Santamaria Lab

One UTSA circle, Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78458

Fidel.santamaria@utsa.edu Phone: +1 (210) 458-6910

About me

Check out my neurotree branch.

I was born in a small town in Mexico called Mexico City, at that time it probably only had a few million people. There, I went to college to the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) to study Physics. My first research experience was in a short lived space program (PUIDE) in which I got involved in studying rocket propulsion. It was fun at the time, however, I  had been always interested in robotics, artificial intelligence and brain function. I then moved to the lab of Prof. Ismael Espinosa director of the Cybernetics Lab who got his PhD from Gerstein at Penn. I studied and built artificial neural networks, experienced first hand extracellular electrophysiology, and decided that I wanted to learn more.

 

Since I wanted to do biophysical modeling and experiments to understand how neurons and networks work I applied to the PhD program in Computation & Neural Systems at Caltech. There I joined the lab of Prof. James M. Bower. My thesis was a combination of network modeling and electrophysiological recordings to understand how the cerebellar cortex processes sensory information.

 

By the end of my PhD I became more interested in understanding the inner workings of neurons, instead of looking at large numbers of cells. I wrote a letter to Prof. George J. Augustine at Duke University asking him if he would be interested in having a person like me in his lab. Luckily, he was. I studied how the structure of a neuron affects the diffusion of soluble molecules. For that, I used ultra-fast confocal microscopy and Monte Carlo simulations of molecular diffusion.