Ten undergraduates at UCLA selected for CNSI Summer 2006 undergraduate research

The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) recently announced the selection of 10 undergraduate students who participated in a competition for the CNSI Summer 2006 Research Fellowship Program. Each student will receive a $5,000 stipend for research work conducted in the lab of a CNSI faculty member.

"We would like to thank all who participated in this year's competition," said CNSI Director Fraser Stoddart. "It was a very difficult selection process, as we received applications from many truly talented candidates."

The students selected come from a wide range of disciplines, including chemistry, microbiology, immunology, molecular physics, biophysics, electrical engineering, bioengineering, and materials science. All of the students are highly motivated and enthusiastic about working in multidisciplinary areas.

The exceptional young scholars at UCLA who have been selected for the CNSI 2006 Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program are:

  • Adriana Anavitarte, a microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics major. Her CNSI faculty mentor is William Gelbart, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. "Understanding the basis of medicine, along with the future of medical research is vital," Anavitarte said. "I have taken some amazing courses, including virology, human genetics and bacterial pathogenesis, that discussed how diseases affect humans and expected us to demonstrate that knowledge through experimental techniques. As a result, my goal is to become a pediatric geneticist, participating in both research and a clinical practice."

  • Donald Chang, a biophysics major. His CNSI faculty mentor is Jianwei (John) Miao, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. "A reason I chose UCLA's physics department over UC Berkeley's is because of the new major--biophysics," Chang said. "Now, after two years, I want to conduct research and publish a paper. I have already started experiments in synthesizing nanocrystals on biomaterials such as calcium in different concentrations and observing the morphology of crystals using light microscopy."

  • Benjamin Chiang, an electrical engineering major. His CNSI faculty mentor is Yong Chen, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. "My major is technical, electrical engineering with a biomedical emphasis," Chiang said. "I have been actively involved in Alzheimer's disease research for over two years. And now I have [entered] the burgeoning field of nanotechnology, itself a subject reliant on multidisciplinary study."

  • Tobias T. Falzone, a biophysics major. His CNSI faculty mentor is Dolores Bozovic, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. "The CNSI Summer Research Fellowship will allow me to take a step towards my eventual goal of independent research by providing me the opportunity to obtain valuable research experience," Falzone said. "It will allow me to contribute significant work to the field of sensory neuroscience."

  • Korey Kam, a materials science and engineering major. His CNSI faculty co-mentors are Bruce Dunn, professor of materials science and engineering, and Owen Witte, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. "My personal and professional goals revolve around a career in research, and the most exciting research to me is being done at the interface of nanomaterials and regenerative medicine," Kam said. "CNSI is the only organization that effectively enables the merging of these fields here at UCLA."

  • Kunal Mehta, a bioengineering major. His CNSI faculty mentor is Jacob Schmidt, assistant professor of bioengineering. "I have recently become very interested in the field of single-molecule sensors and [in] research into the magnetically controlled, rapid sequencing of DNA using biological nanopores," Mehta said.

  • Michael Miller, a physics major. His CNSI faculty co-mentors are Eric Hoek, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Ric Kaner, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and materials science and engineering. "Now scientists are beginning to look at how energy and water are interdependent," Miller said. "This energy-water nexus is a fundamental point to have sustainable energy. With an increasing population, especially in arid locations of the U.S., the need for water efficiency is acute. With nanotechnology, the possibility for energy-efficient "smart membranes" has not only become an attractive option to create more efficient treatment processes but a sustainable requirement to meet the world's future water resource needs."

  • Richard Rodriguez, a chemistry major. His CNSI faculty mentor is Miguel Garcia-Garibay, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. "From photonic materials to biochemistry, chemistry is a part of everyday life for everyone," Rodriguez said. "Not only is chemistry relevant to our lives but conducting chemistry research provides the entertainment and intellectual stimulation that I have experienced but on few occasions elsewhere."

  • Audrey Ross, a chemistry major. Her CNSI faculty mentor is Ken Houk, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. "Learning about the cutting-edge of chemical theory and the techniques necessary to perform both theoretical and physical experiments will form a valuable basis of skills to be used in further studies and in my future career," Ross said.

  • Adam Secousse, a physics major. His CNSI faculty mentor is Chris Regan, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. "Through the science of physics, we can help to create instruments and tools, particularly on the nanotechnical level, that can make the growth of efficiency in our world exponential," Secousse said. "The capabilities that lie in this field are endless. This aspect is the key that fuels my interest to tap into the power that we hold as physicists."


The California NanoSystems Institute is a research center run jointly by UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. It was established in 2000 with $100 million from the state of California and an additional $250 million in federal research grants and industry funding. Its mission is to encourage university collaboration with industry to enable the rapid commercialization of discoveries and inventions in nanoscience. CNSI members, who are on the faculty of UCLA and UCSB, make up a multidisciplinary team of some of the world's preeminent scientists in the fields of materials science, molecular electronics, quantum computing, optical networking and molecular medicine. The CNSI is currently constructing two state-of-the-art nanosystems research facilities, one each at UCLA and UCSB.

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