Ten SDSU students were selected as Inamori Fellows as part of the Kyoto Prize Symposium.

By Cory Marshall


Each year as part of the Kyoto Prize Symposium, an event sponsored by the Inamori Foundation and held at San Diego State University, 10 SDSU graduate and Ph.D. students are selected as Inamori Fellows and receive $5,000 scholarships.

SDSU faculty advisers and mentors recommend the recipients, whose resumes include awards, publications and presentations.

The scholarship foundation was established in 1984 by Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman of Kyocera and KDDI Corporation.

The following are the 2017-18 Inamori Fellows:

Haley Ciborowski, Global Health

Haley CiborowskiCiborowski is finishing her third year as a Ph.D. student in the joint doctoral program in global public health at SDSU and University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She has more than a decade of experience working with indigenous and underserved populations in Central America and East Africa. She has also worked in Southeast Asia providing access to HIV and Hepatitis B DNA testing; building a school for the rural poor in Southern India; and helping young entrepreneurs launch their own organizations.

Ciborowski’s research interests include social determinants of health, access to primary care, and infectious disease testing and treatment access for rural indigenous populations, marginalized populations, and people living in border and migration areas and areas of conflict.

Hannes Schraft, Biology 

Hannes SchraftSchraft is a Ph.D. student in the SDSU biology department. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico before moving to San Diego.

Schraft’s research surrounds the behavior and sensory ecology of rattlesnakes. His work examines the resolution and sensitivity of the organs rattlesnakes use to “see” heat and how wild rattlesnakes use thermal information to make behavioral decisions.

Jeanette Zambrano, Psychology 

Jeanette ZambranoZambrano is currently a second-year graduate student studying social psychology at SDSU. She worked on the Science IMAGE project, a National Science Foundation-funded project that examined the role of cultural identities and motivations in science career interest among undergraduate minority students. Her poster and roundtable presentations on this project have been sought by regional and national conference organizers, including the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP).

Zambrano plans to pursue her doctoral degree in urban education policy with a concentration in educational psychology at the University of Southern California.

Jie Dai, Geography

Jie DaiDai is a Ph.D. student in the geography joint doctoral at SDSU and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). His interests include invasion ecology and related research techniques such as remote sensing and agent-based simulation.

Dai’s research uses satellite imagery and species distribution modeling frameworks to study the spatial extent of an invasive vine in Chitwan community forests, Nepal. His work also examines the interactions and dynamics of the Chitwan local communities in the face of exotic plant invasion.

Karen Schwartz, Psychology 

Karen SchwartzSchwartz is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the psychology joint doctoral program at SDSU and UCSD. Her research looks into mechanisms of psychosocial treatment, engagement and response in depressed youth.

Schwartz ultimately hopes to use her findings to develop and implement more efficacious intervention programs for this in-need population.

Michael Verrier, Homeland Security

Michael VerrierVerrier is a student in the graduate program in homeland security at SDSU. His career in disaster relief has been focused on the effects of climate change and the empowerment of communities globally to map and mitigate the impact of local geological and human-made disasters. Verrier is an AmeriCorps alumnus who studied temperature change effects on lakes in Southwest Alaska with the National Park Service. He is also a Red Cross volunteer.

His current research involves initiating a grassroots effort for volunteer humanitarian mapping through Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team in Indonesia and investigating the potential for crowdsourced mapping to measure the United Nation’s indicators of sustainable development.

Nazanin Abbaspour, Exercise and Nutrition

Nazanin AbbaspourAbbaspour is a graduate student in the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at SDSU. While living in Switzerland, she completed her undergraduate studies in the field of water engineering, and has a graduate degree in environmental sciences and nutrition.

She has authored seven papers in international Scientific Indexing (ISI) journals, including two highly-cited review papers on the importance of zinc and iron to human health. Her research explores the impact of climate change on California water resources.

Alma Behar, Public Health

Alma BeharBehar is a second-year Ph.D. student in the public health joint doctoral program at SDSU and UCSD. Her research focuses on identifying barriers to support environments for socially- and economically-disadvantaged youth, particularly girls, to be involved in sports and other physical activities. This research will contribute to the current understanding of predictors of physical inactivity that place at-risk youth at greater risk of obesity and other chronic health problems.

Behar’s long-term goal is to contribute, through research and advocacy, to the development of physical activity-related programs that improve the health outcomes of young underserved populations in the United States and abroad.

Bingyan J. Wang, Biology 

Bingyan J. WangWang is a Ph.D. student in the biology joint doctoral program at SDSU and UCSD. She received her bachelor’s degree in biochemical engineering in her native Beijing, China, before obtaining her master’s degree in biochemical engineering at TU Delft in the Netherlands.

Wang’s interest in developmental biology eventually brought her San Diego, where she was able to join Mark Sussman’s research lab—part of SDSU’s Heart Institute. Her current research examines the connection between cardiac stem cell behavior and the myocardial microenvironment during embryogenesis and early postnatal heart development, in order to engineer permissive conditions to facilitate stem cell therapy for heart failure.

Jazzalyn Livingston, Counseling and School Psychology 

Jazzalyn LivingstonLivingston is a graduate student in the counseling and school psychology department in SDSU’s College of Education. She earned two bachelor’s degrees in clinical psychology and public health from UCSD.

Following her undergraduate studies, she traveled Greece to study the pharmacology of psychoactive drugs, addictive behavior, therapeutics and neuroscience. From this experience, she was inspired to further her education in the field of community mental health.

Her past research includes work with formerly incarcerated individuals from southeast San Diego, who have been impacted by the prison industrial complex. The project implemented a trauma-informed intervention designed to help participants clarify their values, improve everyday functioning, enhance their sense of self and interconnection with others and the community, while ultimately learning skills they could use to successfully divert the cycle of recidivism.