Fall 2021 Cohort
Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics
Sarah Bobardt is a fifth year PhD student in the Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics program at UC Riverside. Her research focuses on understanding the role of the endocannabinoid system in host-nematode interactions. She is currently a Graduate Assistant for the Exploration Center for Innovative Teaching and Engagement (XCITE) at UCR. Prior to graduate school, she earned a degree in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from UC Los Angeles. Her career goals include working in science policy and education to improve communication between researchers and the general population.
My name is Lilian Azer, and I am currently a 5th year graduate student in the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Psychology department at UCR. Before attending UCR, I received a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills where I studied the relationship between cardiovascular health, mental health, and cognitive functioning in smokers and non-smokers. Currently, at UCR, I study working memory, attention, and cognitive control. Specifically, I am interested in investigating the interaction between motor and cognitive functions given that motor and cognitive action rarely take place in isolation. This work investigates the effects of effortful physical exertion on cognitive control of accessing working memory in younger and older adults.
Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology
Chris Cosma is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology Department. He is a member of Dr. Nicole Rafferty’s lab, where he studies the effects of climate change on the ecology and evolution of plant-pollinator interactions. Most of his research focuses on nocturnal plant-pollinator interactions involving moths and native California plants. Chris received his bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolution from UC Santa Barbara. He began researching moth pollination as an undergraduate during a Costa Rica study abroad program. Before coming to UC Riverside, Chris contributed to conservation projects with the US Forest Service and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Chris holds a strong interest in the applied aspects of ecological research and has a passion for writing and science communication.
Jean Claude Lraudkunda
Originally from Rwanda, Jean Claude gained his bachelor of science in integrated science from the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 2020. He then joined the Haghverdi Water Management Group at the University of California Riverside in the environmental science department. Jean Claude is currently a second-year graduate student, and his research focuses on developing sustainable urban water management practices through utilizing cutting-edge technologies. He is also interested in understanding urban irrigation management practices' impacts on biogenic carbon dioxide fluxes and the heat island effect.
Victoria is a PhD ethnomusicology student at the University of California, Riverside. A native of New Jersey, she completed a BMus in Music Composition and a Minor in Sociocultural Anthropology at Rutgers University. Her research investigates the impact of audiovisual media and technoculture on placemaking, cultural geography, and public memory and consciousness. In addition to her scholarly pursuits, she remains an active composer and performer. Most recently, she scored a feature film set in Dublin, Ireland which will premiere at the Austin Film Festival in October.
Materials Science and Engineering
My research interests are to develop novel biomedical implants and apply surface modifications to improve their performance in biomedical fields. I am interested in Science to Policy program, as I think that science impact should not be just limited to immediate academic circles. My research areas require strong interactions and collaborations among academia, industry, and policy. I hope to learn actionable skills to communicate and engage with policymakers together, and finally improve public healthcare and market regulation.
Jessica Bradford (she/her), originally from Maine, is a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) pursuing a career in policy research. After receiving her BA in anthropology from Arizona State University, while active duty in the Marine Corps, she continued her education at UCR in pursuit of a doctorate, and to engage with current global debates, by adding in a distinctly anthropological approach to policy research initiatives. A focus and value on cultural variation can add to policy through a deeper reflection on who policies are aimed at helping, how they may be perceived, and how well-intended policy measures may miss their mark for various reasons, unless multi-disciplinary teams of a variety of fields, can come together to make meaningful, appropriate, and successful policy actions to the betterment of peoples’ lives and the larger global environment.
My research focuses on the engineering of biosensors, surface chemistry characterization, functionalization, and the application of robust statistical algorithms and machine learning to aid in post-acquisition data analysis. The microarray biosensors utilized in my studies can easily be functionalized in various ways depending on the goal of the study, making them highly versatile investigation tools. I have used the developed microarrays for high throughput and multiplexed detection of disease biomarkers in serum to aid in diagnosis. After I obtain my Ph.D., I intend to pursue a career in policy making where the knowledge, experiences, and connections I will have gained through the S2P program will be vital to my future success. Policy making at the federal and local level should involve scientists as they can add new insights and discuss potential risks, hurdles, and complications that individuals outside of STEM may not readily see.
Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology
I am a 4th year PhD candidate in the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology Department. I study how climate change is impacting plant and pollinator communities. Pollination can deteriorate due to climate-induced shifts plant and pollinator phenology and distribution. These changes in plant-pollinator relationships can have far-reaching impacts on natural and agricultural systems. Through the science to policy program, I hope to become a better advocate for environmental conservation and work to improve the consideration of natural ecosystems in agriculture and our society.
I am a 4th year PhD student in sociocultural anthropology. I research the social causes of environmental conditions; the ways environmental health is entangled in colonial relations and the material and symbolic spaces these relations produce and reproduce. My research practice is community engaged and my dissertation focuses on the relationship between space, restoration, and the environment within communities living with environmental crises and injustices.
Esther is a Doctoral Candidate in the Environmental Toxicology at UCR. She received her Master of Science in Biotechnology and Bioinformatics from the California State University Channel Islands while studying counterfeit electronic cigarette products produced under a brandjacked label. She was a CIRM Bridges Intern and gained specific training in tissue culture and moderate throughput toxicity testing under the mentorship of Dr. Talbot at UCR. Her doctoral research investigates emerging tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and their potential effects on human health using analytical and in vitro approaches. She hopes her research contributes scientific evidence for regulating constituents in emerging tobacco products, limiting potential harm to consumers, and supporting tobacco control policies.
Physics and Astronomy
I am a 4th year Ph.D student at UCR in the Physics and Astronomy department. My work involves studying cosmology, galaxy formation and evolution, and the Epoch of Reionization; the time period during which the first sources, like stars and galaxies, ionized the Universe. I run large cosmological simulations to better understand how the process of Reionization progressed through cosmic history, and try to help develop methods we can use to observe and constrain these changes as they occur. I have also helped with outreach events for the Physics and Astronomy Department to help expose the wider public to the amazing field of Astronomy and Cosmology. I hope to use the skills that I learn in the S2P program to help communicate the amazing work that scientists do to a wider audience. I also want to help effect change especially since science has become more accessible and prevalent, yet still mysterious and often misunderstood.
Materials Science and Engineering
Minerva Uribe-Robles is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Materials Science and Engineering program at the University of California, Riverside. She completed her B.Sc. in Physics from the University Autonomous of Nuevo Leon (UANL) in Mexico. Her main research focuses on engineering hollow TiO2 nanospheres as a delivery platform for different biomedical applications. Upon completion of her degree, she is interested in transitioning to the industry sector and applying her studies in the development and characterization of nanomaterials for diverse applications e.g., biomedical, environmental, and energy. She is also interested in learning about the relationship between Science and Policy to advocate for the inclusion of minorities in public policies. She enjoys nature and outdoor activities.
I am a fourth year PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. My research focuses on the environmental applications of fluid dynamics. Through the course of my PhD, I have tried to understand fluid flows in micro levels such as blood flow in the intercranial aneurysms as well as flows on a macro level such as pollution dispersion in Mexican towns and the spread of wildfire. I also run computational simulations to understand the dispersion on e-cigarette smoke in indoor environments. Through S2P, I am interested to direct my research such that it aligns the current needs and also learn how to communicate my research such that an audience beyond the scientific community understands it.