Graduate Division

Public Impact Fellowship

Section 1

Overview

Public Impact Fellowships highlight and support doctoral or MFA 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 14 fellowships. Four Public Impact Distinguished Fellows will each receive $12,000. Ten Public Impact Fellows will each receive $1,000. Awarded students may choose to accept their awards during Winter or Spring quarter, or over both quarters, at their discretion. Public Impact Fellowships are intended to supplement, not replace, any funding that students may already be receiving.

School nominations must be submitted to the Graduate Division by 5pm on Friday, October 20, 2017Students should consult with their program's graduate affairs staff member before applying, as Schools and programs typically set earlier internal deadlines.

Please use the following forms in preparing nominations:

Award Info

Graduate Division Public Impact Distinguished Fellowships: $12,000 to be used as a stipend

Graduate Division Public Impact Fellowships: $1,000 to be used as a stipend

Students who receive full $12,000 awards may not be appointed as ASEs during the award period, but may be appointed as GSRs. Students who receive $1,000 honorable mention awards may be appointed as ASEs or GSRs.

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 the previous spring quarter.
  2. Be a current, full-time doctoral or MFA 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 during winter and spring quarters.
  5. If selected as a finalist, students must be available to give a brief in-person presentation to the selection committee, with no visual aids, immediately followed by a brief interview, on Tuesday, November 14th, 2017.

Please note that AB540 eligible students may be nominated for Public Impact Fellowships.

Application Process

Schools are asked to collect nominations from each department and 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 each student's presentation, interview, ability to convey their research to a broad audience, academic record, letters of recommendation, degree progress, and potential research impact.

Instructions for Students

  • Complete the Student Information Form and save it as a Microsoft Word document (please save as "IMPACT APP - SID#.doc", e.g. "IMPACT APP - 12345678.doc")
  • Please email the following materials to your program’s graduate affairs staff member:
  1. Completed Student Information Form saved as a Microsoft Word document using the naming convention described above
  2. PDF of the completed Student Information Form with your signature.
  3. Your current CV
  4. Letter of recommendation from your primary faculty advisor/PI

Instructions for Programs/Departments

  • Complete the Nomination Form and save it as a Microsoft Word document (please save as "IMPACT NOM - SID#.doc", e.g. "IMPACT NOM - 12345678.doc")
  • Print the Nomination Form and obtain the Program Graduate Advisor’s and Associate Dean’s signatures.
  • Please create a single PDF file for each nominee in this order:
  1. Nomination Form (signed by the Program Graduate Advisor and Associate Dean)
  2. Student Information Form (signed by the student)
  3. CV
  4. Letter of Recommendation from the student’s primary faculty advisor/PI
  • Please save this new PDF file as "IMPACT - SID#.pdf", e.g. "IMPACT - 12345678.pdf"
  • When all documentation is complete, please send an email to Kate Brigman containing the following documents for each nominated student:
  1. The completed Microsoft Word (.doc) Nomination Form
  2. The completed Microsoft Word (.doc) Student Information Form
  3. PDF of the complete nomination packet (to include all bold items listed above)

Contact Information

Please direct any questions to Kate Brigman at kate.brigman@uci.edu or (949) 824-9031

Deadline

School nominations must be submitted to the Graduate Division by 5pm on Friday, October 20, 2017. Students should consult with their program's graduate affairs staff member before applying, as Schools and programs typically set earlier internal deadlines.

Notes

  • Students who receive full $12,000 awards may not be appointed as ASEs during the award period, but may be appointed as GSRs. Students who receive $1,000 honorable mention awards may be appointed as ASEs or GSRs.
  • For students already receiving financial aid, acceptance of a Public Impact Fellowship may affect their overall financial need-based support package. In such cases, students are encouraged to consult with the UCI Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. 
  • Students should review the terms of any funding that they have accepted for AY 2017-2018 to ensure that they are eligible to receive additional fellowship funding before applying.
  • Previous winners (full awardees and honorable mentions) are not eligible for this year’s competition.

Current Fellows

Adam Fine

Adam D. Fine

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Psychology & Social Behavior, UC Irvine, PhD, 2018 expected
  • Social Ecology, UC Irvine, MA, 2015
  • Psychology, Georgetown University, BA, 2012

Research:

Perceptions of Justice: How youth view and interact with the law and law enforcement

Biography:

Adam Fine is a doctoral candidate in Dr. Elizabeth Cauffman’s Development, Disorder, and Delinquency Laboratory in the Department of Psychology & Social Behavior in the School of Social Ecology at UCI. He completed a BA in Psychology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he also taught in a detention facility and worked in public policy on Capitol Hill. Before returning to academia, he taught in several public schools in New Orleans, Louisiana. Adam’s research focuses on juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice. His current work centers on two areas: how juvenile probation processes affect youth offending, employment, education, and attitudes; and how youth develop their perceptions of the law, law enforcement, and the justice system. A developmental psychologist conducting research at the intersection of psychology, law, public policy, and criminology, Adam’s work appears in journals in criminology (e.g., Criminal Justice & Behavior), psychology and law (e.g., Law & Human Behavior; Psychology, Public Policy, & Law), and developmental psychology (e.g., Developmental Psychology).

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

This Public Impact Distinguished Fellowship will enable me to continue engaging in empirical research that is not just theoretically useful, but is also policy relevant and practically useful. As a Distinguished Public Impact Fellow, I will continue my pursuit of conducting high-quality work that focuses on improving the way the juvenile justice system interfaces with youth.

Significance of My Research to California:

There has been a long and complicated history of law enforcement-citizen relationships in the United States. With media coverage becoming almost ubiquitous, interactions between law enforcement and youth of color have captured national attention. My work examines how we can improve the way youth interact with and perceive the law, law enforcement, and the juvenile justice system, particularly in Southern California. In using research to improve juvenile justice system processes and procedures in California, I strive to work with officials to implement empirically-supported policies and practices that can improve the public’s perceptions of law enforcement and restore their trust and confidence in the system.
Rachel Gurlin

Rachel E. Gurlin

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Biomedical Engineering, UC Irvine, PhD, 2019 expected
  • Biomedical Engineering, UC Irvine, MS, 2017
  • Biomedical Engineering, UC Davis, BS, 2014

Research:

Development of a skin integrated bioartificial pancreas device for the treatment of type 1 diabetes

Biography:

Rachel Gurlin is a doctoral candidate in Dr. Elliot Botvinick’s laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at UCI. Rachel was awarded the T32 CARE (Cardiovascular Applied Research and Entrepreneurship) Fellowship, an ARCS Scholar Award, the Mazda Foundation Scholarship, and the 2015 Business Plan School of Medicine Award to support her research. Utilizing tissue engineering and microfabrication techniques, Rachel is developing a bioartificial pancreas device for the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Currently, Rachel serves as the Graduate Association of Biomedical Engineering Students (GABES) president connecting local industry to BME graduate students. In her free time, Rachel enjoys beach days, crafting, and hiking.

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

Since high school, I have had the goal of engineering better treatments for diabetics. This Public Impact Fellowship will certainly aid me in this goal, specifically to benefit people like my sister, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10. This fellowship is an honor to receive and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my research with others. The Public Impact Fellowship reinforces my desire to continue my work and will ensure my success in bringing my technologies to patient hands.

Significance of My Research to California:

Over 15,000 children ages 5-19 in California have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a painful and burdensome autoimmune disorder. My research intends to improve the lives of those who experience the complications of the disease. My thesis work has high potential to employ stem cell research, an area in which California heavily focuses.
Samantha Leigh

Samantha Leigh

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Irvine, PhD, Expected 2019
  • Marine Science, Coastal Carolina University, BS, 2013

Research:

How the digestive physiology of sharks impacts their ecological roles in ocean ecosystems.

Biography:

Samantha Leigh is a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Donovan German’s laboratory in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at UCI. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marine science from Coastal Carolina University (CCU). While at CCU, she was inducted into the Wall Fellows Leadership Development Program and completed an internship at the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, where her research focused on plankton ecology. After her graduation from CCU, she worked as a laboratory assistant at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, where her work helped to inform water quality management in Southern California. She went on to work as a research technician at the University of Georgia where she used zebrafish as a model organism to study lysosomal storage disorders. Her current research at UCI focuses on the digestive physiology of the bonnethead shark, the only shark known to consume copious amounts of seagrass and the only species in the hammerhead family that we know is not threatened or endangered. This research has implications for both shark conservation strategies, as well as seagrass meadow habitat management policies. Her research has earned support and recognition from the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the American Elasmobranch Society, the Newkirk Center for Science and Society, and others. Additionally, she is avidly involved with multiple science outreach and communication projects. She visits Valencia High School biology classes once a month to lead hands-on laboratory activities with the goal of increasing science literacy. She also volunteers at the Back Bay Science Center’s Shark Camp and has appeared on the PBS Kids television show "SciGirls" as a science mentor.

What this Fellowship/Award Means to Me:

The Public Impact Fellowship will ensure that I have the financial means and freedom to continue, as well as expand, my outreach projects geared towards increasing the science literacy of the public, particularly for young students and underrepresented minority groups. Additionally, as a Public Impact Fellow, I will ensure that my research endeavors align with positively impacting society on a local, national, and even global scale.

Significance of My Research to California:

The fishing industry provides over 120,000 jobs to California citizens and contributes over $201 million per year the California economy. Without sharks to contribute to maintaining the biodiversity of our oceans, ecosystems that we heavily rely on for food and economic resources will collapse. Investigating what sharks consume, how they process their food items, and what they excrete into their habitats helps to determine the role that different shark species play in California ecosystems and informs shark conservation, fisheries management, and habitat conservation policy.
Matlock

Melissa Matlock

Public Impact Distinguished Fellow

Degrees:

  • Public Health, UC Irvine, PhD, 2019 expected
  • Climate and Society, Columbia University, MA, 2012
  • Anthropology, UC Irvine, BA, 2010

Research:

Developing a predictive model to understand the outbreak of the disease called Valley Fever in California

Biography:

Melissa Matlock is a doctoral candidate in Oladele Ogunseitan’s laboratory in the Public Health Department at UCI with an emphasis in Global Health. She completed a BA in Anthropology at UCI while teaching social science statistics to undergraduates. She completed an MA in Climate and Society from Columbia University. During her time in New York, she coordinated a Climate Adaptation conference and interned with the Rainforest Foundation US. After graduating with her degree, she went on to work at a Southern California non-profit that installs solar electric systems for low-income communities. She focused on educating the public on energy education. After working there for 4 years, Melissa went on to work for one of the most disadvantaged cities in the United States, San Bernardino, and now works as a Water Resource Analyst for a water district. Since returning to UCI, Melissa has conducted research with Water UCI and presented her research on Valley Fever to several international conferences. Melissa’s current research focuses on developing a model to understand how climate, dust, and social factors influence the outbreak of Valley Fever.

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

This Public Impact Fellowship will further ensure my academic success and allow me to continue engaging the public. After receiving my Ph.D., I am looking to work with or start up a non-profit or non-governmental organization that focuses on climate change in the field of public health. This fellowship will provide me with protected research time necessary to best study climate change and its impact on the public health disease known as Valley Fever.

Significance of My Research to California:

The proposed research aims to develop a model that can predict the number of incident cases of Valley Fever monthly based on historical climate data. Using pre-existing data on climate and Valley Fever from California counties (Fresno, Kings, Kern, San Luis Obispo, and Tulare) where there are consistently high Valley Fever prevalence rates, the relationship between climate and Valley Fever will be explored.
Arafati

Arghavan Arafati

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UC Irvine, PhD, 2019 expected
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UC Irvine, MS, 2017
  • Mechanical Engineering, Sharif University of Technology, BS, 2014

Research:

Automatic segmentation and tracking of the heart using deep-learning algorithms

Biography:

Arghavan Arafati is a doctoral candidate in Dr. Arash Kheradvar’s laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UCI. She completed her B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at Sharif University of Technology in Iran. Her undergraduate research was focused on biomechanics and musculoskeletal problems. She has always had passion to leverage mathematics and engineering concepts to improve health care. Thus, for Arghavan joining Dr. Kheradvar’s lab gave her the opportunity to understand the huge gap that currently exists for engineering interventions in the cardiovascular field. Based on recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and her background, she has focused on tackling one of the main clinical unmet needs by bringing AI and big data to cardiac imaging and diagnostics. Her doctoral research is developing a novel platform to eliminate human error in diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases by automating the cardiac image analysis process.

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

I am deeply thrilled to have received this fellowship. Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death globally. It was the cause of more than 17.3 million death in 2013, a number that is estimated to grow to 23.6 million by 2030. The Public Impact Fellowship is a validation of my path and research in providing affordable and accurate cardiac diagnostic tools for marginalized patients. This fellowship serves as an inspiration and encouragement for me to follow my dreams of improving the lives of Americans and people all around the globe. Pursuing research interests that are of both high intellectual merit and direct application of solving key health problems will continue to be my focus as a Public Impact Fellow at UCI.
Michael Chu

Michael Chu

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Biomedical Engineering, UC Irvine, PhD, 2019 expected
  • Biomedical Engineering, UC Irvine, MS, 2017
  • Bioengineering, UC San Diego, BS, 2013

Research:

Development and application of wearable health sensors for continuous monitoring of patient vitals

Biography:

Michael Chu is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at U.C. Irvine. He received his B.S. degree in Bioengineering from U.C. San Diego in 2013 and is currently working towards his Ph.D. in Dr. Michelle Khine’s lab. Michael’s primary research interest is in mobile health monitoring, specifically towards developing and applying wearable health systems for disease detection. His current work focuses on creating sensors for measuring cardiovascular and pulmonary health.  

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

The Public Impact Fellowship is a good reminder to look at the bigger picture and not just focus on the details of my research. For me, that bigger picture is to improve quality of life for patients through technology, and remembering this motivates me to work harder towards the success of my project. 

Significance of My Research to California:

Asthma is the leading chronic illness in children. Within California, it is estimated that over 600,000 children have asthma. My current research focuses on monitoring the respiratory health of asthmatic patients, especially in children, so that asthma attacks can be detected and treated early. This will not only help reduce complications, but will also give parents peace of mind knowing that they can continuously and remotely monitor their children’s health.
Sarah Cross

Sarah J. Cross

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Anatomy and Neurobiology, UC Irvine, PhD, 2019 expected
  • Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder, BA, 2013

Research:

Developmental differences in kappa opioid receptor modulation of nicotine and alcohol reinforcement

Biography:

Sarah Joy Cross is a doctoral candidate in Dr. Frances Leslie’s laboratory in the department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her doctoral research seeks to understand the neurobiological consequences of concurrent tobacco and alcohol use during adolescence, with a focus on how they affect the kappa opioid receptor system. She has mentored 12 undergraduate/high school researchers in the lab, and was a contributing author on the 2016 Surgeon General’s Report on e-cigarette use. Outside of research, Sarah has a strong passion for promoting effective dialogue between scientists and the public, and is the president of Brews and Brains, a graduate student science communication group. She was also a 2017 UCI Grad Slam finalist and is a Science in Action Fellow at PBS SoCal.

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

I am honored to receive the Public Impact Fellowship and have my research on concurrent nicotine and alcohol abuse recognized for its importance to California and the United States. This award will be a great help in my continued engagement in science communication efforts, and serves as a wonderful reminder of UC Irvine’s dedication to research that has the potential to improve lives at home and across the globe.

Significance of My Research to California:

Nicotine and alcohol use typically begins during adolescence. Since the brain is actively maturing during this period, exposure to these drugs can have major, long-lasting consequences like higher rates of anxiety, depression, and drug dependence among adults. In addition, women seem to be more adversely affected than men. California has already demonstrated the effectiveness of strict public health policies in reducing smoking, but there are many unanswered questions about how nicotine and alcohol together produce enduring changes in the teenage brain. My research helps us meet this critical need, and may guide future educational and public health intervention strategies to eliminate tobacco and alcohol abuse among teens.
Janett Hildebrand

Janett A. Hildebrand

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing, UC Irvine, PhD, 2018 expected
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate, UC Irvine, 2001
  • Nursing Administration, MSN, UCLA, 1993
  • Nursing, BS, Mount St. Mary’s College, 1987

Research:

Integrating coached care into shared medical appointments in Spanish-speaking adult Latinos with type 2 diabetes

Biography:

Janett Hildebrand is a doctoral candidate in the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing. She is family nurse practitioner at La Amistad Family Health Center in Orange, CA. In this role, she provides comprehensive primary health care to patients in the lower socioeconomic level. Her research study facilitates a supportive clinical and social environment that imparts diabetes self-management education and support to Spanish speaking Latinos with uncontrolled diabetes. Her goal is to improve the social context of diabetes care to facilitate integration of new knowledge and behaviors to improve the lives of patients and their families. To prepare for her research study, Janett earned Certified Diabetes Educator and Diabetes Empowerment Education Program certificates. 

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

The Public Impact Fellowship is an honor and validation of the significance to include Latino participants in research studies to develop culturally appropriate programs to improve clinical outcomes. Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and have increased risks for complications such as kidney disease and amputations due to poor glycemic control. As a future Latina nurse scientist, she plans to mentor other Latino nurses into the field of research.

Significance of My Research to California:

This study is in line with the goals of the Orange County Integrative Health Initiative to 1) promote integrative health and wellness, 2) strengthen the health care safety net and 3) increase health care access.
Lancy Lin

Lancy Lin

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Biomedical Engineering, UC Irvine, PhD, 2019 expected
  • Biomedical Engineering, UC Irvine, MS, 2017
  • Bioengineering, UC San Diego, BS, 2013

Research:

Point-of-care (POC) and wearable health monitoring methods to detect and manage congestive heart failure and other chronic or infectious conditions

Biography:

Lancy Lin is a doctoral candidate in Dr. Michelle Khine’s laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UCI. She completed her B.S. degree in Bioengineering at UC San Diego while researching animal behavior and cognition to better understand diseases associated with memory loss. She worked at a startup company in the San Francisco Bay Area to develop a microfluidic-based device that detects heart attacks and other time-sensitive conditions. Her research interests are POC devices and wearable health monitoring motifs to detect infectious diseases and manage chronic conditions. Currently she researches using low-cost platforms to continuously monitor the symptoms and severity of a patient’s heart failure. Outside of research, Lancy mentors students from under-represented school districts through the Samueli School Academy and local afterschool programs dedicated to cultivating college-bound students. With her lab colleagues, she hosts outreach activities to expose K-12 students to STEM and biomedical research. In her free time, Lancy writes scripts for a scientific public radio show and practices taekwondo.

 

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

This Public Impact Fellowship will support my academic journey and goal of improving public healthcare. Beyond funding my graduate research, the fellowship will be a gateway to educating the public about chronic diseases and the upcoming research that will address many unmet healthcare needs. Pursuing research interests with high healthcare care impact will continue to be my focus as a Public Impact Fellow at UCI.

Significance of My Research to California:

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic disease affecting 5.7 million people in the U.S. It is the leading cause of hospitalizations and contributes to 1 in 9 cardiac-related deaths. The average mortality rate is 5 years after diagnosis. There is no cure and an individual’s quality of life will diminish over time if the disease is not properly managed.

Common risk factors of CHF include prior cardiac arrests, diabetes, and obesity—all of which are prominent conditions of the general population. With CHF being a time-sensitive disease, i.e. early diagnosis and treatment slows the disease severity, it is important to effectively monitor high-risk individuals for early signs of heart failure.

Currently, CHF is managed using patient-specific treatment plans. After a physician prescribes a tailored treatment plan, the patient uses an at-home weight scale to track for sudden weight gain due to fluid retention (a major sign of incompatible treatment). However, weight gain is only one of many symptoms and missing other worsening symptoms often results in disease oversight. Moreover, the efficacy of weight tracking depends on patient compliance and how often they are located near a weight scale (reducing travel mobility). These problems contribute to delayed hospitalization, disease progression, and eventual poor quality of life.

My research aims to develop a low-cost wearable monitoring system that is portable and non-obtrusive for all-day wear and continuously monitors multiple major symptoms of CHF. These symptoms include irregular breathing, heart rate variation, and salt/fluid retention. I envision this monitoring system to be as simple as wearing a band-aid-like smart skin patch that passively monitors vital signs day-and-night and alerts the individual if they need to seek medical attention. A more comprehensive and convenient monitoring motif will help high-risk individuals detect disease onset and current patients with more effective disease monitoring. The low-cost factor will facilitate accessibility and affordability across social-economic backgrounds. Ultimately, this research will improve mortality rates and helping individuals retain their quality of life.
Jennifer Peterson

Jennifer K. Peterson

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Nursing, UC Irvine, PhD, 2018 expected
  • Nursing, University of Minnesota, MS, 1999
  • Nursing, Kent State University, BSN, 1985

Research:

Biobehavioral response to tactile stimulus in infants with congenital heart disease, and how these sensory responses influence stress responses and neurodevelopment.

Biography:

Jennifer Peterson is a doctoral candidate in the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing at UCI. She completed a BS in nursing at Kent State University to begin her career in nursing. After gaining clinical experience in neonatal, pediatric, and adult cardiac critical care, she returned to school to earn a Master’s degree in nursing and became a Clinical Nurse Specialist. The Clinical Nurse Specialist role allowed Jennifer to influence a larger scope of pediatric acute and critical care practice, and sparked her interest in research. Since coming to UCI, Jennifer has conducted research at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Long Beach, and was awarded an American Heart Association Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (2015-2017). She was selected to attend a two week course in clinical and translational science research at the National Institute of Health Clinical Center, and has actively participated in committees for the Western Institute of Nursing and American Heart Association. Her research is examining how infants with congenital heart disease respond to touch, and how massage may alter their biobehavioral responses to stress.

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

This Public Impact Fellowship will allow me to further develop my career as a scientist by helping me complete my PhD. My overall goal is to identify interventions and methods that support the achievement of the highest developmental potential in children with heart disease. The Public Impact Fellowship will support the achievement of my goals.

Significance of My Research to California:

Children with congenital heart disease are now surviving to adulthood in greater numbers than ever before, yet many survivors and their families deal with psychological and developmental problems related to growing up with heart disease. My research on early biobehavioral responses to tactile stimuli, which is the mechanism that facilitates early neurodevelopment, may help to reduce responses to stress and to promote strong and healthy families. The public health implications of my research are significant; to improve quality of life in a high-risk population of infants with heart disease and their families.
Tamara Tate

Tamara P. Tate

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Education, UC Irvine, PhD, 2018 expected
  • Education, UC Irvine, MA, 2016
  • Law, UC Berkeley, JD, 1989
  • English, UC Irvine, BA, 1986

Research:

Literacy and the use of technology to improve the literacy of diverse students in K-12 schools.

Biography:

Tamara Tate is a doctoral candidate in Dr. Mark Warschauer’s Digital Learning Lab in the School of Education at UCI. After completing her BA (English) at UCI and JD at UC Berkeley, she worked as a corporate finance partner at an interational law firm.  Despite the intellectual challenge, she found herself increasingly drawn to helping diverse learners improve their literacy through technology. Literacy is a fundamental competency, yet extremely complex and difficult to master. Her work at the school and district level on 1-1 digital technology efforts showed her how critical it is that disadvantaged, low performing, and English learners have access to quality digital technology and pedagogy. Since coming to UCI, she has performed 3 secondary data analyses of the first national writing assessment given to students on a computer, a digital literacy intervention implemented in middle schools throughout a local school district with a large ELL population, and her current study using 5 years of digital data on student writing to understand the relationships between technology implementation, amount of writing, collaboration, and writing achievement for students in grades 4-8.

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

This Public Impact Fellowship encourages me to continue searching for ways to improve students’ literacy through the research-based use of technology. The award provides credibility to my work as I seek additional funding and research opportunities and helps me to publicize the need to improve adolescent literacy. Pursuing research interests that are intellectually challenging, of practical value, and focused on the needs of diverse students will continue to be my passion as a Public Impact Fellow at UCI.

Significance of My Research to California:

Almost one-third of all California’s 8th graders, and 70% of English learners and students with disability, are below State standards in writing. My research aims to use technology in research-based ways to improve their writing skills and ability to communicate effectively for college and career success.
Kelly Ward

Kelly Marie Ward

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Sociology, UC Irvine, PhD, 2019 expected
  • Education, UC Irvine, MA, 2013
  • Public Administration, University of Washington, MPA, 2010
  • Comparative Religion, University of Washington, BA, 2007

Research:

Organizational features and professional identities in abortion work.

Biography:

Kelly Ward is a doctoral candidate in in the Department of Sociology at UCI. She completed a BA in Comparative Religion and a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Washington in Seattle. Kelly has a background in policy research and has completed projects for the Seattle Mayor’s Office, Washington State Budget and Policy Center, The Seattle Housing Authority, and The Shriver Center on Poverty Policy. In all of these projects she leveraged research to address social issues such as asset poverty, youth violence, and welfare programs. As a Masters student in UCI’s School of Education, she focused on diversity within higher education. She studied campus racial climate and graduate student attitudes about diversity, the effects of affirmative action on trends in college application and enrollments for Latino students in California, and the experiences of women of color in doctoral programs. Her current research is focused on women’s reproductive healthcare. She is interested in how healthcare providers develop professional identities within the context of politicized care and how organizational features present barriers or opportunities for reducing disparate reproductive health outcomes.

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

I am honored to be named a Public Impact Fellow. Women’s reproductive healthcare is an important topic and warrants rigorous research across disciplines. I am pleased that my research in this area has been recognized and excited about the opportunity to share my work with a broad audience. 

Significance of My Research to California:

This work contributes to knowledge on how healthcare is provided in community clinic settings and particularly the effects of contentious politics on healthcare provision.
Winget

Anna Renée Winget

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Drama and Theatre, UC Irvine, PhD, 2018 expected
  • Creative Writing, Playwriting emphasis, Boston University, MFA, 2011
  • Theatre Arts and Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University, BA, 2006

Research:

Examining and testing the possibilities of healing through performance for queer and trans communities.

Biography:

Anna Renée Winget is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the joint PhD program in Drama and Theatre at UCI and UCSD working toward completion of her dissertation, Queer Healing, Activism, and the Performance of Possibilities. She has taught writing and performance at numerous universities including Boston University, Loyola Marymount University, and UC Irvine where she has taught her own three-quarter cycle dramatic literature course, Drama 40 for over 2 years. She has additionally taught writing and theatre to incarcerated, LGBT, and first-generation-to-college youth. With increasing numbers of incidents of queer and trans violence and suicides in her home state of California, she is working toward increasing awareness and improving resources for these communities. During her time at UCI, she has presided over the Queer Graduate Caucus and developed two branches of inQueery Arts Collective—one for grad students and community members, and the other for undergraduate students at UCI. She has also developed and produced the first and second annual Queer and Trans People of Color Festival, now a regular part of UCI’s LGBT Resource Center’s annual programming.  She is the winner of the La Verne Noyes Fellowship (2015), the Svetlana Bershadsky Community Award (2016), numerous travel and research fellowships, and the LGBTRC’s “Above and Beyond” Service Award (2017). She serves on the advisory council for the Womxn’s Hub, aimed at improving gender equity at UCI.

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

This Public Impact Fellowship will assist me in continuing my work to utilize performance for healing.

Significance of My Research to California:

My methodology integrates theory and practice, and seeks to open and facilitate safer spaces for queer and trans people on campus and in Southern California.
Jie Zheng

Jie Zheng

Public Impact Fellow

Degrees:

  • Biomedical Engineering, UC Irvine, PhD, 2018 expected
  • Electrical Engineering, Nanjing University, BS, 2013

Research:

Neural mechanisms promoting circuit-specific and personalized therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders, memory deficits and learning disabilities

Biography:

Jie Zheng is a doctoral candidate in Dr. Jack Lin’s laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UCI. She is keen in applying her engineering knowledge and computational skills to improve human health. While pursuing her B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Nanjing University in China, she designed a user-friendly portable insulin injector for Type II diabetes. Now she studies neural dynamics underlying emotional memory processing using intracranial electrode recordings and attempts to improve memory and neuropsychiatric therapies using brain stimulation. As a brain fanatic, she frequently presents her work at international neuroscience conferences and was recognized as one of ten Graduate Student Award winners at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting. As a science educator, she poetically expounds upon the wonders of the human brain in front of public audiences at ‘Brews and Brains’ and communicates complex neuroscience stories with a dash of humor at National Public Radio’s ‘The Loh Down on Science.’ She also actively volunteers at Angel Heart International and was awarded the Edwards Lifesciences Scholarship for her dedication to helping kids with congenital heart diseases in rural China.

What this Fellowship/Award Means To Me:

It’s a great honor to receive the Public Impact Fellowship, which not only recognizes my past efforts but also reinforces my commitment to continuing my research in building advanced neural interfaces to treat mental disorders and cognitive dysfunctions. Receiving this award motivates me to convey my work to an even broader public, and in doing so, hopefully inspires more people to study our mysterious brains.

Significance of My Research to California:

Approximately 1 in 20 California adults suffers from a serious mental disorder, with an even higher rate in children. Mental illness and its subsequent cognitive dysfunctions limit patients’ participation in daily activities and lead to increased suicide rates. However, the current treatments for mental disorders are primarily non-specific, targeting large swaths of brain tissues and often inducing side effects. Our findings highlight the potential of a circuit-specific and personalized neuropsychiatric therapy using brain stimulation approaches. This research, synergizing neuroscience and psychiatry, provides hope for improved mental health care.

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