SSU Opens World of Research to SRJC Students


Chemistry Professor Jenn Lillig discusses a research project with Santa Rosa Junior College students Eduardo Castillo (left) and Jorge Sarabria (center) who are part of a Research Academy at SSU this summer made possible by a grant from the Agilent Technologies Foundation. (Photo by Jean Wasp)

Seventeen Santa Rosa Junior College students, who recently attended a Sonoma State University's Summer Research Academy, are now equipped with the fundamental scientific research skills to become successful in their future careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

The SSU Research Academy program concludes from 10-11 a.m. on Thursday, June 7 when the students present their projects on campus during a session in Darwin Hall.

The eight-day intensive research program resulted from the collaborative efforts of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) programs at Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College. The program was made possible by a grant from the Agilent Technologies Foundation.

Sonoma State University professors Dr. Jennifer Whiles Lillig and Dr. Carmen Works designed the program to introduce SRJC MESA students to the nature of scientific research, the components of a successful research project and the impact undergraduate research plays in the professional and academic development of STEM students.

Dr. Lillig noted, " By developing their own research hypothesis, upholding standard research protocol and ethics and working under the guidance of SSU faculty and mentors, these students will be prepared to join and prosper in research laboratories upon transfer to a four-year university."

As a Latino, first-generation pre-med MESA SRJC student, Eduardo Castillo acknowledged his enthusiasm for the program, stating "the field of research has always interested me because it challenges you to find an innovative solution and this is critical to the medical field."

Jose Luis Ledesma, an electrical engineering student at SRJC, is direct when discussing why he applied to SSU's Research Academy. "I am very passionate about becoming an electrical engineer; we need new technologies to help us live in better harmony with our planet" Jose explained during the first day of the program.

Nicole Prendergast, an ecology student interested in environmental toxicology and better understanding the effects of stressors in the environment, readily admitted, "I have had limited exposure to the research environment and welcome the chance of getting more guided experience working in a lab."

Darci Rosales, the coordinator for MESA Program at Santa Rosa Junior College, echoed Nicole sentiment, "Because community colleges are traditionally not research institutions, MESA students at SRJC struggle to supplement their STEM classes with fundamental research experience, an informal prerequisite for STEM transfer students."

Rosales added, "Without the collaboration and cooperation of Sonoma State University's School of Science and Technology, this opportunity would not exist for MESA students enrolled at SRJC."

MESA is an award-winning academic enrichment program that provides educationally disadvantaged students with the tools to earn bachelor's degrees in math-based fields. With tutoring, mentoring, study sessions, transfer counseling and study centers, MESA provides an environment that allows students to succeed and navigate the transfer system more easily.

MESA has programs in 33 community colleges within the state of California.

For more information about MESA visit

Search Newscenter

Subscribe to SSU NewsCenter