CNAS Freshman Scholars Program

RISE Scholar Spotlight 2016

Our Scholar Spotlight highlights the work of UCR students who have participated in the Research in Science and Engineering (RISE) summer program. Each of these students earned $5,000.00 while conducting scientific research with a faculty mentor. At the end of the program, these scholars presented their research and findings at the Symposium for Undergraduate Research.

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Photo of Emily Harris, a RISE Scholar from 2016, standing next to her research poster titled, "Muscle Contractions in the Male Reproductive Tract of Culex."

Emily Harris is a junior Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology major at UC, Riverside. Her predominant focus on campus has been undergraduate research, having participated in RISE for two years, as well as additional research-based projects.

For the past two years, Emily has worked with Dr. Richard Cardullo, studying muscle contractions in the male reproductive tracts of Culex Mosquitoes. By studying the signaling pathways and mechanisms involved in reproductive muscle contractions, their lab hopes to eventually find a method for insect control. During RISE 2016, Emily explored this by exposing the reproductive tract to several different pharmacological agents to identify the pathways involved in muscle contractions as well as monitoring Ca2+ levels in the muscle tissue using calcium imaging.

When asked what she would advise to aspiring RISE Scholars, Emily emphasized the significance of researching potential faculty mentors early as possible. This allows students to better find research opportunities that they’ll enjoy and benefit from. Finding research that one is passionate about, Emily believes, should be prioritized over finding research in a very specific field.   


A picture of Paul Medina, a RISE Scholar from 2016, smiling at the camera in his research lab. Paul is wearing a lab coat and surrounded by lab equipment.

Paul Medina is a sophomore Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology major here at UC, Riverside. He is an active campus leader who is currently a CNAS Scholars Peer Mentor, a member of several student clubs, and a Clinical Care Volunteer at Riverside Community Hospital. Additionally, Paul conducted research with Dr. Alder Dillman in the Department of Nematology for the RISE program (and still does so today).

Paul’s summer research focused on the study of parasitic nematodes and their contribution to the infection of their insects hosts. This was done through culturing nematodes with a mutant bacteria in which to study the toxicity of nematodes without the associated bacteria. Through this, Paul both answered his primary research question, as well as cultivated additional questions to explore in future research.

When asked for advice he would give to aspiring RISE Scholars, Paul emphasized the importance of drive in answering research questions. Scientists are problem solvers, he affirmed, and must be prepared to explore and answer their research inquiries. 


Picture of Anser Qazi, one of the RISE Scholars from 2016, sitting in his research lab wearing protective goggles

 Anser Qazi is a sophomore Biology major at UC, Riverside. He is highly involved both on campus and in the community, volunteering regularly at Riverside Community Hospital and participating in University Honor’s. Additionally he conducts research with Dr. Hill Harman in Chemical Sciences, who was also his faculty mentor during his participation in the RISE program.

Anser’s summer research focused on the synthesis and chemistry of fluorinated high spin iron complexes. He explored this topic through journal review articles and hands-on lab research with Dr. Harman and a graduate mentor.

When asked what he would say to aspiring RISE scholars, Anser emphasized the impact of his summer experience. He feels that RISE is an amazing experience and provides an important understanding of guided research, and the opportunity to think independently. Additionally, he believes it helps students master important parts of research, such as building relationships with faculty and giving presentations. 

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Department Information

CNAS Freshman Scholars Prgoram
1223 Pierce Hall

Tel: (951) 827-5326
Fax: (951) 827-2243
E-mail: cnasscholars@ucr.edu