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2020 EXPAND Alumni

  • Allison Sou

    Allison Sou

    Mentee | Biochemistry

    Allison Sou is a first-year biochemistry major at UCSD. She joined the EXPAND program because she was interested in gaining research experience that can benefit her academic and professional career. Since she is still unsure of her career path, she hopes to not only gain experience but also explore specialties such as protein dynamics to see what a potential career could be for her. She would also like to listen to industry representatives’ stories about how they chose their area of study and the steps they took to get there. During her free time, she likes reading and drawing cartoons and on the weekends, she's either getting boba or playing games with her friends! She looks forward to working with everyone!

    Mentor: Christian Seitz (project)

  • Larry Lee

    Larry Lee

    Mentee | Mathematics and Computer Science

    Larry Lee is a first-year student studying Mathematics and Computer Science at UCSD. He is a first-generation college student and enjoys creative expression through photography and creating music, which helps foster his passion for intuition and discovery. Larry is interested in the field of computational biology. In his current project at EXPAND, Larry explores the simulation of biological mechanisms, a key research topic in the field that has a wide range of implications for public service. Larry joined the EXPAND program because it provides a solid opportunity to pursue this mission by taking on interdisciplinary research in the physical sciences alongside experienced researchers in their unique fields.

    Mentor: Christian Seitz (project)

  • David Rovira

    David Rovira

    Mentee | Mathematics: Applied Science

    David is a first-year Mathematics: Applied Science major at UC San Diego, currently working as a Triton Health Ambassador. He was inspired by a particular teacher in high school, whose enthusiasm, encouragement, and bright demeanor fostered an interest in pursuing a degree in mathematics. While he works on this degree, David is supported and motivated to succeed by his family, and as a first-generation student, he feels a fundamental drive to always go above and beyond what is expected of him. Although mathematics will be David’s general focus, he hopes to explore an interdisciplinary approach involving science as well. Furthermore, he would like to learn how to apply this mindset -- through programs like EXPAND -- and ultimately bring both subjects to bear on real-world problems outside of academics.

    Mentor: Jonathan Guiang (project

  • Daniela Garcia

    Daniela Garcia

    Mentee | Physics

    Daniela is a first-year Physics student at UC San Diego. Growing up in L.A., her interest in science was sparked by visits to the California Science Center--the space shuttle exhibit, in particular. Since she is just beginning her college journey, Daniela is open to exploring other fields of science (in addition to Physics) and hopes to also get an understanding of how her skills can apply to research and industry through EXPAND. As a first-generation college student and a woman in science, Daniela continues to triumph against tremendous societal opposition. Thus, her ultimate goal is to become the person she needed: someone who will uplift and support those who are discouraged from pursuing science.

     Mentor: Jonathan Guiang (project

  • Litiana Librando

    Litiana Librando

    Mentee | Biology (major), Psychology (minor)

    Litiana was born in the Philippines but had to relocate frequently to places all over the world for her father's job. Her experiences living all over the world have made her aware of the many problems that still need solutions, so she aspires to use science to give back to the world around her. She is currently majoring in General Biology with a minor in Psychology. As a first-generation college student as well as a young woman in science, Litiana has faced many obstacles while working toward her goals. Although she still keeps her original dream of practicing medicine close to her heart, she actively looks for new experiences that allow her to grow as a researcher also. Litiana has expanded her goals to include the translational aspect of medicinal research. After graduation, she intends to pursue additional opportunities that allow her to continue to contribute to both the research and medical fields. Litiana’s project with the Expand Program at UCSD will use computational approaches to investigate the protein-protein interactions that regulate the type II fatty acid biosynthesis pathway in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of the disease, tuberculosis. Through computational analysis, she hopes to unlock novel drug targets and create new treatments for this devastating disease.

    Mentor: Desirae Mellor (project

  • Savio Le

    Savio Le

    Mentee | Undeclared

    Savio Le was born to a family of Vietnamese immigrants living in Alaska. As a child, he was sent to live in Vietnam for 6 years before coming back to America to start kindergarten. Growing up in the wilds of Alaska, and in an oceanic-dependent community, inspired his love for the ecological sciences. However, here at UCSD, his interests have shifted towards human medicine and reconstructive surgery. Now, Savio’s goals are to enter the field of restorative surgery, particularly for pediatric practices. He aspires to help children who have been injured by burns or accidents or who have congenital anomalies. He also wants to conduct research that improves the scientific and technological capabilities for reconstructive medicine. Savio’s work with the EXPAND program will focus on another catastrophic human ailment, the disease, tuberculosis, and will use computational analysis to study biological pathways.

    Mentor: Desirae Mellor (project

  • Christian Seitz

    Christian Seitz

    Mentor Chemistry and Biochemistry

    Christian Seitz is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Chemistry & Biochemistry department at UCSD. Due to the steep learning curve and outdated stereotypes, the computational sciences have traditionally been populated by those you think of as "computer people." Democratizing computational chemistry and easing the transition into a new field for undergraduates is why he joined the EXPAND program as a mentor. Connecting mentees with industry professionals will further the mentees' acceptance in the computational community, and help them learn more about future career prospects. Outside of science, he can be seen playing in competitive soccer and tennis tournaments around San Diego, or planning his next travel adventure.

    Mentees: Allison Sou and Larry Lee (project)

  • Jonathan Guiang

    Jonathan Guiang

    Mentor Physics

    Jonathan is a second-year Ph.D. student studying Physics at UCSD and a co-founder of the EXPAND program. He primarily studies proton-proton collision data collected by the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as a member of Professor Würthwein’s experimental particle physics group. At the same time, Jonathan works with UCSD Health radiologists, led by Prof. Albert Hsiao, to develop machine learning algorithms that interpret CT scans for diagnostic and prognostic applications in the clinic. In general, Jonathan is interested in doing good -- whether abstractly through science or directly in the clinic -- and helping people, as countless others have helped him. However, when he isn’t busy sifting through data, coding, or organizing EXPAND, Jonathan likes to play video games, exercise, and express himself through a variety of digital mediums.

    Mentees: David Rovira and Daniela Garcia (project

  • Desirae Mellor

    Desirae Mellor

    Mentor Chemistry and Biochemistry

    Desirae is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Chemistry & Biochemistry department at UCSD. Her research focuses on the protein-protein interactions in the fatty acid biosynthesis pathway of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of the disease tuberculosis. As a first-generation college student, a military spouse, and a mother to two small children, Desirae has faced countless barriers while pursuing higher education. Her experiences have taught her how invaluable mentorship and support is for the success of underrepresented students. It is also these experiences that made her eager to participate in the EXPAND program. She frequently participates in STEM outreach and led the development of an extracurricular STEM program at her children’s elementary school on base. Desirae enjoys activities like hiking, baking, and making additions to her vast collection of unicorns. Her favorite quote is “You have to be odd to be number 1,” and she hopes to inspire future scientists to change the world, one oddity at a time.

    Mentees: Litiana Librando and Savio Le (project