Chico Adelante Program

2021 Student Researchers

Project Title“Development of a Cellular Model for Neurological Effects on Smoking During Pregnancy” (faculty mentor: Kodeeswaran Parameshwaran)

Jessica Alvarado ValdezNAME: Jessica Alvarado Valdez

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Behavioral Neuroscience

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I applied to explore a one on one connection with someone in the field. It was also to expand my academic interest for my career choice. 

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? I was able to learn by engaging in research hands-on and was able to expand my knowledge outside the classroom. 

FUN FACT: I am trying to learn my third language, Portuguese.

Project Title “Farmers Market consumers’ perceptions, attitudes, and demographic” (faculty mentor: Keiko Goto)

Jovita AvilaNAME: Jovita Avila

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Nutrition and Food Science Communication and Dietetics

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? Well, my ultimate professional goal is to be a bilingual registered dietitian and to work with patients in a clinical setting. This field requires scientific evidence-based research and thus requires research understanding. As a first-generation and Hispanic student, research topics and the idea of graduate school sounded intimidating. I found the Adelante Research Program to provide an amazing opportunity to connect with a faculty mentor whom I could work alongside and receive guidance and support. I strongly believe this would (and did) boost my confidence and abilities for post-graduation and moving forward into a white-dominant competitive field. 

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? I was able to build a mentoring relationship with my mentor. She was able to guide me through each research step and elaborate when confusion was apparent. My faculty mentor was very patient, understanding, communicative, and pushed me towards success by being reasonable, understanding, and flexible  (it was summer after all). I was also able to pick my research topic of interest which was helpful with motivation. I was able to get a small-scale feel for graduate school and research work. Now I can say I am more confident moving forward and look forward to applying to grad school this year, which I never even thought about previously as a first-generation Mexican American student and mother. 

FUN FACT: My daughter and I have a pet albino dwarf bunny name FooFoo. We have had him for 7 years and didn't know at first they can live up to 12 years (talk about a long-term commitment).

Project TitleIdentification of diazotroph species in the sea anemone Aiptasia” (faculty mentor: Dr. Cawa Tran)

Francisco (Ben) CabreraNAME: Francisco (Ben) Cabrera

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Microbiology (CLS) - Biological Sciences

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I applied in order to pursue hands-on research in the wake of the pandemic, and study microbial interactions within Aiptasia anemones because of my interest in microbiology!

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY?  I gained valuable experience of hands-on techniques for use in the lab, as well as a greater understanding of the biology of coral reefs and cnidarians!

FUN FACT: Bugs terrify me!

Project Title“Basic Needs Program Evaluation: Rapid Rehousing” (faculty mentor: Molly Calhoun)

Yulisa Castaneda UbiasNAME: Yulisa Castaneda Ubias 

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Master’s in Social work

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I applied to the Adelante Research Program because I saw an opportunity to grow and be able to step out of my comfort zone. When I was given the opportunity, I was excited to be able to research and contribute to helping make a difference in the lives of students.

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? At the beginning of my BSW program, I was scared to do research, but then I noticed that I enjoyed research when I started writing something that I am passionate about. With the Adelante Research Program, I was able to gain macro-social work research experience. I was used to doing direct practice, and with this opportunity I was able to understand how to evaluate and research programs and services. I was able to understand interview scripts and code themes. Along with working with two incredible professors that made the research process more fun.

FUN FACT: I enjoy collecting bags.

Project TitleScavenging Patterns within the Willamette Valley of Oregon”(faculty mentor: Ashley Kendell)

Cheyenne CollinsNAME: Cheyenne Collins

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Biological Anthropology: Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? In order to graduate from my program, I needed to complete a master's thesis. Thus, I created a research project. But it ended up being very expensive to conduct. The Adelante Researcher program allowed me to not only conduct my project to graduate but also allowed me to work less this summer so that I could be in the field conducting research observations for 2-4 hours a day. 

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? This opportunity has allowed me to grow both as a student and a researcher. I believe that this step has further prepared me to continue my education and professional interests in the field in a PhD program. Research is not always easy, and the process can be at times challenging. However, having the support of my department, the Adelante program, and my research mentors enabled me to have a positive experience and grow both within my discipline and as a student of life. 

FUN FACT: I am an avid rock climber!

Title of Project“Identification and Repatriation of Remains from the US-Mexico Border: a Stable Isotope and Artificial Intelligence Approach” (faculty mentor: Eric Bartelink)

Thomas Delgado NAME: Thomas Delgado

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: M.A. in Anthropology

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I applied for the Adelante Research program as a way to highlight that my research is for Latinx people, by a Latinx person, receiving funding from a Latinx program. Positionality and subjectivity are how I frame all my research and I wanted to have support from those that share an aspect of my position.

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? This opportunity allowed me to focus on the creation of a pilot program in which multiple statistical classifiers were tested providing solid proof of concept for my thesis research.

FUN FACT: I spent a month excavating burials in Poland.

Project Title“Implicit Associations with Drug-related Attitudes: Assessing the relationship between race and drugs” (faculty mentor: Shawn Bates)

Kanvarbir GillNAME: Kanvarbir Gill


WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? To have the opportunity to conduct a funded research project over the summer. 

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY?  I gained knowledge and experience from leading my faculty-mentored, funded research project. 

FUN FACT: I enjoy snowboarding and golfing.

Project TitleExamination of Association Between Traditional Food Consumption and Quality of Life Among Cuban Adults” (faculty mentor: Keiko Goto)

Viviana MendozaNAME: Viviana Mendoza

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Nutrition and Food Science

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM?  I applied to the Adelante Research Program because I wanted to gain experience that will help me in Graduate School. I wanted to gain professional experience, be able to better understand published work, and learn how to balance collaborative and individual work. My plan is to obtain a Master’s Degree in Nutritional Education and I felt that it was essential for me to become a more competitive candidate with skills and experience.

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? I gained an enormous amount of experience and skills that will prepare me for Graduate School. I learned how to effectively communicate in writing, I learned how to be more inclusive and respectful to the Cuban population, I learned how to effectively translate a questionnaire that will fit into the cultural norms of Cuba, and I advanced my intercultural engagement.

FUN FACT: I am an identical twin.

Project Title“Basic Needs Program Evaluation” (faculty mentor: Molly Calhoun)

Dina MenendezNAME: Dina Menendez

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Master's of Social Work

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? When my professor reached out and shared that they were conducting a program evaluation on the Basic Needs program at Chico State, I wanted to join because I know how important meeting the basic needs of students is for them to succeed. I also wanted to gain experience in the process of research. 

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? I gained insight into the work that has to happen to conduct research. I learned how to code, which I had never done before, and I learned that I am capable of doing this type of work. Maybe I'll go for my doctorate now.

FUN FACT: I traveled to the other side of the globe just to go to a music festival and made friends from all over the globe. Best experience ever.

Project Title: Latino Partisanship and Voting Choice across Generations” (faculty mentor: Devin Fernandes)

Humberto PartidaNAME: Humberto Partida

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Political Science and International Relations

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I applied to the Adelante Research Program because I was interested to learn the art of doing research. In addition, I wanted to find out how Latinos voted across generations with a focus on why so many Latinos (30%) vote Republican contrary to the common belief that all Latinos should vote Democrat or that they vote as a monolithic group.

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? I gained the experience of working with Dr. Devin Fernandes, whose focus has been on Latino politics for the past decade. I was also exposed to new information and the way to do statistical analysis with data from different sources.

FUN FACT: I love Marvel movies.

Project Title“Knowledge of Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes among Latinx Students” (faculty mentor: Kathryn Silliman)

Ana PompaNAME: Ana Pompa

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Nutrition Education

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? Being the first in my family to pursue a master’s program and a first-generation college student is a lot of pressure on me to do well and be successful. Any help I can get to learn how to effectively do research and figure out all the kinks when doing research will help when doing my master’s research project. Also, being part of this research opportunity will help fund a portion of my first year of my master’s program and lessen the burden of the number of loans I will have to take out. 

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? Through this research opportunity, I gained a better understanding of my topic and the process of research in general. I also gained the confidence and skills to do my own research with the help of my amazing mentor, Professor Katie Silliman. 

FUN FACT: I have a pet turtle named Estrella.

Project Title“Being Black/African American in a Predominately White Workforce: Challenges, Barriers, and Lessons Learned” (faculty mentor: Judy Vang)

Dominique SoaresNAME: Dominique Soares

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Master of Social Work

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? My hope for this research experience was to give a voice to the number of social workers of color who are misunderstood and lack the validation needed pertaining to their unique and sometimes unfortunate experiences they have being a person of color in a rural community. Through this research, I also hope to bring awareness of how everyone should be mindful of personal biases, microaggressions, and the effect they have on others.  I also hope to assist our Caucasian friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues of the importance of being mindful of their privilege and to empower them to use their privilege to appropriately advocate for others, especially those individuals who are being oppressed. 

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? The more I progressed in my program as well as in this research, I realized that my purpose may be to advocate on a more macro level. 

FUN FACT: I am a local singer and have been invited to sing at a number of events here in town. 

Project Title“Chico Students’ Attitude Towards the News” (faculty mentor: Tonya Lindsey)

Roxzel Soto TellezNAME: Roxzel Soto Tellez


WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I applied to the Adelante Research Program because imposter syndrome is ever-present in my life. The opportunity to research a safe, supportive environment gave me the experience to be confident in my Honors in the Major for Sociology class.

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? The opportunity to be a part of the Adelante Research Program gave me the confidence to design and conduct research with the support of my faculty mentor, the Adelante staff, and peers. The Adelante program is much more than a research program; it also provides a network of peers and the tools to succeed in graduate school.

FUN FACT: I was a 9th-grade dropout who only dreamed of attending college for many years. 

Project TitleThe Effects of Traditional Machismo and Caballerismo Attitudes on Sexual Decision Making” (faculty mentor: Patrick Johnson)

Jordan StifleNAME: Jordan Stifle

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Psychological Science

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I applied to the Adelante Research Program because I was intrigued by the prospect of being able to spend my summer conducting research. As I am in a graduate program that is research-focused, I feel that it would have been odd spending my summer doing anything else. What's more, as I have historically had to find employment during the summer months, it has been very difficult to balance work and extracurricular activities such as research during the summer. I hoped that with the funding offered through the program I would be able to focus on honing my research skills, rather than letting them get rusty as I worked over the summer (which, thankfully, is exactly how it worked out!).

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? I believe the most important thing I got out of this program was a sense of legitimacy regarding my research endeavors. As I have struggled with self-doubt for most of my life, it has been very reassuring to see everyone get as excited as I have been about my research and encourage me along the way. As I continue with my research and my academic career, I will better remember that my work and my research ideas are likely intriguing to others as well, and there will most likely be others who are interested to see me succeed. 

FUN FACT: While I have many hobbies, I would say that music is definitely my main passion outside of psychology. I currently play five instruments (guitar, bass, piano, alto saxophone, and violin), and am hoping to learn even more!

Project Title“Maximal aerobic power and running economy of Young and Older Trained, Female Runners” (faculty mentor: Ryan Perkins)

Elsa TopeteNAME: Elsa Topete

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Exercise Physiology

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I thought the Adelante Research Program would be a great opportunity to work alongside other students that have similar backgrounds as myself.

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? I gained many research skills with the help of my advisor, Dr. Perkins. I also got to learn about so many different, interesting, and important areas of research from our student researchers.

FUN FACT: I love animals. 

Project Title“In vitro and in vivo characterization of scoliosis bone” (faculty mentor: Kristen Gorman)

Jackelin VillalobosNAME: Jackelin Villalobos

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Biological Sciences

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? During the academic year, I am a peer-plus mentor for the Adelante program. I have been able to truly recognize Adelante's purpose: to help underrepresented minorities in achieving their dreams. Being a first-gen student who is now in her second year of graduate school, I wanted to be part of a program that allowed me the freedom of conducting my research without having to shift my focus elsewhere during the summer. It can be difficult to do research while working, and Adelante has been a huge help in lessening that burden. Additionally, any way that I can become more involved with the Adelante family is great! Adelante has such a great group of people like me, and I love sharing my work with my community as well as listening to their achievements!

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? Apart from gaining a whole new family with the summer researchers, I was able to dive into research in a different way than during the school year when I'm juggling 10 things at once. I also have to give my advisor, Dr. Gorman, a shoutout. Although I have worked with her for years now, her mentoring means the world to me especially during times where my research has hit a halt. She is patient with me and has tackled obstacles by my side while still providing me with a sense of independence which I truly appreciate! 

FUN FACT: I geek out on Marvel A LOT! I also love playing around with makeup so I've done some pretty out there looks to commemorate my favorite Marvel heroes (and villains). 

Title of Project“Instructors’ Antiracist Pedagogy: Experiences in Facilitating Race/Racism in the Classroom” (faculty mentor: Judy Vang)

Nhoua XiongNAME: Nhoua Xiong

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: Master in Social Work 

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I want to familiarize myself with the IRB (Institutional Review Board) process (required for working with human subjects) and explore research topics I’m passionate about, all the while improving my writing skills. Also, it presented an excellent opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor who I admired.

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? This is cliché but rings true for me: research is a long and vigorous process - it is essential to research a topic you care about. That way when things get tough, it’s your passion and tenacity that will get you through writer’s block and challenges.

FUN FACT: I’ve been to 32 states. The plan is to visit all 50 states and territories. 

Project TitlePerseverance to a Point: Does Grit: Interfere with Help-Seeking in First-Generation College Students” (faculty mentor: Patrick Johnson)

Sara ZunigaName: Sara Zuniga 

MAJOR/AREA OF STUDY: B.S in Cellular and Molecular Biology/ B.A. in Psychology

WHY DID YOU APPLY TO THE ADELANTE RESEARCH PROGRAM? I applied to the Adelante Research Program because I saw it as an opportunity to grow in research. My knowledge wasn't as extensive as I would have liked it to be. My research project focuses on 1st generation college students, and we look at how grit plays a role in their navigation of higher education. First-generation college students may be likely to approach challenging academic tasks differently than their continuing-generation college student peers. I applied to the Adelante Research Program as well to participate in important research that will help college students and faculty in the future have a better understanding of each other. My hope is that Chico State will be better able to tailor programs on campus such as FYE, EOP, and TRIO SSS to encourage students to be “gritty” but also seek help when needed.

WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THIS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY? I almost feel like I’m the living embodiment of this research project. I wanted to make sense of the intersectionality as a low-income Latinx student. Thanks to this research opportunity, I gained friendships and memories with fellow researchers. I was able to have an opportunity to do research from a psychology perspective, vs. my previous science internship, and gain a deeper understanding of my own research topic as well as to build my confidence in my ability to perform research at a high level. Lastly, as a first-generation college student myself, I wish to encourage every first-generation college student and their continuing generation college students to be “grittier” and seek help when needed - it’s nothing to be frowned upon!

FUN FACT:  I have been doing mixed martial arts since I was 5 years old. I have a 1st Dan (degree blackbelt) - the highest you can go is 9! I have had a traveling YouTube vlogging channel since I was 15 years old called “Sara Zuniga”, and I also have a small business.