16 Upper School Students Conduct College-Level Research Through Partnership With UC-Irvine

Sixteen Upper School students with an interest in STEAM fields had a valuable first-hand look at a college research environment this summer, as they worked with top minds in engineering, computer science, chemistry, robotics and more at the University of California, Irvine.
The partnership between St. Margaret’s and UCI Samueli School of Engineering is now in its 18th year, and the 16 participating students this summer was the highest number ever. Coordinated by St. Margaret’s science teacher Jennifer Ross-Viola, Upper School engineering and science students are matched with UCI faculty members in a research area that aligns with their interest. Students spent several weeks at UCI this summer working on their projects alongside professors and graduate students in college labs.
The students presented their work at a showcase event this week at Hurlbut Theater, attended by parents, family, friends, UCI faculty and St. Margaret’s faculty.
When the partnership started 18 years ago, it was one student working in the School of Engineering. This year, the 16 students went in many different directions—statistics, robotics, chemistry, astronomy, chemical engineering and much more.
“At UCI, it’s quite common to see an engineering professor team up with a science professor or a business professor or even with art. There are so many interesting and important things that happen between these different disciplines,” Magnus Egerstedt, Dean of Engineering at UCI, said at the showcase. “What I love about this internship program—and what I’ve seen so far, has impressed me—is that it does bring people together.
“Success is (researching) an interesting project, but success is also if the students who participated in these programs go out and become engineers. Help us solve these big problems, because we need your help.”
Here are the Tartans who took part in a summer internship:
Roy Cheng, working with Associate Professor Zhaoxia Yu: “Golf’s Spatial Distribution and Contributing Factors.”
Kevin Chou, working with Professor Ali Mohraz: “Bijel Templated Implantable Biomaterials.”
Wyatt Fales, working with Professor David Reinkensmeyer: “Self-Directed Controls Engineering Project.”
Malcolm Matthew, working with Professor David Reinkensmeyer: “Horizontal Stepping Robot.”
Rainbow Li, working with Associate Professor Han Li: “Rational Protein Engineering.”
Nadia Momtaz, working with Assistant Professor Jing Zhang: “Using Computational Methods to Predict Cell Signals.”
Kian Vargo, Ali Botuchis and Caden Gazzaniga, working with Associate Professor Michelle Digman: “Triggers of Stress Granules Formation.”
Alexis Lindenfelser, working with Associate Professor Iryna Zenyuk: “Hydrogen Fuel Cells.”
Charlotte Newman, working with Associate Professor Jered Haun: “Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) of U937 Cell Lines.”
Alex Kenny, working with Assistant Professor Yanning Shen: “Stock Price Prediction.”
Sophia Karahalios and Jonathan Lee, working with Professor Asantha Cooray: “Coding Gravitational Lensing in Lenscrafter.”
Alexis Bullock, working with Professor Rachel Martin: “Crystallin Protein Expression and Purification as it Relates to Rock Fish Lenses.”
Devin Thomas, working with Professor Virginia Trimble: “Comparative Properties of Astronomical Sites and Evaluations for Notable Observatories.”
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