Welcome to CienciaPR, an expert and resource network for all who are interested in science and Puerto Rico.
I am a neuroscientist born in Caguas Puerto Rico and raised in part in Yabucoa Puerto Rico and Queens New York. My formative education and experience in science took place in Humacao Puerto Rico where I received a bachelors degree in Biology and conducted research with the guidance of Dr. Carmen Hernandez. After obtaining a Doctorate degree in Physiology with the mentorship of Dr. Annabell Segarra, I fell in love with the method of magnetic resonance imaging to capture glimpses of brain functionality and structure in vivo. Therefore, I went to the University of Massachusetts to train in preclinical fMRI with Dr. Craig Ferris in the Department of Psychiatry. We were the first group to develop and successfully carry out awake rat imaging on a Bruker 4.7 Tesla MR scanner. I am currently a faculty member of the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Florida and a faculty member of the Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy facility in the University of Florida Brain Institute. I lead a research lab dedicated to understanding how drugs of abuse, particularly nove synthetic drugs, affect brain circuitry function and behavior.
We are presently funded to determine the effects of the psychoactive synthetic cathinone methylenedioxypyrovalerone on brain network connectivity and behavior in a rat model. We also conduct collaborative research to determine the effects of cannabis smoke exposure during adolescence on later cognitive and affective behavior. More recently, we are investigating the role of immune signaling in the advserse effects of drugs such as MDPV, which are known to produce deleterious effects on behavior, cognitive and affect in recreational users. Finally, on the technical side, we are highly interested in assessing functional connectivity and brain functional network organization through the use of graph theory algorithms.
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