College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

Graduate students Wayne Water Vigil Jr. and Giulia Alboreggia have each won a Dissertation Completion Fellowship Award. The award, given by the UCR Graduate Division, is given to doctoral students for up to two quarters.  


Wayne Vigil, Jr.
Wayne Vigil, Jr.

Vigil Jr. and Alboreggia are the first two graduates with doctoral degrees from the Biophysics Graduate Program, directed by Roya Zandi, a professor of physics and astronomy. 

Vigil Jr. who works with Russ Hille, a distinguished professor of biochemistry, has won the award for the spring quarter and will receive $10,000. He plans to use the award money to pay his rent while completing his dissertation work. 

Vigil Jr. will graduate next month with a doctoral degree in biophysics, after which he will start a postdoctoral appointment at UCR. He was drawn to the new Biophysics Graduate Program because he “liked the idea of trailblazing something that hadn’t been done before.” 

“There’s a familiarity in the unknown,” he said.

Vigil Jr. is a self-proclaimed “desert rat from the mountains of New Mexico.” A first-generation college student, he worked full time as an emergency medical technician during his high-school and undergraduate years. He received his dual-major from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology: one degree in chemical engineering with a minor in chemistry and the second a degree in biomedical sciences. 

“I have been beyond fortunate in my time here at UCR, from getting an amazing mentor, Dr. Hille, who has been nothing short of phenomenal,” he said. “I got to travel to Europe to present my research in 2021 and received the Science of Sustainability Fellowship last year. All the ups and downs have made for a wild time here at UCR and I’m glad the coin-flip that brought me down to Riverside landed heads and not tails.”

Vigil Jr. has two pet rabbits.

“One uses her five pounds of fluffy might to terrorize me given the opportunity,” he said.

Alboreggia works with Maurizio Pellecchia, a professor of biomedical sciences and the Daniel Hays Endowed Chair in Cancer Research in the School of Medicine. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Insubria in Italy.


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