Headshot of Rodrigo Carbajal

Rodrigo Carbajal


Faculty Mentor: Ricardo Carretero

Rodrigo Carbajal was appointed as a MARC fellow in September 2015. His major is Physics, and is currently conducting research in the Nonlinear Dynamical Systems (NLDS) group under the direction of Dr. Ricardo Carretero. Rodrigo will be studying the dynamics of vortices in Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs). A BEC is the coldest form of matter in the universe and it behaves like a quantum superfluid. Stirring BECs create microscopic quantum twisters, a.k.a. vortices, which have the potential to be used as a quantum qubits for the next generation of computers under the quantum computing paradigm. After completing his undergraduate studies, Rodrigo plans to enter a doctoral program to attain his Ph.D. in Physics.

PROJECT TITLE: Dynamics of Vortices in Quantum Superfluids


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Mirae Dong


Faculty Mentor: Kelly Doran

Mirae Dong was appointed as a MARC fellow September 2014. Her major is Cell and Molecular Biology, and she is conducting research under the direction of  Dr. Kelly Doran at the Viral Pathogenesis Lab. Mirae will be working with the coxsackievirus and their effects on cardiac progenitor cells.  After completing her undergraduate studies, she plans to enter a doctoral program in microbiology or stem cell biology.

PROJECT TITLE: Characterization of Bacterial Intracellular Survival in the Brain Endothelium


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Eric Gonzalez


Faculty Mentor: Christal Sohl

Eric Gonzalez was appointed as a MARC fellow in August 2015. His major is Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he is conducting research in the Molecular Mechanisms of Disease Laboratory under the direction of  Dr. Christal Sohl. His current research involves exploring the mechanistic consequences of mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenase that are implicated in gliomas and leukemias. Eric has participated in the Pre-MARC Science Enrichment Program, UT Southwestern Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, and the UCSF Summer Research Training Program. He co-founded the student organization Chemistry Without Borders which aims to increase access to hands-on science activities among underserved communities and currently acts as president. In the future, Eric aims to earn a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology and run a lab of his own, where he will mentor, teach and conduct research.

PROJECT TITLE: Molecular Mechanisms of Isocitrate Dehydrogenase Mutations


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Alexandra Mallory

Aerospace Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Satchi Venkataraman

Alexandra Mallory was appointed as a MARC scholar in June 2015. Her major is Aerospace Engineering specializing in Aerospace Structures. Her current project is automating finite element analysis models of bolted joint composites in ABAQUSTM. She is conducting this project in Professor Satchi Venkataraman’s Aerospace Structures Lab. Upon graduation, Alexandra plans to pursue a doctorate degree in aerospace structures. In the future, she would like to work at NASA or as a researcher at a private company.

PROJECT TITLE: Automatic Analysis of Composite Test Specimens in ABAQUS


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Babgen Manookian


Faculty Mentor: Thomas Cole

Babgen Manookian was appointed as a MARC fellow July 2014. His major is Chemistry with a minor in Physics. Currently he is conducting research under the direction of Dr. Thomas Cole where he is using synthetic methods to convert various types of terminal alkenes into trifluoroborate salts. These salts can be very important precursors for providing other chemists with very useful substituted carbon compounds that could not be synthesized otherwise. Babgen plans to apply to graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry with a focus in Computational Chemistry and renewable energy applications. He hopes to work in the field of academia where he can teach and conduct cutting edge research. He wishes to one day be able to share what he has learned with people from different parts of the world.

PROJECT TITLE: Synthesis and Characterization of Trifluoroborate Salts


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Charles C. Moreno


Faculty Mentor: Paul Gilbert

Charles Moreno was appointed as a MARC fellow June 2014. He is a former Marine and his major is Psychology with a minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies. He is conducting research under the direction of  Dr. Paul Gilbert  at the Center for Healthy Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease Research. His project is designed to assess differences in cognitive abilities based on sexual orientation.  Individuals identifying as gay, lesbian and straight will complete a battery of standardized neuropsychological tests to assess various cognitive domains.  In addition, he is a mentor for the SDSU Psychology Mentoring Outreach and Education (PsyMORE) Program designed to help students progress through college via mentorship, guidance and education.  Charles also volunteers as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate (DVVA) at the Center of Community Solutions, a non-profit organization and resource for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Ultimately, he will be applying to Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology focused on human sexuality and/or neuropsychology.

PROJECT TITLE: Assessing Cognitive Differences Based on Sexuality


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Carlos Nowotny


Faculty Mentor: Tom Huxford

Carlos Nowotny was appointed as a MARC fellow September 2014. His major is Biochemistry with a minor in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. He is currently conducting research in Dr. Tom Huxford’s Structural Biochemistry lab. Carlos participated in the NIH funded Creating Scientists to Address Cancer Disparities program at UCSD, where in Dr. Percy Russell’s lab, he researched the inhibitory properties of the glycolytic protein Phosphofructokinase-1. Also for two summers he participated in the UT Southwestern SURF program where he researched periodic paralysis in the Electrophysiology lab of Dr. Stephen C. Cannon. Carlos is a proud alumnus of SDSU’s Bridges to the Future Program and plans to apply to M.D./Ph.D. programs with the goal of treating and researching neurodegenerative diseases.

PROJECT TITLE: The Relationship between NF-kB and its Inhibitor IkB-zeta Studied via Site Specific Chemoenzymatic Biojunjugation of IkB-zeta and GFP


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Alexis Romero


Faculty Mentor: Fridolin Weber

Alexis Romero was appointed as a MARC fellow June 2014. Her major is Physics with a minor in Mathematics. She is currently conducting research in the Computational Physics Research Lab, under the direction of  Dr. Fridolin Weber. Her most recent research project is focused on the study of non-spherical stellar models of compact stars. Alexis plans to continue her scientific career by pursuing a Ph.D. in physics with an emphasis in astrophysics.  Her future research includes theoretical astrophysics and cosmology.  Alexis is also interested in computational physics.  She plans to continue developing her skills as a physicist, a mathematician, and as a computer programmer, and to successfully combine them in her future research projects.

PROJECT TITLE: Non-Spherical Models of Compact Stars


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Grant Varnau


Faculty Mentor: Lyuba Kuznetsova

Grant Varnau was appointed a MARC fellow September 2015. His major is Physics with a minor in Interdisciplinary Studies. Currently he is conducting research under the direction of Dr. Lyuba Kuznetsova in Biosensing and Metamaterials. His work there involves modeling and fabrication of a nanoparticle detection device.  He spent the summer of 2015 working at Texas A&M University to develop a computational model for localized radiation therapy treatments, specifically for pancreatic tumors.  Grant plans to pursue his Ph.D. in Applied Physics or Engineering utilizing optical instrumentation and techniques.

PROJECT TITLE: Optical Sensing of 3D AI/SiO2 Microcavities