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Undergraduate Engineering Students Interviewed on Univision

Students are part of a program that aims to increase the number of students transferring into science, technology, engineering and math at UCR and enhance support for Hispanic and low-income students pursuing degrees in those fields

(August 9, 2010)

David Becerra, an engineering student studying wildfires, is interviewed by Cecilia Bogran, a reporter from Univision 34 Los Angeles KMEX.Enlarge

David Becerra, an engineering student studying wildfires, is interviewed by Cecilia Bogran, a reporter from Univision 34 Los Angeles KMEX.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) -- A Univision television crew visited campus at 5 a.m. August 9 for live interviews with UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering students involved in a summer research program.

The students - Erika Aragon, David Becerra and Xorge Alanis - and Melba Castro, director of first-year student success programs, were interviewed by Cecilia Bogran, a reporter with Univision 34 Los Angeles KMEX.

Aragon, Becerra and Alanis are among 21 undergraduate engineering students working with faculty mentors this summer researching everything from water quality to wildfires to materials that could lead to new medical devices.

The students are being paid through a $3.3 million grant UC Riverside’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Pathway Project was awarded by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act and Hispanic Serving Institutions Program. Castro wrote the grant application.

The grant aims to increase the number of students transferring into the STEM fields at UCR and to enhance support for Hispanic and low-income students who are pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The goal of the Summer Bridge program is to get them engaging in research so they are prepared for graduate school,” said Jun Wang, who coordinates the program as the professional development officer at the Bourns College of Engineering.

The 10-week program started at the end June. Students work daily in faculty labs and get together weekly for workshops and seminars. The program continues through Aug. 27, when the students will present their research at a symposium. After that, the students will likely remain working with their faculty mentors.

The students include:

Aragon, a sophomore from West Covina, is working with David Cwiertny, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering. She is researching how ultraviolet light naturally kills bacteria water with the goal of increasing the amount of disinfection.

“UCR has a lot of opportunities to get involved with research,” Aragon said. “This is the reason I chose UCR. I didn’t want to sit behind a book for four years.”

David Becerra, a fifth-year student from Chula Vista, is working with Shankar Mahalingam, a professor of mechanical engineering. Becerra is looking at how heat transfers from the ground to the crowns of trees during wildfires. He collects plants from the mountains and creates simulated fires in the U.S. Forest Service lab adjacent to campus.

Xorge Alanis, a junior from Ontario, is working in the lab of Hyle Park, an assistant professor of bioengineering. He is working with optical coherence tomography, a technique capable of noninvasive, high-resolution cross-sectional imaging by measuring the intensity of light reflected from within the tissue. The hope is that the research will help doctor’s diagnosis nerve injuries and also help advance neurobiological research.
Xorge Alanis shows Cecilia Bogran, a reporter from Univision 34 Los Angeles KMEX, a horseshoe crab he uses to research nerve injuries.Enlarge

Xorge Alanis shows Cecilia Bogran, a reporter from Univision 34 Los Angeles KMEX, a horseshoe crab he uses to research nerve injuries.

From left to right, David Becerra, a student, Melba Castro, director of the first-year student success program, and students Erica Aragon and Xorge Alanis, are interviewed by Cecilia Bogran, center, a reporter from Univision 34 Los Angeles KMEX.Enlarge

From left to right, David Becerra, a student, Melba Castro, director of the first-year student success program, and students Erica Aragon and Xorge Alanis, are interviewed by Cecilia Bogran, center, a reporter from Univision 34 Los Angeles KMEX.

Erika Aragon is researching how ultraviolet light naturally kills bacteria water with the goal of increasing the amount of disinfectionEnlarge

Erika Aragon is researching how ultraviolet light naturally kills bacteria water with the goal of increasing the amount of disinfection

Xorge Alanis dissects a crab as part of his research that he hopes will help doctor’s diagnose nerve injuries.Enlarge

Xorge Alanis dissects a crab as part of his research that he hopes will help doctor’s diagnose nerve injuries.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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