Welcome to CienciaPR, an expert and resource network for all who are interested in science and Puerto Rico.
I was born in the tiny Caribbean island of Puerto Rico during the waning days of the Generation X, to a microbiologist and a registered nurse. Naturally, coming from a scientific family, I decided to save the world by becoming a scientist. I earned a BS in Industrial Biotechnology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus, where I was an active member of the Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology Associations and of the Golden Key Honor Society. I graduated Magna Cum Laude, with extensive research and teaching experience, of which the Department of Energy Undergraduate Research Fellowship Award I received during my third year was of special significance. I spent a whole semester working under the guidance of Dr. Johnway Gao at the Pacific Northwest National Lab, where I learned a lot about applied and basic research. He also entice me into applying to Cornell University where, a few years later, I was accepted into the BMCB Graduate Program, joining the laboratory of Dr. Anthony Bretscher. There I worked on the regulation of membrane trafficking using budding yeast as a model system. Since I'm very social, I also have participated actively in many service groups, ranging from my church's youth group, to the National Honor Society in Middle School, to college associations and honor societies in Mayagüez. That continued in my graduate studies at Cornell when, in my very first semester, I went to the SACNAS conference as part of the Cornell booth. Since I have participated heavily in recruitment activities for the department and the graduate school and continue my involvement in many other endeavors dedicated to diversity in science, like CienciaPR. I recently completed the PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology and am continuing my work in the field but now applying it towards host-pathogen interactions. I want to apply my knowledge of cell biology to disease conditions, for that I moved on unto the laboratory of Dr. Tamara Doering, studying the interactions between a pathogenic fungus and its human host.
Currently, I'm applying my cell biology knowledge to describe the behavior of Cryptococcus during infection of host cells. I'm looking at the kinetics of infection in Wild-type and mutants of both the fungi and the host. Ultimately, I want to use a newly developed blood-brain-barrier in vitro system to characterize the transmigration of Cryptoccocus into the brain, which is critical to understand its pathogenesis as the most common cause of dead by Cryptococcus is a meningoencephalitis.
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