DPC Newsletter

Spotlight on Student Research Experiences

Volume 8, Issue 3

December 2023

SF BUILD team members present at Health Equity and Anti-Racism Research Symposium

By Gian Carlo Baldonado

BUILD PODER scholar Amy Sariles.

Marilyn Thomas, PhD, presented at the HEAR Symposium in October.

Marilyn Thomas, PhD, and Genievive del Mundo, MS, presented posters on Oct. 5 at the annual Health Equity and Anti-Racism Research symposium held at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). 

Thomas presented her findings showing that diagnosis of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections is lower among individuals living with schizophrenia, and that delayed diagnosis correlates with higher liver cancer mortality. This health inequity could be reduced with development of a health equity workforce.

Del Mundo presented a poster on a capacity-building approach for developing a health equity workforce for studies of BIPOC transitional adults (TAY). The asset-based approach focuses on leveraging the community cultural wealth of Student Insider Researchers who are BIPOC TAY at SF State.

These researchers are considered insiders because they share a common language and culture with BIPOC TAY participants of the Reclaiming Nature study.

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PSU BUILD EXITO scholars present at summer research symposium

By Arjun Viray

Portland State University BUILD EXITO scholars came together on Sept. 19 and 21 to present at the 2023 Summer Research Symposium hosted by the Center for Internship, Mentoring, and Research (CIMR).  

The annual symposium highlights student research conducted during the summer. 

A total of 43 students from programs like BUILD EXITO, U-RISE, EXITO DREAM and PROA, as well as some PSU Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) labs, presented at the symposium. Attendees included student mentors, lab mates, and peers.

Joseph Bull, PSU Dean of the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Rick Tankersley, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, came to share some words.

2023 BUILDing SCHOLARS cohort: (L to R) Alejandra Casas, Ayleen Mendoza, Adrian Hernandez, Alexa Reyes, Ramon Holguin, Alondra Rodriguez, Eduardo Gutierrez

Group photo of students, staff, and faculty at the 2023 Summer Research Symposium hosted by the Center for Internship, Mentoring, and Research (CIMR).

Of the student presenters, 18 were BUILD EXITO scholars: Lou Ann O'Connor, Michelle Hesek, Kylee Brevick, Jane Arterberry, Kaye Ann Obando, Mariam Anwar, Diana Prychyna, Gabriella Tangkilisan, Camellia Tran, Marcell Richard, Connie Tran, Anthony Phan, Layaal Khellah, Kaisa Holt, Keria Moritsugu-Vandehey, Miguel Chapa, Natalie Robison and Isabel Henkes.

A handful of students even won presentation awards for their posters. Connie Tran, Marcell Richard and Diana Prychyna won first place, and Kylee Brevick received second place.

Summer research experiences significantly impact UTEP BUILD Scholars' scientific careers

By John Garza

A key component of the BUILDing SCHOLARS research training at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is participation in a summer research program (SRP) at a different university. 

From its beginning, BUILD has partnered with other high profile research institutions to provide students with the opportunity to conduct research away from home. Through these programs, students conduct research in new labs, expanding their skills, expertise, and professional networks. The experiences have real, high-impact outcomes that significantly affect training, career paths, and future opportunities.

New BUILD cohort trainees mingling.

Daniel Hernandez Rodriguez standing outside at the entrance of Rice University.

Daniel Hernandez Rodriguez

Daniel Hernandez Rodriguez, a senior cellular and molecular biochemistry major, spent this past summer at Rice University in the bioengineering lab of Laura Segatori, PhD. Under the co-mentorship of graduate student Carlos Llanos, Hernandez Rodriguez designed a recombinant protein expression platform, an experience that significantly contributed to the development of his research interests.

“My original goal was to focus only on 3D printing of tissue and organs, but now I have a second project in mind that consists of combining my main project with the production of recombinant proteins,” he said.

Beyond his own research experience, Hernandez Rodriguez had the opportunity to mentor a high school student.

“I demonstrated [for the student] the operation of instruments in the laboratory, techniques, and experiments. In the end, he confirmed that he was thinking about studying research-related careers,” he explained.

This additional experience has solidified Hernandez Rodriguez’s aspirations to become a professor and mentor students of his own.

Luis Teran-Rodriguez

Luis Teran-Rodriguez, a senior cellular and molecular biochemistry major, worked in the Jeremy Wilusz, PhD, Lab at the Baylor College of Medicine, under the close mentorship of staff scientist Ghislain Breton, PhD. Together, they developed tools to interrogate the Integrator Complex activity across protein coding genes.

Teran-Rodriguez spoke of the mentorship he received and sense of community that bolstered his scientific identity.

“Drs. Wilusz and Breton were very supportive and receptive to my questions and ideas. This helped me get comfortable with proposing new angles or procedures for the project, drawing from my previous experiences and what I had researched about the field,” he said.

2023 BUILDing SCHOLARS cohort: (L to R) Alejandra Casas, Ayleen Mendoza, Adrian Hernandez, Alexa Reyes, Ramon Holguin, Alondra Rodriguez, Eduardo Gutierrez

Luis Teran-Rodriguez standing outside by the Baylor College of Medicine entrance sign.

“Biweekly gatherings among the research groups dedicated to RNA biology, [gave me] a sense of community and support I hadn’t considered before.”

The experience granted him confidence and a sense of belonging in the scientific community.

New BUILD cohort trainees mingling.

Siria Jansen standing outside by the Baylor College of Medicine entrance sign.

Siria Jansen

Siria Jansen, a senior physics major, had a particularly transformative experience this summer at Baylor College of Medicine where she worked with Gloria Echeverria, PhD, and Steven Wall, PhD. As a physics major, she said she “was more focused on the computational and data analysis side of cancer research and treatment,” and planned to pursue a degree in medical physics. 

In the Echeverria Lab, Jansen investigated cellular adaptations of residual cancer that survives chemotherapy treatments. The research experience and mentorship she received helped her find her true passion.

“Being a part of the Echeverria lab reminded me why I wanted to be a researcher, to understand the unknown and use science to help improve the lives of people,” she said.

“It is with the unwavering support of my mentors, Dr. Gloria Echeverria and Dr. Steven Wall, that I was able to not only solidify my shift in career interests but also be inspired to envision a future as a mentor.” 

Similar to Hernandez Rodriguez, Jansen looks forward to passing on the encouragement and guidance that she received from her summer mentors. She currently works with Siddhartha Das, PhD, at UTEP investigating the role of nano plastics in prostate cancer, and is applying to PhD programs in cancer and cell biology.

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The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.

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