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Cohort 2

From top left to bottom right: Bruce Barrios, Zach Malone, Maeve McCormick, Maria Perez Mendoza, and Alexia Cooper (Not pictured: Sam Erickson). Cohort 2 began their CONDESA traineeship during the 2022 summer and fall semesters.

Photo by Teamrat Ghezzehei.



Bruce Barrios  


My name is Bruce Barrios and I earned my BS in Physics from University of California Riverside, and MS in Applied Optics from Delaware State University. I am currently working in Professor Michael Scheibner's Quantum Matter Group. My research interests include: light matter interaction with atom/atom-like structures and solid-state systems. I am currently working with quantum dots, quantum dot molecules and defects in two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides at room and cryogenic temperatures.



Alexia Cooper  

Environmental Systems

My name is Alexia Cooper, and I am a PhD candidate in Environmental Systems Graduate group. I graduated with my Masters in environmental management from Western Colorado University, and earned my B.S. in environmental science from Westminster College in Utah. I currently study nut orchards systems response to integrative soil health practices such as compost and cover crops, with hopes that these practices improve carbon storage and drought resiliency. My research interests include soil carbon sequestration, arbuscular mycorrhizae fungi, and food sovereignty. In addition to my academic pursuits, I am an artist, and spend my free time outdoors mountain biking, climbing, or backpacking.



Sam Erickson  


My name is Sam Erickson, and I am PhD candidate in physics, focusing on photovoltaic and sensing properties of perovskite thin films. I earned a BS in physics from the University of Arkansas before joining Dr. Sayantani Ghosh’s Lab at UC Merced in 2019. In my free time I enjoy reading, traveling, and playing the bass.



Zach Malone  

Environmental Systems

My name is Zach Malone, and I am a PhD candidate in the Ryals lab. I am interested in using organic matter amendments, such as compost, on urban soils to improve soil health and increase carbon storage. With CONDESA, I am interested in using nanoscopic techniques, such as confocal microscopy, to assess how compost application influences urban soil carbon persistence and aggregation. I received my B.S. in Earth System Science from UC Merced where I have also worked as a Wilderness Education Ranger for Yosemite National Park.



Maeve McCormick  

Environmental Systems

My name is Maeve McCormick, and I'm an Environmental Systems PhD student. I'm a soil scientist and GIS enthusiast studying how changing snow melt affects soil water availability and in turn, soil microbial respiration of CO2.



Maria Perez Mendoza  


My name is Maria (she/they) and I graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Physics and Hispanic Studies. As part of the Physics PhD program at UC Merced, I aspire to understand the nature of 80% of unknown matter within the universe using strong gravitational lensing. In addition to my primary work in observational astrophysics, a longstanding interest in sustainability has recently led me to undergo training with CONDESA. I seek novel applications of computational methodologies learned from my astrophysical research to enhance sensitivity and processing effectiveness of newly developing environmental nano-sensors.