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Student Spotlight


Click here to view past recipients for all award programs below.


Merkin Graduate Fellows Program

Established with the support of Dr. Richard Merkin, the Merkin Graduate Fellows Program provides UC San Diego graduate students with an opportunity to conduct research in fields related to translational medicine abroad. Merkin Graduate Fellows will work with researchers and clinicians across the world, aiming to advance medical research and clinical applications, while also developing their own careers. Merkin Graduate Fellows will have an opportunity to design their own education abroad experience, with the length of 3-6 months at an international location. Awardees must present at the annual Merkin Graduate Fellows Summit, in addition to documenting their research and experience.

Congratulations to the WInter 2023 Merkin Graduate Fellows Program Recipient!


Kristine Teppang

(Yang Research Group)


Bruno Zimm Prize

The Bruno Zimm Graduate Prize is named for UC San Diego Professor of Chemistry Bruno Zimm, a pioneer in the study of the biophysical properties of nucleic acids and proteins. The prize is given to a full-time Ph.D. student whose research is in the area of chemistry and biochemistry, and whose research is exceptionally meritorious and particularly deserving of recognition. The prize is made possible through a gift from Larry S. Millstein, Ph.D. (Chemistry, '87), and his wife Robin Taylor.

Congratulations to the 2021-22 Bruno Zimm Prize Recipient!

Ruben Elias

(Deshmukh Lab)

Teddy Traylor Awards

This merit-based award is to recognize research excellence and was set up by Dr. Traylor's colleagues and friends to honor his memory. The $3000 award is used to assist bright, young investigators to pursue their studies and to travel to scholarly meetings. 

Congratulations to the 2020-21 Teddy Traylor Award Recipients!

Kyle Angle

(Grassian Lab)


Krista Balto

(Figueroa Lab)

Stella Seo

(Cohen Lab)

Taylor Steele

(Moore Lab)




NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Congratulations to our graduate students, recipients of the 2022 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship!


Leila Chihab
(Peters Lab)
Maribel Clerk
(N. Romero Lab)
Vanessa Eng
(Tezcan Lab)
Renee Niles
(Figueroa Lab)
Etienne Palos
(Paesani Lab)
Jane Sedlak
(Grassian Lab)


Congrats to the following students for being selected as honorable mentions for the NSF-GRFP: Gillian Gadbois (Ferguson Lab), Emily Latiff (N. Romero Lab), Daniel Milshteyn (Budin Lab), Erin Neal (Grassian Lab), Xandra Nuqui (Amaro Lab), Andrew Tao (Ferguson Lab), and Jacob Vance (Devaraj Lab)!

Distinguished Graduate Student Fellowship

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry established the Distinguished Graduate Student Fellowship to recognize research excellence. This prestigious fellowship provides one quarter of fellowship support (stipends and fees), as well as an additional $3,000 bonus for the Fellow to use towards research support.

Congratulations to the 2022-23 recipients!

Krista Balto
(Figueroa Lab)
Nesreen Elathram
(Debelouchina Lab)
  Kenneth Han
(Tezcan Lab)
Ziran Jiang
(Burkart Lab)
Deborah Kim
(Grassian Lab)
Sean Reardon
(Mishanina Lab)
Kai Schwennicke
Andrew Tao
(Ferguson Lab)

Lattimer Award

The Lattimer Award is given to an outstanding graduate student who seeks interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving and has a strong commitment to education. Recipients not only demonstrate promise as a stellar scientist or mathematician, but also impact others through mentorship, service, and educational outreach. 

Congratulations to the 2021-22 Recipients of the Lattimer Award!

Kyle Angle

(Grassian Lab)

Teaching Excellence Awards

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the Teaching Assistant Excellence Awards. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry bestows these awards quarterly in recognition of superior performance by teaching assistants.

Congratulations to the Winter 2022 recipients of the TA Excellence Award!

  Alexa Perez  

Alexa Perez

Chem 7L Leigh


Zulfiqar Mohamedshah

Zulfiqar Mohamedshah

Chem 114A Muller

(Devaraj & Komor Lab) 

Richa Rashmi 

Richa Rashmi

Chem 126B Paesani

(Paesani Lab) 

Valentina Engel

Valentina Engel

Chem 172 Thiemens

(Thiemens Lab) 

Ethan Bull-Vulpe 

Ethan Bull-Vulpe

Chem 6BH Paesani

(Paesani Lab) 




Click here to view previous TA Excellence recipients


Chancellor's Dissertation Medal

Recipients of this prestigious award are chosen based upon the quality of academic research as determined by the impact of the research to the field and/or department; the insight, originality, and creativity shown by the author; the effectiveness of the writing, clarity, and organization of the thesis; and the soundness of the methodology and quality of the data (when applicable).

Congratulations to the 2021 Chancellor's Dissertation Medal Recipient!

Jesse Peltier

(Bertrand Lab)

Friends of the International Center Fellowship

Founded in 1961, the Friends of the International Center (Friends) Fellowship supports international education at UCSD in numerous ways, one of which is raising money for and awarding student scholarships. The fellowship awards a stipend of $2,000 to a selected number of oustanding graduate students. 

Congratulations to the 2021 recipients!

Lisa Liang

(Corbett, Devaraj and Yeo Labs)

Stella Seo

(Cohen Lab)

Anand Ojha

(Amaro Lab)

J. Yang Scholarship Program

We proudly announce that Chinghwa Ho (Paesani group) has been selected as the recipient of the 2020-21 J. Yang Scholarship Award!

Congratulations, Chinghwa!


American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship

We proudly announce that Connie Torres-Paris (Komives group) has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 American Heart Association (AHA) Predoctoral Fellowship!

Congratulations, Connie!


 Connie Torres-Paris

(Komives Lab)

Ford Predoctoral Fellowship

We proudly announce that the Ford Foundation and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have selected Carlos Vasquez (Komor group) as the recipient of the 2020 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship!

Congratulations, Carlos!


 Carlos Vasquez

(Komor Lab)


Bouchet Graduate Honor Society Chapter

The Bouchet Graduate Honor Society Chapter here at UCSD recognizes students who demonstrate academic and personal excellence, passion to foster an environment of support and to serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented. All in honor of Dr. Alexander Bouchet who embodied such qualities and was the first African American doctoral recipient in the United States.

Congratulations on being selected to be a member of the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society Chapter (2020)!

              Jesse Peltier
             (Bertrand Lab)