Celebrating our undergraduate and high school student researchers

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On August 1, 2019, the department held a reception for undergraduate and high school students who conduct research in chemistry & biochemistry faculty labs. 

The student researchers gathered with their faculty mentors, graduate student and postdoc mentors, and other faculty and students at the reception in the Boyer Hall. Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education Professor Anastassia Alexandrova thanked the researchers for the outstanding research they have been conducting at UCLA.

We have over 100 undergraduate students, recent graduates, and high school students participating in research in our department this year. Many of the students are here all year long and others are here only for the summer through various summer research programs, fellowships, or internships.

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(Left) Undergraduate and high school researchers and their faculty advisors and mentors gathered at the reception in Boyer Hall. (Right) Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education Prof. Anastassia Alexandrova welcomed the students.

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(Left) Troy Lowe (grad mentor), Anabel Vernon (undergrad, Scripps, Amgen scholar), faculty mentor Prof. Steven Clarke. (Right) UCLA undergraduate researchers Morgan Hopp (Raymond & Dorothy Wilson Research Fellows, Spokoyny group) and Gisella Austine (Sletten group).

With support from our generous donors, 35 UCLA scholars were able to conduct research this summer thanks to the 2019 Departmental Summer Research Fellowship Awards they received: three Alumni Undergraduate Research Fellows, one Dr. Ravi and Aparna Bikkina Fellow, four Paul Boyer and Rich Cross Fellows, three DOE Summer Research Fellows, two Donors Summer Research Fellows, two Daniel Kivelson Undergraduate Research Fellows, one Howard Reiss Memorial Fund Summer Research Fellow, four General Chemistry Instructional Laboratory Faculty Fellows, three Lorraine H. Masuo Toji Summer Research Fellows, ten Raymond and Dorothy Wilson Research Fellows and two Whitcome Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows.  

Through the UCLA Summer Programs for Undergraduate Research, we have several visiting undergraduate summer researchers including six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Scholars, and two Amgen Scholars.

Several undergraduate summer research scholars are visiting through fellowships they received from their home institutions including 16 Cross-disciplinary Scholars in Science and Technology program (CSST) scholars visiting from several Chinese universities, three Santa Monica College/UCLA Summer Research Scholars, one IROP Scholar visiting from Imperial College London. 

Our visiting undergraduate researchers come from several universites in the U.S. and from around the world including Beijing Institute of Technology, CSUN, Fudan University, Howard University, Imperial College London, Jiao Tong University, Nanjing University, Nankai University, North Carolina A&T University, North Carolina Central University, Pomona College, Scripps, Southern University and A&M College, Tianjin  University, Tuskegee University, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UCSD, University of New Mexico, USC, Vassar, Wuhan University, and Yale.

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From Prof. Sarah Tolbert’s group: top row – Shreya Patel (grad mentor), Natalie Kashanchi (grad mentor), Linying Shang (undergrad, Southern University of Science and Technology, CSST), Ty Karaba (grad mentor), Prof. Sarah Tolbert, Sophia King (grad mentor), Yiyi Yao (grad mentor); bottom row – Nhi Hoang (undergrad, TANMS), Ariana Naghibi (undergrad, UC Irvine, TANMS), Darrell Harry (undergrad, Southern University & AM, HBCU) and Matthew Chin (undergrad, UCLA). 

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(Left) UC LEADS Undergraduate researcher Paul Phartho (UC Riverside, Hosea Nelson group) with Department Chair Prof. Neil Garg.  (Right) Professor Bill Gelbart and his group members, mentor Teacher-Scholar Prof. Christian Beren, undergraduate researcher Abby Thurm, and grad mentor Cheylene Tanimoto.


Members of Prof. Ellen Sletten’s group: top row – Gisella Austine (undergrad, UCLA), Prof. Ellen Sletten, Maly Cosco (grad mentor), John Chapman (undergrad, UCLA, Raymond & Dorothy Wilson Research Fellow), Olivia Leland (undergrad, UCLA), Gina Lee (grad mentor), Zhumin Zhang (undergrad, CSST); bottom row – Carolyn Wu (undergrad, UCLA), Alyssa Togle (undergrad, SMC), Junho Kwon (undergrad, UCLA, Lorraine H. and Masuo Toji Summer Research Fellow), Heidi van de Wouw (postdoc mentor), Elizabeth Hu (undergrad, UCLA).

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(Left) Marcus Jellen (grad mentor), Hannah Eckvahl (undergrad, UCLA) with their faculty mentor Prof. Miguel García-Garibay, Dean of Physical Sciences. (Right) Prof. Ken Houk visits with CSST students.

Members of Prof. Catherine Clarke’s group: Michelle Bradley (grad mentor), Miranda Kelley (undergrad, UCLA, Whitcome Summer Research Fellow), Lilliana Zar (undergrad, UCLA), Krista Yang (undergrad, UCLA, Donors Summer Research Fellow), Lucia Fernández (grad mentor).
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(Left) Tolbert group graduate student mentors Natalie Kashanchi and Ty Karaba. (Right) Prof. Ken Houk with Dr. Dennis Svatunek, a postdoc mentor in his group. 

Members of Prof. Alex Spokoyny’s group: top row – Nicholas Bernier (grad mentor), Alex Umanzor (undergrad, UCLA), Morgan Hopp (undergrad, UCLA), Emily Ganley (undergrad, UNM, AFRL Space Scholar), Kierstyn Anderson (grad mentor); bottom row – Rebecca Kubena (grad mentor), Fadi Al Sarhan (undergrad, UCLA), Anabel Cho Lopez (undergrad, UCLA), Harrison Mills (grad mentor). All undergraduates pictured are Raymond & Dorothy Wilson Research Fellows.  

Members of Prof. Ken Houk’s group: top row – Alex Umanzor (undergrad, UCLA), Qianzhen Shao (undergrad, Nankai U), Dr. Jacob Sanders (NIH postdoc, mentor), Prof. Ken Houk, Hannah Eckvahl (undergrad, UCLA, General Chemistry Instructional Laboratory Faculty Fellow), Chenxi Lu (undergrad, Nankai U.); bottom row – Bo Li (undergrad, Nankai U.- Tianjin U.), Dr. Dennis Svatunek (postdoc from Austria, mentor), Professor Xiasong Xue (Visiting Scholar, Assoc. Prof at Nankai U, mentor), Megan Lim (undergrad, UC Berkeley).


Visiting undergraduate researchers from the Cross-disciplinary Scholars in Science and Technology (CSST) program – (from left) Jingyang Zhang (Wuhan Univ.), Zugen Wu, Yanan Wu, & Yifan Wu (all from Fudan Univ.), Lanshu Li (Nankai Univ.), and Yongjia He (Wuhan Univ.)

On Thursday, August 15, 2019, a poster session for the UCLA Summer Programs for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) will take place from 2:00-5:00 pm in the UCLA Neuroscience Research Building (NRB) Auditorium. This poster session will be the culminating experience for our eight week visiting student researchers in SPUR programs.The poster session for SPUR students in the 10 week program will take place on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, from 2:00-5:00 pm in the Bruin Reception Room, Ackerman Union.

Not only is summer research experience typically one of the most meaningful parts of an undergraduate education, it also enables students to pursue science research rather than having to accept a summer job in an unrelated field (e.g. Starbucks, etc.). For many students, experiencing research in a lab is a real game-changer — many who previously thought they were headed to pharmacy, medical, or dental school, realize how exciting research is, and begin to consider research as a career.  

By conducting research during the summer, students gain skills that help them in their lab courses and, as a result, they excel in classes they may have previously dreaded. They develop a network of friends and colleagues who can be very helpful when looking for employment and discovering other opportunities.   It was thanks to the generosity of our alumni and friends that the department was able to support so many undergraduate summer research fellows this year. We would love to continue to grow these funds and award even more fellowships next summer in 2020. Contributions of any amount are welcome, and will be matched (1:1) by Department Jung funds! An award of $3,500 supports one UCLA undergraduate for an entire summer of research. For more information, please visit our giving website.  

Photos and article by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.