UROC propels Liz Lopez to master's program at USD

Liz Lopez, a 2013 graduate of CSU Monterey Bay, has fit right in at the University of San Diego, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in marine science.

Liz Lopez is studying marine science at USDLast spring, Lopez, Michael Diaz and Emily Roncase received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Each was awarded $90,000 over three years.

For outstanding students in the sciences, the fellowships are a golden ticket. The CSUMB students were among approximately 2,000 winners from a pool of more than 13,000 applicants nationwide.

Lopez credits the help she received through CSUMB’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center with some of her success.

“It catapulted me,” she told Inside USD, a university publication. “It gave me the skills I needed to look for my own opportunities, gave me a network and the chance to attend conferences. If I hadn’t been in the program, I wouldn’t have known to come here to USD,” she added.

Liz LopezAt San Diego, she is pursuing research that involves looking at the connection between land and sea.

“I’ve never done terrestrial work before . . .but I look forward to having an experience on land and being hands-on, even more so than anything I’ve done in the water,” she told Inside USD. She’ll be working in Bahia de Los Angeles in Baja California, an area that gives researchers opportunities with various terrains in one large space.

She’ll also work with high school students from San Diego’s City Heights, a diverse group of students who have developed a passion for science through the Ocean Discovery Institute.

And she’s lending a hand to the McNair Scholars program and a chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

“Being a good scientist is important,” she told Inside USD, “but being a good mentor is one of the reasons why I came here.”

And that’s something she learned through UROC, where her mentors were CSUMB Professor James Lindholm, and Professor Sarah Henkel at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Photos courtesy of the University of San Diego