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Mirae Dong


Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ralph Feuer

Mirae Dong was appointed as a MARC fellow August 2014. Her major is Biology with an emphasis in Cell and Molecular Biology. She is currently conducting research with Dr. Ralph Feuer. His research focuses on the Type B coxsackievirus (CVB) and its effects on the human body. His most recent research focuses on the effects of CVB infections in cardiac progenitor cells and their non-lytic mode of viral transmission using extracellular microvesicles (EMVs). Mirae plans to continue her scientific career by pursuing a Ph.D. in Microbiology/Immunology or Stem Cell Biology. Her long-term goal is to conduct research to produce vaccines and/or antibiotics.

PROJECT TITLE: Coxcackievrirus Dissemination and Escape from Host Neutralizing Antibody Response via Natural Encapsidation


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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 the 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 conducting research with Dr. Andrew Cooksy. Dr. Cooksy’s research focuses on reactive intermediates in combustion, interstellar chemistry, chemical synthesis, and biochemistry; investigated by laser spectroscopy and spectroscopic theory, and by computational quantum mechanics.



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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 is conducting research with Dr. Paul J. Paolini. Dr. Paolini’s research interests are in muscle physiology, particularly cardiac muscle contractility. His current research concerns signaling pathways and gene expression in the cardiac cell, physical methods of monitoring cell contractility, and use of computer models to better understand cardiac cell behavior.



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Charles Moreno


Faculty Mentor: Dr. Paul Gilbert

Charles Moreno was appointed as a MARC fellow June 2014. His major is Psychology, and is currently conducting research in Dr. Paul Gilbert’s Center for Healthy Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease Research lab focusing on neurodegenerative diseases that affect the aging population.



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Alexis Romero


Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ricardo Carretero

Alexis Romero was appointed as a MARC fellow June 2014. Her major is Physics, and she is currently conducting research with Dr. Ricardo Carretero. Dr. Carretero research interests include non-linear wave propagation (solitons), nonlinear lattices and Bose-Einstein condensates. Since July 2014, Alexis has also been working with Dr. Fridolin Weber. His research interests include superdense matter, neutron stars, quark stars, supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. Alexis plans to continue her scientific career by pursuing a Ph.D. in physics with an emphasis in high energy physics. Her long-term goals is to conduct research in a high energy physics national lab or university.



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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