Overview

Public Impact Fellowships highlight and support doctoral students whose current research has the potential for substantial impact in the public sphere. Ideal candidates will be involved in research designed to significantly improve or enrich the lives of Californians and/or national and global communities.

All schools are eligible to nominate students to compete for a total of up to 15 fellowships.  Each of five full awardees from any discipline will receive $10,000/$20,000 and ten honorable mention awardees will receive $1,000.  Public Impact Fellowships are intended to supplement, not replace, any funding students may already be receiving.

Award Info

Graduate Division Public Impact Fellowships: $10,000  (full award) or $1,000 (honorable mention award) to be used as a stipend.

All schools are eligible to nominate students to compete for a total of 13 fellowships. Each of the three full awardees will receive $10,000. Ten honorable mention awardees each will receive $1000. Students may choose to accept the award during winter, or over both quarters, at their discretion.

UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellowships: $20,000 (full award) to be used as stipend.

All schools are eligible to nominate student to compete for 2 donor funded $10,000 awards matched by the Graduate Division, for a total award amounts of $20,000 each. Stipends will be awarded during winter and spring 2015.

Eligibility

For UC Irvine Public Impact Fellowships, nominees must, at minimum, meet the following criteria:

  1. Maintain UCI GPA of 3.7 or higher through spring quarter 2014.
  2. Be a current, full-time doctoral student who has advanced to candidacy.
  3. Conduct research that has critical public impact. (Examples of relevant research include studies that aim to improve economic opportunity and well-being, health care, social justice, political participation, cultural engagement, and scientific or technical solutions to pressing social issues.)
  4. Be willing to have research spotlighted/featured on both the Graduate Division’s and UCI’s website, brochures and social networks, and be able and available to effectively communicate and discuss their research in lay terms with prospective donors, legislators and/or their staff, and the media sometime during Winter and Spring quarters.
  5. If selected as a finalist, students must be available to give a brief presentation to the selection committee, with no visual aids, immediately followed by a brief interview. The interview date (in November 2014) will be announced this fall.

For the UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellowship, additional criteria apply as follows:

  1. Be a U.S. Citizen
  2. Have financial need
  3. Students must be conducting cutting-edge research in one of the following areas: innovative medical therapies, social justice, global politics and religions, sustainability
  4. In addition to being available for a presentation and interview, finalists may also be required to attend a brief interview with the donor(s). Interview dates in November 2014 will be announced this fall.
  5. Must be willing to be interviewed and/or meet with the donor(s) and provide donor(s) with periodic updates.

Application Process

Schools are asked to collect nominations from each department and then forward the most promising nominees, based on merit and the potential public impact of the student's research. There is no limit to the number of nominations each school may submit. The final selection committee will consider several factors when choosing the awardees, including the student's presentation, interview and their ability to convey their research to a broad audience; academic record, letters of recommendation, degree progress, and research impact. DEADLINE to submit nominations to the Graduate Division: 12:00 p.m. (noon), Friday, October 24, 2014. Late or incomplete nomination packets will not be reviewed.

  • Student Information Forms (to be completed by the student):
  1. Students may apply using the fillable/savable Microsoft Word form from the Graduate Division Website: Public Impact Fellowship Student Information Form
  2. Students must complete and submit the Student Information form as a Microsoft Word document via e-mail to their department (including the Student Profile and Student Research sections)
    1. Student Information forms must be saved in Microsoft Word as "IMPACT APP - SID#.doc", e.g. "IMPACT APP - 12345678.doc"
    2. Students must also provide the following items to their department:
      1. A printed/signed copy of the Student Information form (including the Student Profile and Student Research sections)
      2. A current, printed curriculum vitae
      3. A letter of recommendation from the student's faculty advisor
  • Nomination Forms (to be completed by the department):
  1. Departments will nominate students via the fillable/savable Microsoft Word form from the Graduate Division website: Public Impact Fellowship Nomination Form
  2. Nomination forms should be saved in Microsoft Word as "IMPACT NOM - SID#.doc", e.g. "IMPACT NOM - 12345678.doc"
  3. Print the nomination forms and gather original signatures for each form
  4. Once forms are final with signatures, scan documents to a single PDF file for each nominee in this order:
    1. Nomination form (signed by the Faculty Advisor and Associate Dean)
    2. Student Information form (signed by the student)
    3. Curriculum vitae
    4. Faculty advisor letter of recommendation
    5. Save the new PDF file as "IMPACT - SID#.pdf", e.g. "IMPACT - 12345678.pdf"
    6. When all documentation is complete, e-mail the following items separately for each student:
      1. Email to Kate Triglia:
        1. The original Microsoft Word (.doc) nomination form
        2. The original Microsoft Word (.doc) Student Information form
        3. The PDF file (.pdf) with the packet (to include all items listed above)
    7. DEADLINE to submit nominations to the Graduate Division: 12:00 p.m. (noon), Friday, October 24, 2014
      1. Late or incomplete nomination packets will not be reviewed

Contact Information

Questions should be directed to Dr. Sandra Loughlin, 4-5179 or Kate Triglia, x4-9031.

Deadline

The deadline for e-mail receipt of completed/signed nomination packages is 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Friday, October 24, 2014.

Notes

  • Students receiving any Public Impact Fellowship may be employed as TAs and/or GSRs.  Students who receive $1,000 honorable mention awards may be hold any appointments. 
  • For students already receiving financial aid, acceptance of a Public Impact Fellowship may affect his or her overall financial need-based support package.  In such cases, students are encouraged to consult with the UCI Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. 
  • Previous winners (full awardees and honorable mentions) and current ARCS scholars are not eligible for this year’s competition.

 

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.

Public Impact Fellows