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Sept. 12, 2003
DH 03 TK051
Contact: Thomas Knox
(310) 243-3367



CSU Dominguez Hills Biology Professor and Alumnus
To Receive Role Model Citations from Minority Access, Inc.

National Role Models Conference set for Sept. 14 in Washington, D.C.

Carson, Calif: – Laura Robles, Ph.D., professor of biology at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), has been selected to receive a Role Model Citation from Minority Access, Inc. (MAI) and will accept the award during a National Role Models Conference and Banquet on Sunday, Sept. 14, at the Hilton Washington Hotel, in Washington, D.C. A cell biologist at CSUDH, Robles is singled out for her outstanding accomplishments in assisting minority students to excel in the fields of neurosciences and cellular research.

“I am excited and honored to be selected as a recipient of such a distinguished award,” said Robles, program director of the Minority Biomedical Research Program (MBRS) at CSUDH, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. “I am committed to do everything possible to help my students achieve their dreams in biomedical research as I am pursuing my dreams.”

Robles has been actively involved in providing mentoring to minority students at CSUDH for 28 years. She began her career with the University in 1975 when she was hired as a full-time lecturer. A year later, she won a tenure-tract position in the CSUDH’s Biology Department. In 1979, Lois Chi, Ph.D., director for the MBRS program at CSUDH invited her to submit a subproject for their competitive renewal. Robles has become a fixture of the program ever since then.

Robles’ love for the neurosciences has served as a driving force in her 28-year career. In her early years, she worked in the laboratory of Dean Bok, Ph.D., at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute in addition to teaching at CSUDH. She termed this as an “informal postdoctoral experience” that enabled her to begin her investigations on photoreceptor cells using the octopus retina as a model system.

Jerome Nwachukwu, a 2002 magna cum laude graduate in biochemistry from CSUDH, will receive a Minority Access Student Role Model Award during the conference. While attending CSUDH, Nwachukwu participated in the Undergraduate Student Training Academic Research (U*STAR) Honors MARC Program. U*STAR is designed to prepare underrepresented minority science students for graduate school in the biomedical fields through direct research experiences. Nwachukwu received the CSUDH Alumni Association’s Outstanding Student Achievement Award and is currently in a doctoral program in biomedical sciences at New York University School of Medicine.

In a written statement, Andrea Mickle, president and chief executive officer of Minority Access, Inc., wrote, “Mr. Nwachukwu symbolizes Minority Access’ ideal student role model – one who has maintained an outstanding academic record and has successfully completed a major research project.”

MAI is completing the fourth year of a Cooperative Agreement with the Office of Minority Health (OMH) of the Department of Health and Human Services to identify role models who recruit, retain, nurture and assist minority students into successful careers in biomedical research. The conference is intended to unite more than 200 representatives from major research universities, community colleges and historically black colleges and universities to address the health disparity issues and illnesses that disproportionately affect minorities.

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