Undergraduate Research

Opportunities Center

N e w s l e t t e r | S E P T / O C T 2 0 2 2

From the Desk of Buck
Rogers Walker JP Dundore-Arias and John Banks

We remain part of the TRIO Family! After months of planning, writing, and revising, the UROC team submitted a Department of Education Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program grant proposal earlier this year -- and we were awarded another five years of funding!! This support from the U.S. Department of Education, totalling just over $1.3 million, will enable us to continue to engage underserved undergraduate students across all majors in the high-impact practice of undergraduate research/scholarly activities, bolstering their research skills along with their scholarly identity and sense of belonging as they prepare for graduate education and the job market. It truly took a village to accomplish this monumental task, and I want to acknowledge and thank those folks who were instrumental in helping us craft the grant narrative as well as those who continue to support robust programming for the McNair Scholars program at CSUMB.  

  • The McNair Advisory Collective: Dr. Renee Penalver, Dr. Christine Rosales, Dr. Chrissy Hernandez, Dr. Christine Valdez, Kenny Garcia, and Dean Juanita Cole.
  •  A special thanks to Kyrstie Lane, Associate Director of TRIO Student Support Services (also part of the McNair Advisory Collective) as her expertise on everything TRIO made her feedback incredibly valuable.  
  • Thank you also to Sponsored Programs (SPO) for their continued guidance and support during the entire grant-writing process. 

Recruitment for the 2023 Spring Cohort is quickly coming to an end. If you know of any student whose goals fit those of the McNair Scholars program, please do not hesitate in sending them our way.  

John “Buck” Banks, Ph.D.

UROC Director

*Rogers Walker, JP Dundore-Arias, and Buck at the 2022 SACNAS Conference

• • •

Fall Research Competition 2022

The 2022 Fall Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activity Competition is here! Modeled after the CSU Student Research Competition and in preparation for the statewide competition, 10 exemplary scholarly presentations  have been selected. See the full slate of presenters below. 

This year’s judges panel will consist of returning faculty Dr. Kelly Medina-Lopez, School of Humanities and Communication, Dr. Erin Ramirez, Department of Education and Leadership, and Dr. JP Dundore-Arias, Department of Biology and Chemistry.  New to the judges’ panel this year: Interim Dean for the College of Business Dr. Marylou Shockley- and guest judge Dr. George Matsumoto, Senior Education and Research Specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). 

The Fall Competition will take place on Thursday, November 3rd, from 2:30-6 pm at the CSUMB University Center Living Room, building 29 . Please RSVP if you plan to attend remotely. We look forward to seeing you there!

Kyle Parker & Maria Navarro, Psychology

  • Exploring a post-pandemic world: How has COVID-19 impacted students' perceptions of specific knowledge, skills, and abilities learned during the pandemic?
  • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Dyer-Seymour
Maria Navarro and Kyle Parker
Ingrid Martinson

Ingrid Martinson, Marine Science

  • Oiled-marsh Restoration Study: The Reintroduction of Fauna into Systems
  • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sherry Palacios

Sonia Kortenkamp, Enviromental Science, Technology and Policy

  • Vegetative Cover and Water Quality in Summer 2022 at Tottino II Wetland in Moro Cojo Slough
  • Faculty Mentor: Andria Greene
Sonia Kortenkamp
Brittany Zetko

Brittany Zetko, Biology

  • Exploring Antagonistic Competitive Interactions Among Soilborne Streptomyces from the TriCounty region 
  • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jose Pablo Dundore-Arias

Zachary Vayder, Marine Science

  • The genetic mystery of Chelaethiops fishes of the Congo River
  • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Liz Alter
Zachary Vayder
Daran Towns

Daran Towns, Marine Science

  • The Effects of Giant Kelp on Ocean Acidification
  • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sherry Palacios

Paige Siegel, Marine Science

  • Spatial Variability and Recovery of Sea Stars along the Monterey Peninsula Post Sea Star Wasting Disease. 
  • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Alison Haupt
Paige Siegel
Pepper St. Clair

Pepper St. Clair, Biology

  • Analysis of antibiotic pressure on conjugation efficiency of antimicrobial resistance genes in E.coli. 
  • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Simon Titen

Emily Locke-Paddon, Biology

  • Genetic characterization of environmental Streptomyces spp
  • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jose Pablo Dundore-Arias
Emily Locke-Paddon
Paul Stephens

Paul Stephens, Psychology

  • Neurophysiological responses to cognitive load during learning and memory via eye tracking technology. 
  • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Zurine De Miguel
• • •

And a Round of Applause Goes to...

Nicole Barbour laying on the sand with baby turtle

Dr. Nicole Barbour (class of 2018)!

Nicole recently defended her doctoral thesis, "Sea Turtle Movement Ecology: Causes and Patterns of Variation for Different Species and Life Stages", publicly to mentors, colleagues, and university personnel. Nicole, a UROC Researcher, graduated with a bachelors of science in biology. She was the first UROC Researcher to receive Honorable Mention in the prestigious and highly competitive NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) to pursue a doctorate in ecological systems from the University of Maryland. Her research presentation, “Spatial and temporal variability on the Monterey Bay sandy continental shelf” also placed 1st in the 2016 Fall Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activity Showcase

Learn more about all of Nicole’s accomplishments on her website

Congratulations, Dr. Barbour!

Connor  Quiroz

Congratulations to UROC Scholar Connor Quiroz whose poster was selected as Best Research Poster at the 29th annual California Aquatic Bioassessment Workgroup (CABW) meeting and 10th annual Society of Freshwater Science (SFS) California Chapter meeting in Sacramento earlier this month. As winner, Connor also wins a $75 cash prize. Congratulations, Connor!

*Connor Quiroz with his mother

Connor Quiroz and his mom in front of his research poster
Jacque McKay

Jacque McKay

Congratulations to UROC Researcher Jacque McKay on being selected for an Outstanding Research Poster Award at the 2022 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her research centered around the Palm Frond Sponge from the deep Northeast Pacific Ocean, which she has been working on with Dr. Amanda Kahn of Moss Landing Marine Labs. Congratulations, Jacque!

Spencer Winter

Congratulations to UROC Scholar Spencer Winter on his recognition as a 2022 CSU Trustees Scholar. The CSU Trustees' Award is the university's highest recognition of student achievement honored for their talent, diligence and zeal. Spencer was honored, along with the other 22 CSU Trustee Scholars at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting back on September 13. Congratulations, Spencer!

Read more about it on CSUMB News.

Spencer Winter
• • •

Celebrating Writing

Congratulations to the following newly published UROC alumni and their research faculty!

Nikole Babcock, UROC Scholar, and Dr. Shannon Snapp, Associate Professor of Psychology. “Hookups can be Purposeful, Positive, and Safe for LGBTQ+ Young Adults”. Spark: Elevating Scholarship on Social Issues.

• • •

Welcome Back, Corin!

Dr. Corin Gray is back in the office and she’s not alone. Zenneth was born on July 9th, 7lb 10 ounces, 20.5inches.

Welcome to the world, Zenny!

• • •

SACNAS returns to In-Person!

Nearly 20 Otters landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the 2022 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference on the final weekend of October; this was the first in-person SACNAS conference since 2019. The majority of attendees presented on research conducted over the summer and also got to reconnect with former UROC students Daniel Olivares, Jacob Green, and Mariana Duarte. UROC Researcher Jacque McKay took home an Outstanding Research Poster Award too! 

Lydia Jennings

And as an added source of pride, CSUMB & McNair Scholar alum, Lydia Jennings, PhD, was one of the featured speakers at this year’s SACNAS conference! Lydia completed her A.S. degree in Biology at Cabrillo College and transferred to CSUMB to complete her B.S. degree in 2012 in Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy with a concentration in Watershed Science under the mentorship of Dr. Sharon Anderson. Lydia credits Dr. Anderson for catalyzing her love of soil science in her soils, and for being the person who told her she would still be successful despite not having done well on the GRE. At CSUMB, she was a UROC and McNair Scholar, and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recipient, mentored by Dr. William Head, who has continued to mentor her. Currently, Lydia is transitioning to a new position, a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability with a visiting fellowship at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Her plenary talk at SACNAS was an inspiration to us all! Learn more about Lydia on her website and check out her short film, Run to be Visible.

Enjoy some pictures taken over the 4-day conference!

John Banks JP Dundore Arias with students

The USDA Crew: Dr. John Banks, Dr. JP Dundore-Arias, Alex Imperial, Sarah Kuykendall, and Jasmin Azad-Khan

Natalie Hunter presenting her research

UROC Researcher Natalie Hunter

Jacob Green Rogers Walker John Banks

Dr. John Banks and Dr. Rogers Walker with UROC Scholar Alum and doctoral student Jacob Green

Lexi Yokomizo presenting her research

UROC Scholar Alexandra Yokomizo

Mariana with her research Poster

McNair Scholar Alum and doctoral student Mariana Duarte

Spencer Winter presenting his research

UROC Scholar Spencer Winter

Monica Urias presenting her research

UROC Researcher Monica Urias

Sofia Christofi presenting her research

Koret Scholar Sofia Christofi

Students in the water in Puerto Rico

Otters in the Caribbean! Jasmin Azad-Khan, Taylor Trivino, and Sofia Christofi


All UROC events and workshops will be available on MyRaft.  While most of our fall offerings will be virtual, several workshops and events will be in-person for the fall. Be sure to register in advance if you’re interested in joining us for any of them.

Fellowship Friday (and Scholarships, too!): Udall Scholarship

November 4, 1-2pm

UROC Researchers Program Info Session

November 7, 10-11am

LSAMP Rising Researchers Info Session

November 7, 11am-12pm

Koret Scholars Info Session

November 7, 12-1pm

Sally Casanova Pre-Doc Info Session

November 9, 3-4pm

Graduate School Interviews and Acceptances

Nov 10, 1-2pm

Fellowship Friday (and Scholarships, too!): Udall Scholarship

November 4, 1-2pm

Sally Casanova Pre-Doc Info Session

December 6, 1-2pm

CSU Research Competition Info Session

December 6, 3-4pm

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