Minority Opportunities in Research Programs | May 30, 2013 | Spotlight

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

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

Recognized for developing and training students for careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, the Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Programs at Cal State L.A. serves as a launching pad for students seeking to pursue doctoral degrees with a research focus. This year, 14 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 go to college, Carlos had to take on odd jobs and figure out on her own the steps needed to take to achieve what others might have perceived as unattainable.

But, through her participation in the MORE’s Bridges to the Future program 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.

Inspired by the Bridges experience and motivated by her mom, she transferred to CSULA and was accepted 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 published last year in the Behavioural Brain Research journal.

Carlos also conducted a summer research project at King’s College in London and another at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.

Preliminary listing 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

Find out more at the following links:

* MORE Programs at CSULA: /

* Early Entrance Program at CSULA: /

* Office of Graduate Studies and Research at CSULA: /

* Department of Biological Sciences at CSULA: /

* Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at CSULA: /

* College of Natural and Social Sciences at CSULA: /

Now, as a MARC-U*STAR Fellow, Carlos is studying the basis of muscle development in Professor Sandra Sharp’s laboratory. The MARC-U*STAR research training program offers select juniors and seniors each full tuition scholarship. 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 and a monthly stipend.

“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.”

Michael Martinez

Pictured: Michael Martinez.

Fascinated by scientific experiments at a young age, such as making a mini volcano erupt with baking soda and vinegar, or creating a soda geyser with Coke and Mentols, Michael Martinez has always been drawn to the mystery of how things work.

With an innate ability to tackle problems in a systematic way, he explored his interests by taking introductory science classes at Long Beach City College while still enrolled in a middle school.

An extreme high-achiever, Martinez skipped high school and began college to pursue a career in the sciences. Although still a teen, he applied and was admitted to CSULA through the Early Entrance Program (EEP) under the auspices of the Honors College. EEP accepts qualified students as young as 11 and helps educate a large population of gifted students.

Martinez was eventually selected as a MORE’s MARC-U*STAR fellow, which he described as 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. His research was one of 12 presentations 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’s (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 Club, 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.

“I greatly appreciate the help and support from EEP and MORE Programs faculty for bringing me to CSULA and giving me the research training to be effective in graduate school,” said Martinez. “In the future, I want to focus on a career specializing on finding treatments for diseases.”