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2021 Scholarship and Fellowship Recipients

Astronaut Scholar

Kori Eliaz is a senior majoring in Electrical Engineering with a focus on aerospace science. Her passion for aerospace has led to incredible opportunities interning at Lockheed Martin Space, leading a NASA-funded research team, and pioneering outreach efforts to foster the next generation of out-of-this-world engineers. She is currently a systems engineering intern on the Dragonfly mission at Lockheed Martin, hoping to pursue a role as a Spacecraft Systems Architect within the company.

As an undergraduate researcher, Kori is involved both with the NASA Science and Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and the Aerospace Systems Emulation and Test (ASET) Lab at CSU. She is the deputy principal investigator of a NASA-funded research effort to design a lunar dust mitigation device for deployment with the Artemis mission. She has also worked under Dr. James Cale to develop and model a magnetic material characterization testbed that will replace the IEEE standard.

Outside of the lab, Kori serves as the founder and president of CSU’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) chapter, using her experiences to train engineering students on skills necessary to succeed in the aerospace industry. She actively supports the Electrical Engineering Outreach Program at CSU and volunteers as an ambassador for NASA’s Lucy Mission.

Kori is deeply honored to receive the Astronaut Scholarship and will use this award to inspire the next generation of aerospace engineers in truly knowing that the sky is not the limit!

Boren Fellow

Mitch is a Master’s student at the Warner College of Natural Resources and also works as a Program Assistant at CSU’s Center for Protected Area Management. Before starting graduate school, he worked for the U.S. Forest Service Office of International Programs, managing international technical cooperation projects on various natural resource and disaster management topics. Mitch also previously worked as a Wildland Firefighter on the San Juan National Forest.

He is originally from Michigan and has an undergraduate degree in International Relations from Michigan State University. Additionally, he studied natural resource policy and conservation leadership in Washington D.C. as a William A. Demmer Scholar.

Boren Scholar

Taylor Ziska is a first-generation student. She is a senior majoring in International Studies with a minor in International Development. Before coming to CSU, Taylor attended University of Southern Maine and University of New Mexico studying Civil Engineering. After taking courses in Spanish and International Studies, Taylor found her passion for languages, culture, and civil service.

Taylor has spent time traveling and working in Europe, Africa, and South America. During her travels she grasped how important it is to learn multiple languages and began seriously studying Spanish. Taylor chose to study Portuguese in Brazil because of Portuguese’s critical role in South America and parts of Europe and Africa.

After graduation, Taylor plans to begin working in the federal government with the hope of fulfilling her service at USAID. She plans on continuing her education as a master’s student after gaining valuable experience in government, and eventually returning to the public sector. She is thankful for this amazing opportunity to pursue her interests in language and culture with the Boren Scholarship.

DAAD RISE Scholarship

Alison Shad is a third-year honors scholar double majoring in Chemical and Biological Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. Her interest in atomistic modeling of materials for renewable energy applications allowed her to take part in ongoing research at the Institute for Energy and Climate Research Forschungszentrum Jülich – one of the largest multidisciplinary research centers in Europe.

As part of the Theory and Computation of Energy Materials division, Alison was able to work on frontier challenges in the field of energy conversion and storage devices. With Jülich’s supercomputing resources, she performed quantum mechanical and classical molecular simulations to guide the design of highly performing and stable energy materials and devices. Using both theoretical and computational approaches to study electrochemical interfaces, Alison investigated novel materials to uncover correlations between materials composition, interface structure and dynamic processes present at the atomic-level.

Currently, Alison is an undergraduate research assistant at CSU’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Laboratory where she is part of a study involved in designing bioreactors for the anerobic digestion of organic wastes. Studying interactions in these complex systems allows her to work towards selectively producing high value chemicals and fuel precursors renewably compared to current petrochemical-based production of these products. Apart from her research work, Alison is vice president of CSU’s biomolecular design team, BIOMOD, where she is involved in a project aimed at engineering protein crystals to detect the SARS RNA virus and mentors engineering students through the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

Alison is thrilled to have received the DAAD RISE scholarship and plans to continue pursing research aimed at addressing the increasing demand to develop affordable and sustainable fuel while minimizing carbon emissions.

Fulbright Scholar

Lenka Doskocil is a senior in the Watershed Science Program at CSU and a 2017 Boettcher Scholar. Her deep-seated passion for water and restoration has led her from the Southwest Conservation Corps to the iron fens above Silverton, Colorado to Peru’s glacial melt-fed bofedals (wetlands) to her current work with CSU’s Mountain Systems Ecology and Restoration lab. She has studied abroad in Ecuador and spent time in Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, and the Czech Republic. She hopes to use her cumulative experience to pursue a career in high elevation wetland restoration. These ecosystems are the proverbial heartbeat in arid landscapes, acting as important areas for water storage, water filtration, wildlife habitat, and sediment retention and are in rapid decline around the world. Throughout her life, she hopes to engage in community driven restoration and research that targets understanding ecological and hydrological processes of high-alpine, seasonally snow-covered wetlands across the Rocky Mountain West and northern Andes.

She plans to use the incredible opportunity presented by Fulbright to assist a research team at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in their efforts to map and characterize the main types of Ecuadoran peatlands. She hopes that living and learning in Ecuador will give her a more developed understanding of the challenges Andean communities and conservationists face, the complex political framework they work within, and what techniques and information communities are asking for as they address increasingly diminishing water resources. Her main goal for her Fulbright experience is to meaningfully contribute to the communities she will work within and help advance wetland restoration. In her free time, Lenka pursues other passions: skiing, jewelry making, backpacking, baking, climbing, and river wandering.

Gates Cambridge Scholar

Paula Mendoza Moreno is a 2021 graduate from the Chemical and Biological Engineering program from the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering. During her undergraduate, Paula was involved in Hall Council, University Housing as an Inclusive Community Assistant, the Eco-Leader program, and undergraduate research.

Growing up in Bejuma, Venezuela, Paula witnessed how the unreliable energy system of the country threatened food supply, health care facilities, public transportation, and access to clean water. These factors contribute to widespread poverty, rising death tolls, and a mass displacement of refugees in countries that experience similar crises. After obtaining a BSc in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Colorado State University, Paula developed a fascination for the beauty of chemical processes and their power to deliver uncompromised and sustainable energy access.

This is important because Paula believes every person deserves access to safe and renewable energy to enjoy a high quality of life. During her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Paula will investigate liquid hydrogen production and commercialization as an alternative to decarbonize the aviation sector and manage climate change. The process will be challenging and intriguing because of the difficulties of handling and storing hydrogen within aviation constraints, minimizing boil-off, and addressing the safety of hydrogen in the liquid state.

This research will address energy scarcity, climate refugees, and ultimately improve the lives of people in the most vulnerable regions of the world. Paula is honored to be joining the Gates Cambridge community and meet other scholars who believe in the value of individuals all around the world.

Goldwater Scholars

Hunter is a sophomore majoring in Biochemistry and Data Science. He grew up in Loveland, Colorado and was involved in the sciences throughout high school through groups such as FIRST Robotics, Colorado Riverwatch, and Science Bowl. He works in Dr. Timothy Stasevich’s lab under the oversight of Dr. Ning Zhao and studies the potential of new tag systems for imaging live cells in real time, with a particular focus on the process of translation. He hopes to obtain a PhD in biochemistry or an adjacent field and focus on the applications of machine learning and statistical modeling to these disciplines. He hopes to be able to become a professor and continue his research while being able to teach and mentor future scientists.

Outside of his research, Hunter serves as the president of the Biochemistry Student Association and the CNS College Council as well as the Co-Vice Chair of the University Technology Fee Advisory Board. He is passionate about teaching others about science and research through groups such as the CSU Chemistry Club. His hobbies include reading, listening to podcasts on everything from philosophical fiction to engineering disasters, and playing rock songs on guitar and harmonica.

Kaydee is a non-traditional student studying Ecosystems Science and Sustainability, with a minor in Soil Science. She is originally from a small ranching community in Routt County, Colorado, and the first in her immediate family to pursue higher education. Before deciding to come to CSU, she spent years traveling with her husband as a writer/communicator and business consultant. Through her travels, she saw the effects of climate change first-hand; ecosystems were being destroyed and people were struggling to adjust and survive. These experiences drove her to go back to school to put her mind and talents towards helping to understand climate change and work on lasting solutions. She strives to contribute to research that furthers understanding of soil ecosystem processes and provides a basis for making decisions about the management of natural resources in order to mitigate climate change and ensure food security and global environmental justice.

In her personal time, she enjoys being active outside (hiking, biking, running, climbing, diving, paddling, you name it!), volunteering in environmental restoration projects, education, and humanitarian efforts, and working on scientific communication through a podcast and web platforms. While at CSU, she has also been involved in multiple environment, inclusion, and outreach-related clubs, including in her role as Presentation Coordinator and Vice President of the Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP), and Vice President of Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS).

Marshall Scholar

Daniel Dominguez is a graduate from Colorado State University with a degree in Watershed Science as well as United States Marine Corps Veteran. He has worked on multiple research projects focused on ecological and hydrologic issues in the arid western United States and South Africa. As the son of immigrants from Mexico and as an individual whose second language is English, he is passionate about raising the representation of historically underrepresented groups in both water resource issues and STEM.

NSF-GRFP Fellowships

Andrew is currently a second-year PhD student in the Biological Sciences program at CSU. His research in the lab of Dr. Graham Peers focuses on discovering the genes underlying chlorophyll biosynthesis in diatom algae as well as the biochemistry and regulation of the pathway. Recent molecular advancements allow this lab to address such long-standing questions in diatoms and other algae, which reveals details about their evolution and physiology and informs their industrial uses.

Andrew holds a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of Arizona. There he developed an interest in algal biology that he further explored during an REU at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Dr. Ru Zhang’s lab studying heat shock regulation of green algae. His undergraduate work culminated in an Honors Thesis in the lab of Dr. Frans Tax studying the genetics of heirloom tomato fruit morphology.

During his PhD, Andrew will be honored to make use of the NSF-GRF to continue his research interests and open opportunities for mentoring and professional development. In his free time, Andrew likes to hike, bike, and voice act.

Daniel Dominguez is a graduate from Colorado State University with a degree in Watershed Science as well as United States Marine Corps Veteran. He has worked on multiple research projects focused on ecological and hydrologic issues in the arid western United States and South Africa. As the son of immigrants from Mexico and as an individual whose second language is English, he is passionate about raising the representation of historically underrepresented groups in both water resource issues and STEM.

Darcy is graduating from Colorado State University with her B.S. in Biological Sciences in Spring 2021 and is an incoming first year PhD student in the Cell and Molecular Biology also at CSU for Fall 2021. Darcy and algae met young – when she was just a curious toddler exploring the seaweed on the rocky beaches around her home state of Alaska. Darcy returned to school at community college as an adult in 2017 aiming to study astrophysics, but she accidentally encountered algae again while writing a paper about how humans might be able to colonize Mars. Some types of algae and photosynthetic microbes are being explored as ideal organisms to accompany humans in space travel due to their tolerance of harsh conditions, ability to clean water, and act as bio-factories to produce fuels or food. Fascinated by this discovery, she pivoted into Biological Sciences and later Molecular Biology. Darcy is particularly interested in how photosynthetic microbes can be adapted and optimized for use in sustainable biomaterials and biocommodity production.

As an undergraduate student researcher Darcy started to nurture her passion working with photosynthetic microbes in the Biology Department laboratory of Dr. Graham Peers studying the photophysiology of Desmodesmus aramatus algae, a novel species explored for biofuel production. Darcy is now completing her undergraduate honors thesis in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department laboratory of Dr. Christie Peebles engineering Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 cyanobacteria to produce isobutyraldehyde, a currently non-renewably produced chemical intermediate. Under the mentorship of Dr. Peebles, Darcy plans to continue her work in Synechocystis during her tenure as a PhD student.

While in her undergraduate, Darcy became a founder and President of the Algae Club at CSU, a student organization that uses algal biotechnology as a platform to promote accessible science within the broader CSU and Northern Colorado community. Darcy plans to continue scientific outreach and mentoring undergraduate students as a PhD student. Outside of the lab, Darcy brews kombucha and enjoys cooking, baking, time with her dog and working on illustration projects. She is also an avid martial artist and is learning to boulder.

Darcy is profoundly honored to be awarded the NSF-GRFP at the start of her graduate career and she looks forward to what is to come.

Kayl is finishing her second year of her PhD in the Cellular and Molecular Biology Program. She is working in the labs of Christopher Gentile and Tiffany Weir investigating the gut microbiota and cardiovascular disease. She received a B.S. of Neuroscience, Biological Sciences, and Biochemistry with B.A. in French and Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts here at CSU.

Her passion for the interconnectedness of science led her to a graduate degree and her current work aims to identify how noncoding RNA populations are impacted by diet and the gut microbiota. She aspires to be a clinician-scientist and continue bridging the gap of science and medicine with novel therapeutics.

Outside the lab, Kayl is always with one of her three sisters. She is a Fort Collins native who loves 14ers and skiing, but when possible, she’s traveling the world. She is grateful for the NSF GRFP and cannot wait to continue pushing the boundaries of science.

Leidy studied Chemistry at Montana State University in Bozeman where she received her B.S. As an undergraduate, Leidy worked in an organometallic chemistry laboratory for two years where she discovered and developed chemodivergent nickel-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions in Dr. Sharon Neufeldt’s group.

Upon graduating in 2019, Leidy moved to CSU to pursue her PhD studies with Prof. Jeff Bandar. Her work in Prof. Bandar’s lab focuses on the discovery of new base-promoted chemical transformations under economical and sustainable conditions. This work could improve large scale chemical synthesis and provide increased access to complex bioactive molecules from inexpensive starting materials.

Morgan received her BS in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University as a member of the Honors College. During her time at CSU, she was a member of the Sound and Light Ecology Team at CSU in collaboration with the National Park Service—Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division where she studied both light and noise pollution in national parks as well as urban environments. It was at this time that she developed a strong passion for the both the study and regulation of anthropogenic pollution and its impacts on ecosystems. Her experiences working with SALET led to her seeking out a career in education with a research focus of light and noise pollution.

After graduating from CSU in May of 2020, Morgan, like many other recent graduates, regrouped on her post-graduation plans, by relocating to her hometown of Huntsville, AL, where she continued working on a manuscript of her undergraduate research focusing on the effects of low-level artificial light at night on plants and insects as well as applying for graduate degree programs. While at home she had the opportunity to rediscover her passion for community outreach and education by working for her local REI Co-op. Morgan hopes that her future research and involvement in the science community will contribute to addressing important conservation issues as well as promoting inclusive science communication and education.

Morgan will be starting her graduate studies in the fall of 2021 at Pennsylvania State University under Dr. Peter Newman with the support of the NSF GRFP in the Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management program. Her research will focus on the effects of light and noise pollution in protected natural areas and visitor management in national parks. She will continue to collaborate with the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division for her graduate research. Her professional aspiration is to become a professor at a top research university where she can continue practicing her passions of research and education.

Nico received his undergraduate degrees from the University of Montana, where he studied restoration ecology and plant biology. After several years of traveling and working seasonally as a botanist, he started his current research in Montana’s Glacier National Park. He is collaborating with park managers and CSU researchers to study how bison reintroduction may affect the park’s ecology after more than 120 years of their exclusion. Through his research, he hopes to answer questions that will help guide management and answer pertinent ecological questions.

Udall Scholar

Diego Tovar is from Austin, Texas, and a junior at Colorado State University. He’s majoring in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability with a minor in Political Communication. He has interned for the Navajo Nation Washington Office and Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s Office where he gained experience in environmental and health policy. At CSU, Diego is President of Warner College Council and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences. He also is a Warner Senator for ASCSU, and Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Caucus. Moreover, Diego works for the Warner College of Natural Resources as a Student Ambassador focusing on diversity and student success. He’s passionate about leading an effort in environmental justice to support equitable communities and seeks a career implementing policies related to health, environment, and civil rights.

Udall Honorable Mention

Noelle is a Biology major minoring in Conservation Biology at CSU planning on graduating in 2023. She has a passion for endangered species research and intends to dedicate her life to understanding better ways to protect wildlife. After graduation from CSU, she plans on pursuing masters and doctoral degrees in evolutionary biology in order to attain her goal. Additionally, she hopes to become an advocate for wildlife conservation and play an active role in public wildlife education.

Noelle currently conducts undergraduate research under the Bird Genoscape Project at CSU and has found a love for birds during her time there. Some of her other involvements include writing for the Collegian, being an active sister of the Alpha Sigma Kappa sorority, and participating in The Wildlife Society.

Some of her favorite pastimes include watering her growing collection of plants, watching Bob’s Burgers, eating ice cream, birding, camping and hiking. Naturally, she always brings her binoculars and makes sure to teach fellow hikers about the birds they see in the wilderness