Outstanding Students

These Biology students not only exhibit academic excellence, but also serve as examples of the mission of College of the Pacific. They have excelled in the classroom and beyond, whether it's through multiple degrees, research, study abroad or service to their communities. They are the epitome of excellence and champions of the natural sciences. Take a glimpse at some of the Biology department's outstanding students:

Sarah Wong

Sarah Wong

Sarah Wong is a Powell Scholar graduating with a BS in Biology. She has also earned a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship, receiving a $5,000 award towards her graduate studies. After graduation, she will pursue a dual PhD in neuroscience and DDS program at UC San Francisco. Learn more about Sarah>>





Alan Williams

Alan Williams

Alan Williams is graduating with a BS in Biology. He has recently been accepted into the U.S. Navy's Health Professions Scholarship Program, a highly selective program for students who aspire to careers in the medical field. After graduation, he'll enter the Navy as a lieutenant and spend three years practicing dentistry in the service. Learn more about Alan>>





Jesse Herche

Jesse Herche

Jesse Herche is graduating with double majors in Biology and Music, with double minors of French and Chemistry. He is a recipient of the Amgen Scholarship, which will fund his biochemistry research at at MIT. Learn more about Jesse>>





Congratulations to our 2016 Outstanding Students

Each year, the Department of Biological Sciences recognizes outstanding students who have demonstrated academic excellence.

This May, we recognized the exceptional work of:

  • Renz Anthony Tan Antonio
  • Xiaoshan (Vida) Bao
  • Alston Shian Trinh

Congratulations to our 2014 Outstanding Students

2014 Early Award for Undergraduate Research:

Charlotte van Schooten
The Fred and Marguerite Early Undergraduate Research Award is given each year to recognize and support excellent undergraduate research. 

This year's recipient is Charlotte van Schooten (shoot-in). 

As a Biological Sciences major, Charlotte has worked in the laboratory of Dr. Tara Thiemann for 3 semesters and will continue work this summer. Charlotte has been an integral part of a research project describing the blood feeding patterns of mosquitoes in San Joaquin County and is currently helping to develop a molecular assay to detect dog heartworm parasites within mosquito vectors. 

Along with her hard work and motivation in the lab, Charlotte has maintained a fun and positive attitude - making her a truly outstanding undergraduate researcher. 

Outstanding Seniors:

Kamille Mercado
Kamille is a 3+3 pre-dental student who is graduating this spring with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. She has balanced her outstanding academic performance with many extra-curricular activities, including tutoring, active professional club and sorority memberships, shadowing at two dental practices, membership in Phi Kappa Phi, membership in the honors program, and work for the Center for Community Involvement.  Despite this busy schedule, Kamille has also maintained an interest in music and art.  With her unassuming demeanor and list of accomplishments, Kamille is poised to become a valuable and gifted member of the professional community. 

Lydia Schramm
Lydia is graduating with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in chemistry. She has taken many challenging courses, including organic chemistry, biochemistry, and immunology.  Lydia's accomplishment is all the more remarkable because she is a student athlete, required to devote many hours to training and competing as a member of the swim team. Lydia's irrepressible personality, permanent smile included, has endeared her to her professors during her time at Pacific. We have no doubt she will be just as popular and successful in medical school in her native Alberta, Canada.  We wish her great success. 

Sarah Anne Wong
Sarah Anne Wong is a remarkable student, who combines intelligence with hard work and compassion.  She started at Pacific as an accelerated 3+ Pre-Dental student, Honors student and Powell scholar, and she is graduating with a B.S. in Biological Sciences.  In 2013 she was admitted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and awarded a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.  She has a long-standing interest in neurobiology, and conducted undergraduate research first with Dr. Marcos Gridi-Papp from the Biology Department and later with Dr. Katerina Venderova from the School of Pharmacy.  

One of her ultimate goals is to combine her love of both dentistry and neurobiology by conducting research on the potential use of dental stem cells to aid in neuro-regeneration.  She may soon get her wish, since she was admitted into one of two spots in the DDS/PhD program in Oral and Craniofacial Sciences at UCSF, which she starts in the fall. We look forward to her many accomplishments. 

Congratulations to our 2013 Outstanding Students

Each May, we recognize the exceptional work of our college's top seniors with the Outstanding Graduate award.

  • Maria Nattestad
  • Nadia Shaheen
  • Tracey Huey

Outstanding senior, Maria Nattestad is graduating in May with B.S. in Biological Sciences and 3.97 GPA.  Maria has started doing research with Drs. Joan and Geoff Lin-Cereghino and is already a published author on a paper in the international journal GENE.  She has also performed undergraduate research with Dr. Lisa Wrischnik and more recently with Dr. John Mayberry.  In the fall, Maria will pursue her interest in computation biology in the Ph.D. program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.  We look forward to her many accomplishments

Nadia Shaheen is the 2013 recipient of the Fred and Marguerite Early Undergraduate Research Award.  As a Powell Scholar in the Biological Sciences Department, Nadia has pursued research opportunities in the laboratory of Drs. Geoff and Joan Lin-Cereghino.  Her careful and precise work in laboratory has yielded many good results that have resulted in one published manuscript and most recently, the Poster Session Award at the West Coast Biological Science Undergraduate Research Conference in San Diego.  But, you would never hear about her accomplishments from Nadia herself.  She is a kind and humble student who never calls attention to all of her hard work.  We are most pleased to honor Nadia with the Fred and Marguerite Early Undergraduate Research Award.

Tracey Huey started in 2007 as an accelerated 2+ Pre-Pharmacy student, and after two impressive years she attended the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy, where she earned a reputation as professional, hard-working and very smart.  After graduating magna cum laude with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, she returned to the college in order to finish her BS in Biological Sciences, where she extended her reputation as bright and hard-working.  Of course, she is friendly and personable as well, going out of her way to help fellow students and acting as a mentor and role model.   Based on her performance in every course she has taken in the college, she should graduate this spring with a 4.0 GPA.  In the future she plans to work as a Pharmacist while she applies to Medical School. 

Congratulations to our 2012 Outstanding Students

Each May, we recognize the exceptional work of our college’s top seniors with the Outstanding Graduate award.

  • Kimiko Agari
  • Casey Ardrey 
  • Kristin Oshiro
  • Hansel Poerwanto

Kimiko Agari earned her degree in Biology and minor in Japanese in just three years. She has distinguished herself in both the classroom and laboratory.  After earning a Pacific Fund Summer Research Fellowship, Kimiko is already a co-author in a scientific publication and has another paper in the works. She was a Chemistry Workshop Leader and Microbiology Prep Coordinator. However, she is probably most recognized for walking backwards around campus as a Pacific Ambassador.

Kimiko plans to attend the UCLA School of Dentistry in the fall.

Casey Ardrey has earned the Outstanding Senior award not only for his consistently high academic performance but also because of his enthusiasm and true love of learning. In his time at Pacific, Casey performed research for Dr. Kirkwood Land for three years in the area of drug discovery. He presented his work at a recent Pacific Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference (PURCC).

Casey will begin Pharmacy school in the fall.  

Kristin Oshiro has been both a tutor and tutor coordinator at the Center for Community Involvement.  She led many service projects as Vice President and President of Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society, such as showing kindergartners the science and joy of making root beer. She also performed research in the Lin-Cereghino lab for two years, which culminated in co-authoring a recent research article.

Kristin plans to attend medical school at Tufts University this fall.

Hansel Poerwanto earned his degree in Biology and minor in Japanese in just three years. He has done research for Drs. Kirkwood Land, Geoff and Joan Lin-Cereghino. He will become a published author after graduation. He helped students as a Chemistry Workshop Leader, the "prep guy" for microbiology lab, and as a resident student advisor. Many students recognize him as the friendly face behind the counter at the library.

Hansel will attend the UCSF School of Dentistry.

Stacy Luthy, Biology, and partners from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fishery Foundation of California, and Friends of the Lower Calaveras River conducted an education and outreach event on October 22 for students from A.A. Stagg and Bear Creek high schools.  The students learned about the upstream sections of the Calaveras River, which is the source of much of Stockton's drinking water and is critical habitat for threatened Central Valley Steelhead.


Students Receive Awards for Biomedical Research

During Pacific Research Day at the Arthur A. Dugoni Dental School, two awards were given for outstanding posters to Biology students participating in the biomedical research collaboration, Pacific Connection. One went to graduate student Rhea Hautea '11 (from the laboratory of Dr. Joanna Albala) for her work on vitamin D in head and neck cancer, and another went to undergraduate student Albert Lin '12 (from the laboratory of Dr. Craig Vierra) for his work on spider silk proteins.

Students Contribute to Spider Silk Research Featured in Publications and Presentations

The article "Sticky Business: Video Shows the Right Way to Extract Silk Glands from a Black Widow Spider" was published in the online version of Scientific American on January 19, 2011. The article features Dr. Craig Vierra along with graduate students Coby La Mattina, Yang Hsia, Eric Gnesa, Felicia Jeffery and Tiffany Tuton-Blasingame, who have been researching ways to make synthetic spider silk for commercial applications. The article is accompanied by a video that shows how to dissect a black widow spider and extract its silk glands. The video was recently released on JoVE, the online Journal of Visualized Experiments. 

Hsia (M.S. '11), Gnesa (M.S. '11), Jeffery (M.S. '11), and Vierra also had their chapter "Spider Silk Composites and Applications" published in Metal, Ceramic and Polymeric Composites for Various Uses (John Cuppoletti, ed., InTech, 2011). In addition, Hsia, Gnesa and Vierra presented "Glue Silk Proteins: Molecules with Novel Biomimetic Potential" at the American Arachnological Society (AAS) meeting at Lewis and Clark University in Portland, OR.

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