RECCS Student Researchers 2022

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Brianna Alcorn

Project Title: From Voltages to Visuals: Atmospheric Surface Flux Station (ASFS) at the Study of Precipitation, the Lower Atmosphere and Surface for Hydrometeorology (SPASH)

Mentors: Sara Morris, Annareli Morales, Gijs de Boer

Bio: Brianna was born and raised in Chicago, and moved to Colorado as a teenager. A few years after graduating high school, she decided to come back to college and get an education. She has recently graduated with an Associate of Science from Red Rocks Community College and will be continuing her education at Colorado School of Mines to earn a degree in Geological Engineering.

Brianna found her passion for science by road tripping to our National Parks. Once she saw the Grand Canyon, she knew she wanted to aid in conservation efforts to protect not only our National Parks but Earth. Brianna has also found a passion for math and is a math tutor at Red Rocks Community College.
She is excited and looking forward to the opportunity to conduct research and have experience in fieldwork, as well as make new connections.

View Brianna's elevator speech and oral presentation.

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Rylee Baca

Project Title: An Inspection of Rangeland Plant Productivity Based on Seasonal Dry Spells And Grazing

Mentors: Thomas Merchant, Katie Suding

Bio: Rylee is a Southern Colorado resident, and early high school graduate and valedictorian from Hope Online Learning Academy. He has been dual enrolled in local community college classes since junior year, and is transferring to Southern Oregon University for a masters degree in biology with an emphasis on environmental science. He is interested in pursuing some sort of conservation work with lots of time on the field. He is very excited to be joining RECCS, as it is exactly the type of experience he has been craving to get. 

He is also passionate about the arts, and has been involved in local artistic endeavors in his hometown of Trinidad. When not engaged in the arts or study, he enjoys playing with his cat, Tokyo Drift, playing video games, catching frogs or bugs, and collecting cool bones in the woods.

View Rylee's elevator speech and oral presentation

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Adeena Chughtai

Project Title: Let It Grow: Culturing and Identifying Soil Bacteria

Mentors: Sebastian Kopf, Lynne Albert, Adam Younkin

Bio: Adeena received her AS in Biology from Front Range Community College this May. In her time at FRCC, she unexpectedly fell in love with math and engineering and consequently changed her studies from pre-med to biomedical engineering.

She was part of the Supplemental Instruction program for five semesters, during which she developed skills to support students through College Algebra through active learning.

She also had the incredible opportunity to be a member of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium through the DemoSat program — Adeena and her teammates were the recipients of the grand prize at the 2022 Undergraduate Space Research Symposium, for their research on changes in atmospheric gamma radiation levels with respect to altitude.

Adeena will continue her studies at the Colorado School of Mines to further explore undergraduate research and complete her BS in Quantitative Biosciences and Engineering. She hopes to step into the field of prosthetics development and dreams of making sustainable, high quality prosthetic limbs available for each individual who is in need of them.

Adeena is passionate about STEM education being as accessible and exciting as possible. She is deeply grateful for the support, kindness, and encouragement she has received throughout her education, and wishes to provide others with the same treatment.

Check out Adeena's elevator speech and oral presentation.

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Xavier Cotton

Project Title: ENSO: Global Climate Models

Mentors: John Albers, Melissa Breeden, Brandon Wolding

Bio: Xavier Cotton is transferring from Front Range Community College to the Colorado School of Mines as a junior in the Fall of 2022. He kept busy during his community college years; two of his proudest accomplishments are leading a DemoSat team for the Space Grant Consortium and presenting an innovative way to clean oil spills in Washington DC for the Community College Innovation Challenge. Xavier will be kept busy at Mines too, where he will pursue a BS in Computer Science. After graduating, Xavier would like to be a software engineer specializing in AI development and innovation to help world sustainability.

Xavier loves all things computers, long board games, shopping, and peanut butter jelly. On the weekend, you can probably find him working on a coding project or binge-watching a reality tv show.

View Xavier's elevator speech and oral presentation

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Carson Cucarola

Project Title: Madden-Julian Oscillation Impact on Hawaii Waves

Mentors: Stefan Tulich, Pragallva Barpanda

Bio: Carson Cucarola is wrapping up his Associate of Science at Front Range Community College (FRCC) over the Summer of 2022. After completing his degree, he will be transitioning to the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder to major in Biochemistry as well as Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. He dreams of attending CU Boulder for graduate school to study Astrobiology. Currently, Carson works in the Science Stockroom at FRCC ensuring the students and instructors have the necessary materials to efficiently run labs.

Carson is a Colorado native who has lived all up and down the front range; from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. Frequent changes in his environment led him to be exposed to various cultures and communities. Carson identifies with the LGBTQIA+ community. Over the years, he realized his sexuality has been an alienating factor within a field consisting of predominantly heterosexual white cis-men. He strongly believes these advancements from research should be driven by individuals that represent the diversity within the H. sapien population. Carson is committed to creating an environment within the scientific community that allows people from all walks of life to feel welcomed and respected. He understands his commitment must be accompanied by learning the ins-and-outs of conducting and communicating research. Carson is confident that the RECCS program will provide him with the tools to make his commitment come to fruition.

View Carson's elevator speech and oral presentation. 

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Jessica DeGroot

Project Title: Fiscal Challenges of Climate Change Mitigation in G7 Economies

Mentors: Matthew Burgess, Ryan Langendorf, Ashley Dancer

Bio: Jes recently completed her associate degree at Front Range Community College with plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at CSU. She is a non-traditional student, taking the scenic route to her academic goals.

Originally from Austin, Texas, where her love of nature began, Jes has grown to love the mountainous beauty of Colorado. She enjoys reading, Irish dancing, swimming, and soaking up the sunshine.

Jes has always been passionate about environmental protection, and in recent years, has focused her attention on climate change and environmental justice. She is eager to learn and aspires to become an asset to her community, in addressing the challenges of a changing climate.

View Jes' elevator speech and oral presentation

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Alexandra Emond

Project Title: Shrub Influence on Tundra Herbaceous Communities at Niwot Ridge LTER

Mentor: Katya Jay, Jonathan Henn

Bio: Lex is a student at Front Range Community College with aspirations of transferring to a 4-year neuroscience degree and pursuing a career in research. She was born and raised in Colorado, but has since lived in Chicago, Grand Teton National Park, and Big Sur as a seasonal worker.

Lex always dreamed of being a scientist, but struggled in school early on and entered adulthood believing she wasn’t fit for an academic path. Her favorite hobbies of painting and photography were what she excelled in, and what her friends and family encouraged her to study. After spending her early 20s in art school, film school, and a variety of jobs, Lex began questioning her reasons for turning away from science. Her curiosity and passion for it had only intensified since childhood, and she soon became determined to turn back around and pursue her old dream.

The realms of art and science overlap and inspire each other more than many people realize. Lex believes that her eclectic pursuits prior to this degree were never a waste of time, but have imparted open-mindedness and a unique perspective to influence her work.

View Lex's elevator speech and oral presentation

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Dominique Garcia

Project Title: Contributing to the Surface Elevation Timeline for Jakobshavn Isbræ

Mentors: Sarah Child, Noami Ochwat

Bio: Dominique was born in Chile and after moving to the U.S, she became the first person in her family to attend college and is getting her Associate's degree in Environmental Science at the Community College of Denver, and will be transferring to Metropolitan State University to major in Geology.

She has a passion for helping our planet survive and is very excited for this opportunity to be a part of the RECCS program. Dominique enjoys traveling to the beach and being outside in nature. She loves to paint and collect rocks.

View Dominique's elevator speech and oral presentation.

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Brian Hertvik

Project TitleElevational Trends In Macroinvertebrate Communities Of The Green Lakes Valley

Mentors: Sammy Yevak, Kurt Anderson

Bio: Hello, my name is Brian Hertvik and I am a Marine veteran currently enrolled at CCD. I am transferring to MSU Denver next spring to pursue my Bachelor’s in Environmental Science. I hope to use my degree and what I learn in this internship to eventually land a career in water conservation. In my free time I enjoy hiking and fly fishing.

View Brian's elevator speech and oral presentation.

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Karla Lemus

Project Title: Urea: An unrecognized component of reactive N?

Mentors: Ellie Browne, Bri Dobson

Bio: Karla Lemus was born in Morelia, Michoacán, and has been raised in both Salinas, CA, and Aurora, CO from a young age. After learning English from cartoons, Karla graduated from Hinkley High School and is now attending Community College of Denver where she is majoring in Biology to further expand her knowledge on all things living.
Karla has explored multiple avenues in the broad aspect of Biology including, human anatomy, insects, aquatic life, geology, and botany. One of the most recent curiosities that Karla has developed lies in the atmosphere and global warming. Karla has been a volunteer at Children’s Hospital, she has volunteered in US Citizenship preparation classes, as well as assisted with completing and filing residency and citizenship applications. Karla has assisted in raising food, clothing, and first-aid materials to ship across the border for those in need. Not to mention, one of the proudest moments in Karla’s life includes being able to intubate in a simulation lab on the first attempt.
Karla’s career goals, while a bit murky, lie in between molecular biology and ecology (maybe some meteorology). At the end of the day, Karla hopes to be able to provide back to her community. Karla plans to transfer to CU Denver where she will further expand her knowledge and finalize her plans on helping those with low resources.
Karla could not be more ecstatic to be a part of RECCS where she hopes to further expand her knowledge on research and gain important scientific knowledge.

View Karla's elevator speech, poster presentation, and oral presentation.

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Victoria Macias

Project Title: Coyote Open Space Research: Average of Trail Users Implement Anthropogenic Material

Mentors: Emily Beam, Regina Leuty

Bio: Victoria was born in Leon Guanajuato, grew up in Brighton, Colorado, and graduated from Weld Central High School. She currently attends Aims Community College in Fort Lupton. 

Victoria has been a part of Bueno Camp a College Assistance Migrant Program, CAMP, which is a scholarship program that recruits students with migrant, agricultural backgrounds. For the future, Victoria plans on attending the University of Colorado Boulder, in the pursuit to study Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Major. 

Victoria is excited to have this opportunity with RECCS program and be able to work with everyone and learn about her future interest. 

View Victoria's elevator speech and oral presentation

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Holly McCrory

Project Title: Revealing Hidden Worlds: The Intersection of Technology and Magnetism

Mentors: Richard Saltus, Anna Liao, Manoj Nair

Bio: Holly McCrory is studying Geology and Watershed Science and has a deep passion for research. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest left her with plenty of time to explore the river and the grasslands south of her home and that is where her love of nature and the outdoors first started. It is Holly’s dream to help other passionate and talented scientists find ways to combat climate change and find solutions to the water crisis in the west. When Holly isn’t in the lab or out collecting rocks, you can find her riding her bike, swimming, or hiking in the mountains.

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Liam Milton

Project Title: The Upper Colorado River Basin: Using Subdomains to Investigate the Water-Energy Balance

Mentors: Ben Livneh, Nels Bjarke, Joseph Barsugli

Bio: Liam was born in Japan and moved to the United States when he was 6 years old. Liam has lived in New Mexico, Idaho, Arizona, and finally, Colorado. He is currently attending Northeastern Junior College, studying and playing soccer. 

Liam is planning on transferring to Colorado State University and studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. He hopes to be able to use what he learns in the RECCS program to find work in the environmental field. 

Outside of school and soccer, Liam enjoys listening to music, the outdoors, and spending time with his family. 

View Liam's elevator speech and oral presentation. 

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Julissa Rubio Soto

Project Title: Diurnal and Nocturnal Microbial Concentrations in the Air

Mentors: Noah Fierer, Sarah Gering

Bio: Greetings, my name is Julissa Rubio Soto. I'm a first-generation student, a proud mother and wife, and quite inquisitive. I graduated from Aims Community College with an Associate's of Science and recently went back to pursue Radiology. I've always loved science and math but recently started to fall in love with research. Nonetheless, I haven't experienced the opportunity to participate in any research projects and thus I am very excited to be participating in the RECCS program. I can't wait to not only learn from my mentors but to dive into the full experience of scientific research.

View Julissa's elevator speech and oral presentation

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Adam Thomas

Project Title: What Are Aspens Doing?: Creating High-Resolution Maps for Aspen

Mentor: Maxwell Cook, Adam Mahood 

Bio: Adam grew up in Colorado, graduated from Summit High and went to Colorado Mountain College for his first year of college. 

Adam has worked at a few Youth Corps. that are outdoor conservation-focused, specifically on public lands. In the future he may transfer to Oregon State University with a DPP program this coming fall, studying mechanical engineering. 

Adam is very interested in studying mycelium, ecology restoration, and robotics. He also likes to tinker and explore the bush. 

View Adam's elevator speech and oral presentation

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