Three seniors, alumna earn NSF fellowships

Three members of this year’s graduating class and an alumna have won prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

'This is a clear indication of the world-class education students receive at CSUMB.'
– Dr. Bill Head

Michael Diaz of Upland, Liz Lopez of Sacramento, Emily Roncase of Ridgecrest and Stacy Mauzey of Salinas, were awarded the fellowships, which provide $90,000 to support three years of graduate education.

All four participated in rigorous research and demonstrated an elite level of scholarship while at CSUMB.

Diaz, mentored by Dr. Aparna Sreenivasan, researched potentially toxic cynaobacteria from local freshwater environments. He also investigated stomach bacteria pathogensis at UC Santa Cruz. A biology major, he will begin work on his Ph.D. in the cellular and molecular biosciences program at UC Irvine in the fall.

UROC logoMentored by Dr. James Lindholm, Lopez worked on a project to monitor Marine Protected Areas along the Southern California coast and also conducted research at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. She is considering graduate programs at the University of San Diego, Western Washington University and Oregon State.

Roncase, a biology major, worked with Drs. Henrik Kibak and Aparna Sreenivasan to investigate cyanotoxin levels in a freshwater lake in Watsonville. She also worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago, researching antibiotic resistance at the molecular level. She is considering offers from a number of doctoral programs, including Scripps Research Institute and Brown University.

Mauzey, an alumna of Hartnell College and CSUMB, is now a graduate student in plant pathology at Washington State University. While at CSUMB, she worked with Dr. Carolee Bull in the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service facility in Salinas.

The NSF graduate research fellowships went to 2,000 students – from more than 13,000 applicants – across the country; 595 of them were awarded to undergraduates. CSUMB was the largest recipient of undergraduate awards in the California State University’s 23-campus system.

“Nine CSUMB undergraduates and one alumna have received NSF fellowships in the last four years,” said Dr. Bill Head, director of the university’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center. “This is a clear indication of the world-class education students receive at CSUMB and a reminder of how well public institutions serve the students of California.”

Learn more about the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center at CSUMB.