UC LEADS Scholars

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Chemistry & Biochemistry undergraduate students Francisco Galang and Kylie Williams have been accepted into the prestigious UC LEADS program. 

The University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) program is one of the most prestigious fellowships awarded by the University of California system. Each year this honor is awarded to up to nine UCLA upper-division undergraduate students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The program provides the students with educational experiences that prepare them to assume positions of leadership in academia, industry, government, and public service. UC LEADS scholars work closely with faculty mentors and graduate students on research projects for a two-year period and participate in activities, events and workshops designed to help prepare them for graduate education. Professor Craig Merlic is the faculty advisor for the program.

As UC LEADS Scholars from spring 2021 through spring 2022, Francisco and Kylie will each receive a research stipend both during the academic year and in the summer. In addition, they will receive funding for travel to scientific conferences and professional meetings and participate in weekly UC LEADS Journal Club and a leadership seminar.

About Francisco Galang

Galang%2C%20Francisco%20smallFrancisco “Kiko” Galang is a 3rd year chemical engineering major, with an emphasis in environmental engineering. He conducts research in Professor Chong Liu’s group. He is part of AIChE at UCLA’s mentorship board, guiding new chemical engineering undergrads to success in their academics, professional development, and research endeavors. He volunteers with Alpha Chi Sigma offering tutoring services in lower division chemistry and math classes. 

While in high school, Galang became concerned with issues regarding greenhouse gas emissions. “I decided to major in chemical engineering because I knew I wanted to develop clean, sustainable alternatives to the products we use and how we produce them.”

Galang’s research interests lie in the electrochemical transformation of greenhouse gases into usable chemicals. “I am excited to have been offered the opportunity to participate with the UC LEADS program,” Galang said. “It is an opportunity like no other where I can dive deep into research, explore my interests, learn, and develop solutions to problems I’d like to help solve.” After graduation, Galang plans to pursue a Ph.D. in either chemistry or chemical engineering.

About Kylie Williams 

KW Leads Small 0Kylie Williams is a 2nd year biochemistry major with an emphasis in biomedical research. Her interest in biochemical science stemmed from a high school biochemistry course that focused mainly on natural product synthesis and biochemical processes within the human body. “The variety of experiments in that class solidified my decision to major in biochemistry,” Williams said. “It encouraged me to pursue more opportunities within science, which led me to begin conducting research during my junior year of high school, for the Reproductive Oncofertility Science Consortium at UCSD. Experiencing the diversity in people and ideas within the scientific community made me want to pursue the path of research.” 

Williams’ research interests include molecular medicine, drug development, and gene regulation in hereditary diseases. She is especially interested in the complementary and interactive relationship between chemical and biological processes in the body.

At UCLA, Williams is a member of the Biomedical Research Society and holds office hours as an Honors Fellow for College Honors. She also volunteers as a chemistry, biology, and math tutor for the San Diego Foundation College Bound Program.

After graduation, Williams plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry. “I am beyond honored to be a part of the UC LEADS cohort and work alongside such distinguished students and faculty. I see it as an incredible opportunity to begin my career in improving the wellbeing of others.”

Penny Jennings, Communications Manager, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.