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Isabel AlbeloIsabel Albelo, Materials Science and Engineering

I was born and raised just south of Sacramento, California. My interest in environmental stewardship was inspired by a childhood spent outdoors and I realized I could channel that passion into a career during my high school IB Chemistry class. I entered UCLA as an Environmental Engineering student, but after doing a research internship at the Northwestern University Materials Research Center, I knew that it was the field for me. Through the UCLA Materials Engineering curriculum and a subsequent internship at the MIT Materials Research Laboratory, I knew that I was not done learning about materials science and that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree that would also allow me to perform cutting edge research. For my PhD work, I will be studying the photocatalytic production of carbon neutral solar fuels in the Solar Energy Innovation Laboratory under Dr. David Fenning. I hope to leverage my opportunity to be a SLOAN Scholar to perform work that helps to make a sustainable energy future possible.


Anthony AportelaAnthony Aportela, Physics

I am a first-generation Cuban American born and raised in the Atlanta area. I studied physics at Georgia Tech and now I feel lucky to be starting my first year of my graduate degree in the UCSD physics department. I somewhat naively knew that I wanted to be a physicist since I was in middle school. At the time I didn’t really have a tight grasp of what physicists do or what research really was. But my time at Georgia Tech proved to me that I did in fact love physics and that I really do want to be a physicist. I spent 3 and a half years of my undergraduate career working in  research under Dr. Flavio Fenton in the Complex Heart Arrhythmias and other Oscillating Systems lab where my primary focus was on computational modeling of reaction-diffusive media. My research interests are in computation, quantitative biology, and information theory. Once I graduate, I hope to continue doing research, but just as important to me is becoming a good teacher. In my free time I like learning languages, hiking, and building things.


Alemayehu BogaleAlemayehu Bogale, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

I'm a first-generation Ethiopian-American who was born and raised in Chicago, IL. At a very young age, my mother stressed the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities my sister and I were given through education. We saw her work 3-4 jobs at a time, which instilled a work ethic in us that has served us so well. My sister came to this country when she was 17. I saw her struggles and tribulations, but despite the odds, she is now a Doctor of Pharmacy(I'm so proud of her)! To say the least, the women in my life have had a profound impact on who I am today. 

I'm not exactly sure when my passion for science developed, but I can tell you that the mysteries and challenges of the universe have always fascinated me. After watching the Cosmos series with Neil Degrasse Tyson in high school, I knew I was hooked on physics. I completed my degree in Physics at the University of Chicago while I was there, I had the privilege of being part of the Flash Center for Computational Science which introduced me to the computational side of physics. I was able to contribute to the FLASH code, a radiation MHD simulation code used by the international plasma and astrophysics community. During the summers, I had the opportunity to work at LLNL, where I worked on high-order PIC code. These experiences led me to pursue a Ph.D. in Engineering Physics, where I will be modeling laser-plasma interactions and Z-Pinches. My goal is to revolutionize our understanding of plasma physics through the concerted use of numerical methods, computer simulations, and laboratory experiments. With the opportunities provided by the Sloan fellowship, I hope to encourage other BIPOC students to consider a career in science.


Maribel ClerkMaribel Clerk, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Maribel Clerk was born in Mexico and moved to the United States at a young age. She began working during her high school years and continued to do so through her college experience. An untraditional student, she attended community college until she was able to transfer to California State University, San Marcos, where she became a first-generation college graduate. As an undergraduate, Maribel was involved in several outreach events. Coming from an economically disadvantaged household and having no support navigating the school system in the United States, she places a high value on making science accessible to more diverse groups of people.

During her time in community college, Maribel participated in two summer REU programs. Both were conducted under the mentorship of Dr Peter Iovine at University of San Diego. Her first summer she worked on the borylation of starch with a long-term goal of being utilized for boron neutron capture therapy. The project evolved into the optimization of starch functionalization using activated esters. The following summer her work involved the design and synthesis of potential chemical penetration/permeation enhancers, CPEs, from terpenes. The work emphasized greener techniques and more sustainable materials. After bringing up a small sample of compounds, Maribel participated in developing an efficacy assay to be used at a later date due to program timing constraints. At the University of California, San Diego, UCSD, Maribel hopes to continue expanding her knowledge base of chemistry. Her primary interests in the field are in organic synthesis as well as polymers and materials science. Her goal in achieving a doctorate in chemistry is fueled by a desire to reach out to and empower students who, like herself, come from disadvantaged positions, and to expand the access minority, ESL, and untraditional students have to pursuing careers in STEM disciplines.


Jack GarzellaJack Garzella, Mathematics

Jack J Garzella was born just outside Denver, Colorado, and was raised in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. His interest in mathematics developed during grade and middle school, and in high school he became involved in research. He attended the University of Utah as an undergraduate, where he did various research projects in optimization, formal verification, and floating-point consistency. During his time at the University of Utah, he was amazingly blessed to be taught, both in one-on-one reading courses and in traditional classes, by many of the amazing mathematicians at Utah. After junior year, he attended an NSF REU in Number Theory, which was influential in his decision to come to UCSD for a PhD in Algebraic Geometry & Number Theory. At UC San Diego, he hopes to build on his undergraduate foundation to become a research mathematician, while inspiring students through teaching and individual mentoring. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, hiking, and playing the drums and piano.


Jeff JaureguyJeff Jaureguy, Bioinformatics

I grew up in Oceanside, California, and transferred from MicraCosta college, a community college, and completed my undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at California State University of San Marcos (CSUSM). I have been involved in scientific research for over 5 years revolved around Molecular Ecology and Bioinformatics research. I previously worked in the environmental industry as a conservational biologist and then reentered into college and became fascinated with scientific research in the academic environment while completing research through the Bridges to Future program at MiraCosta College. This then led me to transfer to CSUSM and become a MARC scholar, a scholarship program that provided resources and training to continue to advance my scientific research career and provided me with numerous research opportunities such as funded internships and lab research experiences, science communication development by presenting at national conferences, andalso developing a deep understanding of ethical conduct through professional workshops and seminars. I completed the summer training-academy for research success (STAR’s)program, a summer research experience at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and gained invaluable research skills as well as a deep respect and admiration of the University. I am now completing a PhD in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and will be focusing my research in the field of cancer genomics. I am extremely grateful and excited to be a Sloan scholar and will utilize this opportunity to develop further as a research scientist.


Derek JonesDerek Jones, Computer Science and Engineering

I am a first-generation college graduate and the first in my family to pursue graduate study. I grew up in a rural eastern Kentucky community in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. I attended the University of Kentucky where I pursued my Bachelor's in Computer Science with a dual major in Mathematical Economics then immediately afterwards my Master's in Computer Science. I fell in love with calculus in high school and that motivated me to continue pursuing a mathematics-oriented focus in my undergraduate studies, even though I had no idea I would eventually end up working on modeling protein interactions with machine learning in my master's thesis. My identity as a biracial person perhaps predisposed me to engaging with interdisciplinary research topics in bioinformatics as they afforded to me the opportunity to take something I was passionate about and come together with other equally passionate people to solve a problem neither party could as adequately address on their own. As part of my work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, I have had opportunities to continue this type of work to accelerate physics based efficacy modeling and intelligent chemical space optimization algorithms as part of the ATOM (Accelerating Therapeutic Opportunities in Medicine) consortium.

Nathaniel LindenNathaniel Linden, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

For as long as I can remember I have been curious about how and why things work. As a child this meant pretending I was a plumber building complex systems. While in high school I interned with Gauss Surgical Inc. developing an app to monitor quantitative blood loss during surgery. I then spent the last 4 years studying Bioengineering and Applied Mathematics at the University of Washington and graduated with departmental honors this summer. I began research as a freshman when I joined Professor Andre Benrdt’s lab developing a high-throughput pipeline to design protein based tools for optogenetics. I then decided to work with Professor Bing Brunton to pursue my interest in applied mathematics. I designed a method to quantify spatiotemporal dynamics in optical neural records to study neurological development and behavior. I was recognized as a Washington Research Foundation Innovation Undergraduate Fellow in Neuroengineering for my work. I am now pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and am interested in developing data driven methods to model complex biological systems, especially systems in cancer biology. Outside of academics I am an avid rock climber and ranked nationally in youth competitions.


Gabriel MarcanoGabriel Marcano, Computer Science and Engineering

Gabriel was born in upstate New York as the son of Dominican graduate students at Cornell University. Once his father completed his PhD, his family moved to the Dominican Republic, hoping to establish themselves so that Gabriel and his younger brother, would be able to grow up with their extended family. When Gabriel was 10, due to economic hardships and seeking a better life, Gabriel's parents made the tough decision to transplant their family to Worcester, Massachusetts. From early on, Gabriel showed interest in electronics (and video games), and as such he spent a lot of his time experimenting with computers. In his inner-city high school, Gabriel was the unofficial (and only) computer technician, fixing and maintaining the 10 year old computers, projectors and printers. Gabriel went on to study at the Rochester Institute of Technology, focusing on software architecture and design, but also discovered his love for tinkering with hardware and computer architecture. After obtaining his B.S. in Software Engineering, he moved to northern Virginia to work for the MITRE Corporation. In his 5 years there, he worked mostly on research projects involving embedded systems, from stand off, handheld hyperspectral sensors, to low power, high performance embedded systems programming for autonomous vehicles. While working on these projects, Gabriel realized that there was room for improvement, and that "the more you know, the more you know you don't know”. He decided to pursue a PhD at UC San Diego in embedded systems architecture and design with the hopes that he will be able to develop systems to help improve people's quality of life, especially those in more remote areas of the world.


Xandra NuquiXandra Nuqui, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Xandra completed their B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at UC Davis. Since graduating in 2016, they’ve worked in the San Francisco Bay Area at several alternative protein startups. From discovering functional protein ingredients to “growing” meat in a bioreactor, their research aims to answer the question “how do we motivate an unchanging industry to adopt radically sustainable practices?” 

Their time in industry not only provided them with the foundation to ask bold questions such as this, it cemented their passion for all things protein. As a Biochemistry PhD student, Xandra aspires to enable innovative, disruptive technology by developing novel protein materials or engineering enzyme functions. When they’re not in the lab, they’re in the kitchen trying out new recipes to add to their repertoire.


Etienne PalosEtienne Isreal Palos, Chemistry and Biochemistry

I am a Chicano student pursuing a PhD in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry at UC San Diego. I was born in San Diego, but was raised on both sides of the Mexico-United States border. It was in Mexico where it became clear that science was my vocation, during a workshop where I learned how photonics and quantum computation could revolutionize technology. Shortly after, I left my home to study Nanotechnology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). 

During my time at UNAM, I had the fortune of engaging in experimental and theoretical research from early on. My theoretical trajectory began in 2018, when I came to UCSD as a STARS scholar, and worked in the lab of Dr. Yuen-Zhou in the emerging field of polariton chemistry. That fall I returned to UNAM, and joined the Virtual Materials Modeling Lab (LVMM). Since then, I have gained experience in materials theory through participation in several projects. Under the supervision of Dr. Guerrero-Sánchez, I completed my thesis on the computational quantum-mechanical modeling of novel ternary transition metal chalcogenides for electronic and spintronic applications.

At UC San Diego, I will be working at the interface between quantum dynamics, statistical mechanics and computer science in the research group of Prof. Francesco Paesani. During my PhD, I hope to develop new models for many-body interactions to predict the behaviour and properties of complex molecular systems.


Kristen SusukiKristen Susuki, Structural Engineering

Kristen is a fourth-generation Japanese American PhD student in the Department of Structural Engineering. Born and raised in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, Kristen grew up very close with her parents and older brother and gained an affinity for the Gateway to the West. For college, she stayed true to her Midwestern roots and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison—where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Certificate in International Engineering. Throughout her undergraduate career, Kristen balanced many jobs to help financially support her education; she worked as an on-campus tutor, research assistant, teaching assistant, and intern for Sierra Nevada Corporation in both the Materials and Processes and Structural Analysis departments. Kristen also actively pursues her love for travel. She has traveled to forty-three U.S. states and twenty-three countries, spanning four continents. Academically, she is interested in solid mechanics and finite element methods. Her research will focus on meshfree methods development under the guidance of Professor J.S. Chen. Kristen is eager to increase female representation in her field of mechanics and in STEM higher education in general, and she cannot wait to see what her move from the Gateway to the West to the West Coast will bring.