Headshot of Mirae Dong

Mirae Dong


Faculty Mentor: Dr. 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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Kent Kurashima

Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Fletcher Miller

Kent Kurashima was appointed as a MARC Fellow in July 2013. His major is Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Energy Studies. In June 2014, Kent began his summer research experience in Dr. Ribggyu Yang’s Nano-enabled Energy Conversion, Storage and Thermal Management Systems group at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His research will consist of designing and fabricating an evacuation and charging station for a thermal ground plane (TGP). He will also construct a testing station in order to accurately measure the effective thermal conductivity of TGP with different form factors. Kent has been conducting research in Dr. Fletcher Miller’s Combustion and Solar Energy Lab at SDSU focusing on the completion and testing of a solar simulator and lab-scale small particle heat exchange receiver (SPHER). At full scale, the SPHER will be designed to produce a high temperature gas that will power a gas turbine in a Brayton cycle. Kent is interested in control systems with regard to renewable energy and plans to pursue a doctoral degree in this area. He wants to contribute to the scientific community and apply what he leans to the real world in order to make an impact that will benefit people as well as the environment.

PROJECT TITLE: Carbon Particle Application in Concentrated Solar Power


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Babgen Manookian


Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andrew Cooksy

Babgen Manookian was appointed as a MARC fellow July 2014. His major is Chemistry with a minor in Physics. He is currently conducting research in Dr. Andrew Cooksy’s Computational Chemistry Lab. focusing on the use of  computational methods to analyze vibrational dynamics of molecular systems and observe change in molecular structure.  Babgen plans to apply to graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry. He also wants to start a career in a place where he can teach and conduct research. One of his goals is to share what he has learned with people from different parts of the world.

PROJECT TITLE: Molecular Modeling and Vibrational Analysis of the Alkyne-Vinylidene Isomerization on a Heterocyclic Ruthenium Catalyst


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Jeremy Mitchell


Faculty Mentor: Dr. Paul J. Paolini

Jeremy Mitchell was appointed as a MARC fellow June 2014. His major is Physics with an emphasis in Biology. He conducts research on cardiac dynamics in Dr. Paul J. Paolini’s Cardiomyocyte Dynamics Lab.  One of his goals is to work with computerized, mechanical prosthetics and integrate them into the nervous system.  This will allow for cognitive thought to control the prosthetic limb  as well as to allow for nervous system feedback, from sensors in the prosthetic device, to stimulate the nervous system and allow perceived sensations.  Jeremy has received several honors and awards for his research in cell biology at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) as well as in cardiac biology at the SDSU Student Research Symposium.  He considers it an honor to give back to the system that has propelled him forward to achieve his dreams.  Jeremy mentored students in the NIH funded Bridges to the Future program after completing it.  He is also the current president of the SDSU Chapter for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).  Jeremy plans to pursue his Ph.D. in Biophysics, run a research lab of his own, and teach.

PROJECT TITLE: Electrical Stimulation and Prolonged Pacing Effects on Neonatal Myocardiocyte Dynamics


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Charles C. Moreno


Faculty Mentor: Dr. 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 Statistics. 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: Dr. Tom Huxford

Carlos Nowotney 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: Dr. 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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Alterra Sanchez

Biology (Ecology)

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kevin Hovel

Alterra Sanchez was appointed as a MARC fellow in June 2013. Her major is Biology but her interest lie in environmental chemistry. Soon after, joining the program, she participated in a summer research experience at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts where she worked on the calibration of a CO2 and pH sensor in order to measure dissolved inorganic carbon flux from a salt marsh to the coastal ocean. Currently, she is conducting research in Dr. Kevin Hovel’s Marine Ecology Lab focusing on the effects of copper contamination from boat haul paint on sea grass community structure and possibly how copper contaminated algae affects food choice in sea grass spifauna. She is also interested in outreach through science education. She is a project leader of Making Waves, a student run organization at SDSU created to spread awareness about the marine environment to middle and high school students through research and/or science based activities. She also tutors Native American students through the Native American Recruitment Program at SDSU. Alterra will be applying to Ph.D. programs where she hopes to study how plastics affect the transport and fate of organic pollutants in the ocean.

PROJECT TITLE: Effects of Copper Contamination on Sea grass Epifauna Assemblages


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Gerardo Soriano

Chemical Physics

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andrew Cooksy

Gerardo Soriano was appointed as a MARC fellow June 2013, and his major is Chemical Physics. Shortly after joining MARC he participated in a summer research experience in the Chemistry and Applications of Smart Molecules and Materials (CASMM) program at Duke University. During the summer at Duke, he worked in the lab of Dr. Stephen Craig on research that involved the synthesis of force-activated molecules, termed mechanophores, and the study (and synthesis) of elastomers that incorporate these force-sensing molecules within the polymer network. One of the central goals of the project was to investigate (and hopefully be able to optimize) the properties of those elastomers which greatly facilitate the transmission of mechanical forces to the targeted molecules, and consequently, maximize chemical reactivity. Currently Gerardo is conducting research in Dr. Andrew Cooksy’s lab focusing on carrying out ab initio electronic structure calculations on the high reactive cyclooctatetraenyl radical (C8H7). One of the main goals of the project is to study the vibrational dynamics of cyclooctatetraenyl radical, including its effective isomerization from one structure to another under specific vibrational excitations. Gerardo plans to continue his scientific career by pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry. He is particularly interested in studying theoretical chemistry and chemical physics. His long-term goal is to eventually pursue a career in academia and focus on being a top teacher and researcher.

PROJECT TITLE: An Ab Initio Study on the Isomerization of the Cyclooctatetraenyl Radical