Camarillo, Calif., Jan 26, 2012 -- Eight undergraduate students who show outstanding promise in chemistry and biology research recently were awarded $1,000 scholarships from CSU Channel Islands (CI).

The juniors and seniors work with faculty in the chemistry and biology programs, tackling issues ranging from examining the relationship between smog and local weather conditions to synthesizing drugs for Alzheimer’s disease.

The students received the awards based on their faculty mentors’ recommendations and assessments of their achievements and potential.

“I feel extremely grateful and humbled having received such a scholarship,” said Mary Grabiak, a biology major working with Dr. Nitika Parmar, by investigating tumor protein effects on metabolic pathways. “Having participated in undergraduate research, I know that I will be a better, well-rounded pharmacist. Research has taught me that you may not find the exact answer you are looking for, but doors to many other opportunities and questions will be opened just in trying.”

Undergraduate student research is an important part of the student learning experience at CI. Each semester, approximately 60 students majoring in biology and chemistry collaborate with a professor in an attempt to answer an unresolved scientific question.

“Answering a scientific question ignites a process of discovery in these students that you can’t duplicate in a classroom laboratory setting,” said Dr. Simone Aloisio, Chair of the Chemistry program, who mentors several undergraduate researchers. “Their research projects may end up inconclusive – or they may have a rare breakthrough – but that’s how discoveries are made. The process of trial and error really awakens a passion for science and knowledge in these students.”

It also provides the undergraduates with hands-on research experience that is attractive to graduate schools and prospective employers.

Paulina Kolic, a 2010 graduate of CI’s Chemistry program, is now working toward her Ph.D. at Louisiana State University.

“My research experience at CI helped prepare me for my graduate studies by developing my critical thinking skills and my ability to troubleshoot and learn on my own,” she said. “Graduate schools look for students that have had to go through the trials associated with research.”

The scholarship winners, their projects and their faculty mentors are as follows:

StudentMajorMentorProject description
Cassidy AdlofB.S., Biology, EcologyDr. Ruben Alarcon, BiologyStatistical analysis of pollinator/plant relationships
Mary GrabiakB.S., Biology, cell and molecularDr. Nitika Parmar, BiologyTumor protein effects on metabolic pathways
Brittany LampmanB.S., Biology, pre-professionalDr. Charles Sackerson, BiologyComparison of the genetic sequence for different whales and dolphins
Nathan LandersB.S., Biology, cell and molecularDr. Rachel Cartwright, BiologyStudying the oxygen holding capacity of muscles of whales
Shelby MaloneyB.A., ChemistryDr. Simone Aloisio, ChemistryExamining the relationship between smog and local weather conditions
Jose MedinaB.S., ChemistryDr. Phillip Hampton, ChemistrySynthesizing drugs for Alzheimer’s disease
Katia NavaB.S., ChemistryDr. Blake Gillespie, ChemistryBiochemistry research of protein structure
Xavi RamonB.S., Biology, clinical lab scienceDr. Ahmed Awad, ChemistryUsing nucleotides to find better drugs to target cancer

For additional information, contact Dr. Simone Aloisio at 805-437-8999 or

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About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands 
(CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more by visiting CI's Social Media.