Current Scholars

Orange County Chapter provides awards to exceptional PhD students at UC Irvine. The year 2017-18 the chapter has funded 17 ARCS Scholars. 

At our Awards Dinner, the ARCS Scholars showcase their contributions in the fields of science, engineering and medicine and, enlight us with their vision for a better future. This yearly event is a wonderful chance to meet the ARCS Scholars, and learn about their research during the poster session/reception. Keynote speakers are second year ARCS Scholars who speak about their research. 

1st Year Scholars

Eva Morozko

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Neurobiology & Behavior, UC Irvine, 2019 expected
  • B.S., Biochemistry, Seton Hall University,2012

Research

Molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders

Advisor

Dr. Leslie Thompson

Biography

After conducting undergraduate research and earning her B.S., Eva worked as a post-baccalaureate at the NIH for two years.  Her current project focuses on the molecular contributions towards Huntington’s disease pathogenesis and ties in her previous research interests of biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics.  She is currently an NSF GRFP scholar and coordinates a student-run seminar, Neuroblitz, for her department.  Eva believes having a healthy body produces a healthy mind and partakes in numerous athletic activities, most notably as a nationally ranked competitive archer for UCI’s collegiate team.

Rachel Gurlin

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, UC Irvine, 2019 expected
  • B.S., Biomedical Engineering, UC Davis, 2014

Research

Diabetes research/treatment

Advisor

Dr. Elliot Botvinick

Biography

Utilizing tissue engineering and microfabrication techniques, Rachel is developing a bioartificial pancreas device for the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D).  She began her journey back in high school participating in COSMOS (California State Summer School for Math and Science), continuing through her undergraduate studies and now.  Rachel is dedicated to using her BME background in engineering a T1D treatment. 

Alexander Eldredge

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Chemistry, UC Irvine, 2019 expected
  • B.S., Chemistry and Biology, University of Minnesota, 2016

Research

Chemical biology, material science, organic chemistry

Advisor

Dr. Zhibin Guan

Biography

While an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, Alex worked in the  research lab of Romas Kazlauskas developing enzymes to catalyze C-C bond forming reactions.  Additionally, he worked at 3M in the biomaterials group studying the effects of surfactants on the efficacy of various antimicrobial agents.  During his undergraduate career, Alex received many awards including the Franklin D. Enfield Memorial Scholarship for outstanding research outside the University of Minnesota.  At UCI, Alex’s research focuses on developing polymers for nucleic acid delivery.

Joseph Bell

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, UC Irvine, 2020 expected
  • M.S., Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, UC Irvine, 2016
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering, UC Irvine, 2014

Research

Automotive controls

Advisor

Dr. Gregory Washington

Biography

Joseph has already received both bachelors’ and master’s degrees at UCI, which is where he developed his interest in automotive controls.  He shares a passion for racing and restoring cars with his father, but it was not until graduate school that he combined his personal hobbies with his research.  Joseph is focused in automotive controls and is currently researching alternative energy vehicles and venturing into the autonomous driving field.  In this arena he has interned with for the Ford Motor Company for the second time this year at its Research and Innovation lab in Palo Alto.

Amber Habowski

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences-Molecular Biology, UC Irvine, 2020 expected
  • B.S. Cellular & Molecular Biology, and Biochemistry, Seattle Pacific University, 2014

Research

RNA processing in the initiation and progression of colon cancer

Advisor

Dr. Marian Waterman

Biography

Amber graduated Summa Cum Laude from Seattle Pacific University with a double major in Cellular & Molecular Biology and Biochemistry before relocating to Southern California.  She has been awarded UCI’s Ayala Fellowship, an appointment on the Cancer Biology T32 training grant, an NSF GRFP, the SOM Stanley Behrens Fellowship, and an ELISS fellowship through AAAS.  Her thesis work is focused on understanding the role of RNA processing in the initiation and progression of colon cancer.  In her free time, Amber enjoys playing soccer for UCI’s club soccer team and going to the beach, hiking, and camping.  She volunteers with FIRST Robotics and IUSD/OC Science Fairs and is also the coordinator of the CRI Youth Science Fellowship program, and enjoys working with and teaching high school students and undergraduates.

Stephanie Hachey

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, UC Irvine, 2019 expected
  • M.S., Biomedical & Translational Science, UC Irvine, 2014
  • B.S., Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology, UC Santa Cruz, 2009

Research

Cancer biology and precision medicine

Advisor

Dr. Chris Hughes

Biography

Stephanie’s main research interests are in cancer biology and precision medicine, with a focus on facilitating the translation of basic science findings to the clinic.  Currently she aims to develop microphysiological systems for drug screening, disease modeling and personalized medicine applications.  She is an active member of the GPS-Biomed program on campus and has extensive experience with hands-on, cross-disciplinary training in molecular biology from her research positions.  Stephanie spearheaded collaboration with UCI physicians to launch her thesis project during her first-year rotation and the resulting translational infrastructure will support efforts to improve patient outcomes.

Leah Horgan

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Informatics, UC Irvine, 2020 expected
  • B.F.A., New England School of Art & Design, Suffolk University, 2007

Research

Social justice, innovation culture, new media and theory, predictive analytics, organizational and practice theory.

Advisor

Dr. Paul Dourish

Biography

Before transferring to UCI, Leah studied for two years in the Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design, conducting fieldwork around ICTs in partnership with UNICEF’s Innovation Lab in Kampala, Uganda.  Prior to graduate studies, she held a position for 3 ½ years at MIT’s Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) working on design, communication, and executive administration efforts.  Currently, Leah works for the LA City Data Team to conduct an ethnographic study of data-driven governance in the era of big data.

Naomi Lomeli

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Experimental Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, UC Irvine, 2019 expected
  • B.S., Biological Sciences, UC Irvine, 2013

Research

Treatment of neurological disorders

Advisor

Dr. Daniela Bota

Biography

Naomi’s scientific life-long goal is to conduct translational research that has the potential to improve the lives of people living with currently untreatable neurological disorders.  Her current research project has given her the opportunity to conduct groundwork for novel treatments that address the downstream side effects of chemotherapy including the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine.  While an undergraduate at UCI, she conducted Alzheimer’s disease research in the lab of Dr. Andrea Tenner.  Naomi is passionate about mentoring students and encouraging the pursuit of biomedical research through outreach activities.  In the lab, she has mentored and trained seven lab members in various stages of their education ranging from high school students to clinical fellows.  Naomi has served as a graduate counselor for CampMed, a UCI-based organization that mentors local high school students.  Annually, she serves as a judge for the UCI Minority Science Program summer research symposium and graduate school seminar panelist.  In 2016, she served as a graduate student representative for the UCI School of Medicine at a national diversity in STEM conference, SACNAS.  Naomi is currently representing the Department of Experimental Pathology on the School of Medicine Student Council.

Jennifer Bryson

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Mathematics, UC Irvine, 2019 expected
  • M.S., Mathematics, UC Irvine, 2016
  • B.S., Mathematics, Texas A&M University, 2013

Research

High dimensional phenomena, randomized linear algebra, applications to data science

Advisor

Dr. Hongkai Zhao

Biography

Jennifer’s research interests include high dimensional phenomena, randomized linear algebra, and applications to data science.  She is proud to have recently made a big breakthrough on her current project on finding the smallest dimension possible to embed certain high dimensional data points in, up to a user-defined error tolerance.  Jennifer’s work experience comes from a variety of summer programs, her favorites being two internships with the NSA.  While at UCI, she is honored to have received the Outstanding Contributions to the Department award two years in a row, and also the Outstanding Mathematics Teaching Assistant Honorable Mention.  Outside of her studies, Jennifer is a co-organizer for the Physical Sciences DECADE group, promoting diversity and an inclusive environment for graduate students.  She is also one of two Mentor Coordinators for this year’s incoming Math graduate students.  Jennifer enjoys volunteering with math outreach activities such as the middle school programs Math Circle, Math CEO and MATHCOUNTS, as well.

Michelle Nuno

Degrees

  • Ph.D. Statistics, UC Irvine, 2020 expected
  • M.S., Statistics, UC Irvine, 2017
  • B.S., Applied Mathematics-Statistics, UC Riverside, 2015

Research

Statistical methodology with applications to biomarker discovery, Alzheimer’s disease

Advisor

Dr. Daniel Gillen

Biography

Michelle’s research focuses on the development of novel statistical methodology with applications to biomarker discovery in multiple disease areas, with specific interest in applications to Alzheimer’s disease.  She graduated from UC Riverside with a 4.0 GPA.  Since coming to UCI, Michelle has been named a National Science Foundation Fellow and a Eugene Cota-Robles Fellow, and also received the Robert L. Newcomb Memorial Endowed Graduate Student Award.  She has a strong commitment to helping underrepresented students succeed academically, particularly in STEM disciplines.

2nd Year Scholars

Kathryn Ringland

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Informatics, UC Irvine, 2018 expected
  • B.S., Psychology, Washington State University-Vancouver, 2013

Research

Human-computer interaction, assistive technology

Advisor

Dr. Gillian Hayes

Biography

Kathryn E. Ringland is an Informatics Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Information and Computer Sciences, under the advisement of Dr. Gillian Hayes.  She received her B.S. in Psychology from Washington State University Vancouver.  Her research interests include studying and designing assistive technology for youth with disabilities.  Her dissertation work is exploring how an online community for children with autism uses various social media, including the popular Minecraft game, to support socialization.  She is interested in how online social media expands our definitions of sociality and the assistive role technology has to play in our online and offline interactions.

Christine Schneider

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, UC Irvine, 2019 expected
  • B.S., Biochemistry & Biophysics, Oregon State University, 2011

Research

Immunology, infectious diseases

Advisor

Dr. Melissa Lodoen

Biography

Over the last 13 years I’ve gained a broad training in molecular biology, including a degree in Biochemistry and Biophysics at Oregon State University.  I also discovered my passion for infectious disease research and currently study the interface between the brain-resident parasite Toxoplasma gondii and the host immune system.  An essential component of my research success is mentoring undergraduate students to pay forward the research opportunities and mentorship I was provided.  I plan to continue working with important human pathogens and mentoring trainees in the future, either as a research professor or as a scientist at a national lab.

Anastasia Shuba

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Computer Engineering, UC Irvine, 2018 expected
  • M.S., Computer Engineering, UC Irvine, 2016
  • B.S., Computer Engineering, UC Irvine, 2014

Research

Mobile networks, privacy

Advisor

Dr. Athina Markopoulou

Biography

Anastasia Shuba is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Computer Engineering. Her research is on mobile networks and privacy for mobile devices. She received a B.S. in 2014 and a M.S. in 2016, both from UCI in Computer Engineering. She completed the UCI undergraduate Honors Program, and she received the Edison Scholarship, the EECS Graduate Fellowship, and the Best Demo award in MobiCom S3. Outside her studies she has been working at Metronome Software and training and teaching the martial art of Aikido.

Patrick Salveson

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Chemistry, UC Irvine, 2018 expected
  • B.S., Chemical Biology, UC Berkeley, 2013

Research

Chemical Biology, Structural Biology, Organic Chemistry

Advisor

Dr. James Nowick

Biography

I began my college career at Riverside Community College.  Before transferring to UC Berkeley, I participated in an NSF REU working for Cynthia Larive at UC Riverside.  While completing my undergraduate education at UC Berkeley, I was nominated as a Rose Hill Foundation Science and Engineering Scholar in addition to the Melvin J. Heger-Horst Undergraduate Fellow.  I earned a B.S. in chemical biology and graduated with honors.  Since starting my Ph.D. at UC Irvine, where I study the supramolecular assembly of beta-sheets, I have been named a Chancellor’s Fellow in addition to a Chemistry and Structural Biology Training Fellow.

Nabila Haque

Degrees

  • M.D./Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, UC Irvine, 2018 expected
  • B.S.E., Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, 2011

Research

Medical Microbiology

Advisor

Dr. Yongsheng Shi

Biography

Nabila graduated with distinction from Duke University in 2011 with a B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering, where her research in tissue engineering small-diameter vascular grafts fueled her passion for understanding how cells decide their fate.  She joined UCI's Medical Scientist Training Program in 2012 and her current Ph.D. research focuses on probing the role of mRNA 3’ processing factors in controlling gene expression in cancer and stem cells.  She wants to pursue a career as a physician-scientist and translate discoveries in the lab to serve cancer patients.  Outside the lab, she enjoys hosting great scientists for the MSTP Distinguished Lecture Series and volunteers at Crescent Clinic, a student-run free medical clinic where she had also served as President.  She also enjoys reading, furniture building and design, hiking, and exploring the world with her husband and baby son.

Christopher Thompson Wood

Degrees

Ph.D., Earth System Science, UC Irvine, 2019 expected
B.A., Geology, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, 2004

Research

Geochemistry, cave sampling

Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Johnson

Biography

Christopher T. Wood is a current Ph.D. candidate in Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine.  His research focuses on geochemistry and cave sampling for the purpose of past climate reconstruction in the Asian Monsoon region, which includes ongoing field work in Northern Laos.  Chris was a geology major at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he graduated with University Honors and Honors in Geology in 2004.  Afterwards, he spent almost a decade working in an environmental chemistry laboratory as a chemist, instrument operator, and analyst.  His academic interests and work experience led him to return to school to seek a more impactful career.

Alyssa Frederik

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Irvine, 2019 expected
  • B.S., Marine Biology, American University, 2012

Research

The evolution and physiology of disease resistance

Advisor

Dr. Donovan German

Biography

Alyssa graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Marine Biology from American University (Washington, D.C.) in 2012. While there, she worked with Dr. Kiho Kim and collaborators Drs. David Baker (HKU) and Marilyn Fogel (UC Riverside). She studied nitrogen isotopes in mangrove forests as a method for tracking pollution over time in Guam. Upon graduating, Alyssa received a Fulbright Fellowship and researched the impact of nitrogen on anemone symbiosis in New Zealand. For her Ph.D. thesis, she is investigating the evolution of disease resistance and the impact of climate change on abalone physiology. Alyssa is extremely passionate about outreach and advocacy, engaging local underrepresented students in hands-on science with her lab's ongoing project TIGERS. She interned with NOAA's fisheries service working on Endangered Species policy, and partners with local non-profits on their abalone-related conservation and education work. As a Climate Action Training fellow, she lobbied Congress for effective climate change policy and continues to engage with elected officials on issues related to climate change and student support. To create better pathways for communicating climate science, Alyssa created and co-hosts a podcast, Turn of the Tide, featuring early-career women researching climate change where she brings exciting new climate-related research into the public sphere. She was a department grad student representative, and is currently an elected representative on AGS Council, where she focuses on improving student life on the issues of harassment, housing and disability services. Alyssa is dedicated to bridging the science, policy, and advocacy of her research and communicating this to a wide audience.