University of Puerto Rico,
Rio Piedras Campus
Junior undergraduate student

Curiosity has always been a driving force in my life; therefore science is something I enjoy. I am an undergraduate student currently in my junior year pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Biology at UPR-Rio Piedras Campus. One of my biggest interests is the understanding of the human body and how the environment plays a fundamental role in human development and society. Many diseases can be explained by genetic factors but there is a yet greater uncertainty for which they are not justified. Scientist believe that environmental factors and human exposure to chemicals are responsible for a great deal for development of many disease. It is essential to know how the human body functions in order to maintain a healthy life style. This way we will be able to optimize our lives and consequently help others, which is one of my main goals in life.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to explore the field of Toxicology with Dr. Braulio Jiménez. I began my journey in this field working at the Center for Environmental and Toxicological Research with a fascinating research team. Currently, I am involved in a project studying the effect of airborne particulate matter from the metropolitan area of San Juan and Guayama (two municipalities of Puerto Rico). I am interested in evaluating the expression of genes that are associated with metabolism of xenobiotics. The genes of interest are CYPIA and metallothionein as these are exposed to airborne particulates from these two sites. We are studying their expression in an in vitro model using human branchioepithelial cells. So far I have been learning laboratory techniques like cell culture and treatment (cytotoxicity assays) and further along I will be learning RT-PCR and it has become a very productive and rich learning experience.

Since the learning process never ends until we depart I am continuously improving my individual and professional development. I will continue studying to expand my knowledge and attain both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. I am very organized, dedicated and caring qualities, which I consider, will support me in accomplishing every goal in life. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, exploring nature and helping others; particularly volunteering in orphanages – dancing, talking and sharing with children with special needs. Working in this research project is giving me the opportunity not only to gain scientific knowledge but also to develop skills that will contribute to my future career as a physician.