UPDATE: Omar Davila received a top honor at the 10th annual Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

His presentation, “A Lesson to Learn: Characteristics of California’s Low-Performing School Districts,” was named Best Oral Presentation in the Social Sciences.

“The research I presented shed light on the California School Climate Survey, demonstrating the significant role of learning environments on academic outcomes,” said Davila, who noted that he beat Ph.D. candidates and well as recent recipients of doctorates for the honor.

Awards will help with graduate school application activities

Christina Hill and Omar Davila Jr. have been awarded the 2013 Barbara Baldock and Phillip Butler UROC Research Scholarships.

Hill, an Environmental Science, Technology and Policy major, and Davila, a psychology major, were selected based on their academic achievements, undergraduate research accomplishments, financial need, graduate school aspirations and a commitment to serve the broader community through research and outreach.

Each student will receive $4,000 to support his or her undergraduate research and graduate school application activities.

Ms. Baldock and Dr. Butler are committed supporters of the success of talented students in CSU Monterey Bay’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC). The Monterey couple first donated money to sponsor a student researcher in the 2010-2011 academic year and have continued to do so.

“We see it as helping give a little bit of a push to a student on their way to a higher-level degree,” Dr. Butler told the university’s magazine in 2012.

“We feel like these people are going to be leaders, and they’re going to make a difference,” Ms. Baldock said of the UROC students. “That really resonates with both of us.”

Hill, a native of the Monterey Bay region, is a McNair Scholar. She is passionate about local and global freshwater contamination.

“I want to participate in innovative research on the interconnectivity of earth systems that leads to the solving of modern environmental challenges,” she said.

Currently, she is examining the interactions between surface and ground water and the linkages between agricultural runoff and water quality.

She identified a research mentor at UC Santa Cruz and independently brokered her summer research placement. She will apply for graduate fellowships and Ph.D. programs in Groundwater Hydrology in fall 2013.

Davila’s research centers on minority students and academic retention. He is completing a study of how background factors play a role in educational aspirations and self-efficacy that he will present at three national conferences.

He also just completed a project using GIS to investigate how social and spatial factors play a role on SAT performance in California high schools. He will present this research at the upcoming National Council on Undergraduate Research conference.

Davila, a resident of San Leandro, has a clear vision for the ultimate goal of his research: “a nation where race and ethnicity no longer determine academic success.”

He will apply to graduate fellowships and Ph.D. programs in sociology in fall 2013, and plans to be a university professor.

Learn more about the donors here.

Learn more about UROC here.