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2021 Bouchet Scholars 



Daril E. Brown II, Electrical and Computer Engineering


Daril E. Brown II is a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus on Medical Devices. His research focuses on decoding neural activity recorded from motor regions of free-behaving songbirds during song production. This work seeks to establish songbirds as a novel animal model for the development of a human speech prosthesis. Daril was awarded support from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP), the UC Office of the President’s UC-HBCU Initiative, and UCSD’s Competitive Edge Program. He has been recognized as a Gordon Scholar and an Institute for the Global Entrepreneur (IGE) Technology Management and Entrepreneurism Fellow. In addition, Daril earned his Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering with honors from Howard University, and his Masters in Bioengineering from UC San Diego. Daril strongly believes in reaching back as he strives forward and seeks to mentor the next generation of scientists and engineers. He was the lead instructor for the Introduction to Mechanical Engineering course for UCSD Extension’s Academic Connections program, a graduate advocate for UCSD’s Summer Training Academy for Research Success (STARS), and a graduate mentor for the Cuyamaca College STEM Guided Pathways Partnership. As a two-time UCSD Grad Slam finalist, Daril is a strong advocate for science literacy and accessibility which motivates him to take part in several science communication efforts. Most recently he was featured on the KPBS Rad Scientist podcast where he explained his research and its impacts on the San Diego community. Ultimately, Daril aspires to forge a career that intersects industry, academia, and policy as he works to ensure neurotechnology equitably benefits society.



Mayra Cortes, Literature

Mayra Cortes is a candidate for the Ph.D. in literature at the University of California, San Diego. She is working on completing her dissertation, titled, The Sound of Acousmatic Empire: Spanish and English Sonic Warfare in Utopian ‘New Worlds,’ 1542-1638. Currently, she’s working on publishing her article, “Acousmatic Noise: Racialization and Resistance in The Tempest’s ‘New World’ Soundscape.” She attended Cerritos Community College and transferred to UCLA. At UCSD, she has had the honor to serve as an educator in various programs, including First Year and Transfer Year Experience (FYE/TYE) program for Warren College and Muir College, the Chancellor’s Associate Scholars Program (CASP) in the Education Studies Department, and Preparing Accomplished Transfers to the Humanities in the literature department. This summer she will be teaching a course she created, titled, “Sounds of Resistance: The Future is Now!” She has served as a leader of her community by bringing together the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and the Undocumented Student Services (USS) in order to make UCSD a more inclusive space for undocumented/DACA students. She volunteers for the USS, the Learning Communities, and the Academic Enrichment Program, where she shares her story and demystifies the graduate school application. One of her most fulfilling experiences has been being a mentor for undocumented/DACA students. Her purpose is to bring communities together to support the personal, academic, and career goals of students. She believes that with a courageous, generous, and creative voice we can all thrive, not just survive.


Syeda ShahBano Ijaz, Political Science

Syeda ShahBano Ijaz is a candidate for the Ph.D. in Political Science at UC San Diego and specializes in the political economy of developing countries. Through her research, she develops a theory of access provision to foreign aid-funded projects and its consequences for democratic accountability and representation. Specifically, she focuses on gaps in last-mile access to foreign aid-funded social security programs in Pakistan. Ijaz’s research has received support from the Center of Peace and Security Studies, Friends of the International Center, the International Institute, and the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. Ijaz has an M.A. in Politics from NYU and an M.Sc. in Economics for Development from Oxford University, where she was awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship. She has a B.Sc. (Honors) in Economics from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, where she received two gold medals for overall excellence in the undergraduate program and for the best student in Economics. As a first-generation immigrant, an American Muslim of color, and a graduate student parent, Ijaz is committed to flattening the academic playing field for minority students – particularly those who bear the intersectional burden of discrimination. At UCSD, she serves as the graduate student liaison for her department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce.  She is also the lead convener for UCSD’s Women in Political Science (WIPS) group and mentors prospective graduate students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) as part of the UCSD-Spelman-Morehouse summer program. Ijaz’s research probes the agency of aid beneficiaries and, in doing so, seeks to decolonize the study of foreign aid by shifting analytical focus from donors to the targets of international development. As a Bouchet Scholar, Ijaz aims to cultivate interuniversity partnerships that address the leakage of minority scholars from the academic pipeline. Her ultimate goal is to work towards improving diversity and representation in the professoriate.


Tashiana C. Osborne, Climate Sciences

Tashiana C. Osborne is a Ph.D. candidate in Climate Sciences with a concentration in hydrometeorology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California (UC) San Diego. Her research defines, characterizes, and investigates changes in precipitation during atmospheric river storms. Tashiana has been recognized as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow, San Diego Fellow, and UC President's Dissertation Year Fellow. She received a dual B.S. in meteorology and hydrology at Saint Cloud State University, additionally earning multiple awards for scholarly achievements and mentoring. Tashiana was awarded the Prize for Best Advocate for UC Graduate Studies and was selected for American Meteorological Society and American Geophysical Union programs to train within the science-society nexus. In addition, Tashiana has returned as a Science Mentor for several Girls in STEAM Conferences designed for 6th-8th grade girls striving to become the first college graduates in their families. She also engages internationally as a co-lead for educational programs following an Ocean Peace Corps model, founding member of the Oceanography Society’s JEDI (Justice-Equity-Diversity-Inclusion) Committee, and Scripps Delegate during United Nations Climate Summits. Tashiana is driven to continue sharing science and contributing to work that can help protect lives and livelihoods.

Donté Alexander Stevens, Biological Sciences

Donté Alexander Stevens (Alex) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Cell and Developmental Biology section at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Prior to coming to UCSD, Alex attended Washington and Jefferson College where he received a Bachelor of Arts in both Biology and Spanish Literature. He then moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he participated in the National Health Institutes’ Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program in the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Schisler. At UCSD, Alex works in the Reck-Peterson Laboratory where the research is focused on understanding the spatial and temporal organization of eukaryotic cells through the microtubule cytoskeleton and associated transport machinery. Alex is particularly interested in understanding how pathogens can subvert the intracellular transport machinery to establish successful infections. Alex has been recognized as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Gilliam Fellow. Alex has been an active member in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. Alex and his colleagues successfully rechartered a SACNAS chapter and established the Diversity and Science Lectures Series (DASL) which is a weekly program that celebrates the life journey and cutting-edge science of underrepresented graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Ultimately, Alex intends to pursue a professorship where he can establish a successful research program and continue to foster and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at whichever institution he finds himself.