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2020-21 CEB Interns

Amanda Duong

Amanda Duong – 3rd Year UCI Student, Major: Human Biology

I have lived in Orange County all my life and absolutely enjoy spending time in nature — whether going hiking with my family in the Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park or kayaking in Upper Newport Bay. These experiences growing up fueled my passion and love for nature, wildlife, and sustainability. Working with CEB is rewarding because I am able to conduct research and conservation projects in the community that I have grown up in. My goal is to learn more about human impacts on the environment and educate students on environmental sciences. I have been working with Crystal Cove Conservancy on education projects to bridge real-world data analysis to learners of all ages. Especially during the pandemic, these education projects allow the community to contribute to restoration projects remotely and safely. The CEB Internship Program has given me an opportunity before medical school to expand my knowledge in wildlife diversity and the complexities of restoration practices. I am grateful for all the experiences, connections, and leadership skills I have gained through this program, and I am looking forward to learning more!

Jeremiah Garcia

Jeremiah Garcia – 4th year UCI Student, Major: Earth System Science

Growing up in San Diego, I spent most of my childhood surfing the many beach breaks along the San Diego coast. This sparked my love for nature and motivated me to preserve it as best as I possibly could. Fast forward to my senior year here at UCI, I was able to join CEB and in the short 10-week quarter that I have been able to work, it has already been an amazing experience. So far, I’ve only been able to do remote work due to COVID-19; however, these projects allow me to see the various paths in a career of conservation. For example, the main project I worked on was the wildlife camera image processing, where I was able to see the fragmented habitats that were created due to urbanization. Seeing how these things affect wildlife has opened my eyes to the dangers that they face everyday. The CEB internship has helped solidify what I want to pursue as a future career. Lastly, I want to thank CEB for providing a safe, and welcoming learning environment during these difficult times.

Min Han

Min Han – 3rd Year UCI Student, Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Ever since I was young, I have always been fascinated by the changes that will happen due to climate change and global warming. Coming into college, I was more exposed to the practical side of ecology through field experiences and internships. My first fieldwork experience started my 2nd year though UCI Nature doing water monitoring in the San Joaquin Marsh. Through that I learned a lot more about aquatic biology, native California ecology and plant biology. During my third year at UCI, I am conducting research with Dr Joleah Lamb in HOPE lab focusing on marine microbiology and interning with CEB studying more about native California ecology. Most of my first quarter with CEB was spent with Project Grow under Matt Yurko helping to restore the riparian ecosystem. With the knowledge I accumulated in my Undergraduate years, I hope to attend graduate school and advance my knowledge to be an important contributor to the knowledge that we have on the Earth’s ecosystem.

Jena Herbst

Jena Herbst – 3rd year UCI Student, Major: Biology; Minor: Global Sustainability

Growing up as a child, I was always outside and helped my grandfather with his garden. Throughout the years, my love for nature and ecology has grown immensely. This interest is what led me to join CEB where I have expanded my knowledge of conservation of ecological sites. While a part of CEB, I have participated in fieldwork of oak tree monitoring and much more with organizations such as UCI Nature and Crystal Cove Conservancy. During the fieldwork of oak tree monitoring, we focused on observations of pathogens and demographics in canyons within the Orange County area. Also, I worked on planting grass seedlings with UCI Nature for the DroughtNet project. The CEB program has helped to guide me in regards to my future career plans in atmospheric science as well as to continue to be involved in research. Thank you to the CEB faculty for continuously providing resources and guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neda Ibrahim

Neda Ibrahim – 3rd year UCI Student, Major: Environmental Science and Policy

As a returning intern, it has been an enlightening experience to participate in CEB before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic I volunteered for both ecological research and education and outreach programs. Although I thoroughly enjoy both experiences, I have developed a particular interest in education and outreach projects and community based projects  Participating as an intern through the pandemic has been challenging because of the shift to smaller in-person projects and virtual assignments such as data entry. The pandemic helped me realize my deep appreciation for the CEB community that I am so thankful to be a part of.

Vanessa Lara

Vanessa Lara – 4th Year UCI Student, Major: Environmental Engineering

I thoroughly enjoyed my first year as a CEB intern and am glad to be able to return for my senior year here at UCI! I am very grateful to CEB and the faculty for the great opportunities I have experienced as an intern. Before joining CEB, I had already had an appreciation for the environment especially with the conservation of the environment. Through the various projects I’ve had the chance to work on, I have further developed skills in terms of collaborating with others, educational outreach, and research. Projects such as restoring the native plant community within the Bowl area in Crystal Cove State Park were very rewarding. I look forward to my future experiences as a CEB intern and utilizing those experiences as I begin my career.

Dieu-Thanh Le

Dieu-Thanh Le – 3rd year UCI Student, Major: Biological Sciences

I’d say it started like this. As a child, I played a video game about ocean exploration and watched nature documentaries. I’d visit the aquarium and go on easy hikes with my family. Now as a biology major, I took several ecology classes. In all, I was a guest—an observer. I sought out this internship not only because I wished to apply what I’ve learned, but also because I wished to actively contribute. I wanted to learn more about our local communities and what people could do to help. My work with CEB has allowed me to do a variety of things from monitoring owl limpets to potting plants. Most of my time has been with Project Grow at Newport Backbay with riparian restoration. I am fond of the idea that over time, the work I do with my peers will make a tangible difference. And I truly love the idea that I get to contribute to important research. I’m still not certain about the path I will walk towards the future, but at the very least, I’d be happy to spend another year as a CEB intern, experiencing the beauty of California and diving more into the research aspect. It’s filled with wonderful people, and I look forward to what we’ll all do together!

Kylie McGuire

Kylie McGuire – 4th year UCI Student, Major: Earth System Science

I’m so glad to be spending a second year as a CEB intern. I came for the environmental research opportunities, and I stayed for the incredible community. Plus, it’s really rewarding to see the development of projects that I worked on last year through time. Normally, I love to be outside and get my hands dirty, but due to the pandemic, I haven’t done as much field work this year. However, I’m incredibly proud that I was able to write and submit a manuscript about coastal sage scrub restoration for publication. That process taught me so much about organizing and analyzing data, understanding the scientific literature, and working collaboratively in digital spaces. I’m also glad to get to work remotely on a variety of projects – from processing wildlife photos to editing educational videos.

Saving the planet and combating climate change is my life’s passion. Moving forward, I hope to find a career that allows me to engage in both scientific research and science communication – since we need both in order to change the world. I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned as a CEB intern to these fields in the future.

Hunter Rojas

Hunter Rojas – 3rd Year UCI Student, Major: Biology/Education 

My interest and passion for the environment drove me to joining the CEB team this year. I am a third year Biology/Education major in the Calteach Program working on both sides of the education/outreach program and ecological research for CEB. My passion for nature began when I was a kid and my family would go on camping trips to Big Bear, Sequoia National Park, and my very own backyard. I became interested in conservation/sustainability after having a few conversations with my AP Biology teacher in highschool. After my intro ecology course at UCI, it reaffirmed my love for Ecology and my interest in sustainability. Due to Covid-19, I have been working remotely with Crystal Cove Conservancy on community education projects as well as doing some wildlife photo monitoring for CEB, though I am hopeful that I will be able to participate in onsite data collection. CEB has expanded my scope of vision for biology. I am thankful to the internship program for their combined knowledge, wisdom, leadership skills, and techniques that they have taught me. I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge and skill set more!

Kathy Vo

Kathy Vo – 4th year UCI Student, Major: Biological Sciences; Minor: Global Sustainability

This is my second year as an intern for the CEB! Growing up in the diverse Bay Area, I have always had a love for nature and the outdoors. It wasn’t until I joined the CEB that I began to view our planet through an ecological lens, and recognized the growing importance of conservation and restoration alongside other sustainability practices. CEB has provided me with a tangible opportunity to go out into the field, participate in various hands-on research projects, and promote community science alongside a team of passionate individuals. As a returning intern, I have even been able to work on data analysis and write my own research thesis on post-fire restoration. All in all, my experiences in this internship program have solidified my desire to work on preservation of human health and the natural environment through science. Whether it be through the environmental industry, ecological research, or education and outreach, my goal is to ensure that the future is sustainable for generations to come. I am beyond grateful to the CEB and the faculty that have helped me develop my skills as a researcher, educator, and leader!

Michael Yoon

Michael Yoon – 4th Year UCI Student, Major: Biological Sciences

I have always had an interest in our environment, and how small changes in the environment could cause great changes in the world we live in. The Center of Environmental Biology internship has given me an opportunity to learn about the different ways that scientists research and observe environmental factors despite the COVID pandemic. During my time as an intern I was able to collaborate with others in data collection and experimental design for projects which restore and observe the environment in the Orange County Area. The most memorable experience I have had is the in-person data collection and data sorting, which gave me a better understanding of the scientific process of conducting experiments through first-hand experience. My experiences and skill sets for research from this internship will be something I take with me throughout my professional career, and I can’t wait to continue working with this amazing team for the duration of this year.