Rose Hills Foundation Supports Engineering Students with Funding

Nov. 29, 2023 - The Rose Hills Foundation has awarded four graduate fellowships ($10,000 each) and 11 undergraduate scholarships (approximately $8,000 each) to Samueli School students. The program recognizes STEM students from underrepresented communities in Southern California with financial need who demonstrate academic excellence and leadership skills.

The Rose Hills Foundation has sponsored UCI students since 2014. This year, 20 graduates and 50 undergraduates across UCI received funding. Here are this year’s four engineering graduate fellows, all are pursuing doctorates:

Weilin Guan, mechanical and aerospace engineering, aims to facilitate nanomaterial development to create more compact and lightweight nano energy-harvesting systems. Specifically, he is working with atomically thin 2D materials in an effort to develop energy solutions.

“This fellowship enables me to accomplish my research goals and provides me with a robust foundation for my research career while I pursue my doctoral degree,” said Guan, who is also a research fellow with Los Alamos National Laboratory. He aspires to become a lead researcher and mentor the next generation of engineers.

Esther Hessong, materials science and engineering, aims to advance scientific understanding of how microstructural features affect the mechanical properties of metals and alloys. Her research focuses on the effects of chemical patterning and structural ordering on the mechanical behavior of nanocrystalline copper-rich alloys that are used in a variety of engineering fields including aerospace and alternative energy developments.

“This scholarship enables me to dedicate time to my own research project, collaborative projects and community involvement,” said Hessong. “For the upcoming academic year, I plan to conduct experiments needed for my dissertation at Los Alamos National Laboratory and continue mentoring other students.”

Austin Parrish, mechanical and aerospace engineering, is focused on the development of two different technologies for improving the size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) of non-GPS-based navigation systems. First, he aims to improve the precision and long-term accuracy of the gyroscopes used in inertial navigation by developing a wafer-level fabrication process. Second, he is investigating sensor fusion algorithms that detect a pedestrian’s location in GPS-denied environments.

“I am drawn to the applications of high-performance, low-SWaP-C sensors, such as for tracking firefighters performing smoke diving,” said Parrish, who hopes to pursue a career in navigation technologies. “This scholarship will allow me to accelerate my graduation timeline and enable me to drive the real-world impact of the work.”

Aaron Ramirez, chemical and biomolecular engineering, is collaborating with UCI's Vaccine R&D Center on developing a vaccine protecting against the potential biowarfare pathogen Coxiella burnetii. Ramirez also works with protein nanoparticle technology to investigate the potential for a one-shot flu vaccine and vaccinating against cancers.

“The Rose Hills Foundation’s support has given me confidence and reassures me that my work is worthwhile, important and can have a discernible impact on people,” said Ramirez, who will graduate this year. “I plan to work in the biotechnology industry where I hope to better the lives of others by developing therapies against currently untreatable diseases.”

The following 11 undergraduate students received scholarships:

Jonathan Cruz, aerospace engineering

Angel Derouin, aerospace engineering

David Iba, aerospace engineering

Athena Niu, biomedical engineering

Isaac Torosian, biomedical engineering

Ryan Nguyen, civil engineering

Nhi Hoang, environmental and civil engineering

Nathan Bugay, mechanical engineering

Aaron Jin, mechanical engineering

Makala Maydwell, mechanical engineering

Gun-Woo Song, mechanical engineering.

– Lilith Christopher