UC San Diego SearchMenu

Competitive Edge Fellows

The Summer Competitive Edge Program has continued strongly throughout the years.  Below are the names and departments of the program participants starting from 2006.

 

 

 

2017

 Jessica Aguilar

Literature

 

 

 

 

Jessica Aguilar is an incoming PhD student in the Literature Department at the University of California San Diego. She is originally from the San Ysidro/Tijuana border region and is a first-generation college student. Jessica is interested in exploring topics related to the experience of the migrant community in the United States, especially that of Mexican and Central American communities, as well as investigating how these communities have been impacted by the crossing of physical and emotional barriers. In addition, she is interested in the formation of a ‘new identity’ in Mexican and Central American immigrants. Jessica graduated from UCSD in 2014 with a double BA in Latin American Studies and Spanish Literature. Upon graduation, she moved to New Mexico State University where she completed her MA in Spanish (2016). While in NMSU, Jessica volunteered for CAMP (College Assistant Migrant Program), worked closely with the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, and was a member of literary workshop Pizca a las 6:30.  In addition, she was also as an active member and editor for literary magazine Arenas Blancas. This past year Jessica worked at a shelter for unaccompanied minors in San Diego where she worked with, majority, Central American children.

 

 

 

 

 Jessica Trejos Canela

Education Studies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Trejos Canela is a PhD student in the Department of Education Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She received her Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, with a concentration in Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming; a specialization in Family, Youth, and Children’s Services; and a minor in International Social Welfare and Services to Immigrants and Refugees. Jessica has over eight years of experience providing advocacy and counseling services to adolescents from under-resourced backgrounds at a variety of settings, including hospitals, child protective services, community-based organizations, and post-secondary institutions.

Before that, Jessica received her Master of Science in Teaching from Pace University, with a concentration in Adolescent Education and a specialization in Foreign Language Arts. She has over seven years of experience as an inner-city educator; five of which she spent teaching seventh and eighth grade at the middle school that she graduated from. Jessica's research interests draw greatly from her personal and professional experiences, and she is interested in studying various influences on ethnic minority adolescent development and achievement disparities amongst ethnic minority adolescents. Her passion for and commitment to empowering and motivating underserved youth to succeed academically drives her long term goal to influence and affect educational policy and practice on a national scale

 

 

 

 Emily Diaz

Biomedical Sciences

 

 

 

 

Emily Diaz is a Competitive EDGE fellow for the Biomedical Sciences graduate program at University of California, San Diego. She graduated from Hofstra University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, where she gained experience with cell culture and bioengineering. She broadened that experience at UCSD under their SURF program in Pharmacology to study mitochondrial degradation. She decided to pursue graduate education at UCSD, given the quality of research and the support of faculty. She is interested in increasing diversity of STEM fields through community outreach and education programs targeting underrepresented communities in STEM and non-STEM educated people. During the Competitive EDGE program, she is researching cancer immunology in the Bui Lab to investigate how cancer cells interact with and communicate with non-cancer cells. Specifically, she is researching the role of exosomes as communicators by carrying signals to non-cancer cells as a means of increasing or decreasing tumor activity. Eventually, she would like to study signaling and communication between different cell types in the context of regeneration and organ biogenesis. 

 Oscar Gutierrez

Ethnic Studies

 

 

 

Oscar Gutierrez is a PhD student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. His research looks at the epistemological linkages between urban agriculture, settler colonialism and the environment. Through a community-based participatory research framework, Oscar seeks to understand how land used for urban agriculture can serve as a site of memory for Chicanx and Indigenous youth in occupied territories in the United States, while making interventions on migration and settlement. In his research, Oscar addresses issues of contemporary “environmental justice” movements in the U.S. and how settler and Chicanx imaginaries and claims to space serve the possibility of further perpetuating anti-indigenous violence. His work is based in decolonized research methods that allow us to think about research production and impact. Oscar is currently a member of the board of directors at Communities for a Better Environment, a California based environmental health and justice organization. In addition, Oscar works with community organizations across the U.S. to hold toxic facilities and projects accountable, primarily in his hometown of South East Los Angeles. He is dedicated to the critical conversations of space and place: how we choose to shape it and how it shapes us.
  

Carlos Guzman

Bioinformatics & Systems Biology

 

Carlos Guzman is a doctoral student in the Bioinformatics & Systems Biology department at the University of California, San Diego. He studies the role of cis regulatory elements, non-coding RNA, and chromatin structure on transcription networks in normal and disease states. Carlos uses biochemical techniques, statistics, and bioinformatics analysis to answer fundamental questions regarding enhancer structure and function. Enhancers are relatively short DNA sequences that act as 'transcription factor binding hubs', and can up-regulate the expression patterns of genes by coming into close proximity with their promoters. Enhancers have been implicated in a wide range of diseases including cancer, and are thought to be major drivers of cell-type specificity. These regulatory elements are quickly becoming a major player in the field of personalized medicine, and have the potential to act as bio-markers. His long-term research goal is to better understand how regulatory networks can be exploited to treat patients.

George Agustin Markarian

Political Science

 

 

 

 George Agustin Markarian is a graduate student in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. Under the subfield of American Politics, George studies how ongoing demographic changes in cities and suburbs are affecting local and national elections, voter behavior, public opinion, and public policy. Analysts have already charted how affluent whites, who have largely chosen to live in suburbs in the post-World War Two era, are increasingly choosing to live in urban centers, while communities of color and recent immigrants, who have typically lived in urban centers, are moving to historically white middle-class suburbs. While academic research on these trends has largely focused on issues of public policy, attempting to understand and address the impact of gentrification and displacement, few scholars have sought to study the impact of such changes on political behavior and local institutions. George studies how these demographic changes that transformed urban and suburban areas over the past two decades have also shaped national and local politics. He is observing how these trends have influenced voter behavior through civic engagement, voter choice, and policy preferences. Furthermore, he is interested in studying how these demographic changes are affecting local institutions by observing how local governments and leaders are responding to demographic changes in their districts.

Dominic McGrosso

Biomedical Sciences

Dominic McGrosso is a Competitive Edge Scholar pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology with specialization in Cellular and Molecular Biology and a Minor in Chemistry from California State University, San Marcos. While there, Dominic’s research project consisted of investigating the bio mineralization pathway of ubiquitous marine algae, Emiliania huxleyi, by using Tandem Mass Tag Mass Spectrometry. He also found great interest in sharing science with the community, where he has presented at scientific conferences as well as community outreach events.

His current research is focused on using Mass Spectrometry to investigate the host-pathogen interaction. Most recently, he has been working on elucidating novel virulence factors of MRSA in the lab of Dr. David Gonzalez.

  

 

Sarah Perry

Earth Science

Sarah Perry is a doctoral student in Earth Science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego. Her research focuses on magmatism in the East African Rift System (EARS), which is undergoing continental rifting and will eventually form an ocean. She is also interested in Martian geology and other aspects of high- and low-temperature geochemistry. Her previous research experiences include an internship at the Johnson Space Center, an REU at Vanderbilt University, and a research assistantship at Vassar College. Sarah is passionate about education access for underrepresented students and has worked as a middle school tutor and with the Breakthrough and Quest Bridge organizations. She is a recipient of the San Diego Fellowship.

Mayra Puente

Education Studies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayra Puente is a PhD student in the Department of Education Studies at UCSD. Prior to beginning her doctoral program, Mayra was an undergraduate student at UCLA with a major in Political Science and double minors in Education Studies and Chicanx Studies. She was heavily involved in The Central Valley Project (CVP) at UCLA, a student-run organization that seeks to improve college access and choice for underrepresented youth from the California Central Valley. Her role as a college access mentor in this organization, as well as her own lived experiences as a low-income, first-generation college student, motivated Mayra to pursue graduate study. Mayra is broadly interested in studying student college access and choice for low-income and minority student groups. Specifically, she hopes to expand the field of college choice research by applying an underutilized lens, geography, to understand how students’ local environments and available opportunity structures influence their decisions about whether and where to go to college. Mayra argues that using a spatial lens to analyze a commonly researched phenomenon can better explain the college choice process for students living in geographically isolated areas, such as students from the Central Valley. Mayra’s overall hope is to close the educational opportunity gap in college access and choice for Latinx students through her pursuit of graduate study and continued involvement with her community.

Alex Rodriguez

Linguistics

 

 

Alex Rodriguez is a doctoral student in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, San Diego. He received his B.A. in Linguistics & Psychology and Political Science from UC Los Angeles. His general research interests lie on both experimental and theoretical syntax and morphology of Romance. More in particular, he is interested in predicate-argument structures of various syntactic categories as well as general (a) symmetries between grammaticalization and lexicalization of languages. He is also interested in language fieldwork/documentation of un(der)studied languages and the insights that cross-linguistic patterns may play in the development of linguistic theory. Alex’s professional background includes work as a contributor of Spanish to the Syntactic Structure of the World’s Languages (SSWL), a searchable database that characterizes and compares the morphological, syntactic, and semantic properties of languages across the world. Additionally, he has been a research assistant for Victoria Mateu and Nina Hyams at the Language Acquisition lab, UCLA, where he assisted in the acquisition of sluicing project, a study that investigates the acquisition of sentence ellipsis of subject and object extracted sluices in early grammar. Finally, he has also been a Peer Learning Facilitator for the Academic Advancement Program (a university-based student diversity program) at UCLA, where he tutored upper division linguistic courses (i.e. Syntax and Phonology).

Javier Ruiz

Mechanical Engineering

 

Javier Ruiz is a student in the Mechanical Engineering PhD program at UC San Diego. He holds bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering and cognitive science from UC Santa Cruz. As an undergraduate, he participated in the Summer Training Academy for Research Success (STARS) at UCSD, and in the UC Leadership Excellence Through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) program. He served as a mentor to STEM students from underrepresented backgrounds through multiple on-campus programs.

Javier is interested in research involving robotics and control systems. He is especially interested in autonomous systems, multi-agent swarms, and human-robot interaction. He hopes to one day work on robotic human prostheses or developing robotic systems to explore space or underwater environments.
 

 

Rhea-Comfort Addo

Biological Sciences

 

 

 

Rhea-Comfort Addo is a first year PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego. She attended California State University, Long Beach for her undergraduate degree in General Biology. During her undergraduate career, Rhea worked in a reproductive biology lab where she studied the effects of photoperiods on the reproductive health of Siberian hamsters. Through her work, Rhea determined two proteins, prohibitin and MEK-1, that were critical to the loss of reproductive function during the onset of ovarian regression in the hamster model. During the summer of 2016, Rhea expanded her research experience by participating in the Summer Training for Academic Research Success (STARS) program here at UCSD. Through this program, Rhea worked with Dr. Pamela Mellon on the FOXL2 gene, determining its role in the loss of female fertility in patients that suffer from a recessive genetic disorder. In the future, Rhea would like to continue working in research fields that combine multiple approaches to combat diseases related to organ systems. Her long-term goal includes understanding the correlation between diabetes and fertility in the African-American female community. Rhea aims to enter the world of academia after her doctoral degree program. Rhea is also a dedicated advocate of marginalized communities and seeks to be a mentor and mentee for those who fight for justice through science.

 

 

 

 

 

2016

Miriam Bell Christian Cazares Christine Chesley
Miriam Bell
Mechanical &
Aerospace Engineering
Christian Cazares
Neurosciences
Christine Chesley
Scripps Institution
of Oceanography
   
Thomas Flaherty Katherine Garcia Erin George
Thomas Flaherty
Political Science
Katherine Garcia
Education Studies
Erin George
Erin George
   
Miles Markmann Matthew Moore Pamela Riviere
Miles Markmann
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Matthew Moore
Literature
Pamela Riviere
Cognitive Science
   
Melanie West
Melanie West
Ethnic Studies
   

2015

Adriana Corrales Armand Gutierrez Tricia Ngoon
Adriana Corrales
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Armand Gutierrez
Sociology
Tricia Ngoon
Cogntivie Science
   
Franklin Orndorff-Plunkett Tashiana Osborne Marisa Plasencia
Franklin Orndorff-Plunkett
Electrical & Computer
Engineering
Tashiana Osborne
Scripps Institution
of Oceanography
Marisa Plasencia
Political Science
   
Chandler Puritty Katherine Steelman Daniela Zarate
Chandler Puritty
Biological Sciences
Katherine Steelman
Ethnic Studies
Daniela Zarate
Biological Sciences
   

2014

Osinachi Ajokur Sage Aronson JuliaSara Betancur-Urrea
Osinachi Ajoku
Scripps Institution
of Oceanography
Sage Aronson
Neurosciences
Sara Betancur-Urrea
Anthropology
   
Daril Brown Jordan Davis Yessica Garcia
Daril Brown
Bioengineering
Jordan Davis
Electrical & Computer
Engineering
Yessica Garcia
Ethnic Studies
   
Erick Msumanje Marcelis Muriel Jorge Ramirez
Erick Msumanje
Visual Arts
Marcelis Muriel
Materials Science &
Engineering
Jorge Ramirez
History
   
Sara Rivera Marino Romero Fernando Sanchez
Sara Rivera
Scripps Institution
of Oceanography
Marino Romero
Mathematics
Fernando Sanchez
Literature
   
David Sanchez-Aguilera Nailah Seale Brendan Tomoschuk
David Sanchez-Aguilera
Ethnic Studies
Nailah Seale
Bioengineering
Brendan Tomoschuk
Psychology
Fernando Vargas Aaron Ward Murktarat Yussuff
Fernando Vargas
Biological Sciences
Aaron Ward
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Murktarat Yussuff
Communication
 

2013

Andres Aguilar Devin Cela Julia Fernandez
Andres Aguilar
Linguistics
Devin Cela
Physics
Julia Fernandez
Art History (Visual Arts)
   
Maria Giribaldi Anastassia Gomez Isaiah Gomez
Maria Giribaldi
Biological Sciences
Anastassia Gomez
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Isaiah Gomez
Chemistry & Biochemistry
   
Evan Greer Navarre Gutierrez-Reed Patrick Menzies
Evan Greer
Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering
Navarre Gutierrez-Reed
Biomedical Sciences
Patrick Menzies
Bioengineering
   
Alexis Meza Edmundo Ortiz Olivia Quintanilla
Alexis Meza
History
Edmundo Ortiz
Literature
Olivia Quintanilla
Ethnic Studies
   
Liesel Spangler Haleh Yazdi
Liesel Spangler
Political Science
Haleh Yazdi
Psychology
   

2012

Shamell Bell Crystal Ben Tavina Claiborne
Shamell Bell
Ethnic Studies
Crystal Ben
Sociology
Tavina Claiborne
Chemistry & Biochemistry
   
Joaquin Contreras Paul Feldman Raul Herrera
Joaquin Contreras
Communication
Paul Feldman
Economics
Raul Herrera
Physics
   
Lachelle Jennings Felipe Mejia Marcela Mendoza
Lachelle Jennings
Sociology
Felipe Mejia
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Marcela Mendoza
Bioengineering
   
Tara-Lynne Pixley Haydee Smith Kelsey Tupper
Tara-Lynne Pixley
Communication
Haydee Smith
Literature
Kelsey Tupper
Biological Sciences
   
Allen Washington, Jr
Allen Washington, Jr.
Biomedical Sciences
   

2011

Steven Chabolla Krystle Chavarria Leandro Gallo
Steven Chabolla
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Krystle Chavarria
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Leandro Gallo
Chemistry & Biochemistry
   
Karina Kangas Natalie Mendez
Karina Kangas
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Natalie Mendez
Materials Science

   

2010

Christopher Cahn Ignacio Lopez-Pena Andrew Marquez
Christopher Cahn
Biological Sciences
Ignacio Lopez-Pena
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Andrew Marquez
Materials Science
   
>Jason Pellma Jeremy Semk Cory Stevenson
Jason Pellman
Biomedical Sciences
Jeremy Semko
Mathematics
Cory Stevenson
Bioengineering
   
>Hermes Taylor-Weiner    
Hermes Taylor-Weiner
Bioengineering
   
   

2009

Corinne Allen Timia Crisp Bethanie Edwards
Corinne Allen
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Timia Crisp
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Bethanie Edwards
Scripps Institution of
Oceanography
   
Michael Porter Tania Riveros Thomas Smith
Michael Porter
Biological Sciences
Tania Riveros
Biomedical Sciences
Thomas Smith
Biomedical Sciences
   

2008

Marlene Brito Isabel Canto Stephanie Huelga
Marlene Brito
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Isabel Canto
Biomedical Sciences
Stephanie Huelga
Bioinformatics & Systems Biology
   
Alyssia Lilio Jesus Oliver Shanique Young
Alyssia Lilio
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Jesus Oliver
Mathematics
Shanique Young
Biomedical Sciences
   

2007

Jon Almaden Anthony Dominguez Rosa Leon-Zayas
Jon Almaden
Biological Sciences
Anthony Dominguez
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Rosa Leon-Zayas
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
   
Annette Medina John Ruedas Travis Stiles
Annette Medina
Chemistry & Biochemistry
John Ruedas
Biology (JDP)
Travis Stiles
Biomedical Sciences
   

2006

Anton Arriagada Tenai Eguen Sergio Garibay
Anton Arriagada
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Tenai Eguen
Biological Sciences

Sergio Garibay
Chemistry & Biochemistry
   
Rafael Gomez-Amaro David Gonzalez Jon Middleton
Rafael Gomez-Amaro
Biomedical Sciences
David Gonzalez
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Jon Middleton
Mathematics
   
Andro Rios Nelson Townsend  
Andro Rios
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Nelson Townsend
Mathematics
 
   

Contact Us

Questions? Please direct them to:

Willie Thompson
858-822-1492
w3thompson@ucsd.edu

Competitive Edge