Skip to main content

2016 Winners

The DeNardo Senior Prize was awarded to two individuals in 2016:

Emily Jane Fayram

Emily was nominated by Barbara Burns, Professor and Chair of the Liberal Studies Program.

Emily is a double major in Psychology and Liberal Studies, with a Child Studies emphasis, who holds a cumulative GPA of 3.94. Her long-term career goal is to become a clinical psychologist so that she can produce high-quality scientific research to support evidence-based practices for working with children who have experienced trauma.

Before she begins a doctoral program in clinical psychology, she will work in Copenhagen, Denmark for one year on a project that connects students to an organization supporting asylum-seekers and their families – most from Afghanistan and Somalia – with transitioning to living in Denmark and providing support for their family and communities in their home country. Most of these asylum-seekers have experienced trauma, which led to their relocation in Denmark.

Dr. Burns states in her nomination letter, “Since Fall 2013 Emily Fayram has worked as a research assistant on our Resilient Families Program (RFP) in San Jose, CA. RFP is a parenting and child enrichment program focused on promoting resilience in at-risk children and families. The families in our program are recent immigrants from Mexico and English Language Learners. The goal of this work is to strengthen children’s resilience through very specific parent education regarding school readiness and parental stress reduction and self-regulation. After working with her for almost four years I can say that Emily is one of the most extraordinary undergraduates I have worked with across 30+ years. Even when considering the high-powered applicants for this scholarship, Emily is extraordinarily talented.”

In her work with RFP, Emily traveled to Seattle to present a poster at the University of Washington’s Mindful Families, Schools & Communities: Research-to- Practice Promoting Child Wellbeing Conference in April 2015. In June 2015, she co-authored a poster presented in Athens, Greece at the Olympism4Humanity Conference. She also traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to present RFP: Train the Trainer, a three-day event designed to teach leaders in non-profits and other organizations how to implement the RFP curriculum into their community setting. And, finally, she co-authored a paper that is in press in the Wheelock International Journal of Children, Families and Social Change.

Spring 2016 has found her analyzing data and writing a paper about the relationship between parental mental health and child behavior, working on a multimedia submission for the International Journal of Student Voice, and co-authoring a paper on childhood trauma. In June, she travels to the University of Detroit Mercy to present a culturally competent RFP: Train the Trainer.

She is also the co-presenter of “Resilient Families Program: Preschoolers” and “Resilient Families Program: Parents” at a poster presentation at the University of Washington Center for Child and Family Well-Being’s Second Biennial Mindfulness Research Conference.

Emily is also the primary author on two publications in preparation: “The impact of maternal stress and depression on child outcomes in Latino families” and “Childhood trauma and protective factors in Latino families.”

Additionally, she is the primary author on a video file in preparation: “Resilience Begets Resilience: Students, Families, and the Community” for The International Journal of Student Voice.

Outside the classroom, Emily is the co-founder and president of the Future Child Advocates of America at SCU. She created the club to help students learn how to be a voice for children, particularly those who are abused, bullied, or in the foster care system. She has also participated in the Stand4Freedom event for two years to raise awareness and stand in solidarity with the 27 million victims of human trafficking worldwide.

In everything she does, Emily tries to advocate for social justice and compassion towards others because she firmly believes these will lead to better mental and physical health outcomes for the world at large.

In her nomination Dr. Burns noted: “Emily Fayram is a very intelligent and ambitious student who is passionate about both science and social justice for high-risk children and families. She has an authentic and deep respect for families facing adversity and her manner of ‘being with’ families is a model for my entire team of undergraduates. She is both compassionate and driven to apply science to practice. She has tremendous potential as a research scientist, scholar, and professional psychologist. She is the complete package and will forge a career as a translational scientist in psychology and public health. Her career path will exemplify values of compassion, conscience and competence to serve at-risk children and families.”


Hayley Raquer

Hayley was nominated by Leilani Miller, Associate Professor of Biology.

Hayley is a member of the rigorous University Honors Program and holds a cumulative GPA of 3.92, with a major in Biology (Molecular and Cellular emphasis) and a minor in Biotechnology. Her ultimate goal is to connect her research to women’s health, particularly under-researched diseases like endometriosis.

For the immediate future, Hayley has accepted a fellowship to work for two years at the National Institutes of Health outside of Washington DC. She will be working in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) for Dr. Michael Lenardo. The Lenardo lab is a molecular immunology lab and primarily studies the molecular regulation of T-cells and their role in immunological tolerance. Her principal investigator will fund graduate level immunology courses through the NIH to increase Hayley’s understanding of the field and prepare her for graduate school to study molecular biology/immunology.

Dr. Miller states in her nomination letter: “In the more than three years that I have known her, Hayley has impressed me with her intelligence, commitment, compassion, science knowledge, passion for learning, research skills, critical thinking, and leadership skills. She has great potential to be a future leader in the health sciences. Hayley is not afraid to challenge herself, both in and out of the lab. She is absolutely tenacious in her quest to make sure she really understands in depth, not just the surface ideas. Hayley has also impressed me as a member of my research lab. She is fascinated by the science, motivated, and able to work well with the other students in my lab. She has initiative, ability to grasp complex concepts, strong writing skills, enthusiasm, and an extremely strong work ethic.”

Hayley’s research is responsible for the development of a non-radioactive gel shift assay to confirm the putative MAPK docking site on LIN-31 as well as determine which of the four putative phosphorylation sites are necessary for function. During the course of this project, she built molecular constructs for her assay using restriction enzyme cloning technique and PIPE. She also built the first CRISPR Cas9 construct in their lab, where they later injected this plasmid into worms.

As the first person in the Miller lab to successfully introduce tissue culture into the lab, she went on to develop several protocols for its use and maintenance. Hayley also had success while experimenting with a variety of different mammalian transfection methods and in building the worm strains needed for further study on the vulval toroid defect. These skills and others she has acquired, including cloning and the new gene editing technique CRISPR Cas9, will be invaluable as she continues to pursue health care related research.

Hayley co-authored (submitted): “Functional analysis of the C. elegans winged-helix transcription factor LIN-31 identifies multiple domains and separation-of- function mutations in vulval development.”

Additionally, she co-presented:“The role of the transcription factors LIN-31 and LIN-1 in C. elegans vulval morphogenesis (West Coast Undergraduate Research Conference),” Point Loma University, April 2016.

Hayley has also co-presented the following posters:

“The role of the transcription factors LIN-31 and LIN-1 in C. elegans vulval morphogenesis,” (SCU Sigma Xi), Santa Clara University, April 2016 and (Bay Area Worm Meeting), San Jose State University, May 2016

“Analysis of Phosphorylation of the C. elegans Transcription Factor LIN-31 during Cell Signaling (C. elegans International Meeting), UCLA, June 2015 and (West Coast Undergraduate Research Conference), Point Loma University, March 2015

When not in the lab, Hayley uses her passion for science to help others through the club she founded, Women in STEM. This club began as a small group that consisted of mostly life science majors interested in networking opportunities and grew to over 100 members with every STEM major represented. Through her leadership, they hosted events including lectures with physicists and computer scientists from NASA, representatives from Roche, and Stanford biology graduate students.

She is also passionate about encouraging early STEM education and volunteers to help young students discover the fun of science. Hayley helps plan educational science events for the biology department and the wider school community, including the recent Tri-Beta HPV panel and an Ebola lecture in the fall of last year. She is a member and founder of the STEM alumni panel, which is attempting to build stronger relations between the university and biotech companies, and is the recipient of both the Clare Booth Luce and Johnson leadership awards.

Dr. Miller also noted: “In summary, I believe that Hayley has extraordinary potential to make a positive impact as a research scientist in the health sciences. When I first met her as a first-year student, she was uncertain, anxious, and lacked confidence. I am so proud of the wonderful scientist and person she has become. This bright and hard-working young lady has extraordinary potential to make significant contributions to the health sciences, and she has my very highest recommendation for a 2016 DeNardo Senior Prize.”