Current Fellows

Sharine Wittkopp

Sharine Wittkopp

UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • UC Irvine School of Medicine, MD, 2016 expected
  • Environmental Toxicology, UC Irvine, PhD, 2014 expected
  • Biomedical Sciences, UC Irvine, MS, 2010
  • Chemistry, Bryn Mawr College, BA, 2001

Research

Gene-Environment Interactions Underlying the Adverse Cardiovascular Health Outcomes Associated with Air Pollution Exposure.

Biography

Sharine Wittkopp is an MD/PhD student obtaining her PhD in Environmental Toxicology. She studies the link between air pollution exposure and cardiovascular disease in elderly adults in Los Angeles. Sharine is working to identify genetic factors that might contribute to increased cardiovascular risk associated with air pollution exposure. She has presented this work for UC Irvine TEDx, the American Thoracic Society and the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology. Before joining the MSTP at UC Irvine in 2007, Sharine worked in women's health, sleep medicine and pharmaceutical research positions, and was a teacher in a health education series for incarcerated women.  

A. George Johnson

A. George Johnson

UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Organic Chemistry, UCI, PhD, 2015 expected
  • Biochemistry, Brigham Young University, BS, 2009

Research

Stereospecific Nickel-Catalysed Cross-Coupling Reactions of Alkyl Grignard Reagents.

Biography

A. George Johnson is a PhD candidate in the School of Physical Sciences. He is studying nickel-catalyzed methods for the formation of asymmetric carbon–carbon bonds.  His research has resulted in the development of a method that has application in increasing the efficiency of enantiopure medicinal agent preparation.  George has been involved in several collaborations, and compounds synthesized by his method have been shown to be active against breast cancer cell lines, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.  George is proficient in Mandarin Chinese.  Prior to coming to graduate school, he spent a year as a visiting scholar at Tianjin Normal University in Tianjin China, and completed an internship in Shanghai at the production facility of K2 Energy Solutions, a battery manufacture that specializes in high end batteries for hybrid and fully electric vehicles.

Luis Alonzo

Luis Alonzo

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • PhD Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine (UCI), expected 2014 M.S.
  • Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine, 2011 B.S. Biomedical
  • Engineering (Minor in Mathematics and Chemistry), Cum Laude, Florida International University (FIU), Miami, FL, 2008

Research

Creation of a tumor-on-a-chip model to understand the role of the microenvironment on tumor growth and development

Biography

Luis Alonzo is a PhD student in the department of Biomedical Engineering at UC Irvine. His research interests lie in the fields of tissue engineering, tumor biology, and microfluidic technologies. Currently, his research is focused on developing a novel microfluidic platform to study tumor progression and metastasis. Results from his research have been published in the journal of Methods in Molecular Biology and presented at various scientific conferences. This work has led to very prestigious awards such as the NIH’s F31 pre-doctoral fellowship and the Whitaker Program’s summer grant to perform research at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. In addition, Luis’ public impact extends beyond his research as an active mentor to minority students in the STEM fields at the middle school and college levels. He is involved in various leadership positions at the Rocket Science Tutors program in Orange County, the Engineering Diversity Council at UC Irvine, and the UC Irvine DECADE student council. Prior to pursuing his doctoral degree, Luis earned a M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from UC Irvine, and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Florida International University.

Brian Tarroja

Brian Tarroja

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering , UCI, PhD, 2014 expected
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCI, M.S., 2011
  • Mechanical Engineering, UCI, B.S., 2009
  • Aerospace Engineering, UCI, B.S., 2009

Research

Advising and optimizing the deployment of sustainability-oriented technology and management options in the integrated electricity, transportation, and water supply context.

Biography

Brian Tarroja is a PhD candidate in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. He is involved in developing an integrated framework for evaluating the performance of available and emerging options for meeting sustainability goals in major resource sectors. This work is aimed at identifying the synergies or interferences between these options for the purpose of coherently coordinating option deployment policy and investment to most effectively satisfy sustainability goals. This work has currently been used to advise the AB 32 Scoping Plan, containing the state’s outlook for meeting short and long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals. He was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2010, and an Association of Energy Engineers Dennis Acton Memorial Scholarship in 2013.

Teomara Rutherford

Teomara Rutherford

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Education, Learning Cognition, & Development, UCI, PhD, 2014 expected
  • Education, Learning, Cognition, & Development, UCI, M.A., 2012
  • Law, Boston University School of Law, J.D., 2003
  • Elementary Education, Computers in the Classroom, Florida International University, B.S., 1997

Research

The study of individual differences that affect mathematics learning and their improvement through interventions and educational technology.

Biography

Teomara (Teya) Rutherford is a PhD candidate in the School of Education. Her research focuses on the improvement of motivation and cognition and is especially concerned with novel interventions that can reach underserved populations. Teya has taught a variety of subjects from computers to Algebra and draws on both her teaching experience and her legal background (J.D., 2003) to conduct and disseminate research meaningful to policy-makers and practitioners. She has been recognized by the National Science Foundation with a graduate research fellowship and has published peer-reviewed manuscripts in both psychology and education journals.

Mariam Ashtiani

Mariam Ashtiani

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Sociology, UCI, PhD, 2015 expected
  • Demographic and Social Analysis, UCI, M.A, 2011
  • Sociology, University of Michigan, B.A., 2006

Research

The impact of juvenile drug arrest on the educational attainment and labor market outcomes of Black, White, and Latino youth. 

Biography

Mariam Ashtiani is a PhD candidate in the School of Social Science. Her dissertation examines how the impact of drug arrests on life outcomes varies for youth from different racial backgrounds. Her current project compares the impact of juvenile drug arrests to violent crime and property crime arrests, to assess how drug arrests are unique in their nature and consequences. She has presented her work at a variety of conferences, including the American Sociological Association, Sociology of Education, and Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. She has also worked on research projects for UC/ACCORD, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and most recently, MDRC. From the School of Social Science, she has received awards for both her second year paper and her research under Professor Cynthia Feliciano. Before coming to UC Irvine, Mariam spent one year doing volunteer work in Israel. 

Alba Alfonso Garcia

Alba Alfonso Garcia

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • PhD Biomedical Engineering, UCI, 2016 expected
  • MS Optics and Photonics, KSOP-KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2011
  • Physics, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 2009

Research

Imaging with nonlinear microscopy for biomedical applications, with a particular interest in elucidating cholesterol metabolism.

Biography

Alba Alfonso Garcia is a PhD candidate in the Biomedical Engineering Department. Working in biophotonics, her research focuses on further developing and applying nonlinear microscopy techniques to illuminate biomedical-related phenomena. In particular, she is interested in visualizing cholesterol metabolism to validate the currently proposed models and reveal hidden pathways and interactions that would help tailoring strategies against cholesterol related diseases, which affect many people around the globe. Alba is also the vice-president of Photonics@UCI, the UC Irvine student chapter of OSA and SPIE, two international societies that group professionals in the optics and photonics sector.

Anamarie Auger

Anamarie Auger

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Education, UCI, PhD, 2014 expected
  • Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, B.A., 2009

Research

The characteristics of parents that use early childhood education services and supports, and the effect of usage on parenting and the home environment.

Biography

Anamarie Auger is obtaining her PhD in Education. Her research interests include understanding how home and child care environments, and interventions aimed at improving these settings, impact children's achievement and socio-emotional development. She has been awarded the Michael E. Martinez Prize for Outstanding Research and Service by a Doctoral Student. She is also involved in many service activities within the University and the local community. Prior to pursuing her PhD in Education, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Special Honors in Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin.

Raúl Pérez

Raúl Pérez

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Sociology, UCI, PhD, Expected 2014
  • Sociology, UCI, M.A., 2009
  • Sociology, with Honors, Philosophy Minor, UCI, B.A., 2007

Research

The role of racial comedy in contributing to the regulation and contestation of public racial discourse in the US from the civil rights era to the current “color-blind” period. 

Biography

Raúl Pérez is a PhD candidate in School of Social Sciences. His research interests include racial discourse, humor, and law and society. His research examines the regulation, contestation, and evolution of racial stand-up comedy in the U.S. from the civil rights era to the present. His research has been featured in national media outlets, such as TIME magazine and The Grio. A chapter from his dissertation, “Learning to Make Racism Funny in the ‘Color-blind’ Era,” has been published in Discourse & Society, a leading journal in discourse analysis. His work has been supported by the University of California Center for New Racial Studies and UC Irvine’s Center in Law, Society and Culture. He teaches a course on “Comedy and Society.”

Li Zhang

Li Zhang

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Mechanical Engineering, UCI, PhD, 2014 expected
  • Mechanical Engineering, UCI, M.S., 2011
  • Vehicular Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, B.S., 2009

Research

Evaluating energy impact, optimizing charging infrastructure allocations for plug-in electric vehicles and coordinating EV charging with the future electric grid.

Biography

Li Zhang is a PhD candidate in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. He is working at the Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP), conducting research to 1) evaluate the energy impact of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), 2) optimize the allocation of charging infrastructure for PEVs and 3) effectively coordinate massive PEV charging with the smart grid.  He has been working closely with the California Energy Commission and major automakers, such as Toyota and Honda, to apply his research findings to real-world settings aiming to reduce oil consumption, decrease greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions in the transportation sector, and increase the public acceptance of alternative vehicles.

Chenoa S. Woods

Chenoa S. Woods

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Education (Education Policy and Social Context), UCI, PhD, 2014 expected
  • Education, UCI, M.A., 2012
  • School Counseling, CSU Long Beach, M.S., 2009
  • Psychology, CSU Long Beach, B.A., 2006

Research

The roles of schools and school personnel in the college preparation and college choice processes.

Biography

Chenoa S. Woods is a PhD candidate in the School of Education. Specializing in education policy and social context, her research examines low-income and underrepresented minority students’ college preparation and choice processes. She explores the roles of school personnel in creating a college-going culture on school campuses. Her research highlights the need for adequate, accurate, and timely college preparation throughout students’ K-12 education. In 2013, Chenoa was awarded the UC/ACCORD Dissertation Year Fellowship. In addition to her research, Chenoa currently serves as president for the Association Doctoral Students in Education student organization in the School of Education.

Adam Boessen

Adam Boessen

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Criminology, Law and Society, University of California-Irvine, PhD 2014
  • Social Ecology, University of California-Irvine, MA, 2009
  • Sociology, University of Missouri, BA 2007
  • Psychology, University of Missouri, BA 2007

Research

Neighborhoods and crime, social networks, space and geography.

Biography

Adam Boessen is a PhD candidate in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society.  He is interested in micro spatial and temporal patterns of people and small areas, how these patterns change over time, and the consequences of this change for neighborhood crime.  Adam examines these interests by investigating the spatial and network aspects of neighborhoods, land uses and neighborhood space, and how the daily activity patterns of residents shape neighborhood crime.  

Sun Young Park

Sun Young Park

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Informatics, ICS, UCI, PhD, 2015 expected
  • Interaction Design, Carnegie Mellon University, M.Des, 2008
  • Industrial Design/ Multimedia Art, Ewha Woman’s University, Korea, B.F.A., 2005

Research

Designing technologies to support collaborative care in an emergency department through patient awareness.

Biography

Sun Young Park is a PhD candidate at UC Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. She is also a member of the Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction. Her research lies at the intersection of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) and Medical Informatics, and examines the social, technical, and cultural dimensions of social computing systems. In particular, her research focuses on designing and evaluating interactive systems to support clinical collaboration, patient-provider interactions and health information management among chronic care patients. She has presented her work to diverse audiences including the ACM conferences (CHI, CSCW), American Medical Informatics Association, and the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA). Her work recently won a best journal paper award for Yearbook of IMIA. Before coming to UC Irvine, Sun Young was trained as a Visual, Product, and Interaction Designer.

Lynn Dombrowski

Lynn Dombrowski

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Informatics, UCI, PhD 2015 expected
  • Human Computer Interaction, MS. Indiana University, 2010
  • Computer Information Systems, BS. University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, 2008

Research

I design, develop, and evaluate information and communication technologies with hunger-focused nonprofit organizations and community members to attend to local food needs.

Biography

Lynn Dombrowski is a PhD candidate at UC Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. She designs information and communication technologies with hunger-focused nonprofit organizations to attend to local food needs and promote food justice. Her current project uses participatory design methods to render visible the alternative technological design spaces that may be more consistent with participants’ particular cultural practices and preferences. Her work has been published in top venues in the Human-Computer Interaction and Ubiquitous Computing fields. She grew up on a small dairy farm in central Wisconsin.

Edelina Muñoz Burciaga

Edelina Muñoz Burciaga

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Sociology, UCI, PhD, 2015 expected
  • Boston University School of Law, J.D., 2005
  • Social Sciences in Education, Stanford University Graduate School of Education, M.A., 2000
  • Chicana/o Studies/English, Stanford University, B.A., 1999

Research

The role of social scientists in contributing to our understanding of immigration and the immigrant experience. 

Biography

Edelina Burciaga is a PhD candidate in the department of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences. Her research interests include the immigrant experience, law and society, sociology of education, and racial and ethnic relations. Her dissertation examines the incorporation pathways of undocumented immigrants with a focus on Latina/o immigrants who came to the United States as children. She is currently a graduate student researcher with the Community Knowledge Project as a member of the learning and evaluation team for the Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities Initiative.  Edelina is looking forward to continuing to develop a community-based research agenda when she enters the professoriate. Before coming to UC Irvine, Edelina spent time working as a civil rights attorney and this experience informs her commitment to research that has a significant public impact. 

 Siavash Ahrar

Siavash Ahrar

Public Impact Fellows Honorable Mention Awardee

Degrees:

  • Biomedical Engineering, PhD, 2015 expected.
  • Biomedical Engineering UC Irvine, M.S., 2012.
  • Electrical Engineering UC Irvine, B.S., 2010.

Research

Design and establishment of autonomous microfluidic platforms through pneumatic digital logic.

Biography

Siavash Ahrar is a PhD candidate in the department of Biomedical Engineering.  As a member of Professor Elliot Hui's laboratory, Siavash works on design and development of autonomous microfluidic devices that incorporate logic and decision making. This embedded automation seeks to address the critical limitation in transfer of microfluidic systems from laboratories to the field by reducing the off-chip components required for the control and regulation of microfluidic systems.


Past Fellows

Beth Karlin

Beth Karlin

UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellows

Degrees:

  • Social Ecology, UCI, PhD, 2013 expected
  • Public Policy and Administration, CSU Long Beach, M.P.A, 2007
  • Psychology / Spanish, University of Redlands, B.A., 1999

Research

The role of social scientists in contributing to the development and testing of interventions critical to the solutions in energy efficiency and conservation.

Biography

Beth is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Ecology, where she founded and directs the Transformational Media Lab within the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs. She studies the role of information and communication technology in promoting pro-environmental behavior; current projects investigate technology-enabled energy feedback and transmedia social action campaigns. She has presented her work to diverse audiences including the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, International Studies Association, and the American Psychological Association. Before coming to UCI, Beth spent a decade years working in K-12 education, holding positions as a teacher, counselor, curriculum developer, and school administrator.

Ryan Schutte

Ryan Schutte

UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellows

Degrees:

  • Biomedical Sciences, UCI School of Medicine, PhD, 2013 expected
  • Biological Sciences, UCI, B.S., 2007

Research

Modeling human genetic epilepsies using fruit flies.

Biography

Ryan is a doctoral candidate from the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology in the School of Medicine. His research focuses on a new approach to modeling human genetic epilepsies using fruit flies. These models will provide insight into the neural mechanisms underlying epilepsies associated with specific human mutations. In addition to his research Ryan is interested in education. For the past 5 years he has served as a TA for a large introductory biology course. He is a HHMI-UCI graduate fellow, a TLTC Pedagogical Fellow, and was awarded the Edward Steinhaus Teaching Award in Biological Science in 2011. He mentors undergraduate students in research and served as Dept. Journal Club Coordinator for the past 3 years.

Seema Ehsan

Seema Ehsan

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Chemical Engineering, UC Irvine, PhD, 2014 expected
  • Chemical Engineering, UC Irvine, M.S., 2011
  • Chemical Engineering, UC Berkeley, B.S., 2008

Research

Development of complex tumor models to enhance anticancer drug screening.

Biography

Seema is a Ph.D. candidate in the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department at UC Irvine. She holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley, and an M.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC Irvine. Her research focuses on developing engineered tumor models that can be used for clinically relevant anticancer drug screening.

Scott Sellars

Scott Sellars

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Civil and Environmental Engineering, UCI, PhD, 2014 expected
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering, UCI, M.S. 2013 expected
  • Climate and Society, Columbia University, M.A., 2009
  • Meteorology, University of Utah, B.S., 2005

Research

Aims to identify the next generation of tools and approaches for developing seasonal climate predictions, which can be integrated into current operational methods for seasonal water supply forecasting and enhancing the options a water manager has at his or her disposal.

Biography

Scott is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering. He works at the Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing on research applications of machine learning and pattern detection in hydroclimate, remote sensing and water resource management. Scott received a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from the University of Utah in 2005 and a Master of Arts degree in Climate and Society from Columbia University in 2009. Scott is particularly interested in developing methods and algorithms to better understand climate variability and climate change and its impacts on water resources.

Binbin Zheng

Binbin Zheng

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Education, UCI, PhD, 2014 expected
  • Educational Technology, Beijing Normal University, M.A., 2009
  • Educational Information and Technology, East China Normal University, B.S., 2006

Research

Research focuses on how schools can best make use of low-cost computers to help diverse learners, including English learners, underrepresented minorities, and low-income s students, learn to write well.

Biography

Binbin is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education with a specialization in Language, Literacy, and Technology. She holds an M.A. in Educational Technology from Beijing Normal University and a B.S. in Educational Information and Technology from East China Normal University. Binbin's current research investigates how K-12 schools can best make use of low-cost netbook computers and other digital tools to support academic achievement and literacy development among at-risk learners, including English language learners, underrepresented minorities, and students from low-income families. Her long-term goal is to bridge educational achievement gaps through high-quality research on promising educational reforms.

Alejandra Albarran Moses

Alejandra Albarran Moses

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Education with a dual focus in Learning, Cognitions, & Development and Educational Policy and Social Context, UCI, Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education, M.A., 2008
  • Psychology with a minor in Spanish, California Lutheran University, B.S., 2003

Research

The role of community-based organizations in improving school readiness through parent engagement.

Biography

Alejandra is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education with a dual specialization in Learning, Cognition, and Development & Educational Policy and Social Context. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from CLU and an M.A.’s from Cal State Northridge in Educational Psychology. She studies the role of community-based organizations in improving school readiness through parent engagement. In addition to research, she is active on campus as the co-chair of the Chican@/Latin@ Graduate Student Collective and as a graduate student representative on many boards. She looks forward to becoming a professor and engaging in research on children in natural contexts.

Joshua Gellers

Joshua Gellers

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Political Science, UCI, PhD, 2013 expected
  • Political Science, UCI, M.A., 2009
  • Climate and Society, Columbia University, M.A., 2007
  • Political Science, University of Florida, B.A., 2005

Research

Research focuses on understanding why countries adopt environmental rights in national constitutions, especially in South Asia.

Biography

Josh is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida, where he graduated magna cum laude, an M.A. in Climate and Society from Columbia University, and an M.A. in Political Science from UCI. Josh has consulted for the United Nations Development Programme and Sierra Club Green Home. His research utilizes quantitative and qualitative techniques to understand why countries adopt constitutional environmental rights, especially in South Asia, where he has conducted field research. Josh hopes to continue his work as a professor and international development consultant.

Zoya Gubernskaya

Zoya Gubernskaya

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Sociology, UCI PhD, 2013 expected
  • Demographic and Social Analysis, UCI, M.A., 2006
  • Psychology, Lviv National University, Diploma, 2000

Research

Sociology and demography of health, aging, immigration, and family.

Biography

Zoya is a doctoral student in the department of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences. She holds an M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from UCI and a degree in Psychology from Ukraine-based Lviv National University. Her current research seeks to understand divergent health outcomes among the older foreign-born in the U.S. Using an interdisciplinary approach she investigates how incorporation experiences throughout the life course affect immigrants’ health and wellbeing in old age. While pursuing an academic career, she also expects her research findings to influence public policies aimed at reducing health disparities in old age.

Briana Hinga

Briana Hinga

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Education, UCI, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Education, UCI, M.A., 2010

Research

Classroom practices, teacher education, and student assessments that promote innovative and equitable schooling opportunities for underrepresented students.

Biography

Briana Hinga is a doctoral candidate in the UCI School of Education, specializing in Learning, Cognition, and Development and Educational Policy and Social Context. Briana researches classroom practices, teacher education, and student assessments that promote innovative and equitable schooling opportunities for underrepresented students. She grounds this research in partnerships with researchers, teachers, students, and community members. She plans to pursue a career as a university professor as a means to learn from and work with the academic academy and communities to create spaces of collaboration and movement toward social justice in education.

Tina Matuchniak

Tina Matuchniak

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Education, UCI, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Education, UCI, M.A., 2011
  • Literacy Studies, CSULB, M.A., 2000
  • English, CSULB, B.A. 1999

Research

Examining the writing practices and performances of high school English language learners as they transition to college.

Biography

Tina is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education at UCI specializing in language and literacy. As a multilingual immigrant to this country and a Lecturer at California State University, Long Beach, Tina has both a personal as well as professional interest in working with non-native speakers of English and other traditionally under-served and marginalized student populations. In addition to serving as a faculty mentor to 10 first-generation college students, Tina was also recognized for her excellence in teaching and awarded the prestigious “Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award” (2007) at CSU, Long Beach. In 2011, she received the UC ACCORD Dissertation Year Fellowship and was commended for “conducting ground-breaking work that will make a great contribution to equity and opportunity.” More recently (2012), she was awarded the Graduate Dean’s Dissertation Year Fellowship.

Dana Nakano

Dana Nakano

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Sociology, UCI, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Demographic and Social Analysis, UCI, M.A., 2010
  • Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University, M.A, 2007
  • Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 2004
  • International Relations and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies – Japanese, University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 2004

Research

The intersections of race and politics.

Biography

Dana is a doctoral candidate in the UCI School of Social Sciences, with a concentration in physical chemistry. His overarching research agenda focuses on the intersections of race and politics. Dana broadly defines politics to include the standard forms of electoral politics, political participation, civic engagement, and mobilization, but also take as central the more mundane experiences of citizenship as community and senses of belonging. His dissertation, tentatively titled “Racialized Belonging and Substantive Citizenship Among Later Generation Japanese Americans,” examines the persistence and construction of racial and ethnic communities among third and fourth generation Japanese Americans in Southern California and the impact of such community building on extralegal aspects of citizenship. He has a planned completion date on June 2013.

Marisa Omori

Marisa Omori

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Criminology, Law and Society, UCI, Ph.D., 2014 expected
  • Social Ecology, UCI, M.A., 2010
  • Criminal Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, M.A., 2007
  • Economics, Occidental College, A.B., 2003

Research

Cumulative racial inequality in the arrest and court processes for drug offenders.

Biography

Marisa is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Criminology, Law & Society. Her work focuses on issues of race and punishment, drug policy, sentencing, and corrections. Marisa’s dissertation examines cumulative racial inequality in the arrest and court processes for drug offenders. Other projects include methamphetamine legislation, addiction and drug use over time, racial and gang violence in juvenile justice facilities, and drug offender sentencing. Marisa’s work has been published in Crime and Delinquency, Crime and Public Policy, and Theoretical Criminology. She is also the past recipient of the Newkirk Center for Science and Society Fellowship and the Debbie Davis Graduate Student Award for service and advocacy.

John Michael Ian Salas

John Michael Ian Salas

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Economics, UCI, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Economics, University of the Philippines, M.A., 2004
  • Economics, University of the Philippines, B.S., 2002

Research

Causal explanations for high fertility in developing countries.

Biography

Ian is a doctoral candidate in Economics at UCI. His research looks at demographic and economic issues that developing countries face, as demonstrated by Philippine experience. He has received many grants for his ongoing research on the impact of free contraceptives on birth rates and other health outcomes. His earlier publications looked at measuring the aggregate burden of providing for a relatively large young dependent population, tracing disparities in firm productivity and regional development to differences in investment environment, validating a central bank's adherence to its avowed goal of managing inflation, and detecting collusive behavior in setting gasoline pump prices.

Sepideh Sarachi

Sepideh Sarachi

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Civil Engineering/water resources, UCI, Ph.D., 2014 expected
  • Civil Engineering, UCI, M.S., 2010
  • Civil Engineering, Sharif University of technology/Iran, B.S., 2009

Research

A probabilistic model for uncertainty associated with satellite precipitation products.

Biography

Sepideh is a doctoral candidate in water resources and hydrology at center for hydrometeorology and remote sensing (CHRS) in the Henry Samueli school of engineering at UCI. She holds her master’s from the same school and her bachelors from Sharif university of technology, Iran. She is interested in water resources and the quantification of how much water is available to communities to forecast disasters look flooding and drought. Currently, she is working on quantifying the uncertainty associated with precipitation data estimated from satellite products, and would like to propose a global uncertainty model which can be used as a side product with any available precipitation product to give us a better estimate of the available water. This uncertainty helps to conduct better strategic planning for natural resources in societies.

Maria Torres

Maria Torres

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Neurobiology and Behavior, UCI, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Chemistry, UCSC, B.S., 2008

Research

Research focuses on the role of thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), an astrocyte secreted protein, in dendritic spine morphogenesis and structural plasticity.

Biography

Maria is a doctoral candidate in the School of Biological Sciences with a focus in neurobiology and behavior. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is currently working under the supervision of Dr. Jorge Busciglio and is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in Down syndrome neuronal dysfunction. Upon completion of a Doctorate of Philosophy degree, she plans to pursue a medical degree in order to most effectively apply her research background in neurodevelopmental diseases to serve and educate the community through disease prevention.

Matthew Valasik

Matthew Valasik

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Criminology, Law & Society, School of Social Ecology - UCI, Ph.D., 2014 expected
  • Criminology, Department of Sociology - The Ohio State University, B.A., 2006
  • History, Department of History - The Ohio State University, B.A., 2004

Research

Investigation of how the establishment and enforcement of civil gang injunctions disrupt the activity patterns of gangs, impacting their criminal opportunities.

Biography

Matt is a doctoral candidate in the UCI School of Social Ecology where he is in the department of Criminology, Law & Society. He holds a B.A. from The Ohio State University in Criminology and History as well as a B.S. in Zoology. In conjunction with his advisor, Matt has been participating on a large-scale, multiple university research project forecasting the structure and dynamics of evolving criminal networks. Matt has contributed to 2 published papers from this research initiative, and is currently working on several others. Matt’s dissertation research investigates how the establishment and enforcement of civil gang injunctions disrupt the activity patterns of gangs, impacting their criminal opportunities.

Jesse Catlin

Jesse Catlin

Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Management with a concentration in Marketing, UC Irvine, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Economics, California State University, Sacramento, M.A., 2007
  • Economics, California State University, Sacramento, B.A., 2005

Research

Consumer behavior, with an emphasis on pharmaceutical marketing and sustainable consumption

Biography

Jesse is a doctoral candidate in the Marketing area of the Paul Merage School of Business at UCI and holds a B.A. and M.A. in Economics from California State University, Sacramento.  His primary research interest is in the area of consumer behavior, with an emphasis on pharmaceutical marketing and sustainable consumption.  Jesse’s research has been published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing and Health Communication.  His dissertation research investigates the underlying reasons for the growing problem of consumer overdose on commonly used over-the-counter medications.  Jesse is also a past recipient of the Ray Watson and Newkirk Center for Science and Society Fellowships.

Cheng-Wei (Aaron) Chen

Cheng-Wei (Aaron) Chen

Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Chemical Biochemical Engineering, UCI, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Chemical Biochemical Engineering, UCI, M.S., 2011
  • Chemical/biochemical Engineering, UC Davis, B.S., 2001

Research

Chemical Engineering

Biography

Cheng-Wei (Aaron) is a doctoral candidate in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. Aaron holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC Davis. His area of focus is chemical engineering. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, Aaron worked in field of biotechnology where he was awarded a patent in 2003 for his work on the creation of phthalate polymers to capture and compare protein profiles, which can then be used as a biomarker for identifying a specific disease. Aaron’s research has appeared in several academic journals including Advanced Materials and Biotechnology and Bioengineering.  In 2010, he was the recipient of the prestigious Edwards Lifesciences Training Fellowship.  Aaron’s current research explores the development of novel approaches to the treatment of heart attacks.

Laura Huang

Laura Huang

Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Management, UCI, Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Business Administration, INSEAD, MBA, 2005
  • Engineering, Duke University, M.S., 2001
  • Engineering, Duke University, B.S., 2000

Research

High-risk, complex decision-making and problem solving in a variety of different businesses that drive economies through job growth and technology growth

Biography

Laura is a doctoral candidate in the Paul Merage School of Business at UCI.  Laura holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Duke University, where she double majored in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, graduating with honors.  She also holds a Master of Science in Engineering from Duke University and an MBA from INSEAD.  Prior to starting her Ph.D., Laura worked in consulting and general management at IBM and Johnson & Johnson, and also advised a number of entrepreneurial start-ups on their management and product launch strategies.  Her current research investigates high-risk, complex decision-making and problem solving in a variety of different businesses that drive economies through job growth and technology growth, such as established firms like IBM and Johnson & Johnson, as well as early-stage entrepreneurial start-ups creating new technology markets.

Jessica Pratt

Jessica Pratt

Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCI, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Zoology, North Carolina State University, M.S., 2005
  • Biology, Grand Valley State University, B.S., 2003

Research

How plant responses to environmental change scale up to affect animal communities

Biography

Jessica is a doctoral candidate in the UCI School of Biological Sciences where she is concentrating on Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Grand Valley State University and an M.S. in Zoology from North Carolina State University where she studied the conservation value of shaded coffee plantations for resident birds in Puerto Rico. Jessica’s interests lie in the applied fields of habitat conservation and ecological restoration.  She is currently conducting research to assess how plant responses to environmental change scale up to affect animal communities. Jessica is also a founding member of the Orange County Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), serves on the Chapters Advisory Commnittee for SCB, and as Interim Vice President of the Student Section for the Ecological Society of America.

Gobind Bisht

Gobind Bisht

Degrees:

  • Biomedical Engineering, UCI, Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Biomedical Engineering, UCI, M.S., 2009
  • Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India, B.S., 2008

Research

Implantable Sugar Fuel Cell and High Precision Nanofiber Electro-writing

Biography

Gobind is a doctoral candidate in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering with a concentration focused on biomedical engineering. He holds an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from UCI and a B.S. in Biotechnology from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India.  Gobind has been involved in many entrepreneurial efforts to commercialize high impact technologies including Electroporation-based Non-deteriorative sterilization of foods and Diamond-like nanocomposite films for improving surgical tool performance, winning recognition at several competitions including the UCI Business Plan Competition. He is currently focusing on an Implantable Sugar Fuel Cell and High Precision Nanofiber Electro-writing.

Dana Garfin

Dana Garfin

Degrees:

  • Psychology and Social Behavior, UCI, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Social Ecology, M.A., UCI, 2010
  • Sociology (major) and Political Science (minor), B.A., University of Colorado at Boulder 2002

Research

How early negative life events and community disasters are associated with physical and mental health outcomes

Biography

Dana is a doctoral candidate in the UCI School of Social Ecology where she is in the department of Psychology and Social Behavior.  She holds an M.A. from UCI in Social Ecology as well as a B.A. from the University of Colorado from which she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Dana’s current program of research focuses on how early negative life events and community disasters are associated with physical and mental health outcomes. She has worked with homeless populations in Denver, immigrant populations in Mexico, members of the Dine (Navajo) nation in Arizona, and Tibetan refugees in Northern India. Her research projects have included two studies that assess psychosocial reactions to the 2010 8.8 magnitude Chilean earthquake; a longitudinal study of psychosocial development in 2,232 British children; and a National Science Foundation-funded longitudinal study of how turbulent social events (e.g., terrorist attacks, the economic crisis) are associated with mental health outcomes in a nationally representative sample of Americans. Dana has presented preliminary findings of her research at the Ministry of Health and at the Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chile.

Alexis Hickman

Alexis Hickman

Degrees:

  • Planning, Policy and Design, UCI, Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Masters of Urban and Regional Planning, UCI, M.U.R.P., 2008
  • Global Studies, UCSB, B.A., 2004

Research

Environmental management

Biography

Alexis is a doctoral candidate pursuing a degree in Planning, Policy and Design from the School of Social Ecology. She holds a B.A. from UCSB in Global Studies and an M.U.R.P. from UCI in Urban Planning. In conjunction with her advisor, Alexis recently completed a book about environmental governance of the regional seas. She has received several grants for her work on coastal cities and climate change adaptation including the renowned Newkirk Grant.  Her main focus now is to further the knowledge and innovative work being done in environmental management.

Jordan Kraemer

Jordan Kraemer

Degrees:

  • Anthropology, UCI, Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Social Sciences, University of Chicago, M.A., 2005
  • Medieval Studies, Wesleyan University, B.A., 2000

Research

The role of new media technologies in the geographic organization of everyday life, particularly how social and mobile media are shaping lived experience in the European Union

Biography

Jordan is a doctoral candidate in the Anthropology Department in the School of Social Sciences. She holds an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Medieval Studies from Wesleyan University. Jordan’s research addresses the role of new media technologies in the geographic organization of everyday life, particularly how social and mobile media are shaping lived experience in the European Union.   Her work has been supported in part by DAAD as well as the Institute for European Studies, the Intel/UCI initiative PAPR@UCI, UCI's Department of Anthropology, and the School of Social Sciences. 

James Leak

James Leak

Degrees:

  • Education, UCI, Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Education, UCI, M.A., 2010
  • Public Policy and Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A., 2006

Research

Education Policy and Social Context

Biography

James Leak is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Education. He is specializing in Education Policy and Social Context. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Public Policy, with a focus in Education Policy, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  While at UCI, James has worked as a TA and a graduate student researcher for the past 4 years on a meta-analysis for the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs.

Aleksandr Pevzner

Aleksandr Pevzner

Degrees:

  • Neurobiology and Behavior, UCI, Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Biopsychology and Cognitive Science, U Michigan, B.S., 2006

Research

Investigation of molecular processes underlying learning and memory

Biography

Aleksandr is a doctoral candidate in the school of Biological Sciences with a focus on  neurobiology and behavior. He holds a B.S. in Biopsychology and Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan. Currently, he is investigating the molecular processes underlying learning and memory, with the goal of understanding the basis of neurological diseases.   Aleksandr is an active instructor in the Gifted Student Association program here on campus.

Courtney Reynolds

Courtney Reynolds

Degrees:

  • Medicine, UCI M.D., 2014 expected
  • Social Ecology, UCI Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Molecular Biology, UCI, M.S., 2009
  • Biochemistry, UCSB, B.S., 2004

Research

How infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus spread in hospitals and nursing homes

Biography

Courtney is a sixth-year student in the MD/PhD program and a third-year doctoral student studying the epidemiology of infectious diseases through Social Ecology. She holds an M.S. in molecular biology from UCI’s School of Biological Sciences. Courtney decided to pursue her PhD in epidemiology to integrate her clinical and research interests. Courtney has published 2 papers, given oral presentations at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America conferences in 2010 and 2011, and is the recipient of an F30 NRSA training grant through the National Institute on Aging. She is interested in how infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus spread in hospitals and nursing homes.

Nayssan Safavian

Nayssan Safavian

Degrees:

  • Education, UCI, Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Education, UCI, M.A., 2010
  • Psychology, UCLA, B.A., 2004

Research

The role of motivation in improving students' proficiency in mathematics and the impact of teachers' motivation on student achievement

Biography

Nayssan is a doctoral candidate with an emphasis in Learning, Cognition, and Development in the Department of Education at UCI.  She holds an M.A. in Education from UCI and a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA. Currently, she is project manager for the California Motivation Project where she studies the role of motivation in improving students' proficiency in mathematics and the impact of teachers' motivation on student achievement. As a first generation American, her experiences inspire her to study cultural differences in motivation among immigrant minority youth and she looks forward to a research and teaching career dedicated to understanding the impact of achievement motives on student success.

Yixin Shi

Yixin Shi

Degrees:

  • Biomedical Engineering, UCI, Ph.D., 2012 expected
  • Biomedical Engineering, UCI, M.S., 2009
  • Bioengineering, Beihang University, B.S., 2008

Research

Development of non-invasive techniques to improve the diagnosis and management of asthma in children

Biography

Yixin is a doctoral candidate in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering with a focus on Biomedical Engineering. She holds an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and a B.S. in Bioengineering from Beihang University.   She is particularly interested in developing several non-invasive techniques to improve the diagnosis and management of asthma in children. In collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Yixin led a research team in collecting first-hand clinical data in an indigent population designed to help with assessing and treating asthma in high-risk populations.

Wenbo Yan

Wenbo Yan

Degrees:

  • Physical Chemistry, UC Irvine, Ph.D., 2013 in expected
  • Inorganic Chemistry, Nanjing Univ., M.S., 2008

Research

Research and development of new cathode materials to meet society’s growing need for clean, cheap, and renewable energy sources

Biography

Wenbo is a doctoral candidate in the UCI School of Physical Sciences, with a concentration in physical chemistry. She holds an M.S. in inorganic chemistry from Nanjing University. Currently, her area of research is related to develop new cathode materials to meet society’s growing need for clean, cheap, and renewable energy sources, such as lithium ion batteries and supercapacitors. Wenbo’s goal is to understand what are the key parameters that limit the energy delivery rate for lithium ion batteries based on nanostructured materials. In addition to research, Wenbo is a Teaching Assistant in the General Chemistry labs here at UCI.