BAE Student Becomes University Innovation Fellow Building Programs and Promoting Collaboration

By Staff Contributor

Lisa Illes, fourth-year Biological Systems Engineering major, is working with Michaela Poblete (Computer Science), Julia Morris (Science and Technology Studies), and Livia Morris (Science and Technology Studies /Cognitive Science) as University Innovation Fellows. They have been working with the Office of the Provost and several departments on campus to build programs promoting interdisciplinary and industry collaborations on campus.

The University Innovation Fellows program is a 6-week in-depth look into the campus ecosystem. Fellows are given tools to help them innovate, collaborate, create, organize, and much more. According to the website, one goal of the program is to help students become leaders on campus who "create new opportunities that help their peers develop an entrepreneurial mindset, build creative confidence, seize opportunities, define problems and address global challenges."

Lisa is applying what she's learned from the University Innovation Fellowship program to her role as President of BioInnovation Group at UC Davis (BIG at UC Davis). BioInnovation Group is an undergraduate research group operating out of the TEAM Molecular Prototyping and BioInnovation Laboratory on campus.

Using a onetime $7000 grant from the organization Venturewell, Lisa and several other students were able to create 5 independent research projects involving 60 students across 10 different majors. Lisa is hoping to use her time as a Fellow to develop a sustainable organizational structure and funding source for BioInnovation Group. As part of this effort, she is participating in the Community of Practice around experiential learning in the Biological Sciences, an effort directly supported by the Dean of the College of Biological Sciences.

Michaela is applying what she learned from the Fellowship to SacHacks, the Sacramento intercollegiate hackathon she founded last year. SacHacks is designed to teach coding skills to people who would have otherwise not been exposed to it. This includes non-STEM majors and traditionally underrepresented groups.

Julia and Livia are working together to make all types industry opportunities more visible and accessible to undergraduates. They have started a new Science and Technology Studies student organization and plan to create a unique speaker-series format where an academic and someone working in industry are interviewed by students and each other.