Research Associates

A PLNU science student shows and explains an experiment she is working on to visiting alumni.

Research Associates is an auxiliary of the PLNU Alumni Association. This organization was initiated by alumni who were compelled to give back to the biology and chemistry departments at PLNU so other students could participate in the life-shaping activities that aided in their own successes. Its 260 members are alumni and friends of the biology and chemistry departments of PLNU, most of whom have participated in the university's Summer Research Program.

The purpose of Research Associates is to contribute to the professional development and success of students and faculty, particularly in the area of undergraduate research.

This goal is realized by:

  • Supporting the PLNU Summer Research Program with student stipends, supplies, and equipment
  • Providing academic-year scholarships in recognition of excellence
  • Providing financial support for students who present their work at professional conferences
  • Supporting networking events and seminars for students and alumni in various professions


"The two years of research and lab assisting were two of the best years of my life. The experience gave me an invaluable lead into graduate level studies as well as provided the basis for needed technical, presentational and critical thinking skills."

Benjamin J. Pettus, Class of 1997
Biology-Chemistry, B.S.

Learn more about Research Associates by visiting the Alumni Auxiliary Page.

Biology and Chemistry Research Video

Research Associates Board of Directors 

Rick Bravo, Class of 1979, Chair    

MD, FAAP, Bravo Pediatrics
San Luis Obispo, CA

Karisa Archer, Class of 2010

Los Angeles, CA

Brad Carter, Class of 1982

Surgical Oncologist
Philadelphia, PA

Richard "Jeff" Conner, Class of 1984

Murrieta, CA

Bethany Fitzsimmons, Class of 2002

Senior Research Associate, Ionis Pharmaceuticals
San Diego, CA

Carly Guthrie, Class of 2005 

Cardiothoracic anesthesiology. Co-director
San Diego, CA Vein Treatment Center

Nathan Kemalyan, Class of 1983

Burn Surgeon
Portland, OR

Art Nicolet, Class of 1965 

Owner, ACN Enterprises, Inc.
Tucson, AZ

Tim Peppers 

Orthopedic Surgeon
La Jolla, CA

Brittany Thomas, Class of 2016

High School Science Teacher
San Diego, CA

Mike Willis 

COO, DermTech
San Diego, CA

Jennifer Buchanan, Class of 1983 

General Dentistry
Fairfax, CA

Michael Cater, Class of 1965 

Tustin, CA

Thomas Fitzpatrick, Class of 2001

General Dentistry
 San Diego, CA

Katie Friederich, Class of 2007

Pediatric Neurologist
Roseville, CA

Jeanette Hendrickson, Class of 1997

Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Torrance, CA

Matthew MacGinnis, Class of 2005

Fullerton, CA

Brad Oliver, Class of 1977

Physician Assistant
Portland, OR

Geoff Sigmund, Class of 1999

Orange, CA

Bob Wiese, Class of 1982 

Chief Life Sciences Officer
San Diego Zoo Global

Bruce Windoffer, Class of 1978

Illumina, Informatics Sales
San Diego, CA


Research Associates Annual Report

2019 Research Associates Annual Report


Give to Research Associates

"The undergraduate research program at Point Loma provided me with hands-on experience with the research techniques and tools important in chemistry research today as well as an understanding of the format and methods for conducting research. More importantly, it wet my appetite and gave me a thirst for scientific investigation."

Matthew D. Alexander Ph.D., Class of 1997
Biology-Chemistry, B.S.

More Student Testimonials

"At Harvard, dental students are enrolled with medical students, along with additional dental classes at the dental school for the first two years. This extensive and intensive curriculum requires a solid background in biology and chemistry. Point Loma's Biology-Chemistry program built a strong scientific foundation for the discipline of dental medicine."

David Brock, Class of 1997
Biology-Chemistry, B.S.

"Summer research gave me a clear understanding of the scientific method. It equipped me with excellent laboratory skills and the ability to write scientifically. I was even a co-author on several peer-reviewed scientific papers! Through this process I came to understand how important the student-mentor relationship is. Most importantly, I learned how to think, not to just be a pair of hands. Scientific thought is often overgeneralized and things are more complex than we can even imagine. Once you understand that science is fallible and far from perfect, you will be willing to go against the norm and tradition to explore novel ideas."

Tobiah L. Pettus, Class of 1997
Biology-Chemistry, B.S.

"The most valuable tool I took with me from the science departments at Point Loma (aside from a beaker that was used to transport some goldfish) was the ability to think analytically. It wasn't until I arrived at the university with students from all over the country - and all over the world - that I realized how valuable and rare a commodity that really is."

Jenna Haliasz, Class of 1996
Biology-Chemistry, B.S.