Roberto Rivera

rivera-400-keeley.jpgName:  Roberto Rivera

Department: Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology

What Award/ Scholarship did you receive?  Keeley Coastal Scholars Award

What year do you expect to graduate?  Fall 2020

Where do you call home?  Inglewood, California

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out?  I chose UC Santa Cruz for its active research programs in chemistry and its resources, such as the Academic excellence (ACE) program and Modified Supplemental Instructions (MSI), which has really helped me get through my courses. I also enjoy running and cycling on my free time and Santa Cruz is an amazing place for these activities

What is your field of focus?  My field of focus is in chemistry.

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz?  I found a great interest in inorganic chemistry, so after graduating from UC Santa Cruz, I would like to pursue a career in environmental inorganic chemistry.

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here?  During my freshman year, I remember seeing a problem from an upper division chemistry course, to me it seemed like a long and difficult problem, I then began to worry about the more advanced chemistry courses. I told my brother about this scary problem and he told me I shouldn’t worry about it and that I will eventually gain enough practice to solve those bigger problems. Looking at some of the problems from my current upper division courses, I see how some problems can seem “scary”. When learning something new, we just need patience and understand the basics first.

What is your one piece of advice for incoming students about life at UC Santa Cruz?  I feel like students should always remember that it’s important to do well in classes, but it can be just as important to be kind to others. Doing this will help you gain connections and it will also help you in other ways, such as forming study groups.

How will this scholarship impact your academic life /research?  Being from Inglewood, this scholarship will allow me to go back to Santa Cruz during the summer so I can continue my research and improve my organization, analytical and communication skills which are critical to my success at UC Santa Cruz and future career.

Comments from Roberto Rivera's faculty mentor:

Roberto Rivera received the Keeley Coastal Award for his proposal Do non-native terrestrial isopods transfer marine-derived mercury to threatened steelhead trout (O.mykiss)? Under the supervision of scientists with NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, he will be collecting terrestrial isopods, steelhead trout, and sculpin fish over the spring-summer-fall seasons in Big Creek, one of the UC Natural Reserves, in order to examine steelheads’ vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, non-native species, and accumulation of toxins. The samples will be brought back to the Weiss Lab in the Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology at UC Santa Cruz and tested for total Hg and MeHg concentrations. The resulting data will be analyzed to look for anomalously high concentrations of total Hg and MeHg in the isopods and the steelhead, compared to the control samples, the sculpins, in order to report on whether the steelhead might be experiencing sub-lethal effects due to Hg contamination and what the sources of this Hg might be. His faculty mentor describes Roberto as having a “deep interest environmental chemistry and considering a career in that field. He is passionate about toxins in the environment and is concerned about threatened species such as O. mykiss (steelhead). He asks intelligent questions that show he is thinking across disciplines, an important skill in this field.”

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