Minority Opportunities in Research Programs | Spotlight

Cal State L.A. launches ‘MORE’ graduates into doctoral programs

Carlos, Martinez along with 12 other students are M.D., Ph.D. bound

Recognized for developing and training students for careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, the Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Programs at Cal State L.A. is a launching pad for students seeking to pursue doctoral degrees with a research focus. This year, 12 MORE Programs students have been admitted into prestigious doctoral programs, including Kathleen Carlos, a biology major, and Michael Martinez, a chemistry major.

Pictured: Kathleen Carlos.

Kathleen Carlos

Ever since she was a little girl, Kathleen Carlos dreamed of becoming a doctor. However, with family obligations and financial challenges, it might seem like a daunting goal for Carlos.

Being the first in her family to even go to college, Carlos had to take on odd jobs and figure out on her own the steps needed to take in order to achieve what others might have perceived as unattainable.

But, through her participation in the MORE’s Bridges to the Future while at Pasadena City College, the doors of opportunity begin to open up for Carlos. The program is geared toward developing the pool of talented minority students who will eventually become leaders in biomedical research.

But, she notes that credit also goes to her mom for motivating her along the way.

Inspired by the Bridges experience, she transferred to Cal State L.A. and was accepted then into the MORE’s MBRS-RISE Program, which prepares juniors and/or seniors enter research-oriented fields.

Under the program, she studied the effects of serotonin depletion in rats on cognitive flexibility in CSULA Professor Alicia Izquierdo’s laboratory. Her collaborative research was even published last year in the Behavioral Brain Research journal.

Paving the path to her respective field, she was also able to take advantage of the chance to conduct a summer research project at King’s College in London and another at Johns Hopkins.

Now a MARC-U*STAR Fellow, Carlos is studying the basis of muscle development in Professor Sandra Sharp’s laboratory. MARC-U*STAR research training program offers a full tuition scholarship to juniors and seniors. She is also is a member of the Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

Evidence that dedication and hard work do pay off, Carlos has recently been accepted to a M.D./Ph.D. program at UC Irvine with a paid fellowship along with monthly stipends.

“Ideally, when I am all done with my doctoral study,” said Carlos, “I would like to spend a few days of the week treating patients at a clinic, and other days teaching at a molecular neuroscience lab at a college or university. I want to make a difference in research and medicine.”

Pictured: Michael Martinez.

Michael Martinez

Fascinated by scientific experiments, such as making a volcano with baking soda, or creating a geyser with soda and menthol, Michael Martinez at a very young age was drawn to the mystery of how things work.

He was also interested in tackling problems in a systematic way, so he explored his interests by taking introductory science classes at a city college while he was enrolled in middle school.

From there, Martinez knew that he wanted to skip high school, go to college and pursue a career in the sciences. At age {15?}, he applied and was admitted to CSULA through the Early Entrance Program (EEP) under the auspices of the Honors College.

With focus and determination, Martinez was eventually selected as a fellow of the Minority Access to Research Careers-Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC-U*STAR). The MARC-U*STAR, he described, is the premier undergraduate honors research training program on campus.

Martinez is currently conducting research on the “Identification of Benzo[a]pyrene Diones as Net Sensitizers of Singlet Oxygen” with CSULA Professors Krishna Foster and Matthias Selke. The study attempts to identify net sensitizers of singlet oxygen in the lower atmosphere. Remarkably, his research was one of 12 to be recognized at the 2013 annual Cal State L.A. Symposium on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity.

Martinez’s accolades also include the CSULA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s Freshman in Chemistry Award, the Rashad E. Rasouk Scholarship, and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Outstanding Undergraduate Research Presentation Award. A Dean’s List student, he is also a member of the CSULA Chemistry and Biochemistry Club, EEP Club, G.E. Honors Program, SACNAS and the American Chemical Society.

After graduating from CSULA this June, Martinez will pursue a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute. Utlimately, he hopes to focus on a career specializing in finding treatments for diseases.

“I greatly appreciate the help and support from EEP and CSULA MORE Programs faculty for bringing me to CSULA and giving me the research training to be effective in graduate school,” said Martinez.

Here is a preliminary list of MORE Programs grads and their doctoral destinations:

Judith Alvarado, University of California, San Diego
Irvin A. Coria, University of California, Santa Barbara
Eli Espinosa, University of California, Riverside
DeVonna Gatlin, University of Cincinnati
Steve Halaby, Cornell University
Nancy Lainez, University of California, Riverside
Michael Mendoza, University of California, Riverside
Amber Paasch, Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History
Mariah Paula Rincon, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Raquel Rodriguez, Boston University
Adwoa Sasu, University of Arizona
Matthew Ward, University of Southern California

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