2018 Centennial Doctorate Degree Awardees

During the fall of 1987, the Graduate College and the Division of Campus Life established awards to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions of graduate students at the University of Arizona who have shown academic achievement despite facing challenging social, economic, or educational obstacles.

Roman Palitsky - Centennial Doctoral Degree Award RecipientLoi Do

Loi Do is a student in the Biomedical Engineering Program at the University of Arizona. His research in Dr. Ted Trouard's lab involves noninvasive characterization of neural connections and how they change in healthy aging and with Alzheimer’s disease.

Loi has a unique background. He was born in Saigon, Vietnam and arrived in the United States as a war refugee when he was very young. He did not waste the opportunities America had to offer. He earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a master’s in biomedical imaging from UC San Francisco. Following his master’s, he joined an interventional radiology laboratory as an imaging specialist and published numerous original research articles on cardiac, renal and spinal maladies using MRI, positron emission tomography and X-ray computed tomography. His publication record includes 102 abstracts and 34 peer-reviewed research articles. He is the first of his family to attend graduate school.

Loi has earned numerous honors and fellowships, and has won competitions, intramurally and nationally. He has held multiple leadership positions throughout his graduate career, serving on the Biomedical Engineering Admissions Committee, serving as the vice president of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the graduate student representative in the BME Graduate Studies Committee, and has designed orientation and peer mentorship programs to help first year PhD students transition to the program. Loi enjoys volunteering and has served at Science City and for the past three years organized the “Chef for a Day” at the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

As a graduate student instructor for Professor Trouard's senior medical imaging class, Loi imparts his passion for medical imaging to the next generation of engineers. His love of teaching is informed by the multicultural nature of his upbringing. The struggle to incorporate different perspectives as a child has become a strength in empathizing with students who struggle to understand complex ideas and concepts.

Loi intends to pursue a career in academics and apply medical imaging to develop methods for early detection of disease.

Ariana Stickel - Centennial Doctoral Degree Award RecipientKevin Gomez

Kevin is a graduate student in the Program of Applied Mathematics at the University of Arizona. His work currently focuses on evolutionary biology related to the evolution of microorganisms.

Kevin completed his bachelor’s in economics and mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, and obtained his master’s in applied mathematics at Cal State, Fullerton. He was born in Anaheim, California and grew up in the Southern California area.

Kevin’s parents immigrated to the US from Colombia, South America. His mother became a single parent when Kevin was just five years old and struggled to support him and his two younger siblings due to her limited education and inability to master the English language. These struggles resulted in challenges in Kevin’s own life, which included neighborhood gang violence. Despite this adversity, Kevin went on to become the first in his family to obtain a college degree.

Kevin is deeply passionate about mathematics and teaching. He continually strives to promote interest in math and science among students. Each year he leads a summer calculus workshop for incoming freshmen, many who are first-generation college students, to help prepare them to succeed in calculus courses.

Kevin also works with a local nonprofit organization, S.Y.STEM Coalition, to help spark curiosity in STEM curriculums among K-12 students. He routinely volunteers to help run robotic camps and other science activities at various community events.

While at the University of Arizona, Kevin has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the 2018 Galileo Circle Fellow for Applied Math, an NIH Training Grant fellowship, the Graduate College Award, as well as a 2018 scholarship to the Summer Institute of Statistical Genetics.

Kevin’s research focuses on modeling how trait characteristics and trait interactions in asexual microbes shape their adaptation and influence their chances for long-term survival. He hopes to apply this work in areas of medicine and conservation biology.

Kevin plans to pursue a career in academia as a professor of mathematics and continue research in areas of theoretical evolutionary biology that are related to adaptation.