Twelve Undergraduates Named as Chancellor’s Research Fellows for 2013–14

Fellowship includes $5,000 to be used as research stipend, or on materials, supplies, and travel expenses

group shot

The Chancellor’s Research Fellows for 2013–14 stand with Interim Chancellor Jane Close Conoley (center, in white) at a reception in their honor on Friday, June 7, 2013. From left to right, Ariana Contreras, Christopher Miller, Wun Huang, Josiah Keagy, Ilya Lederman, Insia Hirawala, Danni Wei, My Hua, Rebecca Villareal, Pauline Olsen, and Kyle Riccio. Fallon Fowler is not pictured.Photo by Ross French

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A dozen undergraduate students at the University of California, Riverside have been named Chancellor’s Research Fellows for the 2013–14 academic year. The program, now in its second year, is designed to encourage the development of faculty mentored research, scholarly and creative activity among UCR’s undergraduate student population through a maximum award of $5,000 to be used for a research stipend, materials and supplies, and travel expenses.

“Being able to participate in research is why many students apply to a research university and we want to provide students with the opportunity to link with some of the top researchers in their areas of interest,” explained Veronique Rorive, director of Undergraduate Research in the Office of Undergraduate Education.

A total of 44 undergraduates applied for the 12 fellowship spots. Applications were reviewed by a diverse faculty committee consisting of Shan-Wen Tsai, associate professor of physics & astronomy, Kim Hammond, professor of biology and director of Natural Reserve System, David Kisailus, assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering, Augustine Kposowa, professor of sociology, Deborah Wong, professor and chair of music department, Helen Regan, associate professor of biology, and Gregor Blaha, assistant professor of biochemistry.

Fellowship recipients are required to complete a research project or creative activity and present it at the annual Symposium for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity in May 2014. They also must provide quarterly progress reports and reflections and participate in monthly meetings.

Rorive said that research and creative activities under the guidance of a faculty mentor can improve the undergraduate experience.

“Programs like these can significantly enhance the learning process,” she said. “Students develop skills and attitudes that will be used throughout their lifetime no matter what career they may choose.”


The newly released 2013 UCR Journal of Undergraduate Research. Photo by Ross French

But the fellowship is about much more than just furthering one’s academic career. In the case of  Insia Hirawala, a junior psychology major from Placentia, Calif. who worked as a research assistant with Professor Rebekah Richert in the UCR Child Cognition Lab, she hopes her research into the role Muslim religious teachings play into children’s cognitive development will expand upon past research that has predominantly focused on Christian and Jewish populations.

“My research project will focus on a population of 40 Muslim families with children from the ages of 4 to 6 by conducting interviews with the children and providing questionnaires to their parents,” Hirawala said. “I hope this research can serve as a basis for more refined research in the future and others can draw consistent conclusions for the effects of children’s cognitive development coming from religious teachings in all three of the predominant monotheistic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”

The recipients met and took photos with Chancellor Jane Close Conoley on Friday, June 7 at the HUB.

Chancellor’s Research Fellows for 2013–14

The following students were selected as fellows (with department, title of project, and faculty mentor):

Ariana Contreras — Biological Sciences
“Environmental Factors Influencing Ratios of NOx/N2O Trace Gas Emissions in Arid Lands”
Faculty Mentor: Darrel Jenerette, Dept. of Botany and Plant Sciences

Fallon Fowler — Entomology
“Northern Flies at Southern Latitudes: Investigations of Range and Diapause in the Face Fly, Musca Autumnalis”
Faculty Mentor: Bradley Mullens, Dept. of Entomology

Insia Hirawala  Psychology
“Muslim Children’s Conceptualization of Allah and Prayer”
Faculty Mentor: Rebekah Richert, Dept. of Psychology

My Hua  English and Biology
“Is Third Hand Smoke from E-Cigarette Aerosol Harmful?”
Faculty Mentor: Prue Talbot, Dept. of Cell Biology and Neuroscience

Wun Huang  Psychology
“Computational Model of the Leader’s Expressive Style and Linguistic Patterns on Leadership” Faculty Mentor: Curt Burgess, Dept. of Psychology

Josiah Keagy  Physics
“Atomic Layer Etching of Bismuth Selenide Using Iodine”
Faculty Mentor: Jory Yarmoff, Dept. of Physics

Ilya Lederman  Bioengineering
“Charge Network Analysis of Molecular Dynamics trajectories and Patient Sequence Data of the V3 loop of HIV-1”
Faculty Mentor: Dimitrios Morikis, Dept. of Bioengineering

Christopher Miller  Bioengineering
“Evaluation of the Bioacitivty of Anodized magnesium with Nanoscale Surface Features for Orthopedic Application”
Faculty Mentor: Huinan Liu, Dept. of Bioengineering

Pauline Olsen  Biochemistry and Chemistry
“Synthesis and Biological Activity of Gold (iii)-Based Anticancer Compounds”
Faculty Mentor: Jack Eichler, Dept. of Chemistry

Kyle Ricio  Biology
“Edge Effects on Arid Agricultural Plots and their Consequences on Plant Growth”
Faculty Mentor: Darrel Jenerette, Dept. of Botany and Plant Sciences

Rebecca Villarrreal  Political Science and Religious Studies
“Vietnamese and Latino Catholicisms: Multiethnic Religious Encounters and Sacred Space in Southern California”
Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Hughes, Dept. of History

Danni Wei  Art
“Entering a World of Their Own: Mark-Making with Children on the Autism Spectrum”
Faculty Mentor: Erika Suderburg, Dept. of Art

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