Engineering Graduate Student Honored at LEAD

Aaron Ramirez

June 13, 2023 – Chemical and biomolecular engineering graduate student Aaron Ramirez was chosen for a Graduate Student Excellence Award at the 2023 Latino Excellence and Achievement Awards Dinner (LEAD). He was honored at the sixth annual gathering that included a reception, dinner and award presentation at the Pacific Ballroom in the UCI Student Center in April.

Co-sponsored by UCI’s Latinx Resource Center and Office of Inclusive Excellence, the awards dinner honors key leaders, graduate students, staff and faculty who support and champion student success and research excellence in the Latinx/Hispanic community at UCI and in Orange County. This year, there were 15 graduate student awards and one award each for a faculty, staff, alumni and community member.

Ramirez was born to Mexican parents, and his interest in science began at an early age. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UC Riverside. At UCI, he is a doctoral student and NSF Graduate Research Program Fellow, working under the advisement of Szu-Wen Wang, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. His research involves developing protein nanoparticle scaffolds that could become the bases for vaccines protecting against cancer and infectious diseases. Ramirez is an active leader in STEM outreach in the Hispanic community, participating in organizations such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). At the Samueli School, he works as a counselor at FABcamp, a summer program that brings middle school students from underrepresented communities to UCI to learn about STEM concepts like prototyping and fabrication technologies and explore career paths in engineering alongside graduate students.

“The LEAD’s support is truly appreciated, and I hope to continue positively representing UCI and this foundation,” said Ramirez. “My ultimate goal is to contribute to society in a meaningful way to inspire the next generation of scientists.”

UCI Samueli School’s former Assistant Director of Outreach Marvin Maldonado was also recognized at the event, receiving the Distinguished Staff Leadership Award for his passion for STEM outreach in the Latinx community.

– Lilith Christopher