Science to Policy Student Cabinet



Jenna Roper

Cabinet Co-Chair 

Network and Engagement Committee Chair

"Smart Crops for Smarter Farming"

Department of Bioengineering

Jenna Roper is a 4th year PhD student in the Department of Bioengineering. She develops next generation sensors for small, rural farmers in developing nations in order to increase agricultural sustainability. She is interested in the intersection of science and public policy and aims to transition into policy upon the completion of her degree.



Ariana Firebaugh-Ornelas

Network Engagement Committee Member

"99 problems but extinction ain't one"

I am a 4th year PhD Student in the  Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. I study coexistence dynamics in plant communities in Southern California. I’m a SoCal native rooted in bridging connections between science, equity, and community. 




Chris Rudnicki

Government Relations Committee Chair

"Sunrise to Sunset: Don't waste Any of it"

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Chris Rudnicki is originally from outside Chicago and is now a 4th year Ph.D. Student in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He works on using non-thermal plasma processes to synthesize plasmonic nanoparticles, specifically ZrN, as an alternative to gold and silver for photocatalytic applications. Chris is hoping that his science background and interest in politics can be combined to contribute to building a more just and equitable society.




Ryan Drover

Government Relations Committee Member

Chemical & Environmental Engineering

I am a 4th year PhD candidate in the Chemical & Environmental Engineering department. In David Cocker’s group at CE-CERT, I research aerosols at each stage of the lifecycle of atmospheric pollutants: emissions from sources including modern ocean-going vessels and wildfires, the atmospheric chemical processes that modify their characteristics and form secondary pollutants such as ozone, and the health effects of these directly emitted and “aged” pollutants with collaborators in the biomedical sciences and microbiology. The breadth of this work has enabled me to work to bridge gaps between multiple fields of work, and engage with tangible questions regarding energy, environmental, economic, and social issues.




Sanika Nishandar

Government Relations Committee Member

"Arsonist with a Purpose"

Department of Mechanical Engineering

I am a fourth year PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. My research focuses on the environmental applications of fluid dynamics, specifically initiation and spread of wildfire as well as air pollution monitoring in indoor and outdoor environments. My interest in public policy stems from my aspiration of communicating the ongoing research to an audience beyond the scientific community.



Archana Aravindan

Curriculum & Events Committee Chair

"Asking the Galaxies that are small, how are we here at all!?"

Department of Physics & Astronomy

I am a first-year Ph.D. student in Physics and Astronomy, and I am presently working in a lab that studies outflows from galaxies. I will be studying outflows from dwarf galaxies to discern whether these outflows are caused by Active Galactic Nuclei, which would throw light on how stars stop forming in these galaxies. I am interested in Science policy to find out how my research can help the community in general and learn how to communicate scientific research in a way that everyone understands it!




Dongwei Sun

Curriculum and Events Committee Member

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.





Chris Cosma

Curriculum and Events Committee Member

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.

Gabriel Ortiz


Gabriel Ortiz

Content Creation Committee Member

"Still fertilizing? Bacteria can do it better"

Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology

 I'm a fifth year PhD candidate in the Department of Plant Pathology. I'm currently studying the interaction among crops and beneficial soil bacteria. I aim to understand the human impacts on the interaction and how this knowledge can be used to develop sustainable strategies for crop improvement. I am interested in using science policy as a tool to have a positive impact in my community as well as to improve my science communication skills.




Elijah Hall

Content Creation Committee Member

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.



Jean Claude


Jean Claude Iradukunda

Content Creation Committee Member

Environmental Sciences

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 by 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.



Lindsey Pedroncelli

Student Cabinet Member
"Save our strawberries!  The fight against fungi."
Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology
Interests: Climate change, agriculture

As I became more aware of the lack of sustainability within the food and agriculture industries, I began wondering what I could do to help. California is an agricultural hub and I believe it is important to educate people throughout the state where their food comes from and what they can do to live more sustainable lives. I also hope to inform policymakers and influence change at the policy level to make the food and agriculture industries safer for consumers and the environment. Through S2P I hope to learn how to influence these changes and how to effectively communicate my science knowledge.