Scholar of the Week

Maribel Jaquez
UC Berkeley

Great Minds in STEM is proud to introduce its 2015 Outstanding Graduate Student Leadership Award recipient – Maribel Jaquez, a mechanical engineering doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley.

Born and raised in Coachella, CA, when Maribel began started elementary school, she spoke Spanish only, and not until fifth grade, did she realize she was reading at the second grade level. By the end of the year, through perseverance, she caught up! Her passion to learn led her to be her class valedictorian.

Motivated by her father, as a young girl to the curiosity of understanding how to build and take things apart, Maribel decided to study engineering. The first in the family to graduate from a university, Maribel continues to break her hometown stereotypes of women as homebound, married and with children. Maribel earned both a bachelors in materials science and mechanical engineering, from the University of California, Irvine. She then continued her education to earn her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her thesis was titled Synthesis and Characterization of ZnO1-xSx Alloys Throughout the Composition Range.

Ever since the spring semester of her sophomore year, Maribel has been engaged in some type of semester or summer research experience. These experiences have provided her with a broad array of applied knowledge that has propelled her forward to her current research. Currently, she is conducting research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as part of the Solar Energy Materials Research Group (EMAT) and Dubon Group, under the advisement of Dr. Oscar Dubon and Dr. Kin Man Yu. Her research focuses on studying structural and optical properties of highly-mismatched oxides (ZnOS). This involves synthesizing ZnOS alloys using RF Magnetron Sputtering, characterizing the film thickness and composition using rutherford backscattering spectrometry, and studying the crystallinity of these films using X-ray diffraction (XRD), and measuring the optical properties through reflectivity and transmission measurements.

To date, Maribel is listed as a co-author on a conference presentation and a published paper. She is a co-author on a submitted paper, and the primary author on a paper that is in preparation. Among other achievements, she has received a cadre of competitive scholarships including the NSF Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship, UC LEADs Scholar, and MAES Founder’s Scholarship. She is a member of the Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and Golden Key Honor Society.She has been on the deans honor roll for 10 quarters!

While at UCI, in addition to being actively engaged in research and focused on her academics, Maribel volunteered for three years at the annual MAES (Latinos in Science and Engineering) Science Extravaganza where over 150 middle school students visited UC Irvine for a full day of hands-on, interactive science presentations to create awareness of the STEM fields. Every year, Maribel has gone back home to participate in her parish College Fair Night to motivate parents and students about college opportunities.

Now, as a graduate student at UC Berkeley, she has been involved with the Science and Engineering Community Outreach (SECO) organization where she has had the opportunity to visit numerous 2nd grade classrooms to present science lessons. She has also served on a number of graduate student panels, discussing how to apply for graduate school, how to visit graduate schools before applying, and how to fund a graduate degree. As the current Latino/a Association of Graduate Students in Engineering and Sciences (LAGSES) Corporate Liaison, Maribel has successfully obtained external funding to host events for the organization.

Self-described as committed, determined, enthusiastic, respectful, honest, humble, and motivated, Maribel continues to be a trailblazing role model and mentor for other young minority women to pursue careers in engineering and the sciences. As a future faculty in solar and renewable energies, Maribel is well on her way in making a positive and significant difference in the Latina community.

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