Undergraduate Research Program

Past students


Tien Phan

 University of California, Los Angeles
Faculty Mentor: Randy Moon, Pharmacology

Tien is a transfer student majoring in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and minoring in Biomedical Research at UCLA. In Dr. Karen Lyons’s Lab at UCLA, with support from the MARC program, she studies the roles of matricellular proteins CCN1 and CCN2 in regulating embryonic cartilage development. This summer, with support from HHMI EXROP, Tien is working in Dr. Randall Moon’s Lab, investigating the role of Wnt/B-catenin in neural regeneration, with an emphasis on brain regeneration after injury. Upon graduating in Spring 2016, Tien aspires to pursue a Ph.D. in Cell & Developmental Biology.

Jenna Roper

 University of California, Riverside
Faculty Mentor: Stanley Fields, Genome Sciences and Medicine

Jenna is a rising junior at the University of California at Riverside pursuing a degree in Bioengineering with a minor in Philosophy. At her home institution she does research on cell division plane orientation in maize but will begin doing research on cell regeneration and controlled drug delivery, as she is now a MARCU scholar. Jenna is the founder of Multiracial Students United at UCR and serves on the board of the Dynamic Genome Outreach group, where college students teach K-12 students about science through hands-on experiments, such as DNA extraction and PCR.

I-Chieh (Jack) Wang

 University of California, Riverside
Faculty Mentor: David Baker, Biochemistry

Jack is a rising senior at University of California, Riverside, studying as a Biochemistry major and Chemistry minor. Interested in the dynamic and three-dimensional structure of proteins, he joined Dr. Li Fan’s group, studying the mechanism and evolutionary role of a helicase, XPB, and its partner Bax1 in the Nucleotide Excision Repair pathway by X-ray crystallography. His experience in crystallography later inspired him to join Dr. Dave Martin’s organic and inorganic chemistry lab in the study of novel photocatalysis for alcohol activation using LED or UV-Vis. light. This summer, while working at the Institute of Protein Design in Dr. David Baker’s lab at UW, he is designing a new scaffold of protein structure as helical bundles by using a computer program (Rosetta) to develop new functions such as enzymatic catalysis, artificial membrane protein, or potential nanomaterial for targeted therapy. In addition, he is combining his experience in X-ray crystallography to confirm his design model and to study new strategies to crystallize protein by computational and experimental methods. Outside of his research, he likes to watch movies, play tennis, and practice flute.

Lyndsey Wilson

 University of Texas, Austin
Faculty Mentor: Keiko Torii, Biology

Lyndsey is a rising junior at UT Austin where she is pursuing a degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. At her home institution she is heavily involved as both a researcher and mentor in the Freshman Research Initiative through which she works on epidermal cell fates using Arabidopsis as a model organism. Since she finds the subject of cell differentiation truly engaging and enjoys working with plants, she is extremely excited for her work in the Torii lab. Over the course of the summer, she will be working on discerning the importance of the C-Terminal Domain (CTD) in the stability and interactions of the protein SCRM, a bHLH protein involved in the stomata cell fate pathway in plants. In her free time she likes to read, watch movies, and cook. After she finishes her bachelor’s, she hopes to go to graduate school to get her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences.


Sherry Bermeo


 SUNY Stony Brook
Faculty Mentor: David Baker, Biochemistry

Sherry is a rising senior at Stony Brook University, majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in English. At Stony Brook, she works in the Simmerling Lab and focuses on the folding mechanism of GNRA tetraloops. Her research is funded by the NIH MARC fellowship. She is excited to be part of the Baker Lab this summer and will be combining computational and experimental techniques to redesign a serine hydrolase that is partially unfolding and aggregating in vitro. The redesigning method will take place in two steps: (1) the creation of disulfide bonds to lock down the structure and (2) implementing a novel computational method to help stabilize the structure. In her free time, she likes to play sports, tune in to “The Colbert Report,” and watch the FIFA World Cup.

Kimberly Hoi

Faculty Mentor: Randall Moon, Pharmacology, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

Kimberly Hoi is an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in biomedical research. Her curiosity in the mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, led her to join Dr. David Teplow’s Laboratory at UCLA where she works toward elucidating Aß structure dynamics and determining the mechanisms of Aß monomer oligomerization by identifying the specific amino acids controlling the formation and assembly of Aß40 and Aß42. This summer, driven by her interests in neuronal regeneration, Kimberly is conducting research in the lab of Dr. Randall Moon. She is investigating the involvement of Wnt signaling in motor neuron regeneration in the zebrafish spinal cord and is also studying how redox states affect Wnt signaling and tissue differentiation (in NPCs). During her free time, Kimberly enjoys hiking, biking, eating, and browsing for new music. Upon graduating in Spring 2015, Kimberly plans on attending graduate school to pursue a Ph.D degree in the biomedical sciences.

Kelsey Kaeding

EXROP-Kelsey Kaeding
 Claremont McKenna College
Faculty Mentor: Stanley Fields, Genome Sciences and Medicine

Kelsey Kaeding is a rising senior at Claremont McKenna College where she studies molecular biology. At her home institution, Kelsey investigates interactions between female heterochromatin and ring X chromosomes. This summer she is in the lab of Dr. Stanley Fields and is working on discovering strains of yeast that are resistant to heat and chemical stressors. She plans on pursuing a PhD in Molecular Biology after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking, and traveling to new places.

Marc Piercy

 Fullerton College
Faculty Mentor: Keiko Torii, Biology

Marc Piercy is from Fullerton College in Fullerton California. He will be transferring to the University of California, Irvine to pursue a degree in molecular biology. So far he has done research in the field of neurobiology and behavior but wants to learn more about the molecular and chemical side of biology. Outside of school interests include cats and video games.


Aspen Gutgsell

Institution: New Mexico State University
Faculty Mentor: Randall Moon, Pharmacology, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

Aspen Gutgsell is majoring in biology with a minor in biochemistry and chemistry at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. At her home institution, she is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Program. This program allows her to study drug sensitive mutants of class 5 kinesin proteins. This class of proteins are necessary for mitotic division and have applications in cancer research. This summer, Aspen is conducting research in Dr. Randall Moon’s lab studying tissue regeneration and immunity in zebrafish. She hopes to become a biomedical researcher in academia and plans to attend graduate school in the Fall of 2014. In her free time, Aspen enjoys hiking, painting, cooking, kayaking, sewing, and spending time with family and friends.

Guillaume Urtecho

Institution: University of California, Davis
Faculty Mentor: Stanley Fields, Genome Sciences and Medicine

Guillaume Urtecho is a rising senior from UC Davis and is majoring in genetics. Although his research is usually in plant biology, he spent the summer working with yeast under the guidance of Dr. Stanley Fields. His project goal over the summer was to enhance alcohol tolerance in yeast, an organism often used in biofuel production. When he’s not pipetting, Guillaume enjoys playing guitar and going on low-intensity hikes. After graduating, he plans to enter a PhD program and pursue his interest in genetic engineering.


Diego Castro

Institution: Trinity University
Faculty Mentor: David Baker

Diego is a rising senior at Trinity University majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in Computer Science. His research at Trinity focuses on the relationship between lizard display behavior and its associated endocrine mechanisms. This summer he is working in Dr. David Baker’s lab in the Department of Biochemistry. Diego’s summer project focuses on experimentally testing variations of a de novo designed serine hydrolase and optimizing the protein’s catalytic properties. In his spare time, Diego enjoys running, swing and salsa dancing, reading, and playing soccer.


David Angeles Albores

Institution: Cornell University
Faculty Mentor: David Baker

David is a rising junior studying Computational Biology at Cornell University. His research experience includes aiding in the construction of high-accuracy protein-protein interaction networks in S. cerevisae. At the University of Washington, he works in the Baker lab; his project is to help optimize and experimentally characterize binding modes for de novo protein-protein interfaces designed previously by computational methods. Outside the lab, he enjoys reading, writing and swimming.

Sabrina Dumas

Institution: University of Arizona
Faculty Mentor: Tamir Gonen

Sabrina Dumas, who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, is studying Nutritional Science and Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona. As a freshman, Sabrina’s main career goal was to be a Dietitian. Then one day in her second semester of college, her chemistry teacher mentioned a new Biotechnology Instrumentation class that was combined with a summer internship in a research lab. Sabrina decided to enroll in the class because: 1) she was curious about how scientific research could be applied to her Nutritional Science degree and 2) she was intimidated by conducting experiments and thought that doing more lab work will help her get over this fear. It has been 3 years since her first research experience and she has not only developed a love for bench work, but has also added Molecular and Cellular biology as a second major to better understand the science behind nutrition-related health conditions. She now wants to be a Research-Dietitian and hopes to start her PhD in Nutrition in the Fall of 2012. Sabrina’s summer research project for the Amgen program involves studying the structure and function of the GLUT1 membrane protein in Dr. Tamir Gonen’s lab. When not studying or working in lab, Sabrina can be found watching a movie on her computer, shopping online or exercising.

Daniel Mendez

Institution: California State University, Fullerton
Faculty Mentor: Stan Fields

Daniel Mendez is a rising senior at California State University, Fullerton majoring in Biology with a concentration in Cellular and Developmental Biology. He is conducting research at his home institution under a two year research scholarship funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute where his project focuses on gene expression profiling of several Wnt receptors in mouse embryonic stem cells undergoing neural differentiation. This summer, he is working in the lab of Dr. Stanley Fields in the Department of Genome Sciences. His project currently focuses on studying protein-sequence function relationships in the WW domain using phage display in conjunction with high-throughput sequencing. Daniel is considering a career in veterinary medicine with a specialization in zoological medicine and neurosurgery. He is also considering in obtaining a Ph.D in a biomedically related field such as regenerative medicine. Some of his outside interests include church, travelling, cooking, paintballing, camping/hiking, playing guitar, going out to punk shows, humanitarian activities, reading politically philosophical books, spending time with family and friends, and running with his Siberian husky.

Tigist Tamir

Institution: College of William and Mary
Faculty Mentor: Randall T. Moon

Tigist Tamir is a rising senior at the College of William and Mary studying Biology and Bio-Mathematics. This summer she will be working in Dr. Randall Moon’s lab, in the Pharmacology department, on the relationship between mutation of Wnt5a and melanoma cell population number. In the future, she plans to pursue a PhD in medical research focusing on cancer and stem cells. Outside of academia, she participates in a hip hop dance group at her home school and enjoys visiting ethnic restaurants.

Top of Page