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Three Cal State L.A. students named as Amgen Scholars

August 24, 2015

Students chosen to conduct summer research at Harvard, Stanford and UCLA

Cal State L.A. science students Emily Aguirre, Hugo Avila, and Angela Madira were selected to conduct research at three prestigious universities under the Amgen Scholars Program.

The 10-week program allowed Madira, Avila and Aguirre to participate in cutting-edge research at Harvard University, Stanford University and UCLA, respectively, under the Amgen Foundation program.

The three are among 340 students selected into the program from a pool of nearly 5,000 applicants. The program partners with 17 leading educational institutions from the United States, Europe and Japan to host scholars in research labs.

A biochemistry major, Madira has been conducting research at the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. 

“It is a tremendous honor to be a part of this program,” said Madira, an Alhambra resident. “Not only am I able to conduct research in one of the nation’s leading universities, but the Amgen Program has also given me an infinite number of tools to advance my career. This summer has been one of the best experiences of my life and one that I will remember forever.”

Madira is enrolled at Cal State L.A. through the Early Entrance Program housed in the University's Honors College. The program admits gifted youth as young as 11 years old, providing them with a supportive enviornment that ensures academic success.

Avila is a biochemistry major and has been conducting research at Stanford’s Department of Chemical and Systems Biology.

“Being selected for the Amgen Scholars program at Stanford has been an honor—to be in an environment with a rich tradition for excellence amongst some of the brightest minds in science has elevated my sights for greater aspirations,” said Avila, who lives in Bell Gardens. “It was my hope that by branching out from conducting research in an organic synthesis lab to conducting research in a protein chemistry-biology lab, I would leave my comfort zone and explore a different avenue of science that would help me grow as a person and researcher.”

Avila is a member of Cal State L.A.’s Minority Opportunities in Research Programs, which prepare science students to succeed in graduate programs leading to a Ph.D.

A microbiology major, Aguirre is working in the Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics Department at UCLA.

“The Amgen Scholars Program has provided me with valuable tools, insight and research experience that will enable me to grow as a student and researcher," said Aguirre, who lives in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood and is also a member of the MORE Programs. “Most importantly, though, this scholarship exposed me to various professionals in the sciences, allowing the opportunity to network and build meaningful connections.”

Since 2006, the Amgen Scholars Program has provided hands-on research opportunities to nearly 2,500 undergraduate students who study under renowned faculty mentors. More than 90 percent of the program’s alumni who have completed their bachelor’s degree are currently pursuing an advanced degree or career in a scientific field.

“We’re excited to welcome Emily, Hugo, Angela and all of the 2015 class of Amgen Scholars,” said Eduardo Cetlin, Amgen Foundation president. “These talented students have the potential to go on to create life-saving medicines and solve other global challenges—which is why we’re committed to providing this type of pivotal opportunity that can kick-start their careers as scientists.”Angela Madira

In addition to their individual research experience, Aguirre, Avila and Madira joined other U.S.-based Amgen Scholars at a regional summer symposium hosted at UCLA and Amgen.

This networking opportunity offered the Cal State L.A. students a chance to meet fellow scholars studying at other institutions, share research projects, learn about biotechnology and hear from leading industry and academic scientists.

For more information about the program, visit the Amgen Scholars website.  

Photo: Above, Hugo Avila in a research lab at Stanford University. Right, Angela Madira in a research lab at Harvard University. (Photos courtesy of Avila and Madira)

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