(Dec. 16, 2013) -- Meet Viridiana Estrada. She's building a research career with the help of UTSA neuroscientists.
While a student at John Marshall High School, Estrada earned automatic admission to UT-Austin. Despite being accepted at various universities, she ultimately decided on UTSA, opting to remain close to her San Antonio family.
"What I really liked about UTSA -- it's something that I didn't realize at first," Estrada recalls. "I liked that there are a lot of great researchers to work with and learn from here, especially those in the Neurosciences Institute."
And Estrada is taking advantage of every opportunity.
The undergraduate is pursuing a psychology degree, medical courses and highest honors through the UTSA Honors College. To achieve those goals, she's intensely focused on academics.
She's also taking advantage of UTSA's access to great research opportunities such as the MBRS-RISE program and the McNair Scholars program. Under the supervision of UTSA neuroscientist Nicole Wicha, Estrada has learned how to use event-related potentials to study how older Spanish-speaking adults predict language. Her findings are presented in her honors thesis.
Outside of the classroom, the undergraduate has networked with UTSA researchers and students through Neuroscientists Evolving Undergraduate Research Opportunities (NEURO), the Neuroscience Institute's student organization.
Though seemingly disparate, Estrada's collective experiences at UTSA prepared her for a career-altering placement in a summer research program offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She applied to work in one of two laboratories, but fate placed her in a third.
That summer, Estrada learned how to implant cannula into the ventral medial prefrontal cortices of rats, a surgical procedure that allows researchers to manipulate and study the rats' eating patterns in response to various chemicals such as amphetamines. The technique merged Estrada's academic interests, calling her attention to a new career path in neurosurgical research.
"Since I've been little, I've always been involved in learning," she says. "Science has that ability to lead you to more learning. Science builds the foundation for increasing knowledge."
She now hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. to fully pursue a neurosurgical research career. She admits it won't be an easy road, because so much more education is required, but she says she's determined to weather the challenge because she knows now from experience that a career in neurosurgical research is exactly what she wants.
Do you know a fascinating UTSA student who is planning to graduate in May 2014? Share that story with us at email@example.com.
UTSA open up the 2016 football season under new coach Frank Wilson at home. The Roadrunners host the Alabama State Hornets. Kick off is set for 6 p.m.
District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg and State Sen. José Menéndez host a Cultural Conversations event at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures to talk about issues of intolerance and ways to unify the community.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures
Known for her unique ability to make sophisticated numbers reveal simple truths, Talithia Williams explores how big data can be used to make smart decisions in education, business, and everyday situations.
Main Building Auditorium, MB 0.104, Main Campus
The UTSA International Conference on Aging inthe Americas seeks to address the important context in understanding how characteristics of physical, social and economic environments give rise to disparities in Latino health in older adults.
UTSA Downtown Campus, Durango Bldg. Southwest Room (DB 1.124)
UTSA Mexico Center director Dr. Harriett Romo and program coordinator Olivia Mogollon, along with U.S. and Mexican scholars discuss migration between Mexico and the U.S. during this panel presentation.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.