Monthly Archives: March 2019

Student Research Profile: Antonio Robles

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

I am Antonio Robles, and I am a junior biology major. I am currently a pre-medicine student looking at research opportunities in the medical field or in marine biology.

What did you do?

I participated in research with Dr. Hayes by studying the symbiotic associations of urchins in the Sea of Cortez. Most were done by natural observations by counting holes with the urchins and writing down every species seen in the hole. In the summer, I also participated in neuroscience research with Dr. Sung. I was in charge of finding a way to stain the C. elegans tissue to link possible neurological damage due to overconsumption of food to dementia.

When and where did you do this work?

In the summer of 2018, I spent 11 weeks working with the C. elegans alongside Dr. Sung. This was all spent in the microbiology lab at PUC. In the first week of January 2019, I spent working with Dr. Hayes gather data for the associations with urchins in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

What did you learn?

From both experiences, I learned about the helpful scientific community and how to use certain equipment. Specifically, with Dr. Sung, I was able to communicate with successful research scientists in Switzerland through the internet to come up with an apparatus that would allow the staining and slicing of C. elegans. This cooperation was a highlight as it allowed me to move forward in my research while seeing how there is always collaboration in science. In addition, I learned how to use cryostats, different types of microscopes, micropipettes, and other tools. With Dr. Hayes, I learned the hard work it takes to do fieldwork and how to record data in computers. Each night Dr. Hayes would spend hours adding all the observations in Excel and being able to observe was a great experience.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

Taking the Biological Foundations sequence helped me be familiar with lab tools such as the microscope and micropipette. In addition, it gave me the ground foundations for knowing about the brain and the importance of C. elegans for science. Intro to Research Methods II was very helpful in the way we approach research. This allowed me to know how to contact different researchers around the world to collaborate and it also gave me the opportunity to receive a grant for the research in Mexico on urchins. Past experiences with Dr. Hayes doing research in Clear Lake and Roatán, Honduras, also allowed me to be ready.

Transfer Student Spotlight: Katie Williams

Williams at the net (number 13).

By Sarah Tanner

Volleyball player and English major Katie Williams transferred to PUC at the beginning of her junior year. After attending a junior college in Santa Rosa for two years, the student-athlete made the switch to PUC, and after two quarters on campus, she comfortably claims the title of Pioneer. After school shopping for a number of months, Williams’ decision to attend PUC came down to a handful of qualities she simply could not find anywhere else.

“One thing that immediately drew me to the campus is how in-touch it is with nature. My old college had a lot of oak trees, and I knew I wanted to attend somewhere that shared a similar love for nature. Coming up here, something felt familiar, and I think having such a small campus contributed to that feeling of closeness and comfort,” she explains.

Williams also wanted to make sure whatever college she chose included a strong program in her major.

“The department of English at PUC was a huge draw,” she says, “especially since small class sizes meant I would be able to interact more with professors and definitely be able to finish my major on time.”

As a result of her participation in volleyball, Williams began living on campus in August before fall quarter classes commenced. During that time, she gained a sense of the general campus culture and was surprised at how diverse such a small population could be.

When asked what surprised her most about her initial introduction to PUC, Williams notes, “I was shocked at how many people I met from different backgrounds in that first month. There were not very many students on campus when I arrived for volleyball, but the diversity was unlike anything I had experienced in college so far. It was a nice surprise.”

Over the past two quarters, Williams has adjusted to student life, though participating as a student-athlete during the fall often left her with little time to socialize. Nevertheless, she explained the general friendliness of the campus has made the process quite easy, and building connections with others at PUC has been an exciting process.   

Williams continues, “I am so grateful for the people I have met so far. I know I am making lifelong friends, and being able to push myself out of my comfort zone to attend a school with a strong spiritual life has been really good for me. Being away from home can be a little uncomfortable at times, and knowing my professors, advisors, dean, and the desk-workers are all available to talk or just listen is something I really value about being here.”

When asked if there were any pieces of advice she would like to share with others who are considering PUC as their transfer destination, Williams paused a moment before answering.

“The best advice I can give is to be open to changes in your life. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or draw attention to things that matter to you when you first visit. Tour guides are there to help you gain a sense of life on campus; use them as a valuable resource! When you’re looking at the dorms, ask to see what the rooms look like to get a feel for what the living experience will be like. Also, make sure to walk across campus to see if it is something you’ll want to do every day.”

“Do your best to gain a sense of campus life,” Williams smiled, “ It is so important to be comfortable at your college, and that is something I have definitely found at PUC. I can’t imagine going anywhere else.”

Anyone interested in transferring to PUC, hearing about the academic and athletic opportunities on campus, or simply learning more about the transfer process can reach out to Kharolynn Pascual Smith, PUC’s transfer student counselor, via email at or call (800) 862-7080, option 2 to talk with her now. To schedule a campus visit, go to, call the number above, or email PUC’s visit coordinator at