Chancellor's Club Fellows

Featured Fellows

These fellowships are awarded to the brightest and the best graduate students at UCI who also show great promise as future leaders. Nominations are made by Deans for scholars in their respective schools. The support and generosity of the Chancellor's Club members has allowed promising graduate students to be designated as Chancellor's Club Fund for Excellence Fellows.

Danilo Caputo

Danilo Caputo, English


  • English, UC Irvine, Ph.D., 2019 (expected)
  • English, UC Irvine, M.A., 2016
  • English, CSU Long Beach, M.A., 2013
  • English, CSU Long Beach, B.A., 2011

Research: Shakespearean drama, environmental criticism, and resilience discourse

Danilo Caputo is a Ph.D. candidate in English, specializing in Shakespearean drama. Prior to transferring to UC Irvine, he received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in English from CSU Long Beach. Under the advisement of Dr. Julia Lupton, Danilo’s dissertation “Shakespearean Resilience: Disaster and Recovery in the Late Romances” examines Shakespeare’s late plays through the interdisciplinary lenses of ecocriticism and resilience discourse. Danilo’s interdisciplinary research is informed by his collaborative work across campus. In 2016, he was among the first cohort of UCI Climate Action Fellows led by Dr. Steven Allision and supported through a Climate Action Champion Grant from the UC President’s Office. He has also held GSR positions in the School of Medicine, the Office of Sustainability, Humanities Commons, and the Center for Medical Humanities.

Stephanie Hachey

Stephanie Hachey, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry


  • Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, UC Irvine, Ph.D., 2019 expected
  • Biomedical and Translational Science, UC Irvine, M.S., 2014
  • Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, UC Santa Cruz, B.S., 2009

Research: Microphysiological systems for cancer research and personalized medicine

Currently Stephanie is working toward the Ph.D. degree under the supervision of Dr. Christopher CW Hughes in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UC Irvine. The Hughes lab focuses on the development and validation of microphysiological systems, or physiologically relevant tissue engineered microscaled organ constructs. Stephanie’s research specifically aims to validate the vascularized microtumor (VMT) model developed in the lab for drug screening, disease modeling and personalized medicine applications. In addition to research, Stephanie participates in professional development events through the GPS-Biomed program and an internship through UC Irvine Applied Innovation Technology Transfer Office. Stephanie has received accolades for her academic performance (ARCS Scholar Award 2017-2019), public speaking ability (semi-finalist GradSlam 2016), and publications (critical review selected as top 10% of articles in journal); she also has a proven track record of securing funding for her research.

Bridgette Blebu

Bridgette Blebu, Public Health


  • Public Health, University of California, Irvine, Ph.D, 2019 expected
  • Biostatistics/Epidemiology, University of Southern California, M.P.H, 2012
  • Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, University of Southern California, B.S, 2010

Research: Neighborhood social contexts and premature birth among black immigrant women

Bridgette Blebu received her B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and her master’s degree in public health at the University of Southern California. She is currently a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Program of Public Health. Her dissertation focuses on neighborhood social context and prematurity among infants born to black immigrant women in the state of California. In her work, she examines whether neighborhoods contribute to risk of premature birth by considering the intersections of factors in the receiving context (e.g. racial residential segregation) and migration factors unique to black immigrants in the United States. Beyond her research, Bridgette is committed to fostering inclusive campus experiences for graduate students through her work with the Program in Public Health DECADE student council. Bridgette is a recipient of the Program in Public Health Excellence in Research Award, DITA Power of Sight Fellowship Award, and the UC President’s Dissertation Year Honorable Mention Award.

Andrea Ordaz

Andrea Ordaz, Dance


  • Dance, UC Irvine, MFA, 2019 expected
  • Performance and Choreography, UC Irvine, BFA, 2015

Research: Choreography and Female Mexican-American Ethnic Identity

Andrea Ordaz is a contemporary choreographer and well-rounded dance artist who speaks from a place that brings forth a unique and diverse perspective to contemporary choreographies. Currently a Master in Fine Arts candidate in Dance, Ordaz is specializing in Choreography in relation to artistic process and ethnic identity. She received her Bachelors Degree in Performance and Choreography from the University of California, Irvine. Her Senior thesis “A Place of Thought” explored the journey of a single person, depicting the interior monologue between her philosophical mind and physical body as it makes its way through the world. Ordaz’s process-based, non-linear concert style works, investigate feelings and intuitions celebrating the complexity of human experience in the context of the modern world. Through deep and responsive somatic-based movement exploration, Ordaz developed her understanding and approach to art making as a rich and vibrant form of cultural expression through self-examination. In her continued research, Andrea has been focusing on the historical manifestations of these ideas and has published in Dance Major Journal. Learning from Limón is an article that touches on the historical aspect of Mexican-American heritage and modern dance. Ordaz’s creative goals are centered around further exploration of her approach to embodiment and the further evolution of her method for creative expression. In addition to work performed at the Claire Trevor Theater at UC Irvine, she has premiered new works such as Fotos Antiguas at choreographic festivals in Los Angeles, California. Internationally, Ordaz has worked alongside one of her mentors, Lisa Naugle, to research personal creative processes and improvisational skills, working collaboratively with other artists, fostering creative environments, and performing at various institutions such as Conservatorio “Santa Cecilia” di Roma, Italy.

Monique Kelly

Monique Kelly, Sociology


  • Sociology, University of California-Irvine, PhD, 2019 (expected)
  • Social Science with a concentration in Demography and Social Analysis, University of California-Irvine, M.A., 2013
  • Psychology, Johnson C. Smith University, B.A., 2012

Research: Race/ethnicity, colorism, immigration, inequality, stratification, and identity specifically within the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora

A native of Jamaica, Monique received a B.A. in Pschology from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC, a M.A, in Social Sciences from UCI and is currently an PhD candidate in the Sociology Department her at UCI. She was a recipient of the Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship (2013) through the UCI Graduate Division. Her research broadly focuses on racial and ethnic identities, attitudes, and inequality, as well as on immigration processes connected to those social dynamics. More specifically, Monique’s dissertation, “Jamaican Ethnic Oneness: Race, Colorism, and Inequality,” analyzes racial and skin color stratification in Jamaica, the impact of an ideology of racial mixing on Jamaican’s explanation for that inequality, and racial and nation-based identification. A chapter of her dissertation is published in Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, with others currently under review.

Throughout her graduate school career, she has and continue to serve as a mentor for Sociology graduate students. As a member of the UCI’s Social Sciences’ Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience (DECADE) committee, Monique has co-organized various workshops on navigating micro-aggressions in academia for graduate students. These workshops include providing a space for graduate students to share their experiences and learn strategies to handle these situations in the classroom (both as a student and teaching assistant). She enjoy binge watching anime, spending time with friends and family, and international travel.

Allison Moreno

Allison Moreno, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


  • Biological Sciences, University of California Irvine, Ph.D., 2019 expected
  • Biological Sciences, University of California Irvine, M.Sc, 2018
  • Marine Science, California State University Monterey Bay, B.S., 2014
  • Natural Sciences, East Los Angeles College, A.A., 2010

Research: Quantifying the influence and impact of climate change on marine biogeochemical cycling

Allison Moreno received her B.S. in Marine Science at California State University, Monterey Bay. Currently, she is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Irvine in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology under the advisement of Dr. Adam Martiny. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF-GRFP) and the UCI Oceans Graduate Fellowship. Her research ambitions are to use marine microbial information to disentangle and resolve discrepancies in biogeochemical patterns and cycles. She has sought to investigate the controls of variation in marine elemental composition (stoichiometry), the impact of this variation on atmospheric CO2 and deep ocean O2 concentrations, and lastly to create a novel method of quantifying marine organic matter stoichiometry. Her work has demonstrated the importance of understanding, utilizing, and quantifying marine stoichiometry as a metric of ocean health to better improve modelling efforts in a changing climate.

Melinda Nicewonger

Melinda Nicewonger, Earth System Science


  • Earth System Science, UC Irvine, Ph.D., 2019 (expected)
  • Earth System Science, UC Irvine, M.S., 2015
  • Meteorology, Texas A&M University, B.S., 2013

Research: Reconstructing fire emissions using trace gases in polar ice cores

Melinda Nicewonger received her B.S. in Meteorology from Texas A&M University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at UC Irvine in the Department of Earth System Science in the lab of Dr. Eric Saltzman and Dr. Murat Aydin. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF-GRFP). Her doctoral research is focused on reconstructing fire emissions over the last 2,000 years. To achieve this, she measures the abundance of trace gases (like ethane) in the air bubbles trapped inside ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica and uses global chemistry models to interpret fire emissions from the results. Her work aims to address the pressing question of how climate controls fires on long timescales. Ultimately, the knowledge gained from this research can aid in improving our projections of future climate change. The highlight of her doctoral career has been traveling to and working at the South Pole for two fields seasons as a member of the South Pole Ice Core project. This ice core was used as part of her doctoral research project.

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