno State. Abigayle played an important role in the Department of Mathematics, serving as a Peer Mentor for mathematics majors and the Vice President of the Mathematics Club. She also served as a Mathematics Outreach Fellow helping with the development of interesting, accessible, hands-on math activities for students of various ages. The activities helped promote mathematics and higher education to numerous first-generation college students, like herself, by giving presentations at local schools and community colleges. Abigayle’s research interest and ambition led her to a position with the CSU-LSAMP Summer Research Program at Fresno State. Under the mentorship of Dr. Carmen Caprau, Abigayle conducted research in Knot Theory. where she studied virtual trivalent braids and proved conditions for such braids to yield isotopic closures. During the following academic year, supported by PUMP (Preparing Undergraduates through Mentoring toward PhDs) Undergraduate Research Groups, Abigayle was able to study the area of Zeros of Polynomials Generated by Quadratic Factor Denominator under the mentorship of Dr. Khang Tran. Abigayle presented her research at multiple national conferences including the Joint Mathematics Meeting 2018, the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics, Underrepresented Students in Topology and Algebra Research Symposium (USTARS), and the Central California Research Symposium. Abigayle is pursuing her PhD in mathematics at the University of Arizona. Her future goals include becoming a mathematics professor, so she can continue to encourage students to pursue STEM careers and research.

 

2017 CSU-LSAMP Fresno State PROUD Scholars

 

Christian Montiel 

California State University, Fresno (CSU,Fresno)lsamp student in lab

B.S. Biology 

Christian Montiel earned his B.S. in biology and minor in chemistry from California State University, Fresno in spring 2017. As a first-generation college student, motivated by his parents, Christian devoted endless hours working as an analyst aspiring to obtain a Ph.D. Christian’s ambition and determination lead him to the mentorship of Dr. Hwan Youn, whose research utilized Escherichia coli as a model organism in their laboratory. Under the guidance of Dr. Youn, Christian was given the project of characterizing zinc effect on YdeH, a diguanylate cyclase, and its zinc-site mutant, which may negatively regulate the activity of YdeH. YdeH is one the of 14 Escherichia coli diguanylate cyclases containing a motif, which is essential for the synthetization of cyclic di-GMP. Christian’s work focused on experimenting with the effects of zinc on their in vitro enzyme activities. He presented his research at the 2017 CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Symposium and the 2017 Central California Research Symposium (CCRS). Christian demonstrated resilience and diligence within the classroom, research, and helping students. In CSU-LSAMP and as vice president of the campus Society for the Advancement for Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Chapter, Christian set forth to help students interested in research. To further pursue his research, Christian is continuing in the Biology Master’s program at California State University, Fresno with plans to pursue his Ph.D. program in microbiology with ultimate goals of becoming a professor, serving as a mentor, and encouraging underserved students to pursue research.

 

Shoghig Haverj Stanboulian

California State University, Fresno (CSU,Fresno) lsamp female student in lab

B.S. Biology 

In May 2017, Shoghig Haverj Stanboulian graduated with a B.S. in biology from California State University, Fresno. Beginning her sophomore year, she started conducting research in developmental biology under the mentorship of Dr. Alejandro Calderon-Urrea. Her undergraduate experience focused on screening nematicidal compounds on Caenorhabditis elegans. With the guidance of her faculty mentor, Haverj developed an interest in genetics, specifically in pathways that are responsible in enhancing and repressing genes. To further pursue her interest, Haverj participated in a summer Amgen Scholars Program at Stanford University where she studied fiber depended shifts of the human gut metaproteome, under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Snyder. Haverj presented her research at various conferences and symposiums, including the Annual Society for the Advancement of Chicano/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference, Stanford Summer Research Program Symposium, and the Central California Research Symposium. Haverj’s success transcends the research lab and into her community and leadership activities. Haverj served as a Supplemental Instruction Leader for Biology and Organic Chemistry and participated in CSU-LSAMP student research panels. Haverj is pursuing her Ph.D. studies at the University of California Los Angeles in the field of gene regulation.

Kevin Muthima 

California State University, Fresno (CSU,Fresno) lsamp male student in lab

B.S. Chemistry 

Kevin Muthima earned his B.A. in chemistry at California State University, Fresno with minors in biology and mathematics. Kevin became a leader in the CSU-LSAMP program, taking a role as a Peer Mentor to incoming freshmen and transfer students. He became passionate about helping his peers and decided to tutor students and also serve as an Academic Excellence Workshop (AEW) Facilitator in general chemistry and organic chemistry. While discovering a passion for helping students through teaching and peer mentoring, Kevin was granted the opportunities to conduct research in two different laboratories. Under the guidance of Dr. Ulrike Muller, Kevin conducted work related to vertebrate morphology, where he explored how the size ratios of the bones of quadrupeds compared to those of bipeds in relation to geometric scaling and elastic scaling. Under the mentorship of Dr. Qiao-Hong Chen and CSU-LSAMP support, Kevin conducted research over a two-year span in synthetic medicinal organic chemistry. In Dr. Chen’s lab, he was involved in projects synthesizing analogues of the natural products curcumin and fisetin. These products have promising anticarcinogenic activities towards prostate cancer cells. The analogues and intermediates synthesized were for exploring methods of ideal synthesis, in addition to bioavailability, and cytotoxicity studies. He had the opportunity to present his research in various local research symposiums. Kevin continues synthetic medicinal organic chemistry research while pursuing a Master’s degree in chemistry at California State University, Fresno with aspirations to continue to doctoral level studies while maintaining a passion for mentoring other students.

 

lsamp female student

Omoshola Aleru 

California State University, Fresno (CSU,Fresno) 

B.S. Biology 

Omoshola (Shola) Aleru graduated from California State University, Fresno with a B.S. in biology. Her research training spanned three years in two laboratories, along with her involvement in STEM and pre-doctoral organizations which prepared and further solidified her goal of a doctoral degree. Her research experiences began under the supervision of Dr. Mamta Rawat, where her main project dealt with the isolation and enrichment of Bacillus, Actinomycetes and Cyanobacteria species collected from the local environment, with the goal of discovering novel antibiotics. With guidance from Dr. Rawat and other lab members, she drafted genome sequences of two Bacillus and one Solibacillus species. This work in discovering the Bacillus sequences and annotations was published in Genome Announcements. During the summer of 2015, she was an Amgen Scholar at the California Institute of Technology working with Dr. William Clemons, where she worked on integral membrane proteins specifically mutating a rhomboid protease, GlpG, using error-prone PCR to test levels of expression. Shola presented her work related to both laboratories at various conferences, including the Annual Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference, CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Symposium, and the Central California Research Symposium. Shola was a recipient of various scholarships, including the community service award. She also served in multiple community service and leadership roles, including Richter Center Ambassador and president of the campus SACNAS chapter. Shola is continuing her studies in a biology Ph.D. program at the University of Oregon

 

2016 CSU-LSAMP Fresno State PROUD Scholars

christian sarabia

Cristian Sarabia
California State University, Fresno
(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Biochemistry

Cristian is pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry and two minors, Physics and Mathematics, at Fresno State. Cristian has overcome numerous obstacles as a first generation Hispanic college student who spent his early childhood in Mexico and later moved to Los Angeles, CA. After joining LSAMP, he began conducting research in organic medicinal chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Qiao-Hong Chen. His research involves prostate cancer, analyzing the molecular structure of curcumin, the main component of turmeric, a type of ginger. His work includes synthesizing curcumin analogs, which have higher potency and bioavailability than curcumin, by testing their antiproliferative activity in different prostate cancer cell lines. Cristian has presented his research at the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Symposium and the Central California Research Symposium. In addition to his research, Cristian was elected to serve as the Senator for the College of Science Mathematics representing students’ needs in the college through the student government Associated Students Incorporated (ASI). He meets with campus faculty, administration, and student organizations on a weekly basis. He has also held leadership roles in various student organizations including the Fresno State Premedical Club, SACNAS chapter, Chemistry Club, and AMSA. Furthermore, Cristian serves as a CSU-LSAMP Peer Mentor, Academic Excellence Workshop Facilitator and chemistry tutor. He has served on numerous CSU-LSAMP student panels encouraging entering students to participate in research and campus involvement. After graduating, Christian’s goal is to pursue a M.D/Ph.D., ultimately serving the needs of the disadvantaged as a provider and researcher.

monet gomes

Monet Gomes
California State University, Fresno
(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Biology

Monet is pursuing a degree in Biology at Fresno State. She has always had a strong love for animals, which inspired her to pursue a career as a wildlife biologist. Monet has maintained an impressive overall GPA of 3.89, all while conducting research and working on and off campus. Monet has assisted with various wildlife biology projects through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife including interning for the Central California Regional Manager, Dr. Jeff Single, and assisting with a Kangaroo rat population survey. She has participated in electrofishing population surveys and trout fry release through the Kings River Conservancy. During her sophomore year, Monet began working under the mentorship of Dr. Steve Blumenshine and his aquatic ecology research lab, which works with the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, to restore the health of the river. She has conducted research on the practice of using stable isotope signatures as tracers for different regions of the San Joaquin River, with the support of CSU-LSAMP Summer and Academic Year Research Programs. She has presented this research at the Central California Research Symposium. Monet has also been involved with the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, working as an Interpretive Guide and Educator. Monet interned in South Africa during summer 2016, with Indlovu West Conservation Research, gaining experience managing wildlife on a private reserve, conducting wildlife population research, and learning about predator-prey dynamics on the African Savanna. Monet plans to pursue a graduate degree in wildlife biology to conduct research in the field of wildlife conservation.

 

 

Natsinet Ghebrendrias

Natsinet Ghebrendrias
California State University, Fresno
(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Biology

Natsinet is pursuing a B.S. in Biology at Fresno State and has a passion for the field of public health and a deep interest in infectious diseases. Under the mentorship of Biology professor Dr. Mamta Rawat, Natsinet has been conducting research on Mycobacterium smegmatis transposon mutants which are generated through transposon mutagenesis to investigate gene and protein function and cellular processes. Mycobacterium smegmatis is a non-pathogenic model organism for the study of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium that causes tuberculosis, which allows for these insertional mutants to be used to identify how resistance to anti tuberculosis drugs occurs. Natsinet has been awarded multiple undergraduate research grants and facultysponsored student research awards and her research has been presented at multiple conferences, such as the 2015 CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Symposium. Natsinet also participated in the LSU iREU 2016 France/Belgium 7-month research experience in Toulouse, France where she performed immunology research at the Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology (IPBS) under the guidance of Dr. Geanncarlo Lugo-Villarino in the lab of Dr. Olivier Neyrolles. Her research focus dealt with mycobacterial interactions with host cells and her goal was to identify microbiota-derived metabolites that modulate the macrophage response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In addition to research, Natsinet has been an active member in CSU-LSAMP and has an officer leadership role in the Fresno State SACNAS chapter. Natsinet aspires to use the knowledge and experience she has gained to obtain her Ph.D. degree in the area of Global Health and work internationally.

2015 CSU-LSAMP Fresno State PROUD Scholars

Atahualpa ContrerasAtahualpa Contreras
California State University, Fresno
(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Biology

Atahualpa Contreras is an undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. in Biology at Fresno State. A first generation college student, Atahualpa spent countless hours working in the agricultural fields of central California, which fueled his determination to attain a college education. After joining LSAMP, Atahualpa participated in the CSU-LSAMP Monterey Bay summer research experience in Costa Rica. There he studied soil characteristics of trails at Volcán Tenorio, a national park, to determine whether tourism along the main hiking trail toward Rio Celeste had an impact on the soil conditions. He presented his summer research at the 2014 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference. With the support of CSU-LSAMP, he is conducting research on campus under the mentorship of Dr. Joseph Ross in a Genetics and Developmental biology laboratory utilizing Caenorhabditis briggsae. His research is focusing on hybrid developmental delay utilizing AF16 strain from Japan and HK104 strain from India. In addition to research, Atahualpa has been very involved in CSU-LSAMP, including serving on student panels encouraging students to participate in international research and serves as a program peer mentor to lower division students. He plays an active role in the Fresno State SACNAS chapter and Biology Club which includes visiting local elementary schools providing hands-on science demonstrations to encourage young students to pursue STEM fields. Atahualpa aspires to pursue a Ph.D. in Biology with an emphasis in genetics and continue a career in academia.

 

 

Geil Merana

Geil Merana
California State University, Fresno
(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Biology

Geil Merana is a junior at Fresno State pursuing a B.S. in Biology. Geil’s research interest stemmed from her early undergraduate experience and has strengthened under the mentorship of Chemistry professors Dr. Laurent Dejean and Dr. Alam Hasson. Her undergraduate research is interdisciplinary in nature with a focus on the cellular stress response of macrophages to air pollutants in California. Geil’s research includes the utilization of a fluorescence-based assay to quantify the production of reactive oxygen species produced in cells exposed to particulate matter from different temporal and spatial categories. She plans to use flow cytometry to further characterize the localization of ROS production in these cells. Geil has presented her research progress at the 2015 CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Symposium and the 2015 Central California Research Symposium. Furthermore, she has been accepted to participate in the 2015 Summer Research Training Program at University of California, San Francisco. In addition to her research, Geil has been a recipient of various scholarships and serves in multiple community service and leadership roles, including CSU-LSAMP Peer Mentor, chemistry tutor on campus, volunteer tutor for a high school Academic Decathlon, current President of the campus Biology Club, and active leader in Nature Club. Geil plans to graduate in May 2016 and pursue a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology

 

 

Alexandra  Saxberg

Alexandra Saxberg 
California State University, Fresno

(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Biochemistry

Alexandra is currently pursuing her B.S. in Biochemistry at California State University, Fresno. Early in her academic career, Alexandra received the Dr. Kenneth W. Chan Scholarship for showing strong promise in the field of chemistry research, which she is fulfilling in the research laboratory of Dr. Joy Goto. Under the supervision of Dr. Goto, Alexandra has been conducting research on two projects: researching the effects of neurotoxicity induced by BMAA, an unnatural amino acid produced by cyanobacteria that is hypothesized to induce neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS; and analyzing the biological effects of N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) and DEET like analogs. Alexandra was also a summer research intern at SanfordBurnham Medical Research Institute in Dr. Marcus Kaul’s research lab, focusing on HIV-associated neurodegeneration and dementia. Motivated to influence her peers to also conduct research, Alexandra took a more active leadership role and became a founding officer in the Fresno State SACNAS chapter, with the mission to encourage diversity in STEM. This past summer, Alexandra participated in the 2015 US/France/Belgium iREU in translation chemistry at University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France. In France, Alexandra worked on characterizing the metal binding ability of BMAA and learn methodology used in Dr. Peter Faller’s research lab to understand how amyloid beta peptide is connected with metals and Alzheimer’s disease. Alexandra plans to pursue a Ph.D. in the area of neuroscience.

 

Leonardo  Velazco-Cruz

Leonardo Velazco-Cruz
California State University, Fresno

(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Biology

Leonardo (Leo) Velazco-Cruz is pursuing a B.S. in Biology at California State University, Fresno. Beginning his sophomore year, he conducted research in the evolutionary biology laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Joseph A. Ross. His undergraduate experience has focused on studying the onset of speciation in the nematode Caenorhabditis briggsae. With the guidance of his faculty mentor, Leo has developed an interest in the use of molecular genetics as a tool for the dissection of biological processes leading to scientific discovery and biomedical applications. To further pursue his interest, Leo participated in a summer research fellowship at Washington University where he used patientspecific induced pluripotent stem cells as a system to study telomere dysfunction in Dyskeratosis Congenita patients under the mentorship of Dr. Luis Batista. Leo has presented his research at various conferences including the Annual Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference and Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) where he was awarded for his poster presentation. Leo’s success transcends the research lab and continues into his community and leadership activities. He was president of Fresno State’s SACNAS chapter and has successfully led the chapter by increasing its member base and funding. The mission of the chapter is to recruit diverse students interested in STEM, increase opportunities in research, training in presentation and professionalism, and outreach to K-12 students. Leo’s a model CSU-LSAMP student and is focused on pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of regenerative biology and biomedical sciences.

 

 

2014 CSU-LSAMP Fresno State PROUD Scholars

 

 

Emilio CardenasEmilio Cardenas
California State University, Fresno

(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Chemistry

Over the past three years, Emilio Cardenas has conducted research  under the supervision of Dr. Santanu Maitra at CSU Fresno. His research has focused on using wet organic chemistry techniques  to design, synthesize, and characterize a library of small organic molecules for the modulation of apolipoprotein E (apoE). Screening of the small organic molecules has shown that specific structures are responsible for the modulation of apoE in human astrocytoma cells. This finding is of great importance due to the isomeric dependence of apoE being associated with an increased probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Emilio’s work on apoE has been published in the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan.Emilio has also worked on the synthesis and characterization of isoprene hydroxyl nitrates (IHN). Mechanistic studies of IHN have allowed his group to better understand how the molecule reacts in different conditions. Specifically, Emilio helped generate multiple IHNs under acidic and non-acidic conditions. Mechanistic studies showed that the preceding reactions did not follow regioselective trends found in the literature. Instead it was found that the same product was formed regardless of the conditions. Emilio has been an active participant in CSU-LSAMP, serving as a role model and facilitator in chemistry academic excellence workshops, and the academic year research program. Equipped with a strong foundation of research experience, Emilio commences a doctoral degree in chemistry at Purdue University in Fall 2014. He hopes to become a professor of chemistry so he can share his passion for discovery with the next generation of scientists.

 

Eduardo De La TorreEduardo De La Torre
California State University, Fresno

(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Biochemistry

Eduardo is an undergraduate student completing his B.S. degree in Chemistry and California State University, Fresno. A first-generation college student, Eduardo has maintained an impressive major GPA of 4.0 and overall GPA of 3.96, all while conducting research and working on and off campus. Eduardo was selected to be in the Chemistry Honors Program based on his academic achievements. As a CSU-LSAMP Research Program participant, Eduardo developed his interest in research by working under the guidance of Dr. Qiao-Hong Chen. Eduardo’s research involves the study of Genistein, a natural compound that has been shown to have positive effects on prostate cancer cells. Since Genistein has a poor bioavailability, his focus on this research is to synthesize new compounds with improved bioavailability. Eduardo has also served as a chemistry Academic Excellence Workshop facilitator. He has found a passion for helping others not only as an LSAMP facilitator but also as a tutor for the Chemistry Department and the campus tutoring center. As Eduardo begins his final undergraduate year in 2014-15, he plans to pursue a medical career with an interest in research.

 

Samantha HartantoSamantha Hartanto
California State University, Fresno

(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Chemistry

Samantha Hartanto is a sophomore pursuing a B.S. in Chemistry at California State University, Fresno. Her research area is microbial biochemistry. She has been involved with research since her freshman year and has contributed to several projects. Under the mentorship of Dr. Mamta Rawat she is studying the roles of thiols, protective antioxidants with a sulfhydryl group, in microorganisms. Dr. Rawat has been extremely pleased with Samantha’s work in the laboratory. Samantha’s dedication to research has earned her several research awards, including the Fresno State faculty-sponsored Student Research Award, the Fresno State Undergraduate Research Award, and the Fresno State ASI Research Grant. Samantha has also been an active participant in the CSU-LSAMP Research Program on campus for the past year. Samantha’s active research activities have led to her selection to represent Fresno State in the 2014 California State University Student Research Competition. Samantha also plans to present her research at additional conferences this year, including the Central California Research Symposium. She aspires to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Andres NevarezAndres Nevarez
California State University, Fresno

(CSU,Fresno)
B.S. Biology

Andres completed his B.S. in Biology at California State University, Fresno in May 2014. As an undergraduate student, Andres was actively involved in CSU-LSAMP program activities, including serving as a facilitator for Academic Excellence Workshops in chemistry, and as a peer mentor for lower division students. Andres showed outstanding leadership and professionalism through his hard work founding a SACNAS chapter at Fresno State, which is housed within, and works closely with, CSU-LSAMP. Andres helped mold the SACNAS campus chapter to best benefit not only Fresno State, but also the community. The mission of the chapter is to recruit diverse students interested in STEM, increase opportunities in research, training in presentation and professionalism, and outreach to K-12 students. In addition to his outstanding leadership and outreach efforts, Andres voraciously pursued undergraduate research since his freshman year. Andres worked in two laboratories at Fresno State, focusing on signal transduction and cancer biology. He also broadened his research horizons through summer research experiences at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institution, focusing on cell death pathways and at the University of California, Berkeley, concentrating on computational comparative molecular genomics. Andres is starting his graduate career in Fall 2014 at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, on the Ph.D. track. Andres’s graduate research will focus on computational systems, and bioinformatics to understand cancer development and movement.