In The News

February 27, 2024: Scripps Research Check Presentation

The annual ARCS check presentation was held in late February at the Scripps Research (SR) Faculty Club.   Attending the event from SR were all nine 2023-2024 ARCS scholars (Justice Fleischmann, Stephan Freeman, Brett Garabedian, Sergio Labra, Garrett Lindsey, Michaela Medina, Colleen Maillie, Kylie Nutsch and Caroline Stanton), Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies Phil Dawson, Associate Professor of Molecular & Cellular Biology Katja Lama, Regional Philanthropy Director Tara Holcomb, Senior Director of Donor Relations Addie Eure, and Donor Relations Specialist McVey Ayers.

Attending from the ARCS San Diego Chapter were President Kathe Albrecht, President Elect Leslie Bruce, University Relations VP Catie Madani, SR Liaisons Kelly Hartshorn and Tami Strachan and UR’s Editor of Scholar Profiles Janet Roemer.

Phil Dawson discussed the beginning of the Graduate School at Scripps Research in 1989. Since its beginning, the Graduate School has supported and graduated 1,000 students in PhD studies in Cell & Molecular Biology, Structure and Chemistry. ARCS has supported 73 of these Scholars over the years. The Graduate programs at SR in Chemistry and Biological Sciences are currently each listed as one of the top ten best in the US by US News and World Report. Phil went on to explain that a very special aspect of the Graduate program is that it allows the students the ability to explore different sections of the program and then allows them to decide what path they choose to follow. SR is celebrating its 100th year anniversary in 2024.

Following the SR remarks, Kathe Albrecht spoke to the group. She thanked the SR team that hosted ARCS for this event and the nine amazing Scholars for 2023-2024. Each ARCS Scholar was then introduced and provided a short summary of their research, which they each accomplished with clarity for the layperson attendees. The scholars also took the opportunity to express their heartfelt thanks for the scholarships which provided them with an important means of progressing both their research and other life needs.

At the end of the ceremony, the check for $90,000 was presented, and all the meeting attendees gathered for a group photo. This was followed by drinks and food prepared by SR, where the meeting attendees gathered informally and had a chance to enjoy further interaction.


January 9, 2024: Salk Institute's Terrence Sejnowski named ARCS Scientist of the Year

Salk Institute Professor Terrence Sejnowski has been named 2024 Scientist of the Year by the ARCS Foundation of San Diego. The ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Students) San Diego chapter is honoring Sejnowski for his pioneering research in neural networks and computational neuroscience.

Each year, an ARCS committee that includes multiple members and the foundation’s president, and seeking input from former Scientist of the Year honorees and scientific advisors in the community, makes a recommendation to its membership for the Scientist of the Year award. ARCS voted unanimously for Sejnowski to be its 2024 honoree.

“This honor is validation of the trailblazing work Terry has done in the field of computational neuroscience,” says Salk President Gerald Joyce. “We are thrilled ARCS has recognized him in this prestigious manner.”

"The importance of artificial intelligence, AI, its incredible potential in today’s data-driven world, cannot be overstated, and the San Diego Chapter of ARCS is thrilled to honor one of its pioneers," says Kathe Albrecht, president of ARCS San Diego. "Dr. Terry Sejnowski’s visionary work on neural networks and computational neuroscience in the 1980s laid the foundation for the machine learning and AI revolution that we’re experiencing today. His current research continues to further our understanding of the brain and its complex functions, from filtering what we see to recalling memories. We are proud to recognize Dr. Sejnowski as our 2024 Scientist of the Year and look forward to celebrating his achievements in April."

Read the full press release here:


November 28, 2023: UC San Diego Check Presentation

Holly Heaton shared this report from the recent check presentation at UC San Diego, along with some wonderful photos. Enjoy!

Dean of Graduate Education and Postdoc Affairs Dr. Jim Antony kicked off the event by thanking ARCS for its long-term relationship with and support of UCSD and its Scholars and mentioning some of the incredible successes of UCSD in science and research.

Dr. Corinne Peek-Asa, Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation, also spoke about the importance of scientific research and Scholar development, and the gratitude the University has for ARCS. Dr. Peek-Asa and Kathe Albrecht both spoke of the long relationship and the fact that over the past 36 years ARCS has given over $6 million to 370 outstanding Scholars.

Holly Heaton and Pam Werner spoke briefly as UCSD liaisons about their pride in being associated with our amazing Scholars and the fact that UCSD is one of the best and most impressive public universities in the country.

Many of our 50 Scholars attended along with some advisors and other UCSD personnel. ARCS was represented by Kathe Albrecht, Catie Madani, Pam Werner, Holly Heaton and Elizabeth Taft. One of our newest members, Kelsey Dale, the VP of Development at LJI, also attended to support its Scholar, Sonya Haupt. B. Bea Rajsombath, Director, Graduate and Postdoctoral Services at Salk, also attended since ARCS now has Salk Scholars through its affiliation with UCSD.

Dr. Peek-Asa highlighted four Scholars: Sonya Haupt, LJI, who is studying the body’s adaptive immune response to vaccines and infection with Dr. Shane Crotty. She also mentioned three new Scholars: Wilfredo Gabriel Gonzalez Rivera, Biomedical Informatics , a first generation university graduate from Puerto Rico; Jessica Wan, Climate Sciences, and Rayyan Gorashi, Bioengineering, who is studying sex-specific mechanisms in cardiovascular disease.

After the event we learned that Jessica’s advisor is Katherine (Kate) Ricke, who was Beth Wainwright’s (Beth is our National President) Scholar at ARCS Foundation Pittsburgh Chapter fifteen years ago; it’s a small world after all!

UCSD rolled out the red carpet for us and there was good energy and excitement as we start another academic year.


Check Presentation at Scripps Research

(January 26, 2023) Nine exceptional grad students at Scripps Research received 2022-2023 ARCS Scholar Awards totaling $90,000 in funds. On a beautiful sunny afternoon in late January, it was time to make it official with the traditional check presentation…in a spectacular setting on the deck of SR’s Faculty Club, no less!  Congratulations one and all!


Check Presentation at San Diego State University

(December 9, 2022) ARCS President, Dr. Kathe Albrecht, and University Relations VP, Pat Judd, were honored to present SDSU President, Dr. Adela de la Torre, with a $110,000 check for this year's 11 truly remarkable ARCS Scholars. After two years on Zoom, we were thrilled to meet in person for this annual celebration.

SDSU dignitaries in attendance:  Dr. Bill Tong, Vice-Provost, Dr. Jeff Roberts, Dean, and Dr, Cathie Atkins, Associate Dean (Emeritus)


Check Presentation at University of San Diego

(October 20, 2022) ARCS San Diego was honored to present Scholar Awards ($10,000/ea) to four outstanding graduate students enrolled in USD’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science program for the 2022-2023 academic year: Patricia Magdaluyo, Andrea Correia, Jennie Lee, and Nicole Marcy. Congratulations one and all for this achievement!

USD check presentation
USD scholars


Check Presentation at UC San Diego

(October 5, 2022) Great to be back in person again at UC San Diego for the annual check presentation after zooming for two years! ARCS members presented a check for $260,000 to Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Elizabeth Simmons who was reminded not to spend it all in one place. She responded that she knew 26 places to spend this award!

Dean Jim Antony, EVC Elizabeth Simmons and Assistant Dean Tamara Schaps and her team hosted ARCS members and 2021-22 and 2022-23 Scholars at the UCSD Faculty Club for this event. They rolled out the red carpet for all of us and were so appreciative of the ARCS program and our long-standing relationship and support of UCSD graduate students in STEM. We have 26 Scholars at UCSD this year, including eight new Scholars.

ARCS members in attendance: Kathe Albrecht, Pat Judd, Holly Heaton and Elizabeth Taft. ARCS Scholars in attendance: Nishta Krishnan, Chiaki Santiago, Josh Mesfin, Kellen Cavagnero, Laura Becerra, Anela Akiona, Alec Calac, Minerva Contreras, Jervaughn Hunter, David McBride, Sankaran Ramanarayanan, Kyle Angel, Krista Balto.

UCSD Check Presentation
Pat and Holly receive the check


Virtual Check Presentation at Scripps Research

(March 3, 2022) ARCS San Diego awarded a total of $45,000 to 9 graduate students at Scripps Research for the 2021-2022 academic year. The official check presentation was held virtually on March 3, 3022. In attendance were many of the Scholar award recipients (Brett Garabedian, Nathalia Gazaniga, Hailee Perrett, Sergio Labra, Caroline Stanton, and Nelson Wu), along with Phil Dawson, PhD, Dean of the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences, Dawn Eastmond, PhD, Director of Graduate Studies, Meredith Johnston, Vice President of Philanthropy, Allison Basille, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations and Addie Eure, Senior Manager of Donor Relations. ARCS members in attendance included Holly Heaton, Tamia Strachan, Laurie Roeder, Ellen Moxham, Karen Bowden, Patricia Judd, Ingrid Benirschke-Perkins and Toby Eisenberg.

Brett Michael Garabedian
Molecular Medicine

Nathalia Romanio Gazaniga
Biomedical Sciences

Tucker Ryan Huffman




Sergio Rodriguez Labra
Biomedical Science

Lucas James Oxtaby

Hailee Rose Perrett
Biophysics and Structural Biology




Caroline Rose Stanton
Biomedical Sciences

Nelson Ren Wu

Leonard Heekyu Yoon
Chemical Biology

Meredith Johnston began the meeting expressing the institute’s overwhelming gratitude to the ARCS Foundation for their support over the last 25 years, remarking that the first Scholar awards for graduate students at Scripps Research took place in 1997! Meredith shared that ARCS San Diego has provided Scripps Research with over $1M to date and supported 75 students. Meredith provided updates on last year’s graduating Scholars, noting where each has ended up post-graduation. Next, Dean Phil Dawson provided some updates on the current trajectory of the graduate program at Scripps Research. Dean Dawson shared that SR continues to receive a record number of applicants year over year and has a high acceptance rate among those offered admission. Additionally, Dean Dawson shared that the student body has near gender balance and is working closely with Scripps Research leadership on an institute-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative. After Dean Dawson, Dawn Eastmond introduced each of the current Scholars in attendance, each of whom then shared a bit about their research and future plans.

Closing out the meeting, ARCS San Diego Chapter President Holly Heaton expressed ARCS’ enthusiasm for its partnership with Scripps Research over the years. The group also discussed their shared excitement surrounding the upcoming Scientist of the Year Event, which will honor SR’s most recent Nobel Laureate, Dr. Ardem Patapoutian.


Holly Heaton Honored

(February 2022) The February issue of Ranch & Coast Magazine featured a wonderful write-up of ARCS San Diego's fearless leader, Holly Heaton. Since 2012 she has lent her time, talent, and treasure to our chapter, serving as our President during the last three years. She has also served as President of San Diego Blood Bank and volunteered at San Diego Hospice, so it's no surprise that she is one of twelve Women of Dedication to be honored on April 1, 2022 by the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary. Brava, Holly, and thank you for all you do for ARCS and the San Diego Community!

Holly Heaton Honored