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What's Happening in Biology?

Take a look at our recent student achievements, events and activities!

Updated October 23, 2023

October 2023

Congratulations to Christian Quintero, a 4th year Biology major in the Hua Lab was selected to represent Sonoma State in the Council for Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity (URSCA) Conference! Ten SSU students were selected to present their research for this conference November 4th, 2023.

Christian will present his undergraduate research: "Positioning of homologous chromosome 15 in Bloom's Syndrome"

Big thanks to StudioBlue at SSU in helping with this research presentation!


Christian Quintero

Portrait photo of student Christian Q

April 2023

The Biology Department is proud to announce Biology Grad student Rebecca Kopel (Geist Lab) has won the SSU Grand Slam 2023! Rebecca's presentation is titled “Bringing Back the Bugs--Using Benthic Macroinvertebrates to Assess Freshwater Environments”.

Rebecca with critter  
Rebecca Kopel  
Photo Credit: Wendy St. John
Courtesy of Rebecca Kopel


Rebecca will go on to represent Sonoma State in the CSU Grand Slam Competition on May 5th. Congratulations Rebecca!

And kudos to all our Grads who participated: Justin Brasil, Alex Flores, Shelby Hotz, Christina Leport, Alex Martin, Kiona Parker, Beth Sabo and Vini Souza! Way to go BIOL GRADS!

March 2023

Biology Grad Students Rebecca Kopel (Geist Lab) and Vini Souza (Hughes Lab) have been selected to present their research at the CSU Student Research Competition next month at San Diego State University!  

Rebecca Kopel   
photo credit: Wendy St. John
Vini Souza   
photo credit: Abbey Dias


Rebecca's narrative describing her research is titled "Utilizing Benthic Macroinvertebrates to Assess Ecological Status of Urbanized Northern California Freshwater Ecosystems". Rebecca elaborates, "My project focuses on BMI population structure within several channelized Northern California streams. This method of biomonitoring permits assessment of urban impact on freshwater ecosystem condition in and around Rohnert Park, CA (DiFranco 2006)." 

Vini's title for his narrative is "Population and Community Assembly Patterns Related to Remnant Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) Forests Following a Catastrophic Decline".  Vini says, "My research focuses on the population and community assembly patterns of remnant kelp patches along the northern CA coast."

Best of Luck to Vini and Rebecca! Bring back the Trophy!

January 2023

Vanessa S
Vanessa Sanchez

Congratulations to Vanessa Sanchez (Hua Lab), who received the 2023 Doris A. Howell Foundation – CSUPERB Research Scholar Award for her project “Using Trisomy 21 Down Syndrome cells to understand chromosome organization.” This competitive grant funds promising undergraduate student research projects in topics related to women's health. This is the first award made to SSU so we are SUPER proud of Vanessa!

August 2022

Vanessa S
Vanessa Sanchez

Congratulations to Hua Lab member Vanessa Sanchez who has been selected as a McNairs Scholar! The McNair Scholars Program is a federally funded program designed to prepare high achieving undergraduate students for admission into graduate schools to pursue advanced degrees. Way to go, Vanessa!

May 2022

The Biology Department is proud to announce undergrads Marcos Peech and Vanessa Sanchez were both selected as MESA/Genentech scholars to conduct summer research in the Hua Lab! Their projects focus on understanding chromosome organization in normal and diseased human cells. Congratulations Vanessa and Marcos!

Marcos P
Marcos Peech
Vanessa S
Vanessa Sanchez


May 2022

CSU-wide Grand Slam Competition - May 6th, 2022: Congratulations to Biology Graduate Student, Alyssa Cooper who won the Audience Choice for her presentation: "Food Fight! Prey Competition between Two Important Marine Predators". Excellent Job Alyssa! 

Alyssa C portrait for Grand Slam on webpage

Slide from Grand Slam Thesis presentation Slide from Alyssa's presentation









May 2022

SSU Week of Research and Creativity: Congratulations to Biology major Isahar "Isa" Guerrero Diaz, for winning Best Poster at the Science Symposium event! Isa's poster title is "Sudden Oak Death: California Bay Laurel Symptom Trials by Fire and Earth”.  Way to go, Isa! 

Isahar's poster

Isahar standing next to his poster Isahar Guerrero Diaz









May 2022

Portrait photo of student Christian Q Christian Quintero

CSUPERB - President's Scholar Award: Congratulations to Biology student Christian Quintero who won the prestigious President's Scholar Award at CSUPERB for his project, "Chromosome organization of Bloom’s Syndrome cells" - Christian is the first SSU Biology student to win this award! Way to go, Christian! 





April 2022

SSU Grand Slam Competition: Our Grad students came through again this year, taking first and second place and heading to the CSU-wide Grand Slam on May 6th!

Zane's winning presentation was titled, "Examining the effects of tree structure on wildfire using voxelized terrestrial remote sensing data and computational fluid dynamics fire modeling" and Alyssa's title was "Food Fight! Prey Competition between Two Important Marine Predators". Congratulations to All!





April 2022

SSU's Week of Research and Creativity - Science Symposium: Congratulations to Biology senior Belle Ehrmantraut! Her poster, "Degradation of Polylactic Acid Bioplastic by a Thermophilic Microbial Consortium" won the Ongaro Green Science Grand Prize award! Way to go Belle! 

Photo credit: Belle Ehrmantraut, Michael Cohen

Student looking through microscope Belle Ehrmantraut









April 2022

Congratulations to Biology Grad Student, Elliott Smeds, who successfully defended his Masters Thesis: "Exploring the genomic basis of thermal adaptation in the willow leaf beetle Chrysomela aeneicollis"

This is first in-person Thesis Defense in over two years! Well done, Elliott! 

Flyer for Elliott's defense

Elliott standing next to projector screen Elliott Smeds