Welcome to CienciaPR, an expert and resource network for all who are interested in science and Puerto Rico.
I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, obtained Bachellor's Degree (Chemistry) from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in 1986, did a year of Graduate School in the Dept. of Chemistry at UPR Río Piedras (1986-1987) and then transferred to the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL), from where I graduated with a PhD in 1993. I received postdoctoral training in developmental neuroscience at the Institute of Neurobiology of the UPR Medical Sciences Campus (1993-1996) and was hired at the Department of Anatomy in 1996. At present, I am Chair of the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Coordinator of the department´s Graduate Program, and Investigator of the Puerto Rico Center for Environmental Neuroscience. My research labs are at the Institute of Neurobiology and the Main Building of the UPR Medical Sciences Campus.
We are interested in understanding the neural mechanisms underlying aggressive behavior and the establishment of dominance hierarchies in an invertebrate animal model, the freshwater prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii. At present, we are focusing our attention on the role played by biogenic amines such as serotonin, octopamine and dopamine in regulating these behaviors. Our experimental approaches include behavioral observation, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, cloning, Real-Time PCR and other molecular biology techniques.
We are also developing a new area of research in the laboratory, looking at the impact of anthropogenic changes in Puerto Rico´s urban rivers on behavior and underlying neural circuitry of freshwater fish and crustacean species. The long-term goal of the study is to determine how the effects of urbanization near river systems in Puerto Rico affect activity and interactive behaviors and the underlying neural circuitry of fish and crustacean species. To do this we collaborate with environmental scientists to collect water and sediment samples from identified rivers, and use techniques of GC/MS, atomic absorption, and ICP MS for chemical analysis of samples, as well as carry out activity and behavioral observation and quantitation before and after injections of agents of interest, CNS dissection, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, hemolymph sampling, real time RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, and Western Blot analysis.
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