08:00 AM

Awards and Accolades: Biology Student Receives Dean's Research Award

Biology student Matthew Cope was selected as the recipient of the 2021 Dean’s Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award for the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

A first-generation college student, Cope participated in Bridges to the Future, TRIO McNair Scholars, a National Science Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduates program at San Jose State, and he worked in the lab of biology professor Elinne Becket.

Becket lauded Cope’s drive. As one example, Becket had him look into utilizing pulsed-field gel electrophoresis as a way to analyze large mobile genetic elements in microbial communities. Becket noted that these machines are expensive, and they would need to look into the feasibility of this method from a research and cost-effective perspective.

Within a week, Becket said, Cope downloaded AutoCAD and designed the entire apparatus to be 3D-printed, connected with faculty from the electrical engineering department to design the wiring setup, and coordinated with other biology faculty to utilize 3D printers on campus. Cope plans to upload these designs online for any lab to emulate, increasing research tool accessibility.

“Matt has a diverse range of interests and experiences that converge into a clear passion with important broader impacts,” Becket said. “He has demonstrated a collaborative, collegial and transdisciplinary nature in such an early stage of his research career. Between this, his creative drive and his sensitivity to improve the lives of those around him, I have the utmost confidence that he will be successful in his graduate studies and will be a valuable and impactful member of the scientific community. Through his contributions over the last two years at CSUSM, he has proven himself not only to be an incredible scholar, but also a valuable and selfless member of our campus community.”

Cope will attend UC Davis in the fall to pursue research involving plant-microbe interactions.


Nursing lecturer receives fellowship

Tara Marko, a lecturer in the School of Nursing, has been awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health.

Marko, who’s enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Washington State University, will receive an award of $50,000 over two years through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which conducts research into the effects of the environment on human disease. It’s one of the 27 institutes and centers of the NIH.

Marko will study the effects on neonatal outcomes after exposure to wildfire smoke in utero.

“Conducting this research will build on my experience as a neonatal intensive care nurse and support a strong foundation in my career as a nurse scientist with a focus on environmental exposure in the maternal child population,” Marko said.


Honors for USU marketing team

The University Student Union marketing team was recently recognized in two categories of the ACUI Steal this Idea competition.

The USU end-of-the-year celebration work placed second in the professional digital campaign category. The women’s empowerment month content placed third in the professional video category.

The digital campaign included contributions from Anthony Ferrer, USU digital media specialist, and Jamie Acevedo, USU assistant director. The video campaign included contributions from Hunter Chanove, USU marketing and media coordinator; Ferrer; and students Mason Broadway, Julissa Briseno, Mikayla Meneses and Daisy Camacho.

ACUI is a nonprofit educational organization that brings together college union and student activities professionals.


Student receives CSUPERB award

Gilda Castellanos was selected to receive a 2021 CSUPERB Presidents’ Commission Scholar Award in the amount of $8,000 to fund a project titled, “Modeling the metastasis of bioprinted breast cancer tumors using the chorioallantoic membrane of the chick embryo.”

Castellanos, whose faculty mentor is biology professor Carlos Luna Lopez, is one of six CSU students whose research projects are being funded this year.

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist

ebreier@csusm.edu | Office: 760-750-7314