Symposium Showcases the Best in Undergraduate Research

UC Riverside students give talks and present posters on wide ranging topics — third-hand smoke, transgenic tobacco plants, brain size and density, and electronic cigarettes

Several undergraduates, such as Pablo Garcia (right), presented their research at the 2014 Research In Science and Engineering Symposium held at UC Riverside on Aug. 19.  Garcia is seen here discussing his project with Richard Cardullo (in a necktie) and David Reznick, both faculty members in the Department of Biology at UCR.  Garcia is part of a Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program grant with San Bernardino Valley College as the lead, in partnership with UCR.Photo credit: I. Pittalwala, UC Riverside.

Several undergraduates, such as Pablo Garcia (right), presented their research at the 2014 Research In Science and Engineering Symposium held at UC Riverside on Aug. 19. Garcia is seen here discussing his project with Richard Cardullo (in a necktie) and David Reznick, both faculty members in the Department of Biology at UCR. Garcia is part of a Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program grant with San Bernardino Valley College as the lead, in partnership with UCR.Photo credit: I. Pittalwala, UC Riverside.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Some industrious undergraduates are enjoying a research-rich summer at the University of California, Riverside. Sixty-five of them presented their research yesterday (Aug. 19) in talks and posters at the 2014 Research In Science and Engineering (RISE) Symposium, the culmination of work done over ten weeks on campus in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Renata Garcia (center). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

Renata Garcia (center). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

During the ten weeks, the students worked closely with 47 faculty members in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) and 3 faculty members in the Bourns College of Engineering, producing results on a variety of research topics, including third-hand smoke, transgenic tobacco plants, brain size and density, and electronic cigarettes.

“We congratulate all the students for their dedication, commitment and hard work,” said Richard Cardullo, a professor of biology and the faculty director of the RISE Summer Program.   “We have been tracking their progress. The majority of students who participated from community colleges are headed to four-year colleges, including UC Riverside. It has gotten them involved in what research is all about. This is probably one of the best investments we have made in our future scientists.”

Nancy Ortega (right). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

Nancy Ortega (right). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

Now in its fourth year, the RISE Summer Program is designed for STEM students from varying educationally and/or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Its goal is to increase the number of outstanding students from diverse backgrounds getting acquainted with research.

“The program has grown in popularity over the years,” said Nhi Viet Tran, the coordinator of the STEM Pathway Program on campus and one of the main organizers of yesterday’s daylong symposium. “UCR faculty members have started seeking us out to participate in the program. The feedback we received from students in past programs has been overwhelmingly positive. This year we have 65 participants, more than twice the number of participants we had last year.”

Testimonies of some students participating in the 2014 Rise Symposium:

Vihar Shah (center). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

Vihar Shah (center). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

Renata Garcia worked with Christopher Switzer. She will be a junior this fall. She is interested in attending graduate school. She said she learned skills in the ten-week program that would be of use to her. “I got to learn how labs function,” she said. “I also got to work with a whole range of equipment, such as NMR.”

Nancy Ortega, who will be a senior this fall, found working in the lab this summer to be an extremely rewarding experience. She worked with Wenwan Zhong. “It’s a great opportunity to network,” she said. “I got advice on graduate schools to apply to, how to present research, and how to create an effective abstract. The program helped me grow as a person. It helped me understand why research is important.”

Mostafa Naghshbandi (right). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

Mostafa Naghshbandi (right). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

Vihar Shah, who will be a sophomore this fall, strongly recommends the RISE Summer Program to other students. He worked with Manuela Martins-Green. “This is a very good opportunity that can help you down the road,” he said. “We are young in our careers, and already I am doing research! That’s going to look good on my resume. Many of my friends are asking me how I pulled this off. The best thing about the program is that you get to do research in what you are interested in.”

A sophomore this fall, Mostafa Naghshbandi worked with Leonard Mueller. “I love chemistry,” he said. “Before this project, I did not know this kind of chemistry was possible. The program introduced me to a whole new side of physical chemistry, and it opened my eyes. This was a great experience.”

Seth Freitas (center). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

Seth Freitas (center). Photo credit: I. Pittalwala.

Seth Freitas, who will be a sophomore this fall, worked with Matt Daugherty on a research project involving invasive insect species. “It was wonderful to get to work with Dr. Daugherty and members of his lab,” he said. “I see myself doing forensic entomology in the future. The ten-week program gave me a good chance to meet faculty and get an early start to being a scientist.”

The students participating in the RISE Summer Program are members of the California Alliance for Minority Participation program (CAMP), the HSI-STEM Pathway Summer Bridge Program, the CNAS Scholars Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Environmental/Agricultural Sustainability Subset and the Dynamic Genome Scholars. RISE was undertaken in coordination with CAMP, the STEM Pathway Program and the CNAS Scholars Program.

Cardullo and Tran were joined in organizing the RISE Symposium by Scott Silverman, coordinator of RISE and CNAS Scholars; and Maria Franco-Aguilar, coordinator of CAMP.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-6050
E-mail: iqbal@ucr.edu
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

Richard Cardullo
Tel: (951) 827-6457
E-mail: richard.cardullo@ucr.edu

Nhi Viet Tran
Tel: (951) 827-1764
E-mail: nhi.tran@ucr.edu

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