Cal State San Bernardino will honor students Teresa Ubina and Amylee Martin, and alumnus Jonathan E. Forman at the College of Natural Sciences’ commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 17.
The CSUSB College of Natural Sciences graduation exercises will take place at 8 p.m. at Citizens Business Bank Arena, 4000 E. Ontario Parkway in Ontario, the last of four commencement ceremonies scheduled that day.
Teresa Ubina, of Corona, will be honored as the college’s Outstanding Graduate Student. She will be awarded her master of science degree in biology.
She said she initially intended to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon, but her research experience as an undergraduate student with fruit flies and their stem cells changed all that.
“I found that I loved working in the lab, I loved working with the flies, and most of all, I loved the discovery process involved with research,” Ubina said. “I love pushing the boundaries of human knowledge. And so, in the middle of applying for medical school, I decided that I wanted to go into research.”
The path through graduate school was not without its challenges, however, and in her first quarter at CSUSB, she shattered her fibula so badly that it required surgery. Though she was back attending classes and teaching one week after surgery, Ubina said she was unable to walk for three months and had to rely on family to drive her to and from campus.
“My independence and ability to get around were suddenly gone, but it taught me that it is perfectly OK to ask for help when I need it,” she said.
While at CSUSB, Ubina was a member of the university’s chapter of the Student Society for Stem Cell Research, serving as president since 2015 after joining it in 2014. “The mission of our club is to educate the public about stem cells and to do community outreach,” she said. “While president, we organized events on campus such as rare diseases day, stem cell awareness day, and held a bone marrow registry drive. I am extremely proud that our club was able to add 103 new donors to the national bone marrow registry drive in February of this year!”
She also became involved with Help 4 HD International, whose mission is to educate people about Huntington’s disease — an inherited condition in which nerve cells in the brain break down over time — as well as assisting families affected by it. Ubina also was able to mentor a high school student in Illinois, helping her design research experiments, as well as speaking to high school students in the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine SPARK program.
“I enjoy sharing my experiences and guiding others in their pursuit of research, and I hope that someday I can help someone else discover their love for research in the same way that my professor did while I was an undergraduate,” Ubina said.
She plans to pursue her doctorate degree and to continue to work on research concerning disease processes related to aging.
Amylee Martin, of Ontario, will be honored as the Outstanding Undergraduate. She will be awarded a bachelor of science in chemistry-biochemistry option.
Martin’s early exposure to medicine — her mother is a breast cancer survivor, while her father passed away after a long battle with an unknown neurodegenerative disease — gave her two different perspectives.
“From my mother's experience, I viewed doctors as ‘super-humans,’ capable of healing any disease; however, with my father's passing, I realized medicine did not always result in happy endings but rather offered a balance of triumph and tragedy,” she said. “Encountering both sides of the story of medicine has shaped me into the empathetic and determined individual that I am.”
Since then, Martin developed an intense interest in the sciences, and after excelling in her first college chemistry class and eager to help her fellow students, she was approached by one of her professors to become a general chemistry adjunct instructor, which she has done for more than three years.
“This experience was critical to my pre-med journey as it required analytical and interpersonal skills similar to those used by physicians,” Martin said. “For example, I had to determine my students' educational obstacles before I could decide on a plan of action, just as doctors must first undergo a diagnostic process before treating patients.”
She also was a research assistant for three years in the organic chemistry laboratory, where she honed her problem-solving skills, both as an individual and as a member of teams with co-investigators, she said. “My project required the collaboration of many physics and chemistry research laboratories, in which large groups struggled to achieve and succeeded in reaching a consensus,” Martin said. “These interactions showed me the value of listening, with an open and logical mindset, so that we could make the best choices to meet our common goal.”
And while she also was a chemistry tutor on campus for three years, Martin didn’t spend all her time on campus in the labs. For more than four years, she volunteered in a kindergarten classroom. And she also worked as a clinical care extender at Riverside Community Hospital, which she said was instrumental in helping prepare her for her medical career.
In the summer of 2016, she participated in the Future Physician Leaders program at the UC Riverside School of Medicine. As part of a small group of students, she created a community health education project to increase awareness of, and combat, obesity in a Latino community in Riverside. “I decided to continue community health education with a small group of friends I met through the summer program and have been working with St. John's Church in San Bernardino since January,” Martin said. “I have found this experience to be extremely enriching and have seen the impact that I can have on my community. This has further motivated me to become a physician who goes beyond treating the individual.”
Martin said she plans to continue working in the community as she enters the UC Irvine School of Medicine in the fall.
Jonathan E. Forman, who graduated from CSUSB with high honors in chemistry in 1990, will be honored as the college’s Outstanding Alumnus. Forman is currently the science policy advisor at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The OPCW, based in The Hague, Netherlands, has 192 member states that are working together to achieve a world free from chemical weapons. In doing this, the ultimate aim is to contribute to international security and stability, to general and complete disarmament, and to global economic development. The OPCW was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.
Forman also serves as secretary to the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board.
While at CSUSB, Forman was summer undergraduate research participant in 1988, 1989 and 1990. He had a student internship with the Coal Chemistry Group, Division of Chemistry, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill., and also with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Forensic Science Laboratory.
In 1990, he was given the Carol Goss Scholar Award from the CSUSB chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, and also the CSUSB Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award. Other awards included the ACS Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry in 1989, and the CRC Press Freshman Chemistry Achievement Award in 1986.
After graduating from CSUSB, Forman earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1996, and worked for a series of biotechnology companies before joining the OPCW in March 2013.
All of the commencement ceremonies at Citizens Business Bank Arena will be webcast live on the Creative Media Services webcast page.
For more information about the June 2016 graduations, visit the CSUSB Commencement website or contact the Office of Special Events and Guest Services at (909) 537-7360.
For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.