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2011 Bouchet Scholars

Tenai Eguen, Ph.D. Candidate in Biological Sciences

Tenai Eguen is a 5th year graduate student in the division of biological sciences at the University of California, San Diego. She attended the University of California, Santa Cruz for her undergraduate studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and Bachelors of Arts degree in business management economics. She received the California Alumni Association Undergraduate research awards for her research in light sensing in plants. Her undergraduate research was funded by the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, UCSC. Tenai began her graduate studies at UCSD in 2006, and was awarded the Competitive EDGE Summer Research award, the UCSD Alliance for Graduate Education (AGEP) fellowship and the San Diego fellowship. Tenai is currently a NSF plant systems biology IGERT fellow under the direction of Dr. Steve Briggs. Her lab research involves the use of proteomics to study plant defense against pathogen infection. She is currently training and mentoring undergraduate students to understand science through lab research. Tenai is also a senior teaching assistant for the biological sciences division, and is actively involved in the training and mentoring of TAs. She is a member of the minority outreach and recruitment committee at UCSD. Tenai hopes to continue her research in plant development after she graduates.

Sarah Gray Knoesen, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science

Sarah Gray Knoesen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. She holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of California, Irvine and an M.A. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on the politics of economic development and democratic institutions in the context of developing countries in Africa. Sarah's dissertation analyzes the political logic of fiscal distribution in South Africa, examining distributive decisions made by the central government, to determine how the African National Congress maintains its political dominance in South Africa. Sarah is a research fellow at the Center for the Study of African Political Economy in the Political Science Department at UC San Diego. She is also a research scholar at the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UC San Diego. Sarah is an active member of the Women in Political Science Program at UC San Diego. She has previously served three terms as co-director of this program, during which time she helped the program to develop into a sustainable networking and mentoring organization for all female graduate students in the department. She also served two terms as the Vice President of Social Programming of the Department of Political Science Graduate Student Council during which she organized six department-wide social events.

Samuel Lassee, Ph.D. Candidate in Biological Sciences

Samuel Lasse grew up in Ohio and attended the Ohio State University for his undergraduate studies. As an undergraduate researcher, Samuel investigated the first known cooperation between genetic and environmental factors in the development of one of the most common human birth defects, holoprosencephaly. He shared his enthusiasm for science with the local community by tutoring middle school children in Biology. Samuel continues his education in the Biological Sciences Ph.D. program at the University of California, San Diego. There he studies the role of cell-cell adhesion proteins in regulating the fate decisions of stem cells in the epidermis. Samuel continues to be involved in community outreach efforts at UCSD. As a fellow in the UCSD Socrates program he partnered with a local high school teacher to develop and implement inquiry-based curriculum. Samuel also facilitates numerous lab tours to groups of high school students, encouraging participation in science related careers. In the future he plans to shift his research focus toward mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and obesity. Samuel aspires to obtain a faculty position at an institution where he can both promote education in the classroom and continue to support educational outreach to high school and middle school students.


Maiya Murphy, Ph.D. Candidate in Drama and Theatre

Maiya Murphy’s work focuses on physically based performer training programs and their relationship to theory. Maiya fuses her practical background in acting and dance with scholarly research and writing to re-envision the relationships between practice, theory, and the body. Maiya is passionate about articulating how physically based practices can contribute to larger conversations about the value of embodied practices and knowledge. Her dissertation includes how new conversations in cognitive neuroscience may help to re-imagine how the moving body participates in fashioning creative cognition in performer training programs. Maiya is an active member of professional associations in theatre including Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and (ASTR) Association for Theatre Movement Educators, and a 2011 recipient of a UC San Diego Humanities Division Initiatives Award. She has performed as an actor, dancer, and deviser from California to New York with companies such as mugwumpin and Motion Underground’s Elements of Motion. As Administrative Director in the graduate theatre program at Naropa University, she supported the program Chairs in ushering in two somatically based MFA programs in theatre. Born in Denver, Colorado to a Chicana mother and Irish-American father, Maiya follows in her parents’ footsteps by advocating for Chicana/o students in education, and actively supporting the youth membership of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a Buddhist organization committed to peace, culture, and education, of which she has been a lifelong member. She received her BA in Theater Studies from Yale University and was a member of the inaugural class of the Lecoq-based performer training program, the London International School of the Performing Arts (LISPA).


Jennifer Piscopo, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science

Jennifer M. Piscopo holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Wellesley College and an M.Phil. in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge. She is the first woman in her family to attend college and the first person to receive a graduate degree. This distinction has made fairness and equality central to her research, teaching, and service. For her dissertation, she explores the policy consequences of Latin America’s gender quota laws—affirmative action rules that compel political parties to nominate specified percentages of women to public office. This work asks questions about who sits at the decision-making table in democratic societies, and why diversity matters for the distribution of rights and entitlements. She has published in Parliamentary Affairs and Politics & Gender, and her co-edited volume on quota policies is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. She is a former Gates Cambridge Scholar and current co-chair of the Gates Scholars’ Alumni Association. She previously served as the co-director of the Woman in Political Science (WIPS) Program at the University of California, San Diego, where she advocated for the greater inclusion of women and minority students into the graduate program. She will receive her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego, in June 2011. For Fall 2011, she has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Salem College, an all-women’s liberal arts school in North Carolina. Outside of academia, she enjoys traveling, hiking, yoga, and reading books on her Kindle.


Sjahari Pullom, Ph.D. Candidate in History

Sjahari Pullom is a Ph.D. Candidate in his last year of study in the Department of History at the University of California, San Diego. He is currently completing his dissertation, “Imperial Education: Colonial Colleges, Indigenous Elites, and Cultural Syncretism in New Spain (1521-1605) and the British Raj (1817-1855).” The study is an analysis of programs of acculturation centered on two flagship colleges, one in each colony. These programs were designed to accustom local elites to European forms of knowledge and inculcate European values and beliefs to the children of indigenous elites, in the hopes of creating an affinity between these elites and the European rulers of the newly created colonial empires. The study gives insights into how the process of acculturation functioned at an on-the-ground level and how the results of these programs were a product of continual negotiation, cooperation, and conflict between colonizer and colonizer, and reflect not only the goals of each group, but the unintended consequences of pursuing those goals as well. Sjahari was born in Detroit and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky. He attended college in the Washington, D.C. area and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science/International Relations in 1994. After serving for nine years in the U.S. Navy, Sjahari was honorably discharged in 2003 and became a full-time doctoral student at UC San Diego. Sjahari is married to the former Roekmini Harris of San Diego, and lives with his wife and their four wonderful children, Stephen, Alejandro, Rahim, and Matiana in student housing at the university.


Christine Shulse, Ph.D. Candidate in Biological Sciences

Christine Shulse is a Ph.D. candidate in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, where she is advised by Dr. Eric E. Allen. For her dissertation, she is investigating the distribution and ecological significance of the production of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) by marine bacteria. This information is of particular interest due to the benefits of omega-3 PUFAs on human health as well as their effects on the marine food web. In addition to her research interests, Christine is passionate about ensuring a quality science education for all. In 2009 she was selected as a National Science Foundation (NSF) GK-12 Socrates Fellow. Through this fellowship she developed and implemented inquiry-based science lessons in collaboration with a high school teacher in Chula Vista. During the summer of 2010, Christine designed and taught an intensive three-week course on Marine Microbiology at UCSD for high-achieving high school students through the Academic Connections program. Recently, she was named a Summer Graduate Teaching Fellow and will be teaching BILD1: The Cell, a required introductory course for Biology majors at UCSD. Christine was born in Berkeley, California, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to enrolling at UC San Diego, she earned a B.S. from Georgetown University, where she double majored in Biology and Spanish. After completing her doctorate, Christine plans to continue her research career through a postdoctoral position where she can use microbial genomics and metagenomics to further our understanding of the Earth’s biogeochemical cycles.


Brendan Thornton, Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology

Brendan Thornton is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology in the final stages of writing his dissertation, Searching for Respect: The Cultural Politics of Evangelical Christianity in the Dominican Republic. His research is broadly concerned with questions of religion, identity and culture. Brendan conducted over two years of ethnographic fieldwork in a poor urban barrio of Villa Altagracia, Dominican Republic, examining the everyday practices of Pentecostal community members and the ways in which they negotiate meaning, belonging, and moral authority in the context of religious heterodoxy and Catholic cultural supremacy. He is interested in the micro politics of belief and the role religious identity plays in the context of poor urban communities. His broad anthropological interests center on comparative religion, Christianities, and comparative Caribbean ethnology. While his dissertation focuses on evangelical Christianity, he is also interested in the growth and transformation of native Caribbean religions (such as Haitian vodou, santería, etc.) and in particular their relationship to Pentecostal expansion and related social movements. Brendan loves teaching and considers himself an enthusiastic teacher-scholar. He believes that the educational benefits of diversity begin in the classroom where a critical perspective on why, how, and to whom one teaches is essential for creating effective and liberating learning environments for all. To this end, Brendan considers his teaching to be as important as his scholarship in using anthropology to enrich human understanding and enliven possibility within human experience. Brendan is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan and was graduated from Michigan State University in 2002.


James G. Williams, Ph.D. Candidate in Music

Critical musicologist, pianist, and composer describe the scholarly and artistic endeavors of James G. Williams. Developing a theory for analyzing how resistance to hegemony is signified in the work of African-American musicians and how black music aesthetics becomes a hermeneutical lens for understanding this resistance comprises the focus of his doctoral research. Mr. Williams believes diversity is the vital nexus of scholarship. New England Conservatory of Music and New York University have granted Bachelors and Master of Arts diplomas to Mr. Williams.