Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 4:32 am | Fair 50º


On Your MARC: New Grant Opens Opportunities for UCSB Undergrads

Left to right: Arica Lubin, Ofelia Aguirre, Alexandra Barajas, Jessica Wong, Joseph Sanz, Bianca Dunn and Craig Montell. Click to view larger
Left to right: Arica Lubin, Ofelia Aguirre, Alexandra Barajas, Jessica Wong, Joseph Sanz, Bianca Dunn and Craig Montell.  ((Sonia Fernandez / UCSB photo))

Four UC Santa Barbara students have been selected as the inaugural participants in a new initiative designed to enhance the way UCSB prepares its undergraduates for competitive graduate programs in biomedical research.

The program, Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U-STAR), is led by Craig Montell — Duggan Professor of Neuroscience in UCSB’s Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology — and Arica Lubin, professional development programs manager at the Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships (CSEP).

The MARC scholars for 2015 are Alexandra Barajas (Chemistry ’17); Bianca Dunn (Microbiology ’17); Joseph Sanz (Chemistry ’17) and Jessica Wong (Chemical Engineering ’17).

“I am thrilled that UCSB now has the resources to help foster the biomedical careers of outstanding undergraduates representing the diversity of our campus,” said Montell, the director of the MARC U-STAR program.

Funded by a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the program promotes the increase of talented biomedical and behavioral scientists from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds into leadership positions as a means of promoting our nation’s health-related research needs.

“As a newly designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, UCSB is committed to expanding research training and academic preparation to better serve the growing demographics of our student body,” Lubin said. 

Through this five-year award, the MARC program will offer robust funding to 16 undergraduate students who will participate in two years of scientific research, leadership development and graduate school preparation.

Students will be mentored individually by UCSB biomedical faculty researchers and CSEP staff members. The program will offer students a unique opportunity to become immersed in the scientific community and develop as future leaders in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.

Barajas is working with postdoctoral fellow Artur Mailyan in Armen Zakarian’s lab in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Her research is focused on methodology to improve the syntheses of numerous natural products that will dramatically improve existing methods to determine fresh water purity.

Dunn is exploring bio-inspired approaches to help overcome antibiotic resistance under the supervision of postdoctoral fellow Zachary Ruhe in David Low’s lab in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.

Sanz is conducting research with graduate student James Hemmer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s Javier Read de Alaniz’s research group. His project is synthesizing donor acceptor Stenhouse adducts compounds and studying their use as sensors for polymeric material subjected to high strain rates.

Wong is developing oral delivery alternatives for conventional injectable formulations using mucoadhesive patches for delivery of proteins and peptides in the gastrointestinal tract. She is working in Samir Mitragotri’s lab in the Department of Chemical Engineering under the supervision of postdoctoral fellow Amrita Banerjee.

In addition, the MARC program will organize campus-wide activities open to all undergraduates interested in biomedical careers, including early research engagement, academic preparation and career awareness led by CSEP Director Ofelia Aguirre.

“We are excited for this opportunity to expand and improve campus-wide preparation of UCSB students for biomedical research careers,” she said. “Overall, the MARC program will engage more than 240 undergraduates during the five years of this award.”

The NIH grant will foster new collaborations as more than 40 UCSB faculty members conducting biomedical and behavioral research from across all science and engineering departments will serve as potential research mentors.

MARC includes partnerships with institutions nationwide, including six other UC campuses, the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The four UCSB MARC Scholars will present their research projects along with more than 100 summer interns at the Summer Undergraduate Research Colloquium at 9 a.m. on Aug. 14 in UCSB’s Corwin Pavilion.

— Julie Cohen is a science writer for UC Santa Barbara.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.