CSUN Student Researchers Present Their Findings at Annual Presidential Scholars Exhibit

  • This year's Presidential Scholars Tyler Pugeda, Sa La Kim, Allea Cauilan and Kaitlyn Amodeo present at the annual Presidential Scholars Exhibit on May 2.

The culmination of intense hard work and research was put on full display by some of California State University, Northridge’s brightest student researchers at the 2017 Presidential Scholars Exhibit on May 2 at the Orange Grove Bistro.

The annual event featured presentations from the 2016-17 Presidential Scholarship recipients, a prestigious scholarship that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to work with faculty mentors in order to develop, complete and present an outlined research project each year at the annual exhibit.

This year’s scholars included Tyler Pugeda (mathematics), Sa La Kim (biology), Kaitlyn Amodeo (geophysics) and Allea Cauilan (cell and molecular biology).

“This exhibit provides the Presidential Scholars an opportunity to present the outcome of their year-long work,” said Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Lili Vidal. “Perhaps most important to the scholars is the public celebration of their scholarly work and achievement, as well as the encouragement they receive for furthering their pursuits as scholars.”

For biology major Kim, her research project on the properties and role of integrin alpha 1 — which is a cell surface receptor for collagen found in pancreatic cancer — has been a three-and-a-half year journey.

“The whole process [of working on the project] was hard at first, but it was something I got used to and really enjoyed,” Kim said.

Kim’s mentor, biology professor Jonathan Kelber credits her for being a natural overachiever and stated that Kim worked on the project as a volunteer for one-and-a-half years.

“Sa La emailed me during my first semester as a faculty member at CSUN saying that she was interested in doing research,” Kelber said. “Most students in the lab, unless they have outside funding from a training grant, are volunteering their time. This is what Sa La did and she was awarded for her time and effort by getting the extra funding from the scholarship.”

In order to get a taste for what’s to come in the near future, the 2017-18 Presidential Scholars were also in attendance during the exhibit.

“I’m very honored to be chosen as an upcoming Presidential Scholar and to be doing this next year,” said junior Will Brooks, one of next year’s scholars who was in attendance. “I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s exciting to see these amazing projects.”

Sharing in the excitement was Vidal, who has been a part of the scholarship program since its inception in 2005.

“I enjoy watching the students discuss their projects and experiences with each other and the engagement between faculty members and the students,” Vidal said. “[The exhibit] was an uplifting experience for everyone in attendance. It was truly a joyous occasion.”