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I am currently an Assistant Professor at the College of Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University, where I teach biochemistry, immunology, and molecular genetics. I also carry out scientific research to address the immunotoxicology of airborne biological pollutants.
I am also Early Stage Investigator with interest in providing insights on the immunological and physiological alterations affecting human health as result of environmental pollutant exposures. My interest in this line of scientific research originates during my studies towards a PhD in Microbiology under the mentorship of Dr. Bolaños-Rosero (collaborator in the proposed research) at School of Medicine of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR)– Medical Sciences Campus. Under his mentorship, my research provided insights into the prevalence of immunological reactivity to previously uncharacterized fungal allergens endemic in the atmosphere of Puerto Rico. As a postdoc at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, I further expanded my interest in human-based immunological approaches in environmental health studies. I was co-mentored by Dr. Hartung (director of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing of Johns Hopkins University) and Dr. Breysse (currently the director at the National Center for Environmental Health at the CDC). Their mentorship contributed to various publications addressing the immunotoxicological potential of indoor air pollutants of biological and non-biological origins. These efforts lead to being awarded, by the Ethical Consumer Association, the Lush Young Researcher Award in 2012 (London, UK), and collaborating in an NIH-funded epidemiological study of childhood asthma in Lima, Peru (3R01ES018845-04S1, PI: Nadia Hansel). Currently, I am an Assistant Professor at the College of Biomedical Sciences at Larkin University. Here, I direct the Respiratory and Immunology Project Laboratory (https://www.riplrt.com), in which our mission is to provide immuno-physiological insights, through human-based approaches and data analytics, on the human health effects from air pollutants exposures. I am also a collaborator in an NIH-funded project addressing the respiratory health of Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria (1R21ES029762-01, PI: Humberto Cavallin). I also collaborate in a HUD-funded project (HUD FR6200-N-15, PI Kerry Kinney) to address the health effects of multi-pollutant foci in children with asthma in semi-urban areas of Austin, Texas.
In addition to my scientific research training and experience, I gained and followed upon on intensive training in computational biology and data science approaches. This computational training has expanded my scientific spectrum of research by also participating in collaborative projects to identify gene expression (transcriptomics) and protein profiles (proteomics), and elaborate predictive statistical modeling through the R, Python, and Matlab computer languages.
Linking Microbial, SVOC and Pro-Inflammatory Exposures in Homes to Childhood Asthma Serverity: A Community Filter Forensics Approach
The purpose of this project is to determine the (1) relationship between urban homes’ characteristics, indoor microbiome, SVOC concentrations, and children’s asthma severity. Also we week to assess the pro-inflammatory potential of HVAC filter dust, and if a community engage approach can rapidly and economically assess home exposures and asthma-specific health outcomes in larger cohorts. The cohort is urban homes (low-income and Hispanics) in Austin, TX, followed by a larger campaign of 200 low income homes of children with asthma in different climate zones of the US.
Project Number: HUD FR-6200-N-15 (PI Kerry Kinney)
Role: Collaborator (PI of a Subaward to Larkin University, $77,000)
Date: 02/2019 - Present
Taking a Breath After the Disaster: Homes, Molds, and Health In Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
The purpose of this interdisciplinary and collaborative project is to identify the factors affecting human health in the aftermath of a major atmospheric phenomenon, such as the Hurricane Maria. To address this purpose, we are employing microbiome metagenomics and human-base immunological approaches, and community outreach strategies. Institutions collaborating in this project are the University of Puerto Rico, University of Texas-Austin, and Larkin University.
Project Number: 1R21ES029762-01 (PI Humberto Cavallin)
Role: Collaborator (PI of a Sub-Award to Larkin University; $15,500)
Date: 04/2018 - Present
Respiratory and Immunology Project Laboratory
The purpose of this project this scientific – mentoring project at Larkin University is to implement human-based, molecular biology, and computational approaches to study airborne pollutants’ immune-physiological health effects. The research assistants and graduate students in this project represent Dr. Rivera-Mariani’s research group at Larkin University.
Role: Principal Investigator
Date: 08/2017 – Present
Predictive Statistical Models of Airborne Fungal Spores in the Atmosphere of the Caribbean Basin
The purpose of this collaborative project is to design statistical and machine learning models to predict concentrations fungal spores. This collaboration includes scientists from Spain, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
Dates: 02/2017 – Present
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