Merrill College sponsors a Merrill Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program for Merrill juniors and seniors. Students are paired with a Merrill Fellow to work up to 70 hours throughout the winter and spring quarters as paid research apprentices on the faculty member's research.

The purpose of the program is to inspire and prepare Merrill students to pursue graduate studies upon graduation from UCSC. It is designed to provide research experience and personal and professional development for Merrill juniors and seniors. Merrill Fellows nominate a student whose work they are familiar with and whose interests are similar to their own area of research and expertise. As part of their mentorship, students will be employed as Research Assistants up to a maximum of $1050 for the school year. Tasks can include writing summaries of readings, library research, photocopying, organizing materials, creating annotated bibliographies, and assisting with the organization of conferences and workshops. Faculty participants provide students with academic and professional guidance, advice about the process of applying to graduate schools, and serve as their mentors.

Check out the Merrill Fellows who can sponsor students.

Click here for Official Application
  to the program, to be filled out by your Merrill faculty fellow sponsor.

Questions about the program should be addressed to Merrill College at

2020-2021 Participants: 

creigtonSam Creighton: Sam Creighton is a UCSC senior in the Legal Studies and Anthropology departments. They, as well as the University of Santa Cruz, reside on unceded Awaswas-speaking Uypi tribal land overseen by the Amah Mutsun Tribal band, originally growing up in San Diego, CA on Kumeyaay land. Their research focuses include the intersection between ecological degradation and socio-political processes, anarchism as a political theory, as well as critical analysis of racial capitalism. After graduation, they plan to work in tattooing, organizing, writing, and eventually attend graduate school for Social Anthropology.

andersonMerrill Fellow Mark Anderson: Mark Anderson is Professor and Chair of Anthropology. His scholarship has focused on race and racism, indigenous and Black social movements in Central America, the history of anthropology and, currently, property. His most recent book is From Boas to Black Power: Racism, Liberalism, and American Anthropology.

Project Description: Mark Anderson is in the early stages of developing a project on the cultural politics of property, especially landed property, in the U.S. The project will focus on public conflicts over property (e.g. over rent control) as well as everyday understandings and practices of private property. Sam Creighton will engage in two kinds of work to assist in this project.  They will help develop a research bibliography on private property, with a particular focus on anthropology and ethnography of property, and critical theories of property. They will also do research to document recent legal initiatives and political conflicts concerning property, including, for example, initiatives concerning rent control, taxation and other interventions in property law, including in response to Covid-19.  

deveauTyler-Marie Deveau:Tyler-Marie Deveau is currently a fourth-year student with a major in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology. She was born and raised in the Southern California town of Redlands, though her mother was born in Venezuela and her father in Kodiak, Alaska from Sun’aq of Alutiq. Her interests include cell to cell communication, immunological development, and medical impact, as well as gene expression and its impact on the aforementioned subjects. She hopes to disseminate the knowledge of scientific research and STEM education for people across the globe, as well as affording opportunities to all people seeking an education. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Martha Zúñiga in her research lab, and for the opportunity to represent Merrill college as an affiliate.  

zunigaMerrill Fellow Martha Zúñiga: Martha Zúñiga was born in Laredo, Texas, the second of ten children in a tight-knit Mexican-American family. She has ninety first cousins, many of whom lived in Laredo when she was a child. As is the case for many of our URM students, going to university far away from home involved tremendous adjustment. Like many of our students, she also had to work to put myself through college.

Martha Zúñiga earned a BA in Zoology at the University of Texas at Austin and MPhil and PhD degrees in Biology at Yale University. She was her PhD mentor’s first female graduate student, and she was one of only two under-represented minority students in the biological sciences at Yale University and Yale School of Medicine. At Caltech, where she did her postdoc, she was the only under-represented minority person in the Departments of Biology and of Chemistry. She was educated at a time when there was no mentorship whatsoever for URM individuals.  As a graduate student and as a postdoc, she was marginalized and had to learn to promote herself as a member of the community.  So, she has intimate knowledge of the challenges facing the URM and LGBTQ members of our community.  

Martha Zúñiga academic experiences (both good and bad) shaped her not only as a human being, but also as a professor, a scientist, and a mentor. She is strongly motivated to be the mentor and advocate she never had when she was an undergraduate, a graduate student, a postdoc, and even as a faculty member. Now her motivation extends beyond mentorship. She wishes to effect positive change within the university, not just in her lab or in her classroom.

Throughout her academic career as a faculty member both here at UCSC and previously at the University of Texas at Austin, she has participated in programs designed to promote the participation of under-represented minority individuals in academia and in the sciences.

Martha Zúñiga’s research is in the field of Immunology.  Her laboratory group and herself (which we refer to as the Zúñiga Family) study the development of immunological tolerance.  Every year, the “Zúñiga Family” goes to an international Immunology conference where they present their research findings.  

Martha Zúñiga teaches courses in Virology and Immunology.

Project Description: The immune system’s function is predicated on its ability to distinguish self from non-self. During the development of lymphocytes, any which are autoreactive and may cause autoimmune disease are eliminated or undergo “developmental deviation.” In the Zúñiga lab, we study the fate of developing auto-reactive lymphocytes that escape elimination. Specifically, we are determining how they are “developmentally deviated.” Tyler-Marie is participating in this project in three ways. She is helping to execute experiments. She is helping with the data analysis. And finally, she is helping to prepare a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

delgadilloSavannah Delgadillo: Savannah Delgadillo is a Senior History Major from King City, California. She graduated magna cum laude from Hartnell Community College in Salinas, California prior to attending  UC Santa Cruz. Her areas of interest are Latin America, Transnationalism, Women’s healthcare/reproductive healthcare, Gender and Sexuality. She plans to continue her education after graduating from UCSC by studying abroad.

delgadoMerrill Fellow Grace Peña Delgado: Grace Peña Delgado is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Delgado is affiliated with the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (UK) Project on Trafficking, Smuggling and Illicit Migration in Historical and Gendered Perspective at Cambridge University. She is also a member of Yale University Modern Slavery Research Group. Delgado is the author of Making the Chinese Mexican: Global Migration, Localism, and Exclusion in the US-Mexico Borderlands (Stanford: 2012) and co-author of Latino Immigrants in the United States (Polity: 2012). Her forthcoming work on sexuality and border control, States Against Sex: The Sordid History of White Slavery and the Trafficking in Women at America’s Borders places statecraft at the center of intimate and cross-border life. She is author of several articles and book chapters on this subject, including “The Commerce (Clause) in Sex in the Life of Lucille de Saint-André“ in Intimate States: Gender, Sexuality, and Governance in Modern US History (Chicago: 2021) and “Mexico’s New Slavery: A Critique of Neo-Abolitionism to Combat Human Trafficking (la trata de personas)” in Fighting Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking: History and Contemporary Policy (Cambridge: 2021). Her article in the Western Historical Quarterly, “Border Control and Sexual Policing” received numerous best article awards. In addition to her research, Delgado has received UCSC’s top teaching award conferred by its Academic Senate. 

Project Description: The project Savannah will assist me with is my book manuscript, States Against Sex. The book’s geography is the US-Mexico border, the United States, and Mexico. It begins in the mid-nineteenth century and ends in the mid-to-late twentieth century. Savannah will research the early twentieth century cross-border movements of Mexican, African American, and European American sex workers (or those presumed to be such). During this period, sex workers moved northward across the international divide in family units or as single persons and as income earners. At the same time, and sometimes in the same ways, European American and African American sex workers crossed southward into Mexican border towns to escape persecution under the White Slave Traffic Laws (aka the Mann Act, 1910) which punished sex workers and traffickers plying prostitution across interstate lines as immoral, commercial traffic. Moreover, state-level abolitionists laws such as California’s Red Light Abatement Act (1913) made the commerce in sex an illegal practice, and further propelled sex workers in Mexican border towns where prostitution was legal and considered a rightful form of labor. 

The period Savannah will help research is the early twentieth century. Savannah will examine primary sources (letters, diaries, immigration files, consular correspondences, immigration official’s letters, and immigrant appeals letters) from the national and local archives of Mexico and the United States. For Mexico, these archives include the National Archives of Mexico (AGN), the Foreign Relations Archive of Mexico (SRE-GRE) and the State Archive of Baja California (ABC); for the United States these archives include the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), at the Washington DC, Fort Worth, Texas, Riverside, California, and San Francisco, California, branches. 

I will then teach Savannah how to decode such documents, a technique of research I use to identity relevant and appropriate documents from which to write. Decoding requires a deep understanding of the arguments put for in the chapters and the implications of those arguments as supported by primary sources. Savannah will interpret such documents for those dimensions, a process of reading, evaluating, and selection. States Against Sex is an essential revision of history. It pushes against the historiography of middle-class social reform showing that state multi-scalar power made precarious and often illegal the cross-border (national and local state) movements of immigrant and working-class women who sold sex for gain. And I am so pleased Savannah will assist me in this endeavor. 

jacobsDaniella Jane Jacobs: Daniella is a graduating senior, majoring in Sociology and minoring in legal studies. She transferred to UC Santa Cruz from UC Berkeley and is a student researcher in the Human Rights Investigations Lab, housed at the Research Center for the Americas at UC Santa Cruz (and located at Merrill College). Daniella is passionate about social change and playing an active role in advocating for human rights.

falconMerrill Fellow Dr. Sylvanna Falcón: Dr. Sylvanna Falcón is an associate professor of Latin American and Latino Studies and the faculty director of the Research Center for the Americas. She is the founding director of the Human Rights Investigations Lab, the second open source research lab in the University of California system. She is an award-winning author and teacher; she has been a human rights scholar and researcher for nearly two decades. 

Project Description: Daniella will be providing additional research assistance to close out the second year of the Human Rights Investigations Lab. During the end of Spring quarter, Daniella will offer additional research support to teams as needed to close out current investigations, assist with the coordination and writing of public research reports, and conduct small group exit interviews with the team to improve the lab experience for the new incoming cohort in Fall 2021.

Previous partners in the Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program:

Click here to read about the 2019-2020 participants.
Click here to read about the 2018-2019 participants.
Click here to read about the 2017-2018 participants.
Click here to read about the 2016-2017 participants.
Click here to read about the 2015-2016 participants.
Click here to read about the 2014-2015 participants.
Click here to read about the 2013-2014 participants.
Click here to read about the 2012-2013 participants.
Click here to read about the 2011-2012 participants.
Click here to read about the 2010-2011 participants.
Click here to read about the 2009-2010 participants.
Click here to read about the 2008-2009 participants.