Next week, UC San Diego will honor the journeys of more than 8,000 graduating students. Each of their stories begins differentlyfrom an international childhood spanning over a dozen countries to discovering a love of learning within an isolated jail cellbut their paths all converged at UC San Diego. Their resilience and accomplishments will be recognized during a series of 10 in-person Commencement ceremonies held June 12-13. Across majors and schools, graduates demonstrate a commitment to their community and a genuine desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Here, the first of a two-part series about the Class of 2021.
Physics doctoral recipient
At 19 years old, Sean Bearden found himself facing an eight-year jail sentence for a violent felony. While isolated in prison, he was drawn to reading for the first time in his life despite a history of indifference to education. When his mother discoveredBeardens change of heart towards education, she began to research distance learning programs and learned ofan associates degree program available through Ohio University. At the time immersed in quantum mechanics, Bearden jumped at the chance to enroll in remote math, science and physics courses.
After being released in mid-2011 and transitioning to work at a collection agency, Bearden aligned on the path he set for himself to achieve a doctoral degree in physics. Though initially somewhat insecure about starting an undergraduate degree at 26 years old, he realized he had cultivated study habits and discipline in prison that his younger peers had not. After completing a bachelors degree, he won a National Science Foundation fellowship and was accepted to UC San Diego as a Sloan Scholar.
The pursuit of a doctorate felt like my only opportunity to overshadow my past, explained Bearden. I was a nontraditional student who made it into one of the top doctoral programs in the country; I could not let the opportunity slip away. I knew a doctorate would change my life.
At UC San Diego, Bearden designed and employed novel, nonlinear dynamical systems, known as digital memcomputing machines, and received the UC Presidents Dissertation Year Fellowship for his research. Since finishing his degree, he is working in data science and quantitative finance and plans to stay active with the UC San Diego community, participating in Grad Talks and mentoring students.
Eleanor Roosevelt College, Global Health
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, UC San Diegos Basic Needs Hub became an even more critical resource to the student population. But the team had to be innovative in serving students safely. As a Basic Needs Assistant, Cieara Simmons was among the first contacts for students reaching out for food, housing and financial support. She explained that her best memories during her time at UC San Diego happened during the two years she served in the role.
Growing up in a low-income household sprouted my awareness of assistance programs and their purpose, explained Simmons. Benefiting from the center as a sophomore encouraged me to apply, so I could also help others and increase awareness about basic needs. Being able to converse with students at the center and learn more about them as individuals continuously motivates me to keep doing the work.
According to Simmons, one of the most effective pandemic pivots at the Hub is the option to order and pick up personal care items. She helped book over 1,000 appointments in the past year for students who could no longer access hygiene essentials. The program offers a wide variety of free products each week, from toothpaste and shampoo to sunscreen and small first aid kits. Hearing students thanks and appreciation for the work we do makes it so worth it! said Simmons.
After graduation, Simmons plans to return to the Bay Area and serve as a resident payee at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which works to prevent tenant displacement, expand San Franciscos low-cost housing and provide legal assistance to low-income tenants. After the gap year, her goal is to earn a masters degree in social work and continue to make a difference.
Muir College, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience
Natalia Rossana Menndez has mastered the skill of adapting. She received a global education growing up after living in eight countries and attending 13 schools. As a Mexican international student, Menndez explains that while she was exposed to numerous cultures and people at a very young age, it was difficult leaving friends behind. Amid constant change, she found stability in her family, who prepared her to accept challenges as they come and expect mistakes but keep moving forward with an open heart.
My parents taught me the importance of perspective, she said. Instead of hitting a wall, I was getting over a speedbump. Obstacles in life arent meant to stop you or prevent you from reaching your path;sometimes you just need to slow down to see the bigger picture. I think this gave me a very unique and interesting point of view about life.
A cognitive and behavioral neuroscience major, Menndez is passionate about helping those with neurodegenerative diseases. As part of her honors thesis, she is working with Professor David Kirsh to design environments that positively impact neuropsychological states for patients with Alzheimers disease and dementia. By intentionally adjusting color, temperature, brightness and noise, the goal is to improve cognition and comfort levels.
Menndez has also dedicated her time as a volunteer research assistant at the Veterans Medical Research Foundation at the VA Medical Center. By working with patients who have Alzheimers disease, she has a better understanding of how vast the opportunities are in her chosen field and how much she enjoys working closely with cognitively impaired patients. After graduation she plans to continue her volunteer work and apply for a neuroscience Ph.D. program.
Mechanical Engineering, Warren College
Efran Martinez, pictured in the race car, with members of Triton Racing team after finishing 13th at Formula SAE national competition at Lincoln, Nebraska in 2019.
Each year, a team of UC San Diego engineering students designs, fabricates, and tests an open-wheel race car for the national Formula Society of Automotive Engineers competition. The prospect of gaining real-world experience and working alongside a team of peers sounded exciting to Efran Martinez when he began his sophomore year. After joining the team and exploring different roles, he became chassis lead and oversaw the design, manufacturing and integration of components such as brakes, safety and frame. Martinez became president during his senior year and oversaw the entire project, with special focus on increasing opportunities for new members.
After hearing about Triton Racing and seeing a student-designed performance racecar, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of, said Martinez, a mechanical engineering major at Warren College. While I had essentially no hands-on engineering experience and very little knowledge about cars at the time, I was very eager to learn and contribute to the project.
In addition to his leadership role in Triton Racing, Martinez served as Associated Students Engineering Senator. As a representative, he increased awareness about engineering student projects and secured external funding resources and sponsorships so that students did not have to contribute their own funds for activities such as traveling to competitions. The goal was to ensure teams had equal access to all hands-on learning experiences, no matter their financial circumstances.
Following graduation, Martinez will begin a rotational program with Rivian, an adventurous electric vehicle company, where he hopes to contribute to vehicle structures and help drive the transition towards sustainable transportation.
- The strange link between the human mind and quantum physics - July 25th, 2021
- What is quantum theory? - Definition from WhatIs.com - July 25th, 2021
- History of quantum mechanics - Wikipedia - July 25th, 2021
- Can consciousness be explained by quantum physics? My research takes us a step closer to finding out - The Conversation UK - July 25th, 2021
- Physicists Show That a Quantum Particle Made of Light and Matter Can Be Dragged by a Current of Electrons - Columbia University - July 25th, 2021
- How Bell's Theorem Proved 'Spooky Action at a Distance' Is Real - Quanta Magazine - July 25th, 2021
- Christian Ferko's PhD Thesis Defense | Department of Physics | The University of Chicago - UChicago News - July 25th, 2021
- 4 bizarre Stephen Hawking theories that turned out to be right (and 6 we're not sure about) - Livescience.com - July 25th, 2021
- Inside the simple computer program that could explain why the Universe exists at all - BBC Science Focus Magazine - July 25th, 2021
- Can we build a computer with free will? - The Next Web - July 25th, 2021
- Who Killed the Nazi on Campus? - Rolling Stone - July 25th, 2021
- Think Einstein hated quantum physics? Go back to school, fool! - The Next Web - July 12th, 2021
- Do We Live in a Multiverse? - ScienceAlert - July 12th, 2021
- "Little Einstein," an 11-year-old who just graduated university, now seeks to achieve immortality - The A.V. Club - July 12th, 2021
- For The First Time, Scientists Have Connected a Superconductor to a Semiconductor - ScienceAlert - July 12th, 2021
- Twinkle Khanna: You don't have to be a nerd to love speculative fiction - The Tribune India - July 12th, 2021
- Lost in Reality: A Broad Perspective - Commentary Box Sports - July 12th, 2021
- Quantum Key Distribution: Is it as secure as claimed and what can it offer the enterprise? - The Register - July 7th, 2021
- A Quantum Critique of the Western Worldview - Fair Observer - July 7th, 2021
- French researchers on the verge of quantum computing milestone - RFI English - July 7th, 2021
- Quantum computing to reduce operational costs for oil and gas companies - Oil Review Africa - June 28th, 2021
- Is reality a game of quantum mirrors? A new theory suggests it might be - The Conversation AU - June 28th, 2021
- Quantum Theory: A Scientific Revolution that Changed Physics Forever - Interesting Engineering - June 28th, 2021
- NIST's Quantum Security Protocols Near the Finish Line The U.S. standards and technology authority is searching - IoT World Today - June 28th, 2021
- Science Should Not Try to Absorb Religion and Other Ways of Knowing - Scientific American - June 28th, 2021
- Lars Jaeger: Quantum Computers Have Reached the Mainstream - finews.asia - June 28th, 2021
- THE OPEN DOOR: Living in a web of connections - newportri.com - June 27th, 2021
- Carlo Rovelli: My work in physics is endlessly creative - The Guardian - June 27th, 2021
- Exotic Superconductors: The Secret That Was Never There - SciTechDaily - June 27th, 2021
- Emmy Noether | Mathematician who proved Noether's theorem - New Scientist - June 27th, 2021
- TNIAAM recommends: Which books are you reading right now? - Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician - June 27th, 2021
- Exploring the universe: Texas Tech astrophysicist receives share of grant for gravitational wave research - LubbockOnline.com - June 27th, 2021
- Lars Jaeger: Quantum Computers Have Reached the Mainstream - finews.com - June 27th, 2021
- From Corporate Leader to Change-Maker, Motivational Speaker Offers Hope, Possibility, and the Power to Change on Amazon Prime - PRNewswire - June 27th, 2021
- Measure of time - The Times of India Blog - June 27th, 2021
- UT-Arlington researchers aim to help teachers bring quantum physics into the classroom - The Dallas Morning News - June 23rd, 2021
- New Solvers Further Enhance the Azure Quantum Optimization Offering - HPCwire - June 23rd, 2021
- Tech collaboration enables oil and gas companies to venture into quantum computing to reduce operational costs - World Pipelines - June 23rd, 2021
- Approaching Zero: Super-Chilled Mirrors Edge Towards The Borders Of Gravity And Quantum Physics - Gizmodo Australia - June 23rd, 2021
- Tencent Quantum Lab and the Department of Physics of Tsinghua University Sign MoU to Explore Material Computing - Synced - June 23rd, 2021
- The Einstein-Bohr legacy: can we ever figure out what quantum theory means? - Big Think - June 23rd, 2021
- 2021 Thematic Research into Quantum Computing in Oil and Gas - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Business Wire - June 23rd, 2021
- Stephen Hawking's study of the black hole surface theory confirms this - SwordsToday.ie - June 23rd, 2021
- UMD Invests Over $10M in Research Equipment to Drive Discovery, Innovation - Maryland Today - June 23rd, 2021
- Asrat Demise's PhD Thesis Defense | Department of Physics | The University of Chicago - UChicago News - June 23rd, 2021
- This is the secret to how Israel's leading technology institute manages to drive so much innovation - JTA News - Jewish Telegraphic Agency - June 23rd, 2021
- Link between quantum mechanics and ballet - Times of Malta - June 6th, 2021
- Weird World of Quantum Black Holes May Be Radically Different from What Einstein Predicted and Lack Event H - The Daily Galaxy --Great Discoveries... - June 6th, 2021
- Spacetime Crystals: New Mathematical Formula May Solve Old Problem in Understanding the Fabric of the Universe - SciTechDaily - June 6th, 2021
- Im No Longer a Spectator to the Unfolding of My Life. - ADDitude - June 6th, 2021
- How Quantum Physics Allows Us To See Back Through Space And Time - Forbes - May 14th, 2021
- Is everything predetermined? Why physicists are reviving a taboo idea - New Scientist - May 14th, 2021
- New evidence for electron's dual nature found in a quantum spin liquid . New experiments conducted at - Princeton University - May 14th, 2021
- A wobbling muon could unlock mysteries of the universe - Vox.com - May 14th, 2021
- Quantum science, particle physics and nanoscale motors awarded support from Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Tech Fund - Princeton University - May 14th, 2021
- Quantum Computing In Finance Where We Stand And Where We Could Go - Science 2.0 - May 14th, 2021
- Pathogenic, auto-immune or viral, all diseases are actually epigenetic - The Times of India Blog - May 14th, 2021
- Outlook on the Quantum Technology Global Market to 2026 - - GlobeNewswire - May 14th, 2021
- Researchers confront major hurdle in quantum computing - University of Rochester - May 9th, 2021
- Can a Patent Be Valid and Invalid at the Same Time? - Bloomberg Law - May 9th, 2021
- Breaking the Laws of Physics: Steering Light to Places It Isnt Supposed to Go - SciTechDaily - May 9th, 2021
- Are We on the Brink of a New Age of Scientific Discovery? - SciTechDaily - May 9th, 2021
- Can you really put a price on your college major? - The Boston Globe - May 9th, 2021
- Physicist and jazz pianist combines music and science at Rochester - University of Rochester - May 7th, 2021
- On the marvels of physics | symmetry magazine - Symmetry magazine - May 7th, 2021
- What financial crises and quantum mechanisms have in common - The New Times - May 7th, 2021
- MIT Researcher Says UFO Research Could Lead to New Laws of Physics - Futurism - May 7th, 2021
- Collins Aerospace upgrades US Navy C-130 fleet with long-lasting wheels and carbon brakes - PRNewswire - May 7th, 2021
- Andy Weirs New Space Odyssey - The New York Times - May 3rd, 2021
- The coherence of light is fundamentally tied to the quantum coherence of the emitting particle - Science Advances - May 3rd, 2021
- The battle for free will in the face of determinism - The Guardian - May 3rd, 2021
- Tulane part of Navy/Army-funded research on improving communication - News from Tulane - May 3rd, 2021
- A clocks accuracy may be tied to the entropy it creates - Science News Magazine - May 3rd, 2021
- Wellness Wednesday advice: If going to be sad? Don't! - Campus Times - May 3rd, 2021
- Beyond Books: Creative ways to combat the summer slide - Chillicothe Gazette - May 3rd, 2021
- #PulpNonFiction: Advertisers, be clear about what you want to say and why! - Bizcommunity.com - May 3rd, 2021
- Q&A: Are We on the Brink of a New Age of Scientific Discovery? - University of Virginia - May 3rd, 2021
- In Quantum Physics, Reality Really Is What We Choose To Observe - Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence - April 21st, 2021
- Multiple Realities | Physics - Denison University - April 21st, 2021
- IISER physicist Prof Arvind is Punjabi University VC - The Tribune - April 21st, 2021