• Grand Challenges Initiative fellow working with Chapman students
Grand Challenges Initiative

Meet the Fellows

» Meet the GCI Research Fellows

Every Grand Challenges Initiative team is mentored by a Postdoctoral Fellow. Our fellows are world-class early-career teacher-scholars. They come from diverse research backgrounds, ranging from cancer genetics to atmospheric chemistry. 

What the Fellows all have in common is a desire to share their passion for science and engineering with students. GCI student teams are assigned a fellow at the beginning of each semester.

Current Fellows

photo of Dr. Carter Berry

Dr. Carter Berry

Dr. Berry is a plant physiological ecologist who studies how plants use, move and store basic resources needed to survive—and how that alters their ability to live in current and future environments. At Chapman University, he is exploring how cloud cover affects plant function, particularly with respect to carbon cycling. Dr. Berry was previously a postdoctoral research associate at the University of New Hampshire. He holds a Ph.D. from Wake Forest University.
photo of Dr. Robert de Bruijn

Dr. Robert de Bruijn

Dr. de Bruijn is an animal stress physiologist. His research uses an integrative approach to understand how animals respond to and cope with changes in their environment. At Chapman University, he is exploring how stress alters parental behavior. Dr. de Bruijn was previously a postdoctoral fellow at Carleton University in Canada, where he studied the ecology of stress in Pacific salmon. He holds a Ph.D. from Tufts University.
photo of Dr. Cristhiano Duarte Silva

Dr. Cristhiano Duarte Silva

Dr. Duarte is a Brazilian mathematician working on foundations of physics, mainly on foundations of quantum mechanics. Dr. Duarte has been focusing his research on the existent overlap between foundations of quantum mechanics and mathematics. At Chapman University, he is mainly interested in learning how to explain the emergent classical reality we perceive in our daily lives as arising from the more basic structure provided by what goes by the name of quantum mechanics. Dr. Duarte dedicates his research to the analysis of quantum-to-classical and classical-to-quantum transitions. Dr. Duarte was previously a postdoctoral fellow at the International Institute of Physics in Brazil. He holds a Ph.D. from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil.
photo of Dr. Aaron  Harrison

Dr. Aaron Harrison

Dr. Harrison is an atmospheric chemist whose research focuses on studying photochemical oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aerosols present in the atmosphere from both biogenic and anthropogenic sources. His research uses a combination of experimental and computational techniques to characterize important photochemical reaction products, as well as overall reaction mechanisms and quantum yields. Dr. Harrison was previously a postdoctoral research associate at the University of New South Wales in Australia. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley.
photo of Dr. Brian Hoover

Dr. Brian Hoover

Dr. Hoover is a marine biologist and behavioral ecologist who works on the ecology, behavior, and population biology of aquatic birds. Dr. Hoover works on research vessels, island colonies and inland breeding sites in order to better understand the interactions between bird populations and the environment. His research interests also include emerging spatial and statistical methodologies that better characterize marine and aquatic habitats. Dr. Hoover was previously a postdoctoral research associate at the Farallon Institute. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California Davis.
photo of Dr. Crystal Ng

Dr. Crystal Ng

Dr. Ng is a marine ecologist focusing on the effects of climate change on species interactions. She works within nearshore communities such as giant kelp forests and intertidal pools along the coast of California. She uses both laboratory and field manipulation experiments to understand how multiple stressors will impact the feeding behavior of herbivores, which has implications for the important habitat-forming algae they feed on. She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University.
photo of Dr. Kenjiro Quides

Dr. Kenjiro Quides

Dr. Quides is a microbial evolutionary ecologist with broad interests in microbial symbioses. Dr. Quides uses the legume-rhizobium symbiosis to investigate mutualism stability, interspecific conflict, and shifts across the mutualism-parasitism continuum of symbiotic interactions. His research spans multiple fields of biology, which gives him the opportunity to mentor a diverse group of students with interests in fields such as plant biology, microbiology, computational biology and histology. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside.
photo of Dr. Zachary Thammavongsy

Dr. Zachary Thammavongsy

Dr. Thammavongsy is an inorganic chemist researching main group chemistry. He is currently synthesizing silicon-arene compounds to investigate intramolecular silylium-pi interactions. These silicon-arene compounds will be used as catalysts in hydrosilation reactions. His research employs both organic and inorganic chemical techniques in the laboratory. Dr. Thammavongsy is also the founder of d-Orbital Games. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine.
no photo available for Dr. Shana Welles

Dr. Shana Welles

Dr. Welles is a plant evolutionary ecologist conducting original research and sharing her passion for biology with others through teaching and outreach. In her research, Dr. Welles investigates how invasive plants evolve following introduction into novel ranges. Dr. Welles combines population genomic approaches with functional trait studies to generate an understanding of the role of evolution in the success of invasive species. Dr. Welles was previously a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside.
photo of Dr. Bingjie Zhang

Dr. Bingjie Zhang

Dr. Zhang’s research involves both inorganic chemistry and materials science and engineering. She focuses on design, synthesis, characterization and application of transitional metal-based materials and carbon materials, including metals, transitional metal oxides, nitrides and graphite. Specifically, Dr. Zhang is experienced in modification of materials by designing and fabrication of core/shell composite structures. She applies the modified materials in energy storage, conversion and catalysis devices. Dr. Zhang holds a Ph.D. from Stony Brook University.

Previous Fellows from the Grand Challenges Initiative

photo of Dr. José Raúl González Alonso

Dr. José Raúl González Alonso

Current Position: Senior Data Scientist at Neustar, Inc.
GCI Fellow 2017-2019
photo of Dr. Charlene McCord

Dr. Charlene McCord

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Biology, California State University, Dominguez Hills
GCI Fellow 2017-2019
photo of Dr. Anne Sonnenschein

Dr. Anne Sonnenschein

Current Title: Bioinformatics Scientist at Tempus Labs
GCI Fellow 2017-2019

Interested in Becoming a Fellow?

Our fellows are passionate about inspiring and empowering the next generation of science and engineering students. They strive to learn new teaching methods and work hard to produce world-class research. 

Our search for new Fellows begins every year around December 1. Fellows teach exclusively in the GCI program and collaborate on research with a faculty mentor from the Schmid College of Science and Technology or the Fowler School of Engineering. Fellows have access to work spaces, labs and computing resources in the brand-new Keck Center for Science and Engineering

Fellow appointments begin in late summer and can be extended for up to three years on mutual agreement. The program offers a highly competitive salary, full benefits and an annual research/travel stipend. If you want to learn about applying or have any questions, please email grandchallenges@chapman.edu.

Contact Us

Dr. Gregory R. Goldsmith
GCI Program Director

Rebecca Green
Administrative Support

Become a GCI Mentor

The GCI program depends on the contributions of experienced mentors. They meet with students at networking events, provide feedback to teams about the grand challenge they are trying to solve and help identify exciting opportunities outside the classroom. If you are interested in becoming a GCI Mentor, please fill out the survey using the link below.