While participating in biology research with Dr. Nitika Parmar as an undergraduate studying biology at CI, Ashley Bonneau (2011 B.S., Biology) discovered her calling.

“When I started the project, I was just exploring an unanswered biological question that Dr. Parmar posed,” Bonneau said. “But after about a semester, it became almost an obsession. I genuinely cared about finding the answer. The fact that I had ownership of a project and was doing research that wasn't in the textbooks led me to want a career in academia and research.”

Bonneau is now pursuing her Ph.D. in Genetics at Yale University, researching factors that are important in early embryonic development. She hopes one day to become a biology professor and lead her own research group, while also focusing on teaching and mentoring students.

“I want to be the mentor to students that my professors at CI were to me,” she said. “If you are a student that really wants to learn and excel, the faculty there does everything within its power to make you successful.”

She entered CI as a transfer student from Ventura College in 2008, after working in the mortgage industry for several years. Bonneau won several prestigious awards and scholarships as a student conducting research on the effects of gene silencing on the growth of human cells. She also served as president of the campus science club, the Free Radicals. She remains in touch with several faculty members who were instrumental in her growth.

“I think that especially for a new and smaller state school, CI holds its own against any institution in the nation,” Bonneau said.