Current Student Participants

RISE Student: Melissa Estrada

Melissa Estrada

Melissa Estrada is a junior at California State University Dominguez Hills, who is graduating in the Spring of 2024. She is majoring in Biochemistry and is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in animal behavioral. Her interest in research began when she learned that the products created by nature were proved to be impactful. She is currently working in Dr. McCauley’s lab which is focused on identifying fungal natural products that exhibit cytotoxic activity towards a brain cancer cell line. In her free time, she likes to watch TV show reruns, exploring new places, and going to concerts.

Jorge Hernandez Garcia

Jorge Hernandez Garcia is a senior at California State University, Dominguez Hills pursuing a B.S. in Chemistry. He is currently in the McCauley Lab and is largely interested in the isolation and purification of metabolites produced by marine fungi and sponge samples. Successful isolation and purification is rewarding to him because it leads to structure elucidation of the small molecules derived from nature. His future goals include obtaining a Ph.D. in a biological sciences program with an emphasis on natural products. Additionally, he hopes that his research work contributes and benefits towards the advancement of natural products sciences for future generations. In his spare time, Jorge enjoys drawing, painting, and spending time with his fur-child, Nina.

RISE Student: Edwin Omar Chavez Santana

Edwin Omar Chavez Santana

Edwin Omar Chavez Santana is a second-year transfer student at California State University Dominguez Hills, graduating in 2024 with a bachelor's degree in science in Biochemistry. He is a first-generation student who immigrated from Mexico with his family from a young age. He has always been captivated by science and the ocean. His captivation has led him to work in multiple labs where he gained the knowledge and skills that he uses today while working under the mentorship of Dr. Erin McCauley. The focus of their research involves secondary metabolites of marine spongers. He aspires to continue his education with marine natural products. Edwin has always been an outgoing person with a list of hobbies that is constantly growing. He enjoys video games, scuba diving, photography, and sports such as soccer and hockey.

RISE Student: Brianna Orantes

Brianna Orantes

Brianna Orantes has always been intrigued by learning how living organisms work. As a third-year microbiology student, she is fascinated by microorganisms and bacteria. Brianna aspires to earn a Ph.D. in microbiology and continue to become an immunologist, working for large pharmaceutical companies doing research in vaccine development. The intrigue in the field is to be a part of these great discoveries which can help society move forward without any fears.

A strong motivation for Brianna’s career goals is being an underrepresented minority and a first-generation student. As a Salvadoran woman, she wants to inspire others and make a difference in society and be a part of a new generation that can learn to accommodate change. Currently, Brianna is a part of Dr. Wang's Zebrafish research where her focus is on skin development and their interactions with touch-sensing neurons. Zebrafish are similar to humans at a molecular level and because of this, they are suitable for investigation. In Brianna’s spare time, she enjoys painting and spending time with my family and friends.

RISE Student: Isabel Parada

Isabel Parada

Isabel Parada is a junior at California State University, Dominguez Hills majoring in Biology with a focus on Ecology and Environmental Biology. She enjoys nature and is curious as to why plants behave the way they do. She works in the laboratory as a research assistant with Dr. Theiss studying the evolution of Oenothera (evening primrose). She is organizing seeds to germinate and grow plants to perform breeding system analysis this spring/summer. From this experience, she has gained numerous computer and laboratory skills to further help push her career. Isabel hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in forestry ecology to further her interest in biodiversity and to manage and conserve trees. In her spare time, she likes to go camping, try new foods, and go on long car rides.

RISE Student: Joshua Quiran

Joshua Quiran

Joshua Quiran is a junior at California State University, Dominguez Hills and is majoring in Microbiology. He is expected to graduate spring 2023. He has always been interested in the study of diseases and how to cure them. He is currently at the Lundquist Institute with Dr. Ibrahim, Professor of Medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Infectious Disease, at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. The focus of the current research is on advancing the understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms and virulence factors of fungal and bacterial infections, and on translating this knowledge into novel immunotherapeutic strategies to combat infectious diseases. Joshua is currently assisting in research testing the effectiveness of antifungal medication. He currently wishes to pursue a PhD in virology.

RISE Student: Jessica Sklar

Jessica Sklar

Jessica Sklar is a third year, Presidential Scholar, majoring in Environmental and Ecology Biology. She works in Dr. Wang’s lab where she focuses on how zebrafish fecal microbiome are impacted from microplastic ingestion. After graduating, Jessica plans to get a Ph.D. in marine biology following her love and passion for the environment, ocean, and animals. When not at school or doing research, Jessica enjoys going to the beach and going on hikes. She also a huge animal lover, so she is am always with my dogs or taking care of my new litter of foster kittens!