2021 UCLA Undergraduate Research Showcase & Science Dean’s Prize Winners

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73 of our undergraduate student researchers presented their research at the UCLA Undergraduate Research Showcase, nine were awarded the prestigious Science Dean’s Prize. 

At the event on May 25, 2021, 5-10 minute live-streamed Chemistry & Biochemistry student research presentations took place in three difference sessions and 5-10 minute prerecorded research presentations were available to view in advance (they are linked below where applicable.)  

At the event, which was part of the annual UCLA Undergraduate Research Week (URW), faculty judges awarded the Science Dean’s Prize to senior presenters for “excellence in presentation of their faculty-mentored research”.  The awards were announced at a virtual ceremony on Friday, May 28th.  

Congratulations to the nine undergraduate student researchers who received the prestigious Science Dean’s Prize for their research presentations.  These students are either Chemistry or Biochemistry majors or they are conducting research in one of our faculty member’s labs (mentor names are in parentheses): 

2021 DeansPrizeWinners 0
2021 Science Dean’s Prize Recipients (from top left, clockwise): Samuel Clark (David Nathanson), Erin Cole (Cynthia Nast), 

Azmain Hossain

 (Justin Caram), 

Adira Kruayatidee

(Gal Bitan), 

Dean Neutel

(Guillaume Chanfreau),

Angel Ni

(Rachelle Crosbie),

Stephanie Pan

(Albert Lai),

Brian Ta

(Katsushi Arisaka), and

Jonathan Wong

(Ken Houk).

In previous years the event was called the Undergraduate Research Poster Day and was held in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion stadium with over 700 undergraduate students presenting their research posters. 

Click here for the complete list of this year’s Science Dean’s Prize winners. 

Congratulations to the Science Dean’s Prize winners and to all our talented and dedicated undergraduate researchers who presented their research at the 2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase! 

AARON I. AHDOOT (Biochemistry major), Jonathan P. Jacobs – “Stress Reactivity and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Ulcerative Colitis”.

FRANCIS ARELLANO (Biochemistry major), Melissa Kosty, Jeff A. Long – “Using CRISPR-Cas9 to Create TOPLESS (TPL) Family Deletions in Arabidopsis thaliana”

ITA ANDEHUI AYUSO VELASCO (Biochemistry major) – “Indigenous-Led Mental Health Services: A study of recruitment and retainment of Indigenous clients by Indigenous wellness providers”

KAYLIE BAIR (Biochemistry major), Kyle Meador, Todd O. Yeates – “Design of Single-Component Protein Materials” and 


(Biochemistry major), Jessica M. Ochoa, Todd O. Yeates, “MCPdb: The bacterial microcompartment database”.

SENAY BERAKI (Biochemistry major) and Thomas A. Vallim – “Potential Roles of PSPC1 in Regulating Genes in Mouse Liver Cells”.

TIMOTHY J. BONDOC (Biochemistry major), Troy L. Lowe, Steven G. Clarke – “Exploring the Physiological Substrates of PRMT7: a Protein Arginine Methyltransferase With Unique Enzymatic Activity and a Wide Range of Possible Phenotypic Manifestations”.

KYLE BUI (Chemistry major), Monica Pengshung, Ellen Sletten – “Determining structure-property relationships of targeted fluorophores for the near-infrared (NIR) and shortwave infrared region (NIR-II) of the electromagnetic spectrum”.

Karl E. Biggs, SUEKSITT CHANTANAPUMMA (Biochemistry major), Amelia Navarro, Magdalena I. Ivanova, and Gal Bitan – “Investigation of alpha-synuclein lysine to alanine substitution on seeding capability with and without the molecular tweezer CLR01”.

SEERAT CHAWLA, Riya Pathare, Victoria Wang, Merel Dagher, Sara Erwin, Olena Lukoyanova, and Anne M. Andrews, “Colorimetric Analysis of the Effects of PEPA and PCPA on Tyrosine Production by Liver Phenylalanine Hydroxylase”. 

EMILY CHOU (Biochemistry major), Kavya Juwadi, Ana Majer, Kyle Fang, Hana Lim, Desiree Eshraghi, Shane Simon, Janelle Magaling, Nicole Cosico, Risa Goto, Vicki Truong, Odilia Lu, Burton O. Cowgill – “Evaluating the impact of virtual student health programming during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

SAMANTHA CHUNG (Biochemistry major), Marta Shocket, and Van Savage – “The Effect of Temperature on Viral Titer in Mosquitoes”.

SAMUEL CLARK (Biochemistry), Jonathan Tsang, David Nathanson – “Development of a Novel Brain-Penetrant EGFR Inhibitor for the Treatment of Glioblastoma”. Science Dean’s Prize winner

NATHALIE CO (Chemistry major), Zachary C. Hern, and Paula L. Diaconescu – “Synthesis of an Indium Chloride Complex for Redox Switchable Ring Opening Polymerization of Cyclic Esters and Ethers”. 

ERIN COLE (Biochemistry major), Lin Li, Warren Tourtellotte – “An Immunohistochemical Analysis of Morphological Differences in ACE Overexpressing Microglia Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease”. Science Dean’s Prize winner

CARSON CORNETT (Biochemistry major), Jocelyn Castellanos, Karla Luna, Rajat Gupta, Dennis Rünger, Yifang Zhu, Maria C. Jordan, Xuesi M. Shao, Kenneth P. Roos, Jesus A. Araujo – “Acute Electronic Cigarette Exposure Decreases Heart Rate Variability in C57BL/6 Mice”.

POOJITA DASIKA (Biochemistry major), Andrew Goring, Robert Clubb, “Surface Proteomics Highlighting the Iron Uptake System and Virulence Factors in Gram-Positive Corynebacterium diphtheriae”.

DAVID DUMAS (Chemistry major), Benjamin Natinsky, Chong Liu, “Uncovering the Role of Oxygen Reduction Species in Ambient Air Methane to Methanol Conversion”.

LUKE J. ELISSIRY (Chemistry major), Jingwen Sun, Ann M. Hirsch, Chong Liu, “Silica Sol-Gel Microbead Encapsulation as a Novel Delivery Method for Symbiotic Microbes”.

SHAWN FOROUSHANI (Biochemistry major), Rishabh Shah, Julia Chiemi, Pranavi Kolla, and Richelle J. Cooper – “Impact of Hospital Crowding on Left Without Being Seen Rates in the Emergency Department”.

OLIVIA FRIEDL (Biochemistry major), Ieva Liepuoniute, Edris Rivera, Kendall Houk and Miguel Garcia-Garibay – ”Density Functional Theory Studies of Quantum Chain Reactions of Dewar Benzenes in the Solid State”. 

SASHA L. GILL-LJUNGHAMMER (Chemistry major), Jeffrey A. Kurish, and Sarah H. Tolbert – “Novel One-Pot Synthesis of Cobalt Ferrite Nanoparticles for Improved Morphology and Size Distribution”.

KAILIN GUO (Chemistry major), Ruowei Zhu, Chao Peng – Amplification of Pathological Alpha-synuclein from Diseased Brains in Vitro.

AZMAIN ABRAWR HOSSAIN (Physics major), Justin Caram – Effects of Quantum Confinement and Dielectric Environment on Exciton Binding Energy in II-VI Semiconductor Nanoplatelets. Science Dean’s Prize winner.

CAROLYN HU (Chemistry major), Kevin Murray, David Eisenberg – “Characterization of Keratin-8 Low-Complexity Domain Mutations in Amyloid Formation”.

KEVIN JIANG (Biochemistry major), Diane Lefaudeux, Alexander Hoffmann – “Predicting mRNA kinetic parameters with histone levels using machine learning”.

GIOVANNI JUAREZ (Biochemistry major), Daniel Ha, Katie Dixie, Xia Yang, Patricia E. Phelps – “Olfactory Ensheathing Cells Have Multiple Gene Expression Subtypes”.

LAUREL KEMP (Biochemistry major), Christopher Aderman – “Effect of Loss to Follow Up in Patients Receiving Anti-VEGF Therapy”.

ADIRA KRUAYATIDEE (Biochemistry major), Juka S. Kim, Gal Bitan – “A Novel Medium-throughput Screening Method for Amyloidogenic Protein Oligomerization Inhibitors”. Science Dean’s Prize winner.

GARRETT KUKIER (Chemistry major), Aneta Turlik, Xiaosong Xue, and K. N. Houk – “Violations? How Nature Circumvents the Woodward-Hoffmann Rules and Promotes the Forbidden Conrotatory 4n+2 Electron Electrocyclizations”.

CHRIS LA (Chemistry major), Sina Taghvaee, Jiaqi Shen, Suzanne E. Paulson – “Hydroxyl Radical Formation from the Burst Chemistry Between Performic Acid and Iron(II)”.

NINA (MINH TAM) LE (Biochemistry major), Adam Biddlecome, Odisse Azizgolshani, Charles Knobler, William Gelbart -“Establishing a cell line that persistently replicates a viral-derived RNA molecule for the study of various anti-viral strategies”.

COLLEEN LE (Biochemistry major), Matthew Nitzahn, and Gerald Lipshutz – “Developing an Improved Understanding of the Neurophenotype of SLC6A8 Deficiency”.

JAYBREE LOPEZ (Neuroscience major), Carter Lantz, Joseph A. Loo, “Metal and ligand binding to alpha synuclein”. 

BRIANNA Y. MAI (Chemistry major), Yi Chen, Gary Chan, Shengtao Lu, Chong Liu, “Expanding Functionality of Dated Potentiostats by Integration of Self-Developed, Customizable Arbitrary Waveform Generation and Self-Adjusting Electrolysis Through MATLAB Programming”.

ANDREA METIVIER (Chemistry major), Alexandrea Arnold, Lauren Santi, Pierre-Henri Blard, Aradhna Tripati – “Reconstruction of hydroclimate at Lake Tauca in the Bolivian Altiplano”.

ALANA ROSE MEYER (Biochemistry major), Vincent Hipwell, Miguel Garcia-Garibay, “Gomberg’s Radical Arrested : Exceptional Lifetimes of Radical Pairs Containing the Trityl Radical in the Crystalline Solid State”.

David Q. Liu, SHAMEEK MITRA (Biochemistry major), Ashley Y. Tang, Trinity L. Vu, Jaeun Jung, Jasmine Tzeng, and Michael K. Ong – “Differences in Confidence of Overall Well-being Based on Immigration Generation in Asian and Pacific Islander Undergraduate Students at UCLA”.

SMRITI NAGARAJAN (Biochemistry major) – “A Peer-Driven Assessment of the Lived Experiences of Queer and/or Transgender Black/Indigenous/People of Color (QTBIPOC) students at UCLA”.

DEAN NEUTEL (Physiological Science major), Keaton Barr, Guillaume Chanfreau, “SMF1 Abundance in Plasma Membrane is Dynamically Regulated by RNase-III Mediated Degradation”. Science Dean’s Prize winner.

JEWEL NG (Biochemistry major) and Martina McDermott – “Exploring NAMPT as a Novel Cancer Target”.

ANDY NGUYEN (Biochemistry major), Michelle Panzica, Margot E. Quinlan – “Investigating the Binding of Spire/Myosin-V in Drosophila melanogaster”.

ANGEL NI (Chemistry major), Jackie McCourt, Rachelle Crosbie – “Cardiac Fibroblast-Extracellular Matrix Interactions in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy-Associated Cardiomyopathy”. Science Dean’s Prize winner.

STEPHANIE PAN (Biochemistry major), Blaine S. C. Eldred, Bryan M. Kevan, Jingyou Rao, and Albert Lai – “Prognostic Significance of CDKN2AB Loss in IDH-Wildtype Glioblastomas”. Science Dean’s Prize winner. 

STEPHANIE PAN (Biochemistry major), Kenneth L. Subotnik, Ruth Firmin, Joseph Ventura, Clara D. T. Nguyen, and Keith H. Nuechterlein – “Implications of Stigma Resistance for Treatment of Individuals with First Episode Schizophrenia”.

TEJAS PATEL (Biochemistry major), Raymond John Lim, Bin Liu, & Steven M. Dubinett – “Genetically Engineered CXCL9 and CXCL10 Dendritic Cells Combined with PD1 Blockade in a Metastatic NSCLC Model”.

ESTHER PELUSO (Biochemistry major), Rebeccah Warmack, Steven G. Clarke, “The human PCMTD1 protein associates with Cullin-RING ligase proteins and lowers L-isoaspartate levels in tissue lysates in vitro”.

JESSICA A. SALGUERO (Computational and Systems Biology major), Janine Y. Fu, Robert P. Gunsalus, Rachel R. Ogorzalek Loo, and Joseph A. Loo, “Quantitative proteomic analysis of Acetomicrobium hydrogeniformans OS1 reveals carbon-based shifts in metabolic machinery”. 

WILLIAM SANDER (Biochemistry major), Rita Zhang, Christian Eidson, Tom Yau, and Albert J. Courey, “Drosophila Small Ubiquitin-related Modifier (SUMO) positively regulates the Ras/MAPK pathway through its interactions with Ras and Raf”.

KRITI SHUKLA (Chemistry-Materials Science major), Sam Degregori, Paul Barber – “Dietary Controls on the Gut Microbiome”.

OVIE SOMAN (Chemistry-Materials Science major), Kierstyn Anderson, and Alexander Spokoyny, “Synthesis and Photophysical Analysis of Organoboron Compounds Containing Orthocarborane”.

MIKAYLA L. SONNLEITNER (Physiology major), Stephanie M. Tenney, Anthony V. Sica, Timothy L. Atallah, Justin R. Caram, “Energy Transfer and Synthesis of HgTe Quantum Dots”. 

SEAN SUGAI (Biochemistry major), Claire Amabile, Stephanie Sumstine, Stoddy Carey, Eunhee Park, Dallas Swendemen, and Jennifer Wagman – “Sexual Violence as a Form of Structural Violence: Exploring Recursive Power Imbalances and Institutional Barriers to Survivor Support Services for QTBIPOC Individuals at the University of California”.

MENNA SUN (Biochemistry major), Hannah Bailey, Margot E. Quinlan, “Screening for Protein Candidates of Actin Mesh Regulation in Drosophila Oogenesis”. 

JADE SUWANWANITCH (Biochemistry major), Sachin Parikh, Anna Matynia, Michael B. Gorin – “The Pathway for Photoalloydnia is Predominantly Tied to Ocular Input”.

BRIAN TA (Biochemistry major), A. Biju, A. Franco, C. Honoré, J. Khoo, P. Pourebrahim, D. Pineda, S. Rizvi, L. Rosales, C. Ta, I. Ta, K. Yoon, S. Yu, Aaron Blaisdell, and Katsushi Arisaka – “Investigating Visuospatial Processing: The Perception of Space is Encoded by Time”. Science Dean’s Prize winner.

CHRISTEN E. TAI (Biochemistry major), Einav Tayeb-Fligelman, Sarah Griner, Lukasz Salwinski, Jeannette T. Bowler, Romany Abskharon, Xinyi Cheng, Paul M. Seidler, Yi Xiao Jiang, David S. Eisenberg, and Feng Guo “RNA Size Preferences by SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid Protein: Biochemical Basis for Viral Genome Packaging”.

SHIREEN TALIEH (Biology major), Justin R. Caram, “Supramolecular Self-Assembly of J-aggregates Based on Cyanine Dye Structural Analysis”. 

LAUREN TAN (Chemistry major), Stephanie Tenney, Xuanheng Tan, Ashley Shin, Azmain Hossain, Jonathan Foley, Timothy Atallah, Justin Caram, “Modulating Nanoplatelet Exciton Binding Energy With Ligand Exchange”. 

TAM TO (Biochemistry major), Min Qin, George Agak, Kelsey Ouyang, Jenny Kim – “Characterization and Effects of Regulatory T Cells in Response to Cutibacterium acnes”.

FIONA TRAN (Biochemistry major), Michael Guile, Alexa Novales and Catherine F. Clarke, “Analyzing Human COQ7 Single Nucleotide Variants and Predicting Clinical Significance”.

MADELINE TROTTER (Biochemistry major), Benjamin A Hà, Clive LF Lau, David K Jacobs – “Phylogenetic and statistical analysis of population structure in fiddler crabs (genus Uca) using mitochondrial (CO1) sequences”.

VICENTE EDUARDO VELASQUEZ (Biochemistry major), Dylan Valencia, Troy Lowe, Steven Clarke, Margot Quinlan, “Determination of post-translational methylation sites on Formin Homology 2 domain containing 3”.

VALARIE VUONG (Biochemistry major), David Shia, Brigitte Gomperts –“ETV4 and ETV5 Enrichment Found In Small Cell Lung Cancer Persister Cells Following Cisplatin-Etoposide Treatment”.

JONATHAN J. WONG (Chemistry major), Yan Xu, Adrian E. Samkian, Jeong Hoon Ko, Shuming Chen, K.N. Houk, Robert H. Grubbs “Efficient Z‑Selective Olefin-Acrylamide Cross-Metathesis Enabled by Sterically Demanding Cyclometalated Ruthenium Catalysts”. Science Dean’s Prize winner.

JASON WU (Chemistry major), Zhiqi He, Tony Moreno, Manisha Swain, and Ohyun Kwon

ZIYAN WU (Chemistry major), Andrea M. Kasko – “Synthesis of Cationic Glycopolymer as Chitosan Mimetics”.

CATHERINE XIE (Biochemistry major), Rui Zhang, Xiaokang Wu, Devina Gonzalez, Joice Thomas, Scott John, Michela Ottolia, Joshua I. Goldhaber – “Novel pH-Insensitive Sodium-Calcium Exchanger (NCX) Genetically Modified Mouse Provides Cardioprotection in Ischemia”.

XINGYU YANG (Biochemistry major) – “Sediment Level Changes on Malibu Coast Lagoons”.

JAMES (YOUNG SUK) YOON (Chemistry major), Katie Tuite, and Jochen Stutz – “Investigating Surface Mixing’s Effect on HONO Chemistry Using the PACT-1D Atmospheric Model”.

ANQI ZHOU (Chemistry major), Brendan Mahoney, Andrew Goring, Wonhyeuk Jung, Robert T. Clubb.

“Exploring the Binding and Transfer Mechanisms of C. diphtheriae Heme Receptor HtaA”.

JASON Z. J. ZHU (Chemistry Materials-Science major), Xueying Chang, Richard B. Kaner, “Synthesizing Graphene/Polyaniline Supercapacitor Electrodes Using Fluorographene”.

SHANNON ZHUANG (Biochemistry major), He Song, Juli Feigon, “Progress in Tetrahymena Telomere-End Binding Protein Complex Structure Determination”.

KATHLYN ZOU (Biochemistry major), Tatiana Zyrianova, Benjamin Lopez, and Andreas Schwingshackl – “STRING Modeling to Study Protein-Protein Interactions in Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Acute Lung Injury”.

If you would like a video of your presentation linked to your name, or if you see an error, please e-mail Penny Jennings, penny@ucla.edu.  Please be sure to obtain your mentor’s approval to share the link to your presentation.