TRAINS Leadership and Mentors

TRAINS Leadership

Christian Vaca, RHC & PI

Chris Vaca joined the Rio Hondo College Faculty in 2017 and is the TRAINS Principal Investigator (PI).  As a graduate of Cosumnes River College, a community college in Sacramento, California, Professor Vaca knows the struggles and challenges that face community college students on a personal level.  He has dedicated his life to providing access to higher education to students from underrepresented backgrouds in the STEM disciplines.

Chris Vaca is a triple alumnus from UCLA receiving his BS and MS in physical chemistry and his PhD in physics.

Peter Chung, USC & Co-PI

Peter J. Chung is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Assistant Professor of Chemistry (by courtesy) at the University of Southern California.

Peter believes in creating a welcoming environment for community college students at USC and using TRAINS as a platform for that transformation.

He was previously a Kadanoff-Rice Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago studying proteins involved in Parkinson’s disease. He received his PhD in physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and undergraduate degrees in physics and materials engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Peter's personal research website

Anne Leak, UCSB-CSEP & Co-PI

Anne Leak is a scientific education researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships.  Anne has dedicated her work in scientific education research to addressing and removing the barriers that prevent women and underrepresented minority students from being successful in the physics and engineering disciplines.

She holds a bachelors in physics from Gettysburg College and received her masters and PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara in scientific education.

Anne's personal research website

TRAINS Project Evaluation

Lubi Lenaburg

Lubi Lenaburg is the Evaluation and Assessment Program Manager at the University of California, Santa Barbara's Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships. A primary focus of her work is to collaborate with faculty on projects that improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in STEM. She thinks it is important to empower faculty to make data-driven decisions so that they can meet their goals and are able to continually strengthen and improve the resources and programming they are providing. 

She is a triple alumnus from UCSB, with a BS and MA in applied statistics and a PhD in education with an emphasis in quantitative research methods. 

Ellie Sciaky

Ellie Sciaky has been evaluating educational programs with CSEP since 2010, first as a graduate student, and then as an evaluation coordinator after receiving her PhD in Education at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education in 2015. She has experience evaluating STEM education programs funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Health (NIH), Office of Naval Research (ONR), University of California Santa Barbara, and private foundations. Her projects have covered a range of topics, including research internships for undergraduates, transfer student success, research abroad experiences for graduate students, and professional development experiences for graduate students, faculty, and K-12 teachers. She is experienced in survey design and implementation, individual and focus group interviews, longitudinal tracking, and data analysis. 

Ellie works with program coordinators to help them clarify their goals, and determine what kind of outcomes to expect when program goals are accomplished. She designs and implements evaluation plans that elucidate outcomes, as well as solicit feedback on a program’s strengths and weaknesses.

TRAINS Faculty Advisors at USC