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Paul Cabasag Paul Ian Cabasag, Structural Engineering

Paul is a first-generation Filipino-American PhD student in the Structural Engineering Department. As one of two siblings to first pursue doctoral education and a minority, he continually strives to spearhead his success in the engineering field. He was born in the Philippines and subsequently moved to Hawaii, Washington, and California where he attended elementary and secondary education. For his undergraduate and graduate studies, Mr. Cabasag attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he graduated with Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and also obtained his Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Master of Science in Fire Protection Engineering from the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. Starting from college, Mr. Cabasag embarked in several research and engineering endeavors. What inspired him most was his experience as a Ronald E. McNair scholar where he engaged in internship projects, participated in service-learning events, and presented in research conferences. Apart from that, he has been involved with professional activities within the American Society of Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering Association of Southern California, Society of Fire Protection Engineers, National Fire Protection Association, and American Wood Council. Altogether, throughout his educational and professional career he has focused on the amalgamation of designing buildings that can withstand structural and thermal loads.

Amanda CraineAmanda Craine, Bioengineering

Amanda grew up in Doylestown, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. With an interest in how the human body works, she always dreamed of pursuing a career in medicine. She first became interested in research as a high school student conducting research in an academic lab, where she learned that engineers can make significant impacts in medicine through their designs and findings. Therefore, she attended the Pennsylvania State University to study biomedical engineering and pursue her newfound passion for research. At Penn State, she conducted research on neurovascular coupling and how mechanosensitive channels impact fluid flow through the brain. She was also a member of the Millennium Scholars Program, where she served as a peer mentor and tutor for multivariable calculus and differential equations. She is now pursuing her PhD in bioengineering and is interested in studying cardiovascular imaging, particularly in improving imaging techniques to study congenital heart defects in adult patients.

Jonathan GuiangJonathan Guiang, Physics

My passion for science was sparked early on in my life -- almost before I can remember -- when my father first introduced me to science fiction through Star Trek, where I saw a future just out of reach, a future driven by curiosity and grounded by reality. This early ember of scientific wonder was further kindled by the fantastic mentors that I have been fortunate enough to have in my life. Then, with flaming ambition, I left my hometown of San Diego to study physics at UC Santa Barbara. During my sophomore year, I met Dr. Claudio Campagnari, a High Energy physicist who generously offered me his trust and experience along with the many opportunities provided by his group and the wider collaboration that operates and maintains the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

My experiences as an undergrad fostered an enthusiasm for research that inspired me to pursue a PhD. I am now doing just that at UC San Diego, after graduating from UCSB with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and several departmental honors. During my time here, I am excited to continue working in High Energy physics under the direction of Dr. Frank Wuerthwein, who also studies data collected by the CMS detector, searching for physics beyond the Standard Model with an additional focus on developing solutions to the computing challenges faced by the collaboration.

Ke'La KimbleKe'La Kimble, Chemistry and Biochemistry

My father did his best to plant the idea of going to college in my head at an early age, so as far as I can remember I knew I would be in higher education. Although my career path has changed from lawyer to gynecologist to accountant to chemist, he always kept my mind focused on the long run and doing what makes me happiest. I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and almost hated the idea of science until taking my first chemistry course. My success in that class prompted me to take a second chemistry course in high school and I finally choose it as my degree option at Xavier University of Louisiana- where I recently received my BS in Chemistry with a minor in Math this past May.

In undergrad I had several research opportunities but the bulk of my work consisted on manipulating components of lithium batteries to improve their power and longevity. Coming to UCSD, I am looking to change my focus to study aerosols and gain skills to impact life on a much broader scale: by improving living conditions through cleaner air and water.

Brandon LeungBrandon Leung, Electrical & Computer Engineering

I grew up in Irvine, California and in 2019 earned a Computer Science B.Sc at UCSD. I have always been interested in math and artificial intelligence, so during my sophomore year I joined the Statistical Visual Computing Lab. After graduating, I decided to continue my studies towards a doctoral degree. I have been involved in numerous programs at UCSD, including UC LEADS, STARS, an NSF REU, and ENLACE. In my research, I use machine learning to solve computer vision problems. Some topics include image object recognition, reconstruction, domain adaptation, segmentation, and adversarial attacks. I hope to work on interesting computer vision problems in industry one day and later on, pursue teaching; as a first-generation student, education has had a tremendously positive impact on my life and I would like to pass on my knowledge. In my spare time, I enjoy playing the piano, cooking, skateboarding, and reading.

Marianne MadiasMarianne Madias, Bioengineering

I grew up in Simi Valley, California, but moved to Tucson, Arizona to attend the University of Arizona, where I earned a degree in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Electrical and Computer Engineering. As an undergraduate, I became involved in research and decided to pursue it as a career. This led me to become a MARC scholar, which provided me support and research training in preparation for a graduate degree. During this program, I was able to go to the University of Michigan for a summer to perform research in an Electrical and Computer Engineering lab. Currently, I am pursuing a PhD in Bioengineering at UC San Diego. My research project in the lab of Dr. Ester Kwon is geared towards using novel nanoparticle therapeutics for the treatment of neurological disorders and traumatic brain injuries. I am extremely thankful to my family and mentors for their support and guidance that has brought me to where I am today.

Joshua MesfinJoshua Mesfin, Bioengineering

Hi! I was born and raised in New York City. I grew up with two very different cultures under my belt: I am both Filipino and Ethiopian. Although my parents sacrificed so much to come to the U.S., they encouraged me to pursue my passions, regardless of what they were. Growing up in New York City has developed me into the person I am today: open-minded, resilient, and (sometimes?) fashionable. 

I completed my undergraduate work at MIT in Biological Engineering. Besides doing endless amounts of schoolwork, I was a liaison between students and MIT Medical (MedLinks) and was an advisor to freshmen. Most importantly, I heavily pursued biological research, in the hopes of contributing towards a cure and positively changing the world. I didn’t know I wanted to pursue research until I arrived at MIT.  While primarily during my undergraduate years I did cancer and immuno-oncology research, I took an interest in pursuing tissue engineering research after taking a biomechanics and tissue engineering class. As biomechanics and tissue engineering are both strong research areas at UC San Diego, I decided to come here for a PhD in Bioengineering! Thanks to the opportunity given to me through the Sloan Fellowship, I hope to give back by becoming a mentor for undergraduates and to inspire other students to pursue a career in research.

Michael PokornikMichael Pokornik, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

The son of an Air Force veteran, I have lived in Germany, Colombia, Virginia, Texas, and now California.  I am of Colombian, Irish, and Czechoslovakian descent.  Being exposed to different cultures and places of living has allowed me to develop into a well-rounded and appreciative person.  Likewise, my academic career has progressed in a similar manner.  I received a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University and undergraduate degrees in Applied Physics and Mathematics at Texas Lutheran University.  Eager to strike a balance between engineering and physics, I am pursing a PhD in Engineering Physics at the University of California, San Diego to study relativistic laser-plasma interactions.  In the past I have conducted research in LIDAR target detection through machine learning and HF wave propagation in the ionosphere through numerical simulation.  I currently work at General Atomics as an engineer, focusing on directed energy applications. With the SLOAN Scholar Award, I can pursue research areas I am most interested in and retain a greater control over the direction and development of my scientific career.  In my free time I like to watch documentaries, visit museums, lift weights, play videogames, and hike.

Theresa RichardsTheresa Richards, Structural Engineering

Theresa Richards is an African American PhD student in the Department of Structural Engineering. She was raised in San Bernardino County with her parents and six sisters. Theresa obtained her Bachelor of Science in Structural Engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). As a former Triton, she competed and won three conference championships for UCSD Track and Field in javelin. Following graduation, she worked for Moffatt & Nichol in Long Beach, CA. While working full time, Theresa pursued her Master of Science at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Both institutions, UCSD and UCLA presented social and academical challenges which Theresa overcame daily. These same challenges also taught fundamental life skills outside of academia. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Theresa obtained a commercial underwater diving certification and received her Professional Engineering license in three states; California, New Jersey and New York. After eight years of industry experience, she decided to pursue her PhD and eventually a professorship because she knows it is vital to find a way to encourage more people of color to pursue and graduate with a Structural Engineering degree and teachers are invaluable to their success.

Mariana RivasMariana Rivas, Chemistry and Biochemistry

I am a Salvadoran native pursuing a PhD in Analytical Chemistry at UC San Diego. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, with a research focus on the intersection of chemistry and environmental health. I have analyzed data from field campaigns, studied aerosol dynamics, and researched plastic alternatives to decrease ocean pollution. Most recently, I worked in the Wilson research group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory studying the diffusion of organic gases into highly viscous aerosol particles using the Aerosol Optical Tweezers. Over the last four years I have also worked on evaluating the integration of green chemistry in general chemistry curricula and its effects on student retention and understanding. In my free time, I enjoy hikes, looking at cute animals, and watching British dramas.

Wade ShipleyWade Shipley, Materials Science and Engineering

I grew up in North County San Diego, though my family is mostly from the Midwest. Growing up, my father was a construction worker and I enjoyed seeing his job sites and working on building projects with him. I think working with my father was important for building a good work ethic and inspiring me to choose engineering. I completed my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at California State University Long Beach, with my research there focusing on the mechanical and electrical properties of polymer composite materials. Composite materials are fascinating because they are highly customizable for specific applications and allow a wider range of properties than otherwise available. In this modern world there is a great need to develop advanced materials in collaboration with many disciplines, which is a very exciting prospect as my interests cover a broad array of topics. At UCSD,  I will be studying the optical and mechanical properties of self-assembled nanocomposites under the supervision of both Dr. Tao and Dr. Boechler.

Laura Vasquez-BolanosLaura Vasquez-Bolanos, Bioengineering

I was born in Cali, Colombia and grew up in Northern Virginia. I completed my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Cornell University, where my research focus was on musculoskeletal disease and the microbiome. My experiences and mentors have supported me to continue my education at UCSD and I hope to give back to those of similar backgrounds so they can do the same. At UCSD, I plan on continuing research in orthopedics with an emphasis on injectable therapeutics to better treat injury. I am very grateful to be a Sloan Scholar and plan to make the most of the opportunity.

Emily ZhuEmily Zhu, Mathematics

Growing up in New Jersey, Emily picked up the infectious enthusiasm of her high school math team and has studied math ever since. Towards that purpose, she attended Carnegie Mellon University, earning a joint Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences. There, she also worked as a tutor and teaching assistant for various math courses and coached a local grade school math team. Her research is in Combinatorics, particularly Ramsey Theory, which is essentially the study of order in large structure. For instance, classical Graph Ramsey Theory asks how large a complete graph must be to guarantee the existence of a subgraph H in some color when k-coloring the edges. As a math PhD student, Emily is excited to continue studying math and helping others learn math.