In The News

San Diego Chapter Making an Impact

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

Nathalia Romanio Gazaniga

Tucker Ryan Huffman

Molecular Medicine

Biomedical Sciences





Sergio Rodriguez Labra

Lucas James Oxtaby

Hailee Rose Perrett

Biomedical Science


Biophysics and Structural Biology




Caroline Rose Stanton

Nelson Ren Wu

Leonard Heekyu Yoon

Biomedical Sciences


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


Check Presentation at San Diego State University

(November 17, 2021) SDSU President Dr. Adela de la Torre was presented with a ceremonial $110,000 check by Pat Judd, VP of University Relations at ARCS San Diego on a beautiful sunny afternoon in San Diego. These funds will support 11 exceptional graduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) at SDSU in 2021-2022. As you can see, everyone in attendance – Scholars, ARCS members, SDSU dignitaries - was “all smiles” having returned to the traditional in-person celebration after two years of social distancing due to the pandemic.

SDSU check presentation


LJI Graduate Students Win Prestigious ARCS San Diego Awards

(November 10, 2021) UC San Diego graduate students Gabriel Antonio Ascui Gac and Sonya Haupt of La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) have been named 2021-22 ARCS Scholars by ARCS San Diego. The award recognizes their research achievements and comes with $10,000 in funding to support their careers. This is the first year graduate students from LJI have been named ARCS Scholars.

“Training the next generation of scientists to study immunology and human health is a core part of the La Jolla Institute mission,” says LJI President and CEO Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D. “We are delighted to partner with ARCS to advance discovery and opportunity.”

Read the full article: LJI Graduate Students Win Prestigious ARCS San Diego Awards

Sonya Haupt and Gabriel Antonio Ascui Gac named 2021-22 ARCS Scholars

Sonya Haupt and Gabriel Antonio Ascui Gac named 2021-22 ARCS Scholars


Check Presentation at University of San Diego

(October 21, 2021) Pat Judd, Catie Madani, Ellen Moxham, and Holly Heaton attended the celebratory check presentation at USD on October 21, 2021 at President Harris’ office. This year, ARCS San Diego awarded $40,000 to four students in USD's doctoral nursing program: Pedro Colio, Ann Lawani, Patricia Magdaluo, and Nicole Marcy. All in attendance were thrilled to be meeting in-person after such a long separation due to the pandemic. President Harris and his colleagues expressed their deep gratitude for ARCS San Diego's long-standing support and partnership with USD.

USD check presentation


Virtual Check Presentation at Scripps Research

2020-2021 ARCS Scholars(March 4, 2021) This academic year, ARCS San Diego was honored to bestow eight Scholar awards to graduate students at Scripps Research. With this year’s funding of $40,000, ARCS San Diego’s cumulative support of scholars at Scripps Research now exceeds $1 million. In past years, Scripps Research has hosted the ARCS University Relations team and additional ARCS members on campus to visit labs and participate in a formal check presentation. However due to ongoing restrictions for on campus gatherings, the event was held virtually on March 4.

With 11 ARCS members in attendance, the group heard from key leadership throughout the institution. Meredith Johnston, Vice President of Philanthropy, kicked off the meeting by expressing the institute’s deep appreciation for their ongoing partnership with ARCS. She also expanded on ARCS philanthropic impact at Scripps Research, remarking on the amazing career trajectory of many of Scripps Research’s ARCS Scholar alumni and noting that gratitude for ARCS is felt throughout every lab on campus. Next Phil Dawson, Dean of the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences, provided an update on the current state of the graduate program, which went through a rigorous reaccreditation last year and was subsequently awarded the maximum renewal period of 10 years. Jamie Williamson, Scripps Research Executive Vice President, shared an overview of the institute’s recent progress and response to COVID-19. He discussed how structural biologists at Scripps developed the first detailed images of the coronavirus spike protein last year and then created a way to stabilize the protein for vaccines. This important contribution was the critical basis for the coronavirus vaccines distributed today. ARCS President Holly Heaton and Scripps Research ARCS University Relations Liaison Tamia Strachan also spoke at the event, reiterating their enthusiasm to partner with Scripps Research and introducing the ARCS members in attendance.

Virtual Check Presentation at UC San Diego

(January 28, 2021) ARCS San Diego awarded a total of $240,000 to 24 graduate students at UC San Diego for the 2020-2021 academic year. The official check presentation was once again conducted via Zoom due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. James Antony, Dean of UCSD’s Graduate Division, welcomed everyone on the call, which included several other dignitaries at UCSD; specifically, Margaret Leinen (Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences and Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Kit Pogliano (Dean of Biological Sciences), Albert Pisano (Dean of Jacobs School of Engineering), Steven Boggs (Dean of Physical Sciences). Holly offered a few congratulatory remarks to the Scholars and to UCSD before presenting the check. Members of the ARCS University Relations Team (Ellen Moxham, Suzanne Dixon) also said a few words about their appreciation of the strong ARCS-UCSD partnership. Then, Tamara Schaps, Assistant Dean of Graduate Strategic Initiatives, presented a short video from Chancellor Khosla, who extended his heartfelt thanks and gratitude for ARCS’ support. Next we heard from 4 ARCS Scholars – Laura Chipman, Miriam Bell, Mark Kalaj, and Samantha Sison – who talked about their research, their proudest achievements during “the year of COVID”, and what they most value about their association with ARCS. The event concluded with a video collage of ‘thank yous’ from several current ARCS Scholars at UCSD.


Virtual Check Presentation at USD

(January 26, 2021) ARCS San Diego was pleased to present four Scholar awards at USD in 2020-2021 totaling $40,000 in funds. Typically, our University Relations team would have visited the USD campus to make an official check presentation; however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ceremony was held via Zoom on January 26th. Dr. Jean Georges, Dean of the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, kicked off the proceedings by welcoming everyone on the Zoom call and thanking ARCS for the ongoing partnership and support. Then Dr. James Harris, President of USD, offered a few more words of introduction and gratitude. Three Scholars – Pedro Colio, Byron Batz, and Ann Lawani - followed with short presentations about their current research projects. Next, Dr. Cynthia Connelly, Director of Nursing Research, provided some updates on the PhD program at USD, and Carol Scimone, Assistant Director of Communications & Events, concluded the program with a final ‘thank you’ and confirmation of the receipt of funds. The ARCS members on the call then offered some additional words of appreciation and admiration for the important work done by the nurses enrolled in USD’s nursing program, as well as those who have graduated, many of whom are ARCS Scholars.


Erica Ollmann Saphire named Scientist of the Year by ARCS San Diego

(December 31, 2020) La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D. has been named Scientist of the Year by ARCS San Diego, a chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation. The annual award recognizes Saphire's breakthroughs in structural virology and her leadership of the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium (CoVIC) this year.

One San Diego scientist is recognized each year. Recent awardees include Paul Schimmel of Scripps Research, Karen Nelson, president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, and Rusty Gage, president of the Salk Institute.

"This is the first time LJI has been recognized," says Saphire. "Emerging recognition of the institute as a whole this year has been important to me- our depth and focus on human immunity provide a rich opportunity for human health."

"The San Diego chapter of ARCS is thrilled to honor Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire as our 2021 Scientist of the Year," says Holly Heaton, president of ARCS San Diego. "I have been watching Dr. Saphire via the La Jolla Institute for Immunology webinars recently as she provides global leadership in understanding host-virus interactions, which will be key to responding to COVID-19 today and for future pandemics. She is a remarkable scientist and leader."

Read the full article: Erica Ollmann Saphire named Scientist of the Year by ARCS San Diego.

Virtual Check Presentation at San Diego State University

(November 20, 2020) Ten outstanding graduate students at SDSU pursuing degrees in STEM and biomedicine received 2020-2021 ARCS Scholar Awards totaling $100,000 in funds. The traditional check presentation celebration was held on Zoom.

Dean Jeff Roberts kicked off the proceedings by welcoming everyone on the Zoom call. Then President de la Torre offered a few more words of introduction. Next Christal Sohl, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at SDSU, told us about a scholarship that had been established to honor the memory of Dr. Joi Weeks, who had passed away on September 14, 2020, due to complications related to breast cancer. Joi was an ARCS Scholar working in the Sohl Lab beloved and admired by all.

Cathi Atkins, Associate Dean for the College of Sciences, proceeded to introduce the ten 2020-2021 Scholars, who each gave a video presentation about their current research.

The meeting concluded with this group photo (screenshot) and repeated ‘thank yous’ for such an interesting and uplifting event.

View Entire Proceedings

Leading the Way: ARCS Chapter Drives Growth with Personal Outreach

A fresh sense of energy is flowing through ARCS San Diego Chapter. The Chapter recently celebrated a major milestone: distributing more than $10 million in local scholar awards over its 35-year history, while maintaining an endowment of more than $2.5 million. How did they do this? The answer lies in personal connections, social and educational interactions, and inspirational leadership and passion.


As ARCS San Diego looks toward 2020 and its official 35th anniversary, Chapter President Holly Heaton believes the catalyst for the continued growth of the Chapter is in “creating lasting connections through member experiences.”

Before her appointment as President, Heaton served as the San Diego Chapter’s Vice President of Membership in 2018. Her work with the committee led to more than a dozen new members.

Despite this surge in newly recruited members, Heaton says retention requires continued effort, adding, “If you don’t recognize your donors, founders, and members, then you won’t keep them.” To aid the recruitment and retention efforts, the Chapter writes personal communications to members and holds luncheons in communities where members live.


ARCS San Diego also maintains members and donors by hosting two social events each year. These events range from educational tours and field trips with scholar alums to lectures with dynamic speakers in the STEM arena. One event, named after the novel The Perfect Predator, featured the book’s author, Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, as keynote speaker. A San Diego resident and one of TIME magazine’s 50 Most Influential People in Health Care in 2018, Strathdee recounted the story of how she raced against the clock to find a bacteriophage, a ubiquitous virus, which would fight an antibiotic-resistant bacterium that had infected her husband. ARCS San Diego gained two new members through this event.

Heaton is also working to relocate chapter events from hotel ballrooms to more interactive spaces that are relevant to ARCS mission and, to the extent possible, to scholar alums. For example, the chapter will host its 2020 Scientist of the Year fundraiser at the San Diego Natural History Museum. She further plans to align speakers with the chosen venues as an opportunity to show how the mission lives on through scholar alums.


Heaton’s goals are based on personal experience. She became a member of the San Diego Chapter after attending the chapter’s Scientist of the Year dinner in 2010. ARCS Foundation appealed to her background in healthcare and interest in the sciences, she says. The inspiration for her leadership and passion for growing the chapter, however, was spurred through the relationships she has made. “Getting to know the wonderful women that work so hard for this organization has made promoting the cause all the more worthwhile.”

“Surpassing $10 million in scholar awards shows the determination of this group of volunteer women,” says Heaton. “Advancing scientific competitiveness is our mission, and funding the research of these outstanding young people is our way of achieving this vision for the future.”...Read More

To learn more about chapter leadership and ways ARCS National supports growth locally and nationally, visit the ARCS website.


San Diego ARCS Scholars Impacting Our World

21st Annual Revelle Lecture - Ocean Plastic: A Scientist's Tale

As early as the 1970s, scientists began to notice that plastic waste was turning up in the ocean thousands of miles from land. Since that time, the problem has grown exponentially. News images of floating islands of debris, plastic-choked animals, and trashed beaches have spurred a flurry of research, and to a lesser degree, policy efforts to address the problem.

What are the sources of ocean plastic? What happens to plastic once it reaches the ocean, and what does it mean for marine life? Dr. Chelsea Rochman (2012-2013 ARCS Scholar, SDSU) has been researching those questions for more than a decade.

Dr. Rochman was asked to deliver the Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture for Oceanography in March 2020. This annual lecture series was created by the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies in honor of Roger Revelle to highlight the important links between ocean sciences and public policy. In "The Story of Plastic Pollution: From the Distant Ocean Gyres to the Global Policy Stage," Chelsea provides a history of the field, the state of the science and our path forward for mitigating plastic pollution.


NASA Astronaut and ARCS Scholar Alumna Completes First All-Female Spacewalk

LaGrange GA – October 21, 2019—ARCS Scholar Alumna Jessica Meir spent her workday on Friday, October 18, floating in space. Tasked with repairing a major power source on the International Space Station (ISS), Meir was accompanied by fellow American astronaut Christina Koch, making Spacewalk 421 the first all-female walk outside a spacecraft.

Audiences around the world viewed the spacewalk via multiple cameras situated on the space station and attached to Meir’s and Koch’s spacesuits. Around the world, classrooms at all levels made up a large part of the audience.

Out of only 43 spacewalks to include women, Meir is the fifteenth US woman to walk in space.

After the seven-hour, 17-minute repair job, Meir expressed her gratitude to those who dared to dream before her and make her job a possibility.

“Today was a special honor as we recognize that this milestone symbolizes exploration by all who dare to dream and work hard to achieve their dreams. It’s a tribute to those that paved the way for us to be where we are. We hope to be an inspiration to all future explorers.”

On Monday, October 21, Meir participated in a NASA TV news conference in which Koch and she answered questions. When asked about her personal feelings during her first experience in space, she replied, “I will never forget that moment of coming out of the hatch and looking down and seeing just my boots and Earth below. It was such a spectacular and beautiful sight. It was really quite overwhelming.”

Meir’s future plans? During her six-months’ stay on the ISS, she will conduct experiments and operations. Her dream is that she will then be part of the NASA team to return to the Moon.

ARCS Foundation is incredibly honored and proud to claim Jessica Meir as an ARCS Scholar alumna and recognizes the effort that she has made to advance science in America and the world. Congratulations, Jessica Meir, on this incredible accomplishment and best of luck with future spacewalks and research while on the ISS.

View the NASA TV news conference

Read the SD Union Tribune article

"It's Just Magical What Scientists Are Doing"

As a professor of journalism at San Diego State University for 25 years, Barbara Hartung, PhD, maintained a keen understanding of the global issues impacting everyday lives. She still does. Now retired, she and her husband, Jim, a former banking executive, travel the world and actively engage in local civic activities.

Both are proponents of the vibrant scientific research community in the San Diego area and at Scripps Research, in particular. Barbara joined the San Diego chapter of the ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation, which lends financial support to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing studies in scientific fields. “Many of the young scientists we supported would come speak at our meetings,” she says, “and I always found the graduate students from Scripps Research to be really impressive.” (The graduate program at Scripps Research is consistently ranked among the ten best in the nation by U. S. News & World Report.)

She and Jim were moved to add their personal support to the graduate program at Scripps Research, as well as making regular unrestricted gifts. “We’re not huge donors but we give what we can because science affects us so directly,” says Jim. “We believe the students at Scripps Research are doing such creative things and we need more dedicated young people in science.”

The couple also attend as many lectures and public events at Scripps Research as they can. “We don’t miss a one,” says Jim. “It’s just magical what scientists are doing. The faculty and students there are outstanding, and we know we’re supporting the best with our donations.”

Read the original article

From Science Fiction to the Future of Cancer Treatments

Science fiction can inspire the future, becoming the basis for many scientific and technological advances. For one ARCS Scholar, it ignited a passion.

ARCS Scholar Ashley Kroll credits the world of science fiction with starting her passion for Nanoengineering. “I learned about this field when I started reading science fiction in high school, especially the works of Michael Crichton,” said Kroll. “I found out how material properties can change at a very small scale from reading these books and now I am studying the use of nanoscale materials for biomedical applications.”

As a graduate student at the University of California San Diego, Ashley is currently investigating how immunostimulatory nanoparticles can be coated with the membrane from cancer cells to provoke the immune system to form strong and specific immunity against tumors. She is constantly inspired to continue her work by the potential lives it could change, “Nanoparticles and nanoparticle properties have so much untapped potential for interacting with the human body in ways current medicines cannot,” said Kroll. “With proper engineering and design, I can envision nanomedicine as having a huge impact in improving many diseases. I specifically feel driven to work on cancer treatment as it has a devastating impact on so many families. In fact, in the middle of my graduate career, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer — which brought a whole new meaning to my work and inspired me to work harder than before.”

Ashley is grateful for the opportunity the ARCS Scholar Award provides her, allowing her to offset her living costs and audit additional courses to further her research. “As an ARCS Scholar, I have been able to audit courses related to my research which has significantly improved and sped up my project progress. Without the award, I would not have had time to supplement my immunology background, and I have no doubt it would have made my research much more challenging!”

Fund scholars, like Ashley, who are changing the world with their passion for science with a donation to ARCS Foundation.


Spotlight on Scholars: Rigo Cintron-Colon

New Research from Scripps Research Reveals Pathway for Anti-Aging Therapies

Rigo Cintron-Colon, Manuel Sanchez-Alavez, M.D., Ph.D. and Bruno Conti, Ph.D.

Two new studies led by scientists at Scripps Research could guide future therapies to improve health and lifespan.

Together, the studies in animal models shed light on how reducing calorie intake directly influences lifespan by also reducing body temperature.

Read more about this exciting discovery in our Fall 2017 Insider







UC San Diego ARCS Scholar Cody Carpenter Featured in Publication on the Sense of Touch

Less than skin deep: humans can feel molecular differences between nearly identical surfaces

San Diego, Calif., Dec. 13, 2017 -- How sensitive is the human sense of touch? Sensitive enough to feel the difference between surfaces that differ by just a single layer of molecules, a team of researchers at the University of California San Diego has shown.... Read More

Read the original article

Future NASA Rovers Could Be Sporting New Gears, Thanks To Work By UC San Diego Scholar Alumni

Moving a research lab can be a huge headache. Equipment needs to be dismantled. Experiments are put on pause. But for former UC San Diego materials science and engineering Ph.D. student Laura Andersen, her lab’s move opened up an exciting opportunity—a summer internship at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, better known as JPL, developing wear resistant gears for spacecraft... Read More

Read the original article


San Diego Members Making a Difference

Longtime Member Reflects on ARCS Legacy

An honorary emeritus member of ARCS San Diego, Betty Simm was one of the organization’s founders and in the past six decades has seen the amazing growth and impact of ARCS Foundation nationwide.

Read the rest of this feature on the ARCS National site