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Posted on Monday, February 27, 2023

ARCS volunteers say they’d like to help more students like 2022-23 ARCS Foundation scholar Jon Aguiñaga, who is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Population Biology graduate group at UC Davis.

Aguiñaga is a first-generation Mexican-American student who is the first in his family to graduate college, earn a master’s, and enroll in a Ph.D. program. The ARCS award is allowing him to focus solely on his research for an entire quarter, which has advanced his research timeline and allowed him to pursue collaborative projects with researchers in the United Kingdom.

While his own research focuses on how individual animal behaviors impact group decision making, he sees parallels between his research and his own life.

“It’s kind of fun that I study information and how information spreads because now, all this information I’ve learned about navigating college, I’ve transferred to my siblings and cousins,” he said.

He also shares what he knows with others through community outreach and volunteerism. He teaches a biological models and coding course to high school students in the Davis Young Scholars Program.

Aguiñaga says he feels honored to be a part of a legacy that is 50-years strong. “It feels like there are a whole bunch of people behind me rooting for me to succeed,” said Aguiñaga. “To know I have the support of this foundation and all the people who came before me is really empowering. It makes me feel that I can do more.”