STEM Summer Research Opportunity Program

The Summer Research Opportunity Program is a chance for local area businesses and academic institutions to contribute to the community through collaboration with a Chaffey College STEM student.

We (the SRO Program Staff at Chaffey College) recruit, interview, and hire quality STEM students with a strong desire to learn more about their academic area - either through in depth research at academic institutions, or through real world experience at local businesses.

Students are recruited starting in January, and are able to start when the Spring term is complete at Chaffey in May. They are normally placed for between six and ten weeks, for up to twenty hours per week, on a flexible schedule to meet both your and their needs, during the Summer.



2021 STEM Summer Research Opportunity Program

$3,500 - $4,000 stipend

Some of our partners for the upcoming program include:
  • UC Riverside
  • Cal State San Bernardino
  • UCLA
  • Chapman University
  • Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology
  • US Forest Service
  • Aerospace Commercial Tooling
  • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles Count

Application Period
March 1 - April 1, 2021


If you have any questions regarding the STEM Summer Research Experience Program, please contact: Linda Lamp at


2021 STEM Summer Research Opportunity Positions

 *Indicates In-Person (Has the potential of cancellation or conversion to virtual due to COVID restrictions)

2021 STEM Summer Research Opportunity Positions (PDF)

 Aerospace Commercial Tooling, Ontario*

 Oscar Borello, Jr, Vice President

  • Sheet metal fabrication for the aerospace industry (deburring, trimming, forming mostly sheet metal aluminum)
  • Inspection of part features to data and/or prints
  • PCMM inspection
  • CAD design
  • CNC Machine operation


Desired Skills/Prerequisite Coursework:
  • Drawing / reading capabilities
  • CAD/CAM experience / Interest


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  • Knowledge of metallurgy and the different stages of aluminum through the forming process
  • Inspection experience
  • Potential CAD / CAM / CAE / CAI knowledge
  • Safety

American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY

Anthropology / Gary Sawyer, Senior Technician

Research Project:

Serve as an intern to learn to produce hominin reconstructions based on biological and osteological proxies in modern taxa. The student will be guided in terms of fine detail and anatomical accuracy. The student will produce reconstructions including Lucy’s facial soft tissue anatomy.

The project instantiates the mission of both Chaffey College and the AMNH to educate students in STEAM.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 

Basic art skills, access to a computer for Zoom conferences and art production. The student should have a familiarity with both ape and modern human soft tissue to bone facial anatomy as a foundation for the project.

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

The student will gain an understanding of the intersection between art and science by learning how to model the anatomy of extinct forms, with an emphasis on facial soft tissue anatomical reconstruction. The student will gain the experience of working as part of a scientific team to produce detailed hominin reconstructions based on biological and osteological proxies in modern taxa.


California State University, San Bernardino

Department of Mathematics / Dr. Jeremy Aikin, Associate Professor

Research Project:

Professor Aikin plans to work with the students on problems in graph theory. His research is in a more general field of combinatorics called matroid theory. However, he has also worked in directed graphs and tournaments, studying arc-coloring problems. I think graph theory would be a good fit for a Chaffey College student because it is fairly accessible, fairly easy to build examples and non-examples, and very fun.  Getting students engaged in research is a high impact practice. CSUSB is focused on providing more high impact opportunities for both current and future students.

Desired skills/Pre-requisite coursework:
  • Calculus would be a pre-requisite only for the reason of having reached a certain level of mathematical maturity. Discrete mathematics and/or linear algebra would be very helpful as well, but not required.
  • Some experience with mathematical communication (written and oral) and with problem-solving (knowledge of some standard problem-solving strategies).


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

A student working with me would build on their ability to communicate their mathematical thinking. They would also learn about various proof techniques and problem-solving strategies. By the end of the experience, they would have grown as a creative problem-solver.

Chaffey College, Anthropology

Public Service, Culture, and Society / Dr. Marc Meyer, Professor, Anthropology

Research Project:

Geometric morphometric analysis of fossils. Students will rotate in training sessions for three emerging modalities used in the analysis of skeletal elements: (1) photogrammetry, (2) elliptical Fourier analysis, and (3) 2D geometric morphometric landmark analysis. The students will complete original research projects on fossil specimens upon completion of training.  This project supports our mission to produce 21st Century scholars and researchers in STEM.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Anthro-1
  • Access to a home computer and basic computer literacy

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

The student will gain an understanding of the theory and praxis of biological research and be well-positioned for transfer to four-year institution, graduate research, and career opportunities in STEM

Chapman University, Orange

Biology / Dr. Greg Goldsmith, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Research Project: 

The Goldsmith Lab in Schmid College of Science and Technology studies the physiology of plants in the context of global climate change. Active research projects include:
The role of green stems on Avocado trees in avoiding drought stress (field and laboratory opportunities - biology). Students participating in this project would assist with the collection of field data on plant physiology and in the processing of lab samples to understand leaf/stem structure and function.
The contributions of wood water storage to drought resilience in trees (laboratory opportunities - biology and/or engineering). Students participating in this project would assist with the process of wood anatomy samples and perform advanced microscopy.
Satellite remote sensing of forest water use (computer-based; biology and/or computer science). Students participating in this project would develop research using an instrument aboard the International Space Station by downloading and analyzing the data in a data visualization software.

The Goldsmith Laboratory studies the physiological ecology of plants to provide insights into the fundamental relationships between plant structure, function and climate. Our research seeks to inform our understanding of plants in the context of a warming planet. To achieve our goals, we draw from tools in plant ecophysiology, ecology, satellite remote sensing, stable isotope biogeochemistry, computer science and device engineering. The lab is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, NASA and the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment. We host three postdoctoral research associates, a technician and 8-10 undergraduates.

Desired skills/pre-requisite coursework:
  • Introductory biology
  • Introductory computer science
  • Coursework in plant biology, ecology, statistics, geographic information systems, circuitry/electrical engineering and data visualization all welcome, but not required
  • Knowledge of excel and willingness to learn lots of new skills very quickly
  • Positive attitude, strong communication skills, flexibility and a strong work ethic
  • Willing to have fun
  • If working in the field, must be prepared to work in uncomfortable and hot conditions doing very physical research

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  • Students will learn foundational research skills, including experimental design, data collection, data management, and project management. Students will be exposed to basic and advanced topics in plant physiology, ecology, agricultural sciences and biostatistics. Our goals will be to 1) provide students with a true research experience, 2) prepare students for upper-division biology and computer science courses and laboratory experiences and 3) expose students to potential pathways to pursue post-graduation. The lab has extensive experience working with lower division students and is excited to provide a great experience.

Environmental Science, Health & Policy / Dr. Georgiana Bostean, Associate Professor

Research Project:

Professor Bostean’s research is in public health, specifically in population heath disparities. She is the recipient of an American Lung Association-funded grant to examine inequities in tobacco, vape, cannabis retail environment, with a focus on how uneven policy implementation by cities' socio-demographic composition creates larger disparities. The project will be underway by Summer 2021, so it will depend on what project needs are at that point, but will likely need help collecting data on city ordinances on cannabis distribution, as well as conducting literature reviews to understand the state of knowledge in cannabis literature about the role of retailer density in youth use. Students may use Google Maps to examine neighborhoods to identify conditions around retailers. I work with Geographic Information Systems, and may to learn (through provided self-guided tutorials) an online GIS platform called ArcGIS Online. Students might create StoryMaps about the tobacco, cannabis, vape environments in their home-towns, for example.

Chapman University's mission is to provide personalized education of distinction and to develop a global citizen perspective in students. One of Professor’s Bostean’s professional and personal aims is to help mentor and train students from underserved groups to be the next generation of researchers who can use science to advocate for policies to support their communities.

Desired skills/prerequisite coursework:
  • Some background in quantitative social science research methods (e.g., social science research methods), and/or those who have worked with data (e.g., in Excel).
  • Willingness to self-teach this (entry-level) online mapping tool

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  • Understanding how research questions guide research methods (e.g., data collection, analyses)
  • Conducting a thorough literature review
  • Potentially learning an online mapping software
  • Learning how to systematically collect data from government websites
  • Learning about different retail policies related to tobacco/cannabis/vape


Environmental Science / Dr. Ramesh Singh, Professor

Research Project: 

Students will be using ground and satellite data to study: Air quality, drought conditions, rainfall and water level changes, earthquakes, changes in atmospheric and meteorological parameters, climate change.

The proposed work will help local and regional study about California

Desired skills/Pre-requisite coursework:   
  • Knowledge of science
  • Excel
  • Data analysis using Excel


Food Science / Dr. Lilian Were, Professor*

Research Project:

A large portion of my research in food chemistry centers around phenolic-protein interactions and their potential effects on color, antioxidant capacity, and nutrition. This work involves a range of chromatography and spectroscopic assays. Our more recent work involves lowering protein-chlorogenic acid induced greening in sunflower ingredients. This project will be an extension of that.
Our laboratory characterizes bioactive compounds in sunflower and mushroom ingredients and determine their effect on chemical and shelf life extension in food. Projects with the interns will complement work already done

Desired skills/Pre-requisite coursework:
  • Organic chemistry or Biochemistry preferred
  • Some basic lab skills that would be helpful are
    1. Pipetting
    2. Use of balances
    3. Solution preparation
  • Software familiarity
    1. Excel or Sigma plot
  • Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
    1. Accessing and reading food science literature
    2. Data analysis
    3. Proper maintenance of Lab notebook


Food Science / Dr. Anuradha Prakash, Professor*

Research Project:

We are aiming to develop and deliver food science education modules for K-12 students, focusing specifically on under-served populations currently under-represented in STEM fields. Food science serves as a compelling vehicle to engage K-12 students with science education, as it is highly culturally relevant and accessible for all learners. The tangible, multisensory nature of food and the range of practical applications can help reduce some of the barriers of teaching and learning science. A major advantage of the proposed project is the fact that food science can be taught using ingredients and tools commonly found in home kitchens.

While many STEM and food science activities can be found on the internet, some lack organization by age group or educational standards they meet, require equipment, reagents and supplies only available in a school laboratory, or use animation that might not be easily viewed with poor internet connections. In the formal education part of this project, we will overcome these challenges by creating or modifying existing lesson modules that will be provided to teachers and families as written instructions to be completed at home (low tech) and presented live if students and teachers have the means, as well as archived for future access. Written instructions will be complemented with videos that feature our graduate students who can present the material in language geared towards the target age group and in playful manner to make them even more compelling. These interesting and low-cost activities can be adapted for various grades, increasing in complexity and sophistication with age groups.

Desired Skills/Pre-requisite coursework:
  • Chemistry
  • Biology and physics preferred
  • Basic chemistry laboratory skills
  • Ability to work independently and think critically


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Students will gain new lab skills, an understanding of science concepts viewed through the lens of food science, communication skills (both oral and written), critical thinking, problem solving, experience developing videos.


Biological Sciences / Dr. Lindsay Waldrop, Assistant Professor

Research Project:

Participate in computational modeling of biological structures. There are a few projects (odor capture by hair arrays, pumping by tubular hearts, flight of bird wings), each project has offshoots that can easily form small undergraduate summer projects. Professor Waldrop has extensive experience taking undergraduates of all experience levels (from absolutely no command-line experience) to coding and running simulations on high-performance computing resources. No prior experience with coding is necessary for students, only a desire to learn it.
For experimental work, if it is possible this summer, computational simulations are complimented with measurements taken on real animals. This involves collection of animals from field sites, high-speed photography, particle image velocimetry to quantify flow fields, and work with scanning electron micrography. Students will also participate in animal care of marine invertebrates. This requires no previous experience, all training provided.
Student work can be either fully remote, fully experimental (as long as covid regulations allow), or a mixture of both.

All projects are within Professor Waldrop’s core research program: investigating the function and evolution of fluid-structure interactions in biological systems. Undergrads will help to uncover small pieces of the whole through simulation or experimental work.

Desired skills/prerequisite courses:
  • one semester of calculus or statistics
  • introductory biology course covering evolution
  • Interest and willingness to learn coding (experience with Matlab and R are helpful or command-line shell, but certainly not required)
  • Independence with strong problem-solving skills


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  • Experience with version control, markdown, command-line shell, R, high-performance computing, and/or Matlab
  • Experience with high-speed photography and video analysis techniques
  • Experience caring for marine invertebrate animals
  • Experience in professionally curating code for scientific projects
  • Experience in record-keeping and data analysis for scientific projects


Chemistry / Dr. Jerry LaRue, Assistant Professor*

Research Project:

Underlying physics of chemical reactions. We have an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) surface science chamber to study the steps of chemical reactions under clean conditions. We are currently investigating the competing reaction pathways of methanol decomposition on metal catalysts.  Chapman has been recently designated an R2 university. Much of this is accomplished through 'personalized education' where undergraduate students engage heavily in research. This group is almost entirely composed of undergraduate students.

Desired skills/Pre-requisite coursework:
  • General Chemistry and/or General Physics
  • A strong desire to perform research is most important as many of the skills in working with UHV surface science chambers are not found at the undergraduate level

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Dissecting/analyzing peer review literature, critical thinking, scientific communication, collaborating with students and faculty, programming, spectroscopy, CAD design, experimental design, data acquisition, data fitting.


Duke Cultural Resources Management, Irvine*

Benjamin Scherzer, Paleontologist

Research Project:

We have a collection of 5-6 million year old fossils recovered from the Lake Forest area that need preparation. Students will be introduced to the basics of fossil preparation, and after a period of hands-on work under supervision, will largely be working on their own preparing fossils.

These fossils need to be prepared to allow for proper identification and in order to hand over to a museum/repository.

Desired skills/Pre-requisite coursework:
  • None required, but a background in earth science would be advantageous
  • Fossil preparation would involve working with hand tools (pneumatic chisels, awls, etc). Familiarity around such tools would be helpful


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Exposed to practices in fossil identification and fossil preparation


Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Dinosaur Institute / Maureen Walsh, Collections Manager

Research Project:

The Dinosaur Institute (DI) has recently accessioned a large quantity of Early to Middle Triassic tetrapod fossils from the Shakleton and Beardmore glaciers of Antarctica. With more than 800 specimens, interns choose one to identify by research using available databases and other remote techniques such as ImageJ, iDigBio, video, photography, and photogrammetry.  The mentoring and support of internships, graduate students, and postdocs are central to the Dinosaur Institutes' mission. The paleontological expeditions conducted by the NHMLA pursue institutional objectives related to fundamental research, paleontological heritage conservation, STEM education, and IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access) objectives, as strategic priorities covering both academic and public pursuit, both departmentally and museum-wide.
Hosting Chaffey College interns is very rewarding and the department looks forward to it anxiously.

Desired Skills/Pre-requisite coursework:    
  • No prerequisite coursework required
  • Attention to detail
  • Basic understanding of anatomy
  • Interest in paleontology and anthropology


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  • Basic tetrapod taxonomy
  • Paleontological research process
  • Networking and potential for future field experience


Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, Claremont

Dr. Andrew Farke, Curator

Research Project:

Digitization of specimens, editing of image files and 3D scans, databasing of fossils, if on-site, direct scanning and digitization of fossils, as well as fossil preparation or archival mount creation.

We have a major continuing effort to catalog and digitize our collections, to make them more accessible to the broader research community and to our own staff.

Desired Skills/Pre-requisite coursework: 
  • Basic familiarity with geology or biology basics is desirable
    Some familiarity with word processing software, internet browsers, etc., is essential
  • Experience with Photoshop or similar software is desirable, but not mandatory
  • Computer with internet connection

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Interns will gain experience working within a museum environment, learn about various fossils, learn how fossils and rock samples are cataloged and housed in a museum, learn basic museum conservation and digitization techniques, and understand the basics of how museums function.


University of California, Irvine

Biological Sciences / Dr. Steven Allison, Professor

Research Project:   

There are several projects that involve measuring and analyzing microbial and ecosystem properties. For example, the student could measure enzyme activities, nutrient levels, and microbial abundances in soil or leaf litter samples. If the research is remote, the student could statistically analyze existing data or data collected by grad students and postdocs in the lab. Also, the student could conduct a literature review related to these topics.

The suggested projects fall under our research scope to understand the feedbacks between microbes, environmental change, and ecosystem function.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Microbiology and biochemistry, ecology, and/or biostatistics (preferred)
  • If in the lab, important to have skills in pipetting, general chemistry (i.e. solutions, concentration calculations), and basic lab techniques (weighing, drying, etc.). For virtual work, it would be important to have statistical, writing, and/or literature searching and reading skills.


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

A basic understanding of authentic scientific research along with acknowledgement or potentially co-authorship on the outcomes of that research. Might also gain an understanding of different career options in academia and beyond.


Biological Sciences / Dr. Liz Chrastil, Assistant Professor

Research Project:
  • Data analysis of human cognition (behavioral) data
  • Data analysis of human neuroimaging data
  • Developing experiments in virtual reality
  • Developing experiments for online research


We study human spatial navigation and learning & memory processes. We use virtual reality and fMRI imaging to understand how humans navigate. We develop experiments in virtual reality and have people navigate in those environments. We use neuroscience techniques to understand how the brain helps us navigate. These projects will help us develop new experiments or do data analysis on data we previously collected.

Desired Skills/Pre-requisite coursework: 
  • Some experience with one of these: Psychology, Statistics, Programming (python, R, C#, or matlab)
  • Statistics or programming (python, R, C#, or matlab) would be great, but not required

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Experimental design, data analysis, research methods in psychology


Biological Sciences / Dr. Celia Faiola, Assistant Professor

Research Project: 

If in-person: plant volatile sampling in the nearby Ecological Preserve and subsequent analysis using GC-MS.  If remote: will be given a data-set to analyze using the R open-source programming language.  Students will be provided training to complete these tasks before being asked to conduct independent work.  This research is well aligned with Professor Faiola’s work in understanding plant volatile emissions and their role in important atmospheric chemistry processes.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • No particular knowledge or skills required


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  •  If in-person: Technical skills working with Swagelok fittings, measuring gas flows, controlling gas flows, operating a GC-MS instrument and conducting preliminary analysis of data.
  • If remote:  Programming skills in R, analyzing complex GC-MS data-sets using multivariate statistical analyses (including principal component analysis and hierarchical clustering analysis). 


Biological Sciences / Dr. Christie Fowler, Assistant Professor*

Research Project:

Our laboratory conducts research in the following areas:

  • Drug discovery - This would involve testing novel therapeutic agents for their effectiveness in reducing nicotine dependence in animal models.
  • Brain circuits underlying addiction and affective-related behaviors - This would involve scoring behavioral videos in which animals have received various experimental manipulations to alter circuit function (e.g., pharmacological and DREADD viral manipulation approaches). This would be a potentially virtual option with more flexible hours than the other projects.
  • Extracellular vesicle signaling - This line of research employs both in vivo and in vitro studies to assess and characterize the extracellular vesicles released into the brain from various cell populations in response to nicotine or THC treatment. 
Desired Skills/Prerequisite Coursework: 

Basic lab techniques - e.g., making solutions, pipetting, etc. However, this can also be part of the training experience.

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Research experience, experimental design, hypothesis testing, literature review


Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering / Dr. Herdelene Ardona, Assistant Professor

Research Project:

This research focuses on biomaterials development. Through a virtual internship opportunity, they would be able to shadow a graduate student and other undergraduates working in our laboratory. We have weekly group meetings that involve a journal club discussion. The student may participate in the discussion and they can even present a paper. Lastly, the student can also be trained to perform image analysis via ImageJ software.

Research in this group falls between the Soft Matter and Biotechnology and Biomolecular Engineering thrusts of the department, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The nature of the research contributes towards making the research thrusts in our department more transdisciplinary.

Desired Skills/Pre-requisite coursework
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Lab techniques covered in introductory chemistry lab


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Improved knowledge on the biomaterials literature; use of ImageJ software; being familiar with peptide synthesis and organic conjugation techniques


Molecular Biology and Biochemistry / Dr. Melanie Cocco, Associate Professor

Research Project:   

Bioinformatics / Protein structure homology modeling

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Must be comfortable with calculations and algebra
  • Familiarity with protein structures and sequence comparisons
  • Must have a computer to work on at home


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Familiarity with protein structures and sequence comparisons


Chemistry /  Dr. Maxx Arguilla, Assistant Professor

Research Project: 

Due to the virtual/remote nature of the research experience, the student will work closely with one of our researchers in a project that is related to the core research themes of my group. This can be arranged during a pre-research meeting to talk about the research interests of the student. Primarily, the student will be working with the researcher with structural refinement of powder diffraction patterns, interpretation and processing of optical and vibrational spectroscopy data, and database structure searches. The project will mainly delve on the chemistry and structure-property relationships in emergent optically-active low-dimensional solids.

One of the main research goals is to establish rational design rules and mechanistic understanding on how low-dimensional solids (like 2D and 1D van der Waals crystals, e.g. graphene) form and crystallize and how the inherent crystal structures and identities of these solids impact their optical, electronic, and quantum properties. The project which the REU student will work on will advance our understanding of the chemistries and properties of emergent low-dimensional solids which is one of the main research thrusts in my group.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 

General chemistry and or inorganic & physical chemistry helpful

Training will be provided in all of the required concepts for the assigned project/s.

Students will learn crystal structure modeling and refinement techniques in my lab. While students can learn this during the research program, it will be helpful if the student can get familiarized with these two structure modeling and data processing software:


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

The research in my group is multi-disciplinary and transcends chemistry, physics, and materials science. Students will learn techniques in solid state and materials chemistry, concepts in condensed matter physics, and materials analyses. Specifically, students will learn crystal structure refinement from diffraction patterns, understanding structure-property relationships in solid-state structures, and spectroscopic data processing from hyperspectral spectroscopy of single freestanding nanostructures.

More information about the core research thrusts and related literature can be found in my group website:

Chemistry / Dr. Filipp Furche, Professor

Research Project:

Design new methods and algorithms for quantum electronic structure calculations, applications to synthetic chemistry in collaboration with experimental groups at UCI.  This is fundamental research with applications to synthetic chemistry, catalysis, materials, drug design etc.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Calculus
  • Linear Algebra
  • Intro to Chemistry or Physics
  • Bring a positive attitude towards learning and failure and a strong work ethic as well as academic integrity


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Collaborate with a diverse team of scientists, tackle ill-defined and hard problems, critical reflection on approach, scientific method; learn to use HPC environment; basics of quantum chemistry and computational chemistry


Earth System Science / Dr. Alex Guenther, Professor

Research Project:   

Biogenic emissions measurements and modeling through National Science Foundation and NASA funded University research

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • No prerequisite coursework required
  • VOC measurement analytical skills for lab projects
  • Python or IGOR programming useful for modeling studies


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Lab or programming skills


Department of Materials Science and Engineering / Dr. James Earthman, Professor

Research Projects:   

Quantitative percussion diagnostics of defects in materials, Effect of nanobubbles on stability of solids, Behavior of compositionally complex alloys and ceramics in molten salt environments.  The Professor is interested in potential graduate students for our MS and PhD programs.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Introductory materials science, chemistry
  • Familiarity with LabView, Nastran, and/or Thermocalc.

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  • Basic research skills.


Department of Materials Science and Engineering / Dr. Will Bowman, Assistant Professor

Research Project: 

Data processing of images.  The lab specializes in microscopy studies of materials, with a large emphasis on image processing and analysis.

Desired Skills/Pre-requisite coursework: 
  • Programming
  • Image editing software
  • Basic materials science knowledge e.g., crystallography.

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Programming, basic materials science knowledge e.g., crystallography., some exposure to microscopy/optics



Department of Materials Science and Engineering / Dr. Stacy Copp, Assistant Professor


Research Project:   

Focus on using biomolecules and synthetic polymers to create new photonic and electronic materials for applications in biomedicine and energy efficient materials. The research projects available are:

  1. Synthesis and characterization of fluorescent nanomaterials called DNA-stabilized silver clusters
  2. Applications of machine learning and data mining to design new DNA-stabilized silver clusters and/or design new electronic nanomaterials built from biomolecules (this is a possibility if the experience needs to be remote)

These projects are both related to my research laboratory's goal of designing new photonic and electronic nanomaterials. Project 2 is also associated with the newly funded UCI MRSEC research center, a collaboration of many professors' research groups and an exciting opportunity for students from Chaffey to engage with students, postdocs, and faculty at UCI.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Strong performance in mathematics classes is needed
  • For Project 2: Strong performance in physics/chemistry/biology, and programming experience would be helpful for Project 2 although not needed
  • Some chemistry lab experience and/or programming experience is helpful
  • Creativity, excitement, and willingness to learn is imperative


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
Project 1:

The student will gain hands-on experience in a nanoscience lab, performing materials synthesis and optical spectroscopy, as well as data analysis.

Project 2:

The student will gain experience with computational methods including machine learning and their application to nanomaterials research.


Department of Mathematics / Dr. Patrick Guidotti, Professor

Research Project:

Depending on the student's background, coding and experimenting with numerical schemes we are developing and reading course based on a book the Professor is writing for undergraduate students with some exposure to Calculus and Linear Algebra aimed at giving a wider perspective and preparing for possibly applying to graduate school.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Calculus including several variables
  • Linear Algebra including abstract treatment


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience: 
  • Exposure to Python
  • Abstract and critical thinking skills


Department of Physics and Astronomy / Dr. David Buote, Professor

Research Project:

Analysis of data from X-ray telescopes.  This project supports Professor Buote’s research program.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Introductory courses in Astronomy and/or Physics
  • Programming language knowledge/skills
  • Software programming in c++ or python. Since they will be working virtually, they will also need access to a computer with a (preferably) Mac or linux operating system


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Data Analysis


Department of Physics and Astronomy / Dr. Mu-Chun Chen, Professor

Research Project: 

Computational investigation of neutrino oscillation physics or matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe.  Neutrino physics is a major research area in UCI's Department of Physics and Astronomy. It has a long history with Frederick Reines' Physics Nobel Prize in 1995.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Calculus
  • Modern Physics/Quantum Physics would be helpful though not required
  • Software programming


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  • Knowledge in physics of neutrino oscillation or matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe.
    Practical skills to use statistical methods to predict parameter space; usage of some software packages in particle physics.



University of California, Los Angeles


Department of Chemistry/Biochemistry / Dr. William Gelbart, Distinguished Professor

Research Project:   

Molecular biology of vaccines and physical chemistry of virus-like particles for delivering them.  UCLA works on everything, for example, there are dozens of labs doing work related to but different from what we are doing.

Desired skills / Pre-requisite coursework: 
  • microbiology and molecular biology
  • physical chemistry
  • For virtual (remote) lab work, no particular skills/techniques are necessary
  • For real (on-site) lab work, basic familiarity with biochemistry/molecular biology techniques (micropipetting, running gels, centrifugaton, etc.) would be userful,

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

How to do research


Department of Physics / Dr. Katsushi Arisaka, Professor


Research Project:

Neurophysics project to understand the human vision

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Basic lower division physics
  • Computer programming by Python (or MATLAB)
  • Data taking by Arduino
  • Statistical analysis


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Stronger skills in computer programming by Python (or MATLAB), Data taking by Arduino, Statistical analysis


University of California, Riverside


Department of Astronomy / Dr. Tara Fetherolf, Post Doctoral Scholar

Research Project:
Project 1:

Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the properties of galaxies (e.g., the amount of stellar and interstellar material) in order to study how galaxies evolve.   

Project 2:

Using data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite to detect and characterize exoplanets (e.g., measure their size and temperature)

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Required: MATH 61 (Pre-Calculus) and either ASTRON 26 (Stars and Galaxies) or ASTRON 35 (Planets and the Solar System with Lab)
  • Recommended: CISPROG 5 (Programming with Python)
  • Basic programming skills, such as familiarity with the concepts of variables, loops, and functions
  • Experience using Python is preferred, but not required
  • The student(s) is required to have access to a computer (laptop if in-person) that can run Python and has at least 50 GB of free hard drive space (or an external hard drive). Internet access for the computer will also be necessary if work is done remotely


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Through either project, by the conclusion of the program the student(s) will be able to:

  • utilize their programming skills for practical application
  • access, manipulate, and analyze astronomical data
  • organize and manage large datasets
  • use theoretical predictions to infer physical measurements from data
  • explain how their measurements address scientific questions

Department of Astronomy / Dr. Paul A. Dalba, Post Doctoral Researcher

Research Project:

This project is geared towards students interested in astronomy, physics, earth science, planetary science and/or computer programming. It involves using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to detect exoplanets in other star systems and learn about their properties (e.g., their size, the length of their year). The detections will be compared to predictions made before the TESS mission of how many and which types of planet we expected to discover.

The Planetary Research Lab at UC Riverside is interested in learning how many exoplanets are in our galaxy, how those planets form, and how their systems are different from our own Solar System. This project will use data from an ongoing mission to discover exoplanets and investigate these science cases. This project will also be setup as introductory exercise in scientific research, thereby aligning with the goal of educating the next generation of scientific researchers. The student will formulate a hypothesis, conduct data analysis as a test of that hypothesis, and finish the project by drawing conclusions about their work.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses:
  • Required: ASTRON 26 (Stars and Galaxies) or ASTRON 35 (Planets and the Solar System with Lab)
  • Recommended: CISPROG 5 (Programming with Python)
  • Basic programming skills
  • Familiarity with Python is strongly preferred, or be willing to learn and use Python for the duration of the project


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Utilize their programming skills for practical applications; access, manipulate, and synthesize astronomical data; use theoretical predictions to infer physical measurements from data; explain how their measurements address scientific questions and confirm or refute predictions.


Earth and Planetary Science / Bridget Kelly, PhD Candidate

Research Project:

Research in the Paleoecology Lab focuses on the ecological and environmental context of evolutionary diversification at various spatial and temporal scales. Much of the research addresses questions about animal-environment interactions; for example the environmental context of Cenozoic encrusters and Oysters, and the form and ecology of the Ediacara Biota.  The student's research will contribute to the overall goal of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences to conduct research and learn about the Earth’s dynamic nature and history.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • No prerequisite coursework required
  • Moderate proficiency with computers including Word, Excel, and Zoom


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:

Students will learn to conduct research in invertebrate paleontology. A variety of work including the visual analysis of specimens, measuring, and data entry will be used to understand the ecology of paleoenvironments.


Electrical and Computer Engineering / Dr. Basak Guler, Assistant Professor

Research Project:

Design and analysis of future distributed communication and computing systems (e.g., machine learning). We focus on scalability, privacy, and sustainability. This involves multiple stages, including data analysis, algorithm design and system implementation. My lab is computational, so most of the work is done using computers (or cloud computing) and can be done remotely.

This project aligns well with some of our department's recent research efforts on designing large-scale resilient distributed communication and computing systems.

Desired skills/Pre-requisite coursework: 
  • Good math background, calculus, linear algebra, probability
  • Familiarity with computer programming (e.g., Matlab or Python) is a plus but not required

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  • Experience with data analysis, machine learning, and/or cloud computing.



Entomology / Krissy Dominguez, PhD Student

Research Project: 

This research specializes on the phylogenetics of the superfamily Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera). Chalcidoids are an immensely diverse and economically important group of minute parasitoid wasps (1-4mm) that are implemented often for the biological control of many insect pests. Research efforts are the first to focus on unraveling evolutionary relationships among taxa of the most ancestral chalcidoid family Mymaridae (fairyflies) in a well-supported phylogenetic framework using a combination of morphological and molecular data.
Students will have the opportunity to engage in molecular sequencing, DNA analysis, and various phylogenetic techniques. In addition to molecular techniques, students will also learn comparative morphological approaches that includes complex imaging, character recognition and placement of the morphological data onto a phylogeny.

We are attempting to resolve the phylogeny and classification of this diverse superfamily of insects. At present, for the family Mymaridae, the subfamily boundaries remain unclear, and no studies have rigorously explored the informal groupings of tribes. Because of the lack of a robust phylogenetic hypothesis for Mymaridae, we have been unable to gain insights into the timing of evolutionary events within the group. The resulting evolutionary framework will further elucidate the timing of diversification rates, and the evolutionary patterns of host associations. Ultimately, developing a better understanding of phylogenetic histories of economically important groups such as Mymaridae is central to research in biological control.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Biology 61 or equivalent (mandatory)
  • Biology 62 or equivalent (recommended)

Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience: 

Students will gain a basic understanding in molecular techniques and taxonomic approaches and how to integrate these lines of evidence into reconstructing evolutionary relationships.


Department of Physics / Marcus Asaro, Researcher

Research Project: 

Computer modeling projects relating to aspects of the creation of antimatter/matter atoms (called positronium) and their use in cutting-edge experiments

Current projects include:
  • The computational modeling of the magnetic field surrounding a nanostructured target. The target is where formation of a special quantum state of positronium will occur (called Bose-Einstein Condensate)
  • Analysis of data from the positronium 1S-2S experiment -- measuring a fundamental atomic constant to unprecedented precision

The two projects will have a major impact in both applied and fundamental physics. Students working on these projects can be assured that they will gain firsthand experience in actual "high-impact" physics research.  

  1. The first-ever production of a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) of positronium (Ps), alone, would be a big achievement for physics in that it will be a matter/antimatter system with very desirable properties. Aside from this, numerous applications will follow such as the use of Ps BECs in spectroscopy, Ps atom lasers, and, perhaps, the creation of an annihilation gamma ray laser.
  2. The 1S-2S experiment involves high precision spectroscopic measurements of the 1S-2S transition in Ps, reducing the best uncertainty in the measurement by a factor of 300. This will provide a strong test of quantum electrodynamics, pushing the limits of our understanding of the physics in this regime.
Desired skills/Pre-requisite coursework: 
  • Minimum mathematical knowledge: trigonometry
  • Basic knowledge of physical science. At least one general education physical science course. E.g.: astronomy, chemistry, earth science, engineering, geology, or physics
  • Access to a computer with which they can download data and add new programs to
  • Comfort with using applications on a computer. I.e., familiarity with Excel and related programs


In case in-person research is possible, students should:

  • Show a willingness to work with chemicals and electrical circuits
  • A mechanical inclination/interest in working with hand tools
  • Familiarity with Excel and related programs
  • Common laboratory safety etiquette


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience: 

The students will gain a first-hand insight into how top-level science is done in an academic setting. They will learn the methodologies behind three of the top industry leading engineering software platforms, and how to use them in experimental settings
The overall goal is to inspire and motivate students, based on their experience with us, to push beyond what their perceived limitations are in science and mathematics, and pursue a career in a STEM field


USDA Forest Service


USDA Forest Service Lytle Creek / Dr. Arnaldo Ferreira, Forest Geneticist

Research Project:
  • Locate and map threatened and endangered conifers in California for demographics studies;
  • Find patterns of cone crops and cycles of major California conifers with climate data


Designed for mentoring future professionals that may be interested in working or collaborating with the Forest Service in ecological restoration and maintenance of forest ecosystems.

Desired Skills/Pre-requisite coursework:
  • Near completion of the major requirements to transfer to any Biological Sciences or Agricultural/Forest/Environmental Sciences related majors
  • Students that enjoy outdoors/hiking and can develop organized spreadsheets in Excel
  • GIS training on their own and field work with a Forest Service employee
  • Health and hazard insurance; completion of Volunteer Forms
  • Students will be required to work with GIS software on their own computer


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience:
  • GIS mapping of forest ecosystems and analysis;
  • Field surveys of forest populations;
  • Process climate data with geospatial analysis


U.S. Forest Service*


San Bernardino National Forest / David Austin, Forest Biologist

Research Project: 

There is a grazing allotment monitoring plan. The project is to collect data on host plants for the Endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly in certain grazing allotment pastures in the Garner Valley located along Highway 74 in the Lake Hemet - Idyllwild area. Training on plant identification, transect monitoring and data collection will be provided by the USFS. Students are to work in 2-person teams for safety, as well as data collection. Anticipated start time is April 2021 through August 2022, with the opportunity to continue the project in 2022.

This project is part of the monitoring and inventory work associated with the recovery of a federally listed endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It helps with fulfilling consultation requirements for a long-term livestock grazing allotment on the San Bernardino National Forest. The project contains control areas with no grazing and transect areas within grazing pastures to compare impacts on host plants present.

This is a monitoring project being conducted with the US Fish and Wildlife Service who will be completing the statistical analysis. This project was to start in 2020 but was cancelled/postponed due to the Covid 19 pandemic. This projects supports the US Forest Service's inventory and monitoring program and livestock grazing program.

Goal of the project is to determine if light cattle grazing on rangeland with host plants for Quino is impacting host plants during the spring and summer reproductive cycle for this butterfly species. This project is projected to collect data for a 3-5 year period, and can provide several students experience - not just a 1 year project.

Desired skills/pre-requisite courses: 
  • Statistics and plant identification and insect identification are helpful
  • Ability to work in the field: walking in semi-rough terrain
  • Good hand writing skills, skill with recording data
  • Ability to drive vehicle/drivers’ license; vehicles may be provided; mileage re-imbursement possible
  • Sturdy hiking boots required


Skills and knowledge gained through this Virtual research experience: 

Students will gain experience in working for a federal land management agency, gain experience collecting inventory and monitoring data and the possibility of analyzing that data in order to help with management decisions.  Experience helping with the recovery of an endangered species - butterfly
(A volunteer agreement is needed, completion of online defensive driving training and be physically fit to walk in the field. Student field gear will be provided but student must have sturdy boots - hiking style)