Renee Estephan's Research Profile

Renee Estephan

Undergraduate Class: Class of 2016

Major/Minor: Biology with a Minor in Physiology

Mentor: Dr. Sepehr Eskandari, Dr. Edward Bobich, Dr. Peter Arensburger, and Dr. Jill Adler-Moore

Sally Casanova Pre-doctoral Scholar, McNair's Scholars Program, Achieve Scholars Program (ASP), & CSU I-Corps Awardee

BroncoScholar Profile Link

“It is never too early to begin and it is also never too late to start.” – Renee Estephan

It was through the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement, or RISE, Program where Renee Estephan began her research career. She contacted Dr. Jill Adler-Moore from the biology department to join the program. Initially, she was unable to join due to lack of funding. Much to her surprise, an unexpected opportunity enabled her to join mere weeks later. She has since engaged in projects under Dr. Sepehr Eskandari, Dr. Edward Bobich, and Dr. Peter Arensburger in various specializations including molecular neuroscience, water conservation, and genetics.

Renee tackled her first research project with Dr. Eskandari. The study was intended to correct the stoichiometry of the GABA transporter, the main inhibitory neuro-transporter in the brain. During this time, she also participated in the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps challenge where she collaborated with students from several disciplines. Together, they developed a product called Polypotable, a device that offered a solution to droughts. Renee decided to conduct research within the same topic area thereafter. She pursued research on water conservation incentive devices in the San Gabriel Valley area with Dr. Bobich’s support. Following this project, she contributed to research that observed transposable elements in the common house spider genome with Dr. Arensburger. Renee was a recipient of the CSU I-Corps Microgrant Award as well as the Sally Casavanova Pre-Doctoral and she was involved with the Achieve Scholars and McNair’s Scholars program.

Renee’s diverse experience with various research projects allow for unique insight. From her perspective, “it is never too late to begin and it is never too late to start.” She expressed that even seniors in their final quarter can produce research of value especially since the length of a project does not dictate the quality of it. A research project completed in a short time frame can create a lasting impact. Renee also indicated that while it is normal for students to feel overwhelmed, they must persevere and not be discouraged. As a final piece of advice for those who are new to research, she emphasizes that it is important to “take time to feel out the lab environment and what conditions you thrive in.” Renee believes this is best achieved when students pursue their passions.

Renee faced many challenges in the course of her research career. According to her experiences, she had many failed experiments and instances of discouragement. However, she proclaimed that “what kept me coming back was my pursuit of knowledge.” Her curiosity to find answers motivated her to learn quickly and to think on her feet. She felt that these skills were essential for her to complete her research. Renee believes that she developed interpersonal connections with the scientific community and through this she has gained “invaluable mentorship.” She values the advice her mentors have shared in regards to her career, academics, and life in general. Post-graduation, Renee will pursue her PhD in biomedical science with an emphasis in cancer biology at the Irell & Manella Graduate School at City of Hope. She is grateful for the opportunities Cal Poly Pomona has provided her and she believes the learn-by-doing motto has helped her “become a more confident and well-informed researcher.”

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Interview compiled by Marion Barleta.