Three SMC STEM Majors Selected for Prestigious Station1 Frontiers Fellowship

Date:

The following is a press release from Santa Monica Community College

Three Santa Monica College (SMC) STEM majors were selected for the prestigious Station1 Frontiers Fellowship (SFF), a fully-funded ten-week education, research, and internship experience focused on socially-directed science and technology. The fellowship is offered by the nonprofit higher education institution, Station1, founded by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2016.

Biology/chemistry major Florence Larsonneur Amurrio, electrical and computer engineering major Melissa De La Cruz, and applied mathematics major Micheal Mendizabal were selected after an extensive application and interview process, with Station1 receiving hundreds of applications and selecting “the most outstanding and high potential candidates.”

The Station1 Frontiers Fellowship includes an internationally-recognized curriculum in socially-directed science and technology and a research internship with a leading partner organization in an emerging field of science and technology.  Florence Larsonneur Amurrio is participating in a research internship with a Station1 partner organization based in Cambridge, MA, GC Therapeutics, which is leveraging synthetic biology to design novel cell therapies for the treatment of incurable diseases. As a Station1 fellow, Larsonneur Amurrio is playing an active role in understanding the clinical unmet need that cell therapies can tackle, researching the patient population and addressable market for cell therapies, creating a strategic analysis of possibilities to undertake, and helping play a role in designing life-saving treatments.

“The Station1 Frontier Fellowship has been an amazing opportunity to meet incredibly talented fellow students from all fields and create a strong support system as we all navigate through our choices in education for the next few years,” said Larsonneur Amurrio, who came back to school after 20 years in the industry so she can “finalize the prerequisites and finally apply to med school”. “SFF’s curriculum is rigorous and pushed us to think deeply about what it really means to do socially-directed and sustainable research. I was placed with GC Therapeutics to do my research internship and helped build a strategic disease model as a tool to determine which condition would be the best candidates for the company to focus on their R&D for new cell therapies.”

Melissa De La Cruz is participating in a research internship with a Station1 partner organization based in Somerville, MA— Altaeros—which was founded at MIT in 2010. Altaeros is focused on developing and deploying innovative real-world infrastructure solutions to solve the most difficult infrastructure challenges. They have developed the world’s first autonomous, commercial tethered aerial platform that can be used for a range of applications in energy, telecom, and agriculture, called the SuperTower. This internship research project consists of a review of large datasets on Altaeros’ SuperTower aerostat platform to analyze differences in performance across multiple different geographical locations.

“With my time at Station1 ending, I have been reflecting on what I have learned in terms of research and professional advancement,” De La Cruz said, “and it has definitely been a growing experience. Being part of the STEM program at Santa Monica College exposed me to multiple opportunities, including Station1! My goal is to go into research on deep learning models such as neural networks during my time at UC San Diego and to also focus on getting more technical experience through software engineering internships as an undergrad.”

Micheal Mendizabal is participating in a research internship with Station1 partner organization Atacama Biomaterials Inc.which has locations in Boston, MA, and Santiago, Chile. Atacama Biomaterials Inc. is a cutting-edge biotechnology start-up company with a mission to revolutionize the field of biomaterials through sustainable and innovative solutions. The research project is focused on cellulose-based sustainable materials for pharmaceutical packaging including digital twin CAD modeling and simulation, machine design for lamination, analysis for advanced manufacturing 3D printing, supply chain assessment, and support for commercial validation.

“Since math can be a general field, this fellowship provides valuable experience,” Mendizabal said. “It will push me forward in life towards my goal, which is to work with technology—something that’s always changing.”

The nonprofit higher education institution Station1 has been paving pathways of opportunity through a new model of learning and research: socially-directed science and technology. Station1 seeks to interrogate, understand, and shape technologically-driven societal impact towards more equitable, just, ethical, and sustainable outcomes.

As Station1 fellows, Florence Larsonneur Amurrio, Melissa De La Cruz & Micheal Mendizabal have received a competitive living expenses stipend and fully-funded instructional costs; are participating in exciting internship research projects in emerging fields of science and technology; engaging with a shared curriculum focused on socially-directed science and technology; interacting with instructors, researchers, and mentors across diverse scientific, technological, and scholarly disciplines and fields; gaining leadership, personal and professional experience through the research internship, an inclusive leadership institute, and a formal professional advancement curriculum; receiving individualized and customized information, advising, and guidance on academic and career pathways. And, as Station1 alumni, they will become part of a network of exceptional professionals in the Station1 community beyond the program’s completion.

In addition to Station1, SMC’s STEM students have interned at NASA-JPLNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationUCLA’s Undergraduate Research Center, USC’s Mangul LabUC BerkeleyCal Poly PomonaLos Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)Base11 (which has placed students at UC IrvineCaltechUSC, & the Smithsonian). Santa Monica College offers options for study in numerous STEM fields including biology, pre-medicine biology, chemistry, earth science, computer programming, physics, engineering, mathematics, and much more. To learn more about SMC’s STEM program, visit smc.edu/STEM.

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About Santa Monica College:

Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). For 32 consecutive years, SMC has been California’s leading transfer college to UCLA, UC Berkeley, and other University of California campuses. The college also tops in transfers to the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University and is the top feeder west of the Mississippi to the Ivy League Columbia University. As the leading job trainer in Los Angeles’s Westside, the college offers robust career education opportunities, with over 110 degrees and certificates in fields ranging from the traditional (Business, Nursing, Journalism, Film, etc.) to the cutting-edge (Sustainable Technologies, Cloud Computing, a Bachelor of Science degree in Interaction Design, and more). SMC provides news and cultural enrichment through its NPR radio station KCRW (89.9 FM), the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center, and lifelong learning through distinctive programs such as its Emeritus Program for older adults.

About Station1:

Station1 (www.station1.org) is a new nonprofit higher education institution, founded by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016, that is paving a pathway of opportunity through a new model of learning and research – socially-directed science and technology. The Station1 model integrates science and technology with humanistic fields and the social sciences in order to interrogate, understand, and shape technologically-driven societal impact towards more equitable and sustainable outcomes. To advance this mission, Station1 designs and carries out transformative education, research, innovation, and collective impact projects, programs, and initiatives in the areas of socially-directed science and technology. Station1 collaborates with partners worldwide, including socially-minded startup companies, established industry, the social and public sectors, and academia.

Current research areas of focus within socially-directed science and technology include computationally-enabled sustainable materials design, socio-resilient infrastructure, sociotechnical systems in biotechnology and health equity, and techno social possibilities and histories of the future. Core to the Station1 model is broadening access and opportunity for students that have been historically excluded with care given to intersectionality, especially students of color, those who are first generation to college, students from low socio-economic households, and students who are geographically limited in their access to higher education.

Station1 has had over 260 supporters, engaged over 6,000 direct beneficiaries, educated over 90 undergraduate research fellows from more than 65 institutions of higher education, and has partnered with over 90 organizations worldwide.

To learn more, visit station1.org.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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