• 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.

photo of Dr. Gregory  Goldsmith

Dr. Gregory Goldsmith

Director of the Grand Challenges Initiative
Dr. Goldsmith is an assistant professor of biological sciences and the first director of the Grand Challenges Initiative. Goldsmith is a plant physiological ecologist who studies the flow of water and carbon through forest ecosystems. His research uses observational and experimental approaches drawn from ecohydrology, community and ecosystem ecology, as well as stable isotope biogeochemistry. He has recently conducted research in Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Peru, and Switzerland.
photo of Dr. Kelsey  Gray

Dr. Kelsey Gray

Assistant Director of Grand Challenges Initiative
Dr. Gray joins the Grand Challenges Initiative as assistant program director and instructional assistant professor. Dr. Gray was most recently a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellow at Drepung Loseling Monastic University in South India, where she carried out science education research and taught courses on genes and cells, development and physiology, and learning English language through inquiry-based science. Her research and teaching were part of the science education efforts led by the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where she was previously a postdoctoral fellow.

Current Fellows

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. 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

photo of Dr. Carter Berry

Dr. Carter Berry

Current Position: Senior Research Associate, Chapman University
GCI Fellow 2017-2020
photo of Dr. Robert  de Bruijn

Dr. Robert de Bruijn

Current Position: Lecturer, California State University, San Marcos
GCI Fellow 2018-2020
photo of Dr. Cristhiano  Duarte Silva

Dr. Cristhiano Duarte Silva

Current Position: Research Fellow, Institute for Quantum Studies
GCI Fellow 2018-2020
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. Crystal  Ng

Dr. Crystal Ng

Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Connecticut
GCI Fellow 2019-2020
photo of Dr. Anne Sonnenschein

Dr. Anne Sonnenschein

Current Position: 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
grandchallenges@chapman.edu

Rebecca Green
Administrative Support
grandchallenges@chapman.edu

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.