Research reunion: CSUSB Department of Biology alumni to share successes
Office of Strategic Communication
Part homecoming. Part celebration. All successes.
The College of Natural Sciences is celebrating the achievements of students who participated in an internship focused on stem-cell research.
The Stem Cell Scholars Symposium on Friday, Nov. 22, will gather together 10 Department of Biology alumni who benefited from education and training they received as students through the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s (CIRM) Bridges to Stem Cell Research program. CIRM is the state’s stem cell agency.
The symposium, subtitled “Ten Years of CIRM Bridges Successes,” is scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. in the Santos Manuel Student Union Theater.
“The success of this training program has been almost beyond measure,” said Nicole Bournias-Vardiabasis, a professor of biology and director of the program. “More than 100 CSUSB students have been awarded these scholarships that have allowed them to carry out leading-edge research in the area of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Upon completion the great preponderance of the graduates has gone on to professional and graduate programs or have been hired as research technicians both in academic and industry positions. It definitely has been a labor of love for me, but one that has given me nothing but satisfaction by its outcomes.”
Students have received training in stem cell laboratories across Southern California, such as at the City of Hope Beckman Research Institute, Stanford University, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, USC, Loma Linda University, Western Health Sciences University, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Of those, more than 75 have gone on to careers as research technicians, PhD programs, or been accepted to medical, dental, and pharmacy schools.
“I am extremely proud of every single one of these students and their successes,” said Sastry G. Pantula, dean of the CSUSB College of Natural Sciences. “I look forward to the continued impact they will make as researchers, innovators, educators, and science leaders. They are truly inspiring. Ultimately, our success is measured by the success of our alumni.”
Stem cells are a special type of human cells with the ability to develop into many different cell types and repair damaged tissues. Stem cell researchers work on developing therapies to treat serious ailment such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease, and muscular dystrophy.
The symposium’s alumni speakers are:
• Negin Baghdadchi; MS, Biology, ’14
Baghdadchi is a project manager at NeoGenomics Laboratories, a cancer diagnostics and pharma services company.
• Sean Ganther, BA, Biology, ’16
Ganther is a researcher and PhD/DDS candidate at the UC San Francisco School of Dentistry;
• Justin Minck, BA, Biology, ’15; MS, Biology, ’19
Mink is a teacher at Serrano High School in Phelan;
• Kashfia Neherin, BS, MS, Biology (Pre-med option), ’13
Neherin is a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts Medical School;
• Rosyli Reveron-Thornton, BS, Biology, ’12; MS, Biology (Pre-med option), ’14
Reveron-Thornton is a medical student at Stanford University’s medical school;
• Andrew Salas, BS, Biology, ’15
Salas is a research specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles;
• Nicole Sparks, MS, Biology, ’12
Sparks received a PhD in environmental toxicology at UC Riverside and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at that university’s Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology;
• Laughing Bear Torrez, MS, Biology, ’12
Torrez recently received her Ph.D. in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine at Stanford University. She is currently a scientist at Bolt Biotherapeutics;
• Teresa Ubina, BS, Biology (Pre-med option), ’15; MS, Biology, ’17
Ubina is a doctoral student studying neuroscience at UC Riverside; and
• Ryan Walden, BA, Biology, ’14
Walden is an associate project manager and associate scientist at Illumina, a developer, manufacturer, and marketer of tools and systems to advance disease research and drug development.
Visit the CSUSB Department of Biology’s Stem Cell Scholars Internship Program webpage for more information about the program.