Lucas Scholars

Lucas Scholars Summer 2021

Darwin Lara
Major: Chemistry
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Yang Hai
Our research is about using in-silico studies to determine possible substrates for Peptidyl Arginine Deiminase 6 (PAD6) and through in-vitro analyses, observe what type of enzyme-substrate interactions occur. By doing this we hope to gain a deeper insight into the function of PAD6, and use this to explain its use in nature such as what its role is in developing cells.

Nuzha Baksh
Major: Zoology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cherie Briggs
The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is responsible for causing chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease that has globally decimated amphibian populations. The goal of our project is to study Bd's tendency toward biofilm incorporation in natural systems and its resulting effects on persistence and infectiousness. 

Lucas Scholars Fall 2020

Jiaqi (Jackie) Chen
Major: Pharmacology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Denise Montell
Exploring the effect of mitochondria perinuclear clustering on cancer cell survival via Anastasis with microtubule inhibitor.

Gina Milan
Major: CCS Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Carla D’Antonio
We are studying how to accelerate the recovery of ecosystems after environmental stresses such as wildfires and severe drought. We accomplish this by tracking the fate of re-planted Chaparral seedlings subjected to different experimental treatments at our research site in the Los Padres National Forest.

Taylor Gierke
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michelle O'Malley
Studying interactions between microbial communities of anaerobic fungi and methanogens to better understand the methods by which temporal stability can be achieved.

Vedad Bassari
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Yon Visell
This project uses Multiphysics simulations through COMSOL to assess the temperature gradients in an electromagnetic haptic actuator. The simulations will explore how the temperature of the electromagnetic core is regulated by forced internal convection to examine thermal limitations to the performance of the actuator.

Nathan Jones
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emilie Dressaire
My research is concerned with investigating the fluid-structure interaction within an array of deformable cilia.

Jeffrey Pham
Major: Cell and Developmental Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Beth Pruitt
My research investigates cardiomyocyte maturation and cardiac disease using induced pluripotent stem cell technology and engineering techniques.

Julia Sergejeva
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Thomas Weimbs
Testing the hypothesis that the protein CYR61 can be used as a biomarker for the progression of ADPKD because of its involvement in epithelial inflammatory response and cell growth; investigating the mechanism by which CCN proteins promote cyst development and interstitial inflammation via the HIPPO signaling pathway. 

Stone Shi
Major: Geographic Information Science
Faculty Mentor: Mike Johnson
Using R code packages interface with geospatial data to analyze the historical streamflow in the United States over the past 50 years, and generate flood inundation libraries of the United States to further predict the flood trend in the next few decades.

Lucas Scholars Summer 2020

Gavin Niendorf
Major: CCS Physics
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Yu-Xiang Wang
My research is on deep reinforcement learning, which is a branch of machine learning focused on learning from trial and error where the actions of the learning agent directly influence the world around it. My research over the summer is specifically focused on ways to improve reinforcement learning agents' ability to learn skills that generalize to novel situations.

Jacob Zacarias Major: Philosophy Faculty Mentor: Dr. Greg Ashby We're looking to see if there is a correlation between dopamine levels and creativity when someone meditates. We will look to see if meditation highers the levels of dopamine and creativity by measurement of spontaneous eyeblink rate and creative tests.

Lucas Scholars Fall 2019

Kaithlyn Duong
Major: Biological Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Jacobs-Goard
Using naturalistic stimuli to discover the functional role of secondary visual areas in mice that will give us insight into sensory processing mammalian cortex.

Brandon Quintana
Major: Environmental Studies,
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Hunter Lenihan
Exploring mechanisms behind declining Olympia oyster population in the Carpinteria Salt Marsh. Surveys and manipulative experiments are performed to gain insights to inform future management and
conservation.

Cassandra Lalisan Major: Biological Sciences B.S. Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cherie Briggs Found in 1998, the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has since been responsible for the extinction of approximately 500 species of amphibians and according to literature review, there are several candidate genes attributed to its virulence that may reveal how this pathogen led such a potent extermination. In this project, we explore virulence in isolates found in Briggs lab, then later using sequence data to compare genes between isolates, we endeavor to determine whether virulence can be attributed to found mutations in these genes and provide genetic information that can apply to Bd collected around the world.

Brenda Wu
Major: Biopsychology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ron Keiflin
Using histological techniques to provide new insight into the role of specific brain circuits in cue disambiguation processes; ultimately, to help characterize the computational basis of context-dependent reward learning.

Lucas Scholars Summer 2019

Hillary Ta

Major: Biological Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Craig Montell

Limiting the spread of mosquito-borne diseases through the control of mating drive by manipulating genes for dopaminergic neurons that have an effect on mating drive in mosquitoes.

 

Arlette Evora

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tyler Susko, Dr. Elliot Hawkes

Developing Cadence, a low-cost assistive shoe designed to passively improve the bio-mechanics and rhythmicity of gait for people with foot drop.

 

 

Lizbeth Martinez

Major: CCS Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Armand Kuris

Investigating Chagas' disease and the transmission of Tryanosoma cruzi through Triatominae, also known as "kissing bugs," and other reservoir hosts, such as bats and mice. By using diagnostic tools, their contribution to the transmission of T. cruzi and the probability of infection will be determined. 

 

Avery DeSantis

Major: Biological Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Gretchen Hofmann

Studying the transgenerational effects of upwelling conditions, and associated pCO2 and temperature, on larval performance of purple sea urchins.

 

Yanelyn Perez

Major: CCS Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cherie Briggs

Researching Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a highly virulent fungus in amphibians which causes the disease chytridiomycosis. 

 

 

Kevin Ruan

Major: Cell and Developmental Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stuart Feinstein

Investigating how N-terminus oligomerization of tau affects microtubule dynamics in vitro.

 

Jeffrey Rong

Major: Microbiology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Low

Studying the binding activity of a contact-dependent inhibition (CDI) protein from E. coli EC93, called CdiA, to BamA, an essential outer membrane protein. The purpose is to assess to usefulness of BamA as a receptor to be targeted in phage therapy.

 

Vivian Hoang

Major: CCS Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Diego Acosta-Alvear

Studying the binding activity of a contact-dependent inhibition (CDI) protein from E. coli EC93, called CdiA, to BamA, an essential outer membrane protein. The purpose is to assess to usefulness of BamA as a receptor to be targeted in phage therapy.

 

Ronnie Li

Major: Pharmacology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Craig Montell

Investigating the relationship between olfaction loss and locomotive degeneration in a neurodegenerative background using Drosophila Melanogaster.

 

Guriqbal Gill

Major: Chemical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Craig Montell

Researching methane pyrolysis, a process that produces hydrogen fuel without a carbon footprint. We aim to optimize reaction conditions to offer a clean energy alternative on a large scale basis. 

 

Lucas Scholars 2017-18

 

Carolina Espinoza 

Major: Chemical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Thuc-Quyen Nguyen

Researching how to better understand exciton diffusion by measuring variable temperature.

 

Ximena Garcia 

Major: Physics

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cyrus Safinya

Studying the mechanisms of the chemical alterations of tau linked to neurological pathologies

 

Kevin Gramajo-Aponte

Major: Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Denise Montell

Researching the fruit fly egg chamber to study the dynamics of cell migration, in vivo.

 

Benson Li

Major: Physics

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Boris Shraiman

Investigating the morphogenesis of parhyale hawaiensis.

 

Eric Pang 

Major: Biochemistry

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Martin Kurnik

Studying the characterization and functionalization of protein based biosensors.

 

Christian Rodriguez 

Major: Physics and Chemistry

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joseph F. Hennawi

Investigating the thermal state of the intergalactic medium

 

Kevin Ruan

Major: Cell and Developmental Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stuart Feinstein

Investigating how N-terminus oligomerization of tau affects microtubule dynamics in vitro.

 

Yuan Xie 

Major: Cell and Developmental Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Thomas Weimbs

Investigating the role of atypical protein kinase c zeta in polycystic kidney disease cystogenesis.

 

Lucas Scholars 2016-17

Dorian Bruch

Major: Chemical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Norbert Reich

Using hollow-gold nanoparticles for infrared light-controlled delivery of p53 tumor suppressor protein to lung cancer cells


Aviv Elbag 

Major: Physics

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Igor Mezic

Studying the effect of chaotic component of the flow field on the material transport

 

Anna Kornilova

Major: Biological Sciences

Faculty Mentor: TBD

Research project pending

 

Christopher La Placa

Major: Biological Anthropology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amber VanDerwarker

Incorporating portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry into bioarchaeological research as a method of analyzing the effects of burial environment on skeletal materials

 

Isabella Mayorga 

Majors: Environmental Studies/Biological Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Hillary Young

Determining the effect of population decline in large wildlife species on tick abundance and tick-borne diseases             

 

Gillian Nguyen 

Majors: Biological Sciences/Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Carla D’Antonio

Investigating which fertilizers are beneficial to the microbe population in relation to plants’ growth, as well as the energy output generated from the microbes’ anaerobic respiration “Since existing renewable energy approaches are either too expensive to build, like wind turbines, or only efficient at certain times, like solar panels on sunny days, I want to find a different promising new source of clean, stable and inexpensive energy that is available everywhere: soil. I have spent a year studying the mechanisms as well as developing batteries made of soil into a sufficient, forever-lasting source of electricity for low-power applications, such as LED bulbs.”

 

Eduardo Rojas 

Major: Electrical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. B.S. Manjunath

Examining MRI/CAT scan images and developing machine learning and deep learning algorithms to correlate findings in brain injuries.

 

Kevin Ruan 

Major: Biological Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stuart Feinstein
Investigating the molecular mechanisms behind the microtube associated protein, tau; examining how microtube targeting agents in chemotherapy can lead to treatment limiting chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.                                                   

Lucas Scholars 2015-16

Sarah Amiri

Major: Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Siegel

Studying changes in marine habitat using satellite

 

Ravinderdeep Gill

Major: Chemical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Samir Mitragotri

Researching nanoparticles as vehicles for drug delivery

 

Kenny Imery Bonilla

Majors: Biological Sciences/Aquatic

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Gretchen Hofmann

Using DNA extraction protocols for marine invertebrates

 

Benson Li

Major: Physics

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ben Mazin

Developing an analog readout for microwave kinetic inductance detectors

 

F. Scott Susi

Major: Biopsychology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Craig Montell

Using fruit flies to test neural responses to temperature