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Summer Scholars Learn by Doing

July 12, 2013

UC Merced has made a name for itself by giving undergraduates the opportunity to engage in research early in their academic careers. Nothing showcases that commitment better than the campus’s collaborative summer research program, which culminated last week with a symposium where they presented on their research and exhibited posters of their work as well.

This summer, 41 students have been conducting research with world-class faculty, thanks to sponsorships from seven different programs. According to Jesus Cisneros, director for undergraduate research programs, these student scholars represent an investment in the future.

“We are coaching these students to present their research at competitive regional and national conferences, in addition to helping them to develop skills to prepare them for the rigors of graduate school and professional careers,” he said.

For students like Laura Jalpa, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Hispanic-Serving Institution Scholar from East Palo Alto, this program has given her confidence in her choice of studies and plans for the future.

“This entire summer has been confirmation that I am on the right path,” said the earth systems sciences major. “I came to UC Merced thinking I had an interest in soil science; now I know that’s the field for me.”

It doesn’t hurt that she’s been able to work with a leading mind in the field, Professor Asmeret Berhe.

“Professor Berhe is a prestigious researcher, who I had read about long before I came to UC Merced,” Jalpa said. “I remember thinking that if I came here, I might be able to take a class from her. Now I’m working in her lab and collecting samples in the Sierra Nevada.”