Office of Undergraduate Research
Research through Inclusive Opportunities

RIO

About RIO

RIO focuses on engaging underrepresented early career undergraduate students in faculty-mentored research experiences, with the guidance and support of staff and peer mentors. Visit the RIO website to learn more.

Jessica Coronel

The Research through Inclusive Opportunities (RIO) program is an amazing and empowering opportunity that opens doors for first-generation college students to learn about and conduct research in a topic that relates to their major.

The name of my project is "Cyclic Dipeptide Synthesis: Laboratory Design." My research focuses on finding and reading literature papers from SciFinder on the synthesis of cyclic dipeptides, followed by an analysis on cost, safety, and ease of experiment in an attempt to arrive at a shortlist where we can conduct a possible experiment. Cyclic dipeptides form through the peptide bonding of two amino acids to form a linear dipeptide, followed by the deprotection of the protecting group on the linear dipeptide to cyclize and form the cyclic dipeptide ring, also known as adiketopiperazine. Our main goal is to use our research to add this experiment to a future Organic Chemistry lab module so that students understand the mechanism in cyclizing dipeptides.

Conducting research with Dr. Thomas Osberger, from the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, has been amazing because of all the help and support I have been receiving from him this past year. At first, it was difficult doing research because I had little understanding of the mechanisms taking place in the literature papers; however, Dr. O helped me understand the readings and answered every question I had about the literature papers. He was also very supportive of my daughter being a part of every Zoom meeting. My partner in the project, Kimchou Lao, also helped me very much in answering last-minute questions about the mechanisms taking place or questions relating to the organic chemistry classes I am currently taking. Interacting with my peer mentor, Sarah Hasel, made my experience in research very relieving because of the advice and encouragement she gave during our meetings. It was very relieving knowing that she is also a student at Cal Poly taking a similar path I am taking towards a career goal in the medical field. Ever Barraza and Lauren Bernal also guided me throughout the RIO Program by sending reminders as well as explanations on the requirements that needed to be fulfilled for the program. Even more than that, they listened and gave constructive feedback on how to improve our presentation for the RSCA. Overall, my interactions with program peers, faculty, and staff provided beneficial guidance throughout my research experience.

As a Latina first-generation student, conducting research was an empowering opportunity to further reach my goal of graduating with a bachelor's in science and continuing to higher education. This program positively impacted me in the way it guided me through the research experience without feeling lost in the requirements I needed to fulfill. I felt confident in all of the steps I was taking throughout my research as well as how I could apply the literature research I conducted. I learned how to read and understand literature papers about chemical reactions, which helped in my understanding of chemistry. My engagement in student life increased since I made new friends and engaged with supportive faculty and staff in the program. My sense of belonging with the campus increased because I feel like I belong in higher education even though I am a first-generation college student and a student-parent. I feel as if I am able to succeed because of the help that offered to students in a situation like mine. The RIO program has positively impacted me in giving me the research experience, support, and mentorship I need to succeed in my educational journey.

Doing research during a pandemic was very interesting because my first-time taking part in research was all online. Doing research online gave me the liberty and time to research my literature papers at my own time and schedule. In addition to conducting research, I work as a tutor for the Upward Bound program teaching chemistry. Caring for my child on top of my other responsibilities has been a journey that inspired me to start the Parenting Broncos Club in order to unite the community of student parents and offer additional support and resources. My roles in online research, online school, and online work have given me the ability to multitask while I care for my child. Although sometimes everything feels overwhelming, I feel as if I received enough help to understand the literature papers and received enough guidance to fulfill the requirements necessary to satisfy my position as a RIO research student.

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C. Nia Horn

My research focused on judicial globalization and actors inside the judicial system such as amicus briefs, party briefs, and court opinions and how they, ultimately, influence a judge’s decision. 

During my research through RIO, I was able to connect virtually with both my faculty mentor as well as the other students involved in this particular research. Overall, it was a rewarding experience in spite of COVID, due to still being able to network as well as expanding my understanding on how to conduct research. 

Overall, I was greatly impacted through my experience in the RIO Program. I was able to strengthen my research skills, time management skills, as well as my organizational skills. Moreover, this being my first experience in research, I appreciated my faculty mentor laying out the concepts we covered in a digestible manner. Through my experience I will more than likely continue to look for new research opportunities.  

During COVID, and through the RIO Program, conducting research has been challenging at times. However, I appreciated the workload as well as the communication between my faculty mentor and with the rest of my peers. I believe the consistency in communication, although virtual, allowed us to strengthen the methods in which we conducted our research during the pandemic. 

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Agatha Brenda Yaghoobi

The Research through Inclusive Opportunities (RIO) Program is a guided research program in which students collaboratively work with faculty mentors to conduct various research projects. This Program builds unique faculty relationships, hosts various career workshops, as well as provides students with networking skills via cultural workshops and interactions with our peers.

My project is about comparing previous literature discussing Air Gap Membrane Distillation and Solar Desalination to formulate a complete understanding of the processes and construct a module that integrates our hypotheses to allow operation at the highest potential. The primary focus now is on the applications of different thermal storage units and techniques for desalination processes suitable to use in remote areas. We hope to continue this project on campus in the near future with the module we will be constructing to have a successful water filtration system that purifies waste waters into drinking water at a low energy cost.

Despite this year's challenges and the added obstacles of being a transfer student, I feel like a regular student at Cal Poly Pomona. This feeling and reality is all thanks to the RIO Program, and I could not be more grateful. The program gave me a space to be able to put my ideas, aspirations, and drive into a project that I am genuinely passionate about. I have built professional faculty relationships outside of the traditional classroom setting and found my research faculty member to be someone from whom I can truly learn. Moreover, I have built relationships with my team members that I never thought would be possible for me. With my research partner being a transfer student like me-and even though we are working remotely on the project-I know I have found a friend and teammate that I can absolutely rely on.

My goal has always included pursuing research, but I thought those opportunities might be challenging to obtain as a transfer student. Moreover, being a transfer student comes with a whole host of unique challenges, especially when it comes to fitting into a school and finding one's place, two years or more later than everybody else. For the students starting at Cal Poly Pomona as a freshman, by their second year, relationships with faculty members have already been formed, students have found their favorite hangout spots, and the unfamiliarity with the school is almost all but gone. However, those were still challenges for myself and many other transfer students who recently joined the Cal Poly Pomona Community. With the ongoing pandemic moving our education primarily online, I thought nothing would really be possible for me to do besides taking my online engineering courses. The excitement I once had for my college experience and was still holding onto also started to fade. When I found out about the RIO program through a workshop, all those worries slowly started to disappear and the excitement I once had about starting at Cal Poly Pomona truly came rushing back. After being welcomed with open arms by the RIO staff and faculty, I didn't feel so alone anymore and became aware of the opportunities our school had to offer, and most importantly, I discovered how I fit into that puzzle. Everyone involved in and working for the program is extremely approachable and always open to talk, give advice, or lean on, which is especially important during these unprecedented times. The program as a whole alongside my research opportunities gave me the tools to pursue my own path and a sense of purpose at CPP. I don't feel like I am just passively taking classes to major in engineering to get the degree to my name, but I rather feel like I actively contribute to the knowledge and culture of the campus. Even remotely, I feel as if I have found a little piece of me at Cal Poly Pomona and now embrace being a transfer student.

My experience conducting research has been unique compared to previous years, since we cannot conduct physical experiments on campus and collect data for our project. However, these circumstances were also a blessing in disguise. I have read over sixty research papers on our research topic and have rapidly familiarized myself with it. This project is my first independent research experience and being given the opportunity to dive deep into previous work and discoveries prior to designing my own physical experiments has been immensely helpful. Lab meetings now primarily involve reviewing work that has been previously published, which aids in my understanding of methods and design to answer a specific research question. Along with those discussions come new ideas and suggestions to include in my research project and future experiments to most elegantly answer our research questions. I am looking forward to being able to collect my own data soon, but in the meantime, I am enjoying learning with and from my peers in the lab and research faculty member remotely.

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2020 - 2021 RIO Scholars

2020 - 2021 RIO Scholars

Jorge Aranda

Computer Science

Devon Boyd

Aerospace Engineering

Dannielle Cabrera

Psychology

Teresa Campos

Chemistry

Jose Campos

Chemistry

Natali Carmona Guzman

Communications - Emphasis on Public Relations

Marlene Colin

Psychology

Jessica Coronel

Biochemistry

Barbara Flores

Biotechnology

C. Nia Horn

Political Science

Zia Hussain

Urban Planning/Design

Daeyoung Hwang

Computer Science

Bella Jimenez

Communication Studies - Organizational Communication

Dailin Johnson

Psychology

Ana Jurado

Mechanical Engineering

Karolina Juscamaita

Political Science

Binnie Karki

Biology

Kimchou Lao

Biotechnology

Brandon Lentz

History

Breanna Li

Political Science

Daniela Lopez

Computer Information Systems

Francis Manuel Manansala

Civil Engineering, General Option

Amanda Martinez

Nutrition Opt Dietetics

William McKinney

Mechanical Engineering

Angel Medrano

Political Science

J'Noie Parker

Philosophy - Law & Society Opt.

Nency Patel

Dietetics

Thelma Perez

Early Childhood Studies

Daisy Rafael

Biology

Ethereal Reyes

Communication, Multimedia Emphasis

Aliann Safavi

English - Literary Studies

Alex Salas

Mechanical Engineering

Juan Salcedo

Anthropology

Tristan Scharfenstein-Montgomery

Computer Engineering

Diana Solis

Gender, Ethnicity, Multicultural Studies

Joy Sun

Finance, Real Estate, Law

Thomas John Tabayi

Civil Engineering

Danica Tacadena

Biology

Jesus Vargas

Apparel Production & Management

Eva Viveros

Finance

Jazlyn Wilson

Psychology

Agatha Brenda Yaghoobi

Mechanical Engineering

Kimberly Yanez

Anthropology

Iris Yang

Nutrition - Dietetics Opt.

Denise Zavala

Psychology

Amy Zhong

Computer Science