Graduate Division

Fletcher Jones Fellows

Section 1

Anna Penner

Anna Penner

UCI Doctoral Student, Department of Sociology

Degrees:

  • Sociology, University of California, Irvine, Ph.D., 2018 expected
  • Social Science-Demography and Social Analysis, University of California, Irvine, M.A., 2016
  • Sociology, University of California, Riverside, M.A., 2013
  • Anthropology, Biola University, B.A., 2008

Research

Anna’s research examines outcomes of children who have a sibling with a disability. Twelve percent of children in the United States have a disability and almost twice as many children have a sibling with a disability. While a substantial body of work examines outcomes for individuals with disabilities, Anna’s research represents the one of the first nationally representative examinations of the longer-term consequences for children who have a sibling with a disability. Thus far she has found that there are educational and behavioral disadvantages among those who have a sibling with a disability, particularly among sisters. By investigating possible disadvantages faced by individuals who have a sibling with a disability, Anna hopes to highlight consequences of disability across the life course and illuminate a previously hidden cost of disability on society.

Biography

Anna was born and raised in Japan, in the only non-Japanese family in her town. In addition to growing up in Japan, Anna’s childhood was profoundly shaped by her brother Daniel, who has severe mental and physical disabilities. After finishing high school in Japan, she moved to the U.S. for college, where she majored in anthropology. Her undergraduate thesis examined the community supports available to families with a disability, through which she realized that siblings of those with disabilities are largely overlooked both in the research literature and in the support structures. This sparked an interest in examining the outcomes of individuals who have a sibling with a disability.

Throughout her graduate school career, Anna has volunteered with organizations supporting both individuals with special needs and their siblings. She has also given talks on supporting siblings, helping both parents and organizations understand that while advocating for their child with a disability is incredibly important, it is also essential that they also advocate for their other children. In her spare time, Anna enjoys frequenting her local farmers market, photography, and watching tennis.


Past Fellows

Dominique Ingato

Dominique Ingato

UCI Doctoral Student, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Degrees:

  • Chemical Engineering, University of California, Irvine, Ph.D., 2017 expected
  • Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, University of California, Irvine, MS, 2014
  • Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (B.S.E.), University of Pennsylvania, 2012

Research

Dominique's research is focused on the development of cell-derived nano-carriers for biocompatible, targeted cancer therapy. White blood cells are a key part of the immune system, which help to destroy viruses and bacteria. In leukemia, cancer cells crowd out white blood cells in the bone marrow. Without healthy white blood cells, leukemia patients succumb to infections that they are unable to fight off. Cancer develops in cases where immune cells are not able to destroy abnormal cells fast enough before the abnormal cells begin to crowd out healthy cells. One type of immune cell, natural killer cells, has been shown to have the ability to target and kill cancer cells. Imagine the bone as a subway car and the cancer cells as passengers at rush hour. Another passenger, our natural killer cell, has no way of entering the crowded subway car to attack each cancer cell passenger. It’s too big to squeeze between the crowds. Her research focuses on generating nano-sized particles from natural killer cells that maintain the same killing properties as the original cells. Imagine the crowded subway car and picture the nano-sized particles as equivalent to specks of dust. They can easily penetrate the free space between subway passengers. Therefore, nano-sized natural killer particles should be much more effective in treating leukemia patients.

Blood cancers such as leukemia account for nearly 10% of all diagnosed cancers in the United States and are the most common cancers in children. Therefore, there is an urgent need for a targeted and biocompatible leukemia therapy. Dominique hopes that her research will lead to improved therapies that will positively impact leukemia patients worldwide.

Biography

Dominique graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012 with a B.S.E. in chemical engineering and a second major in chemistry. Her interest in therapeutic delivery carriers led her to the Kwon lab at UCI. She was initially funded by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, which allowed her to pursue her interest in extracellular vesicles for drug delivery. She won first place for her oral presentation on her research at the Korea University/UCI symposium in 2016. She pursues her her passion for teaching and mentoring as a UCI Pedagogical Fellow. She also serves as the DECADE Education Chair and Engineering Graduate Studies Committee Student Representative. Her key motivation is to help with developing an inclusive campus environment where all graduate students have support as they work towards achieving their academic and career goals.

Prior to completing her doctoral degree, Dominique hopes to demonstrate a novel method for treating leukemia using immune cell-derived nano-particles. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, baking, and playing cello. Following completion of her Ph.D., Dominique aims to become a professor and run a laboratory where she can mentor the next generation of cancer therapeutics researchers.

Nayna Mahesh Sanathara

Nayna Mahesh Sanathara

UCI Doctoral Student, Department of Pharmacology

Degrees:

  • Pharmacology, University of California, Irvine, Ph.D., 2016 expected
  • Biology, California State University of Long Beach, M.S., 2010
  • Molecular Biology (B.S.) and Psychology (B.S.), University of California San Diego, 2005

Research

Nayna's current work investigates the neuronal circuitry regulating the melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) neurons. The MCH system is a neuropeptide system that plays important regulatory roles in food intake, energy balance, glucose homeostasis, sleep, and reward-related behaviors. MCH expression is restricted to two hypothalamic nuclei, the lateral hypothalamus and the zona incerta. Although much is known about where MCH neurons project, very little is known about the presynaptic inputs received by these neurons. Nayna’s thesis work investigates the specific presynaptic populations of neurons that regulate the MCH system using neuroanatomical, pharmacological and genetic tools. Her work investigates the chemoarchitecture of these presynaptic inputs and their functional significance. This work has implications for additional functions of melanin-concentrating hormone for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Biography

Nayna Mahesh Sanathara holds a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a B.S. in Psychology from UC San Diego and an M.S. in Biology from California State University of Long Beach. She plans to complete her doctorate in Pharmacology at the University of California, Irvine in 2016.

A first generation college student, she first became interested in studying the brain as an undergraduate researcher at the Salk Research Institute in Dr. Wylie Vale’s lab. While pursuing her Masters’ in Dr. Kevin Sinchak’s lab at CSULB, she realized how enjoyable and exciting behavioral neuroscience research could be. She is currently completing her PhD thesis work in Dr. Olivier Civelli’s lab in behavioral neuropharmacology at UCI. Afterwards she plans to continue her biomedical research in behavioral neuroscience to elucidate potential therapies for neuropsychiatric diseases.

Nayna is active in several campus organizations that foster graduate success. Most recently, she co-founded the “Brews and Brain” Meetup which presents the scientist performing UCI’s cutting-edge research to the general public. In her theoretical free time she enjoys traveling, baking, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Lydia Zacher Dixon

Lydia Zacher Dixon

UCI Doctoral Student, Department of Anthropology, Concentration in the Anthropologies of Medicine, Science and Technology

Degrees:

  • Anthropology, UCI, Ph.D., 2015 expected
  • Anthropology, UCI, M.S., 2013
  • Gender Studies, University of Chicago, B.A., 2002

Research

Lydia’s research examines the current development of professional midwifery education programs in Mexico, where midwifery had long been officially marginalized by the state. She spent 17 months conducting ethnographic research in midwifery schools and clinics across Mexico in order to understand the factors associated with the current reemergence of midwifery as a legitimate field of expertise within the healthcare system. Her findings indicate that both grassroots activism among midwifery groups and international pressure to invest in midwifery as a development strategy in response to a maternal mortality crisis have contributed to this recent trend. However, as midwives work with the state to determine the best midwifery education model, tensions arise around questions of what midwives should know, how they should learn, and in where they should practice. This research has broader implications for how we understand the standardization of emergent medical models and the interaction between health, gender and development.

Biography

Lydia’s interest in women’s health issues began as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, where she majored in Gender Studies, minored in Latin American Studies, and completed pre-med coursework. Her senior thesis there investigated Mexican American women’s contraceptive choices.

Before going on to graduate school in Anthropology at UCI, Lydia lived in Mexico for four years, working with various women’s health and midwifery organizations as a field worker, translator, and sexual health educator. She also spent time in California and New Mexico, where she worked in women’s health clinics and trained as a birth assistant and lactation educator.

In her free time, Lydia enjoys reading, playing music, and being crafty. She also loves going on adventures around Catalina Island, where she lives with her family. Her long term goals are to attain a tenure-track faculty position and to continue to research issues related to women’s reproductive health and health education.

Jesse Angle

Jesse Angle

UCI Doctoral Student, Materials Science and Engineering

Degrees:

  • Materials Science and Engineering, UCI, M.S., 2014 expected
  • Materials Science and Engineering, UCI, M.S., 2010
  • Applied Mathematics, UCI, B.S., 2009

Research

Jesse’s research focuses on understanding the fundamental properties of ceramic materials used in energy applications. He previously worked on developing novel synthesis methods to efficiently produce ceramic materials used as fuel cell electrolytes. He is currently exploring how the water in air (steam) can affect these materials when they are used at high temperature. He has found that low levels of water vapor can have dramatic effects on how atoms move around in the materials. This is very significant since many applications where these ceramic materials are used, like jet turbines and fuel cells, operate at high temperatures and are exposed to large amount of steam. 

Biography

Jesse Angle holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and a Master's degree in Materials Science and Engineering from UCI. He hopes to complete his doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering in 2014. 

Jesse became interested in materials while attending Santa Ana Community College, prior to coming to UCI to finish his undergraduate degree.  The immediate need for the development of clean and renewable energy sources inspired Jesse to work on materials for energy applications.

In addition to working in the lab, Jesse enjoys playing flag football and softball on the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science intramural sports team, Chemically Material. In his free time, Jesse can be found visiting the farmers' market, reading books at coffee shops, and hanging out at the beach.  After completing his Ph.D., Jesse plans to pursue a post-doctoral position and continue doing research on ceramic based energy materials. His long term goal is to obtain a tenure-track faculty position at a research institution.  He will also be getting married this year after completing his doctorate.

Katie Dingmen-Cerda

Katie Dingmen-Cerda

UCI Doctoral Student, Social Sciences

Degrees:

  • Sociology, UCI, Ph.D., 2013 expected
  • Sociology, UCI, M.A., 2009
  • Sociology, Saint Mary's College, B.A., 2006

Research

Before deciding to pursue her doctoral degree, Katie worked as a social worker, which fueled her passion to help others. Witnessing the experiences of undocumented Central American youth who had been detained by immigration officials furthered Katie’s desire to help those less fortunate. She saw several adolescents denied legal status and involuntarily returned to countries from which they had escaped. Most often, these individuals were seeking to escape from the violence, poverty, or an adverse family situation. She uses her research to ‘give voice’ to deportees and, where appropriate, challenge the logic of contemporary modes of governing migration.  

Katie is intellectually and politically motivated by the study of international migration. Her dissertation explores the diverse ways individuals navigate their lives after they have been deported from the United States to El Salvador. She hopes to be able to use my research to not only further academic and policy discourse, but to help students understand the human side of migration.

Biography

Katie Dingeman-Cerda holds a B.A. in Sociology from Saint Mary's College, and also holds a master's degree in Sociology from UCI. She hopes to complete her doctorate in Sociology in 2013. Katie is pursuing research on the experiences of Salvadoran deportees.  As a 2012-2013 Pedagogical Fellow, she enjoys helping undergraduate students cultivate their sociological imaginations through active engagement with ethnographic data they collect themselves.   

She hopes to continue exploring issues related to stratification within Latino and Latin American populations where she believes her research has the potential to be used to influence real lives in addition to expanding the dialogue within the international migration subfield. Katie enjoys relaxing through physical activities such as swimming, running, biking, hiking, and doing yoga.  She can also be found practicing meditation, playing with her skateboarding English Bulldog Babbu, and spending time with her family, which includes her husband and newborn baby boy, Dylan.