Outstanding Cognitive Science Graduates

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Christine Clark | June 15, 2009

These students and winners of the second annual Outstanding Senior and an Outstanding Graduate Student award are among an impressive roster of fascinating graduates who earned their diplomas this weekend.

Shae Lynn Whitney Zastrow accepted the Outstanding Senior Award at the All Campus Graduation Celebration Friday. Zastrow graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt College and has been an intern for the Oasis Language Writing Program, where she has shown a genuine dedication to improving the language skills of English as a Second Language (ESL) students. A descendant of the Hupa tribe of northern California, Zastrow has been a prominent advocate of Native American issues. She re-founded the Native American Students Alliance and has tutored middle and high school students through the Student Education Advancement program.

Zastrow is a member of the Native American Research Center for Health and has done research though the California Native American Directed Undergraduate Research Grant. Her senior honor's research thesis was on the development of infant bonobos.

She has a deep interest in the arts and has performed for seven quarters with the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus as a soprano singer.

Pouya Jamshidi was born in Iran and moved to the United States six years ago. The Earl Warren College senior arrived at UC San Diego three years ago as a transfer student from Santa Monica College. Since attending UC San Diego, she he has earned a Howard Hughes Medical Institute summer research scholarship, the Warren College Outstanding Undergraduate Research scholarship, the Alumni Association’s Vickerman Munoz Family Outstanding Leadership Award and an Iranian-American scholarship.

Jamshidi is UC San Diego’s only undergraduate to take part in the Exceptional Research Opportunity program offered by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. As a result, he spent last summer at Columbia University working in the lab of Eric Kandel, a Nobel Prize laureate in physiology and medicine. Jamshidi also presented the results of his research in Kandel’s lab in Washington D.C. in May 2009. Last year, he was awarded the Undergraduate Research Scholarship and, this year, for the second consecutive year, he was awarded the Chancellor's Undergraduate Research Scholarship.

At UC San Diego, Jamshidi was mentored by renowned neuroscientist Mark Tuszynski through a faculty mentoring program. Undergraduates typically complete short-term projects in professors’ labs, but Jamshidi worked in Tuszynski’s lab for three years. Jamshidi was co-author with his mentor on a recent publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study documented for the first time the regeneration of a critical type of nerve fiber that travels between the brain and the spinal cord and which is required for voluntary movement.

Jamshidi recently accepted an offer in the department of neurobiology to join the lab of Jill and Stefan Leutgeb as a research assistant and plans to apply for the combined M.D./Ph.D program. Jamshidi will continue to do neuroscience research while his application is under review for admission.

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