Top Science Undergraduates Receive Community Awards of Merit

10 UC Riverside students are recognized for their excellence in scholarship and research

By Sara Clausen

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Ten top undergraduates in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) at the University of California, Riverside received Science Circle Awards in Excellence in a ceremony on Sunday, June 3, 2012.

The awards were handed out by Gary Lee, chair of the Science Circle, an organization of community members established to provide financial and outreach support to CNAS faculty and students; CNAS Dean Marylynn V. Yates; and Executive Associate Dean Thomas Baldwin, at whose Riverside home the ceremony took place.

The Science Circle sponsors the annual Science Lecture Series, held in the spring to enhance science outreach and literacy, especially for junior- and senior-high students; and the Awards in Excellence for 10 UC Riverside science undergraduates each year who have excelled in scholarship and research.

Students are nominated for the Awards in Excellence by their faculty research mentors with supporting letters from other faculty members. Winners receive a certificate and $1,000.

This year’s winning students are:

Photo shows Ryan Bedi

Ryan Bedi.

Ryan Bedi, a graduating senior majoring in biology, nominated by Professor of Biology David Reznick. From Clovis, Calif., Ryan is the son of Guravtar and Susan Bedi. The faculty say of him, “Among our best and brightest” and “a very bright future.” He plans to apply to medical school and return home to Clovis.

Photo shows Barbara Davis.

Barbara Davis.

Barbara Davis, also graduating this June in biology, is originally from Colorado Springs. She is married to Frank Harrington and has two children. Her mentor is Professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience Prue Talbot. She is described as “one in a million” and “a real scientist.” She will be continuing her research in the Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology Program at UCR while working toward a Ph.D.

Photo shows Fitz-Gerald Diala.

Fitz-Gerald Diala.

Fitz-Gerald Diala is graduating in biochemistry, but his research was done under the supervision of Professor of Plant Pathology and Microbiology Katherine Borkovich. A native of Mbaise, Nigeria, Fitz-Gerald and his parents, Christogonus and Florence Anyanwu, now live in Upland, Calif.  He has been described as “operating at the level of a third-year graduate student” and “will do great things in the future.” Interested in cancer and molecular cancer therapeutics, he plans to enter a combined MD/Ph.D. program.

Photo shows Rob Fletcher.

Rob Fletcher.

Rob Roy Fletcher, a graduating senior with a double major in physics and mathematics, is the son of Rob Roy and Sandra Fletcher from Riverside, Calif. He was nominated by Professor of Physics and Astronomy Gail Hanson. He has been called “truly outstanding” and “heading for a bright future.” Next year he will study particle physics in the physics Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Photo shows Ian Gilbert.

Ian Gilbert.

Ian Gilbert will be receiving a B.S. in geology this June.  He is from Three Rivers, Calif., the son of Charles Gilbert and Denise Hartley. Mentored by Professor of Earth Sciences Nigel Hughes, Ian has been called “unusually bright and dedicated,” “best of our current seniors.” This fall he will enter the earth sciences Ph.D. program at UCR and study invertebrate paleontology.

Photo shows Nicole Godfrey.

Nicole Godfrey.

Nicole Godfrey is a sophomore from Riverside, Calif., majoring in chemistry, the daughter of Greg and Margaret Godfrey.  She was nominated by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Gregory Beran. The faculty describe her as having “a potent combination of intellect, hard work, and perseverance” and they “expect great things from her.” After she graduates from UCR she plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry with the goal of doing industrial research for a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company.

Photo shows Jane Kim.

Jane Kim.

Jane Kim, a sophomore majoring in plant biology, is from Fullerton, Calif., the daughter of Carol Kim. Her mentor is Professor of Botany and Plant Sciences Eugene Nothnagel. Her supporting letters call her “very bright, very hardworking, very articulate,” and “among the very best students at UCR.” After graduation she plans on earning a dual MD/Ph.D., to advance her research with applications in medicine.

Photo shows Michael Menke.

Michael Menke.

Michael Menke graduates this June with a degree in mathematics. Currently he lives in Moreno Valley, Calif., with parents John and Karina Menke. He was nominated by Professor of Mathematics Stefano Vidussi. The faculty say of him, “easily topping the graduate students,” “we are very fortunate to have a student of [his] caliber.” In the fall he will be studying in the mathematics Ph.D. program at UCLA.

Photo shows William Moore.

William Moore.

William Moore is receiving his second Science Circle Award, repeating his win from last year. He will be graduating with a B.S. in plant biology; he has two mentors, Professor Timothy Close and Professor Eugene Nothnagel, both in Botany and Plant Sciences. William is from Fresno, Calif., and his parents are Sandy and Steve Moore. He is described as “one of our very best undergraduates . . . in the last 10 years” and “performing at the highest level.” In August he will begin a Ph.D. in plant biology at UC Berkeley.

Photo shows David Tran

David Tran.

David Tran is a sophomore double-majoring in physics and applied mathematics. He and his parents, Tuan and Loan Tran, live in Anaheim, Calif. His mentor is Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Jeanie Lau. The faculty call him “an extraordinary student” with “great potential for a successful career in science.” He plans to go to graduate school for experimental condensed matter physics. After getting his Ph.D., he hopes to become a professor or work in a national lab.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-6050
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Additional Contacts

Sara Clausen
Tel: (951) 827-5304
E-mail: sara.clausen@ucr.edu

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