Student Scholarship Awardees

Dayea Kim

Dayea Kim is a fourth-year International student coming from South Korea, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (2016) in the Art Department and a double major in Art History. She works mainly in painting and photography.


While the idea of Museology and Photography are both recently introduced in terms of history, it is her current ambition to make a collection of Fine Art Photography in and around Art Museums in Los Angeles. The audience will be visually invited to see the corners of art-exhibiting space, often the most unnoticed and hidden spots, such as storage room and conservation lab. Throughout her photographs, the viewer is to witness art and artifacts de-romanticized, constructed narratives deconstructed, the reality confronted, and the new “museology” made.


There have been a few photographers that worked on this theme of museum photography. Thomas Struth’s “Museum Photographs” captures individuals and crowds looking at famous works of Western art in the world’s most popular museums. Similarly yet differently, Louise Lawler’s “Cool Objectivity” focused on the presentation and marketing of artworks. To address prevailing systems of establishing art, taste, and style, her works were taken in and around museums heavily dealing with the notion of viewership in a museological space.


Meanwhile, oddly, none of her photographs tries to identify art within an image. Audiences are not necessarily led into artist of an artwork, but drawn to a new construction of space and meaning within each frame. While the Museum presents narratives that are somewhat well-directed and resolved, her aim is to invite the viewer to navigate and to find something new—the goal of what it means. As the viewer searches for the relationship between art and everything else within the space, what to be unveiled are the multiple truths.

Todd Lu

Todd Lu is a third year undergraduate pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (2017) in Sociology with a minor in Labor & Workplace Studies. As an aspiring data scientist, Todd wants to use his knowledge in quantitative analysis and computer programming to provide insights into socially relevant issues. He combines a commitment to applicable research with a dedication to student organizing. He is a leader in Fossil Free at UCLA, a climate justice group that organizes around ethical investment policies for public institutions. Throughout his undergraduate career, Todd has committed his research to issues immediately relevant to his campus community. In Winter 2015, he presented to the UC Student Association and informed student leaders what tuition raises meant in the context of the UC budget. In Fall 2015, he collaborated with University-Council American Federation of Teachers, a labor union representing UC lecturers and librarians, to provide insights in the employment relations of adjunct faculty, a subject that remains relatively unexplored due to a lack in reliable empirical data. As a key component of this research, Todd successfully converted publicly available UC payroll data and UC-AFT’s employee data into comprehensive and analyzable formats. To develop further his analytical skills, Todd intends to pursue a Master’s Degree in Data Science. He intends to apply his research towards institutions that help empower underserved and underrepresented communities.

Todd’s research project studies the effects of state funding cuts on the employment distribution in the University of California in order to suggest austerity’s broader impacts on UC shared governance. His research builds upon the works of UC faculty such as Michael Meranze, Christopher Newfield, Robert Samuels, and Charles Schwartz, who have written extensively on the negative structural impacts to the UC due to the state’s austerity policies. Working with his faculty mentors, Dr. Tobias Higbie and Dr. Goetz Wolff, Todd will transcribe print sources of UC employee and student data tables since 1964, the earliest year in which data is available, into online and analyzable formats. Todd intends to make this data publicly available for future research use.

Regina Napolitano

Regina Napolitano is senior at UCLA and majors in gender studies. She is currently writing a thesis about the intersection of the internet and contemporary feminism. Specifically, her research looks at the nature of feminist content and organizing on the social media website, tumblr.

Noemi Ruiz

Noemi Ruiz's research question will examine the notion of assimilation as it pertains to body dissatisfaction among the Mexican-American, women population during college. She hypothesizes that generational status does affect body dissatisfaction. Her investigation will study a UCLA sample size of 150 Mexican-American college women (75 first generation and 75 second generation, respectively). The question guiding her research methodology will be: does immigration generation status influence the propensity of body dissatisfaction among the Mexican-American women population in college?

Gabriel Garza

Gabriel Antonio Garza grew up in Los Angeles, and still currently resides here, and after beginning at UCLA feels as though he will be here forever. He is a 3rd year in the Art department, with a minor in Music History. He works mainly in performance, video, and sculpture. The ability for these mediums specifically to be “time-based” are a place of high interest in his work.


The project that he is researching and creating is a performance based inside of a hypothetical history that is in line with the 1985 music video for Run-DMC’s song “King of Rock”. The project is a performance that is set in the year 2046, where a band with radical intentions like Run-DMC did, enter into the space of the music video, that being a fake rock and roll hall of fame museum, and intend to reanimate it and speak to the trajectory of music since Run-DMC did in 1985, opening up dialogue and critique on the music industry and musical histories.

Tira Okamoto

Tira Okamoto is a fourth-year undergraduate student, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (2016) in World Arts and Cultures and a double minor in Arabic/Islamic Studies and Global Health. Her academic interests include post-colonial studies, environmental justice, feminist intersectionality, and performance studies. Outside of the classroom, Okamoto is involved in E3: Ecology, Economy, Equity, UCLA’s largest student sustainability organization, and Ecochella, an annual bike-powered concert. She is also a founding member of EmpowHER at UCLA, a feminist arts activism student organization. In Fall 2014, she studied abroad in Amman, Jordan with the School for International Training (SIT). Her research utilized female narratives to examine the prevalence of sexual harassment in Amman. She produced a 43-page written report on the conducted research, which won a 2014-2015 Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D. Award through the UCLA Center for the Study of Women. After graduating, she plans to return home to the Bay Area to work on environmental justice issues before pursuing a master’s degree in international environmental policy.


Her current research critically examines ecological feminism, the intersection of environmentalism and feminism. She will be specifically focusing on theoretical controversies and how she/other female climate activists position herself/themselves within the movement. The main research question guiding this research is How are the theories of ecological feminism and environmental justice being applied in today's world, specifically by youth activists in California? Methodology includes analyzing eco-feminist theoretical foundations, interviewing representatives from social justice organizations that focus on intersectionality, surveying California student activists on if/how they perceive their narratives as being connected to ecofeminism, and examining eco-feminist art (visual and performance). This project critiques previous foundational ecofeminist discourse and inquires into an updated, more intersectional side of ecofeminism. This research demonstrates the importance of intersectionality as a tool for building alliances across social justice movements, thus working to bridge the gap between theory and application.

Jeffery Oliver Wong

Jeffrey Wong attends the University of California, Los Angeles, where he will be graduating in 2016 and where he founded the Lavender Health Alliance — an LGBT undergraduate health advocacy group focused on mentorship, volunteering at LGBT-focused clinics, and educational presentations. As the founder, he seeks to build a foundation of social connections throughout Los Angeles among LGBT-identifying health care providers, UCLA undergraduates, graduate students and faculty.


Jeffrey has also dedicated himself to building connections and relationships amongst underserved communities, as seen by his involvement with teaching programs like Breakthrough Collaborative and his leadership as the co-President of Project Health. These organizations seek to close the achievement gap that negatively affect several low-income, underserved communities and their future academic success. These youth-oriented programs foster interpersonal skills that Jeffrey hopes to apply in the future as a primary care physician.


Finally, Jeffrey also has shown continuous advocacy in the healthcare field from his involvement with UCLA’s Mobile Clinic Project and the Gay Men’s Health Collective at the Berkeley Free Clinic. In Mobile Clinic, he acts as a caseworker for homeless clients — taking their social history, giving out necessary medication, and providing referrals to nearby and relevant resources. The Gay Men’s Health Collective serves to meet the needs of men’s health in the Berkeley area by providing free STI testing and general sexual health related issues (anal warts, genital infections, etc.).


In the fall, he will prepare an IRB application and recruit participants through social media, flyering, and classroom announcements. In the winter, once the research methods and outline are approved and he has participants, he will use a cross-sectional mixed-methods design (a quantitative component (validated, psychometrically sound survey instrument) and a qualitative component (student focus groups)) to gather data about their experiences and access to LGBT STEM mentorship. Finally, in the Spring he will transcribe the interviews and analyze all the data, looking for common themes and reviewing the findings with his faculty mentors (Dr. Thomas Coates and Dr. Ian Holloway). This will culminate into a final thesis and poster board during Undergraduate Research Week.