Undergraduate scholars selected for Koret/First-Gen research program

Sixty four scholars to receive funding, mentoring.

January 25, 2019

Koret Undergraduate Research Scholars showcase projects.
Koret scholars show case their work at last years research slam held in June.

UC Santa Cruz is pleased to announce the selection of our Koret/First Generation Initiative Undergraduate Research Scholars for 2018-19. The program, aimed at increasing research opportunities for underserved student populations, is the latest installment of an initiative launched three years ago with funding from the Koret Foundation. This year’s program is coordinated by the Student Success Evaluation and Research Center, Office of Campus Advising Coordination, Division of Undergraduate Education, and UCSC’s First Generation Initiative.

Additional funding from the Office of the Chancellor will expand this year’s program to support more first-generation students. Research scholarships now will be awarded to 64 undergraduates, up from 50 this past year. The local funds also will provide support for additional faculty and graduate-student mentors.

“Research is foundational to the educational experience,” said Chancellor George Blumenthal. “We know that when students engage in research with faculty and graduate-student mentors, they hone not only their research skills, but their communication abilities, which boosts student success and retention, not to mention future career success. We are extremely fortunate to have the Koret program on our campus.

‘I’m also happy to dedicate the extra funding to bolster the number of first-generation students in the program,” Blumenthal added. “As a first-generation college student myself, albeit many years ago, I understand some of the challenges that today’s first-generation students face — access to career-building research opportunities among them.”

The Koret Foundation is a San Francisco-based organization that supports civic, cultural, and educational organizations that promote a vibrant and distinctive Bay Area.

Over the past three years, the Koret Undergraduate Research Scholars program has supported 165 UC Santa Cruz scholars representing all academic divisions. Members of this year’s cohort hail from 28 disciplines and come from diverse backgrounds. Of the 64 selected this year, 38 (59 percent)  are first-generation, the first in their families to attend college. Each scholar receives $2,000 for participating in the program. Forty-five faculty mentors and 11 graduate-student mentors will support the scholars in completing their projects. A Research Slam, where students will present their posters, is scheduled for June 7, 2019, at McHenry Library.

A unique aspect of the program this year is a partnership with the Digital Humanities Research Cluster, supported by The Humanities Institute. The Digital Scholarship Commons Undergraduate Fellowship Program offers a cohort of three students workshops and mentorship in conceptualizing, organizing, and executing digital projects. Juliette Carr, Metztli Hamelius, and Nirupama Chandrasekhar make up this year’s cohort. In addition to the support of the Koret program, these fellows will attend a series of four dedicated workshops, library mentorship for their project, software and hardware support, and receive an additional $500 stipend.

The Koret program provides funding for a variety of undergraduate research projects and experiences. Some examples from this year’s cohort include:

Caitlyn Rich (Merrill College), a third-year majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, is also among the 64 scholars selected. The Koret scholarship will allow her to test her hypothesis that natural selection is favoring the lighter coloration of the leucistic salamanders by having lower predation rates when compared to the darker E. e. Eschscholtzii. Serving as an opportunity to publish her research and prepare for graduate school, Caitlyn encourages undergraduates to seek out professors and classes that align with their research interests. Caitlyn will be mentored by Professor Barry Sinervo from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department.

Angel Mora (Oakes College) is a fourth-year student in the sociology department. With the support of the Koret scholarship, Angel is researching stigma and barriers formerly incarcerated students must navigate in their post-secondary education at UC Santa Cruz. Assistant professor, Rebecca London, who has mentored Angel, will support their efforts to provide this “invisible population” a platform from which to express students’ concerns and needs. Angel encourages peers to “explore research until you find what moves you. Do something that you won’t get bored of. Don’t be afraid. Research may seem intimidating, but it is rewarding to yourself and others as well.”