Graduate students to attend Nobel conference

Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
June 20, 2023

UC Riverside graduate students Zoe Figueroa and Elena Kozlova have been selected to attend the fourth class of the University of California President’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings Fellows, giving them the opportunity to join Nobel laureates from around the world next week at the 2023 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany. Figueroa and Kozlova will be alongside 26 other exceptional young scientists from other UC campuses and affiliated national laboratories. All fellows will get to attend lectures and panel discussions and speak with Nobel Laureates and other scientists.

Zoe Figueroa Elena Kozlova
Zoe Figueroa (left) and Elena Kozlova

Figueroa was nominated by Emma Wilson, a professor of biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine and associate dean of the Graduate Division. Figueroa said she is honored to be chosen to attend the meeting as an “emerging young Black neuroscientist.”

“Conversing with leading experts in a variety of spheres is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I would leave this meeting with an invaluable life experience,” she said. “Attending this meeting will further my own reach in the scientific and medical community while allowing me to extend a firmer hand to others.”

Figueroa plans to graduate next spring with a doctoral degree in neuroscience. She received her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from UCR. She received a diversity supplement grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, in her second year of graduate school, helping her conduct research and fuel her passion for investigating drug addiction in underprivileged communities. She was chosen to give a talk about her research at a nanosymposium session at the 2022 Society for Neuroscience Conference and has attended a NIDA meeting at NIH, which supported her plans to increase Black diversity in the neuroscience drug addiction community. Figueroa plans to apply to medical school next year to continue strengthening the bridge between medicine, science, and the public.

Kozlova was nominated to attend the meeting by Khaleel Razak, a professor of psychology and director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program, and Margarita Curras-Collazo, Kozlova’s research advisor and a professor of neuroscience.

For Kozlova, too, attending the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She said she is most looking forward to meeting laureates such as Emmanuelle Charpentier, John O’Keefe, and Edvard Moser, whose work she studied in her classes at UCR.

“I’m sure getting a Nobel Prize was never the goal for these scientists, so I am curious to hear about their scientific and personal journeys,” she said. “I am also looking forward to meeting the 600 fellow young scientists from every corner of the world. They will be my future colleagues and it will be powerful to hear about their work and experience diverse points of view.”

Kozlova expects to graduate with a doctoral degree in neuroscience next year, after which she plans to pursue postdoctoral studies. She received her bachelor's degree in neuroscience from UCR after transferring from Foothill Community College. She has received grants from Danone North America and Syngenta, a science-based agtech company, to help conduct her research. She is the recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship, UC-President’s Pre-Professoriate Fellowship, and UCR Science of Sustainability Fellowship.