We hope our research in brain function will impact the lives of patient populations as well as the general public. Our research studies how the brain works and how the brain may change with different genetic disorders, health conditions and the basic human experience of living. Specifically, we hope to increase our understanding of the mechanisms that cause brain disorders, such as childhood epilepsy. By studying these ideas in our laboratory, we can translate basic discoveries into cures and preventative strategies to help improve the lives of people living with different disorders.
What is one major goal you have for your life or your career?
My goal is to be an example and mentor, and my major objective is to train the next the generation of scientists. I especially want to promote, support and advocate for the advancement of women in science.
Have you had any mentors? How do they inform what you do now?
Yes, I have had many mentors throughout my career. I believe solid mentorship is essential for a successful career in scientific discovery, and my mentors today provide a constant source of inspiration and career guidance.
What would you say to a student who is interested in entering your field?
My best advice for someone who is entering this field is to identify the most important problem in the field and to not be afraid of taking risks. Don’t do something because everything else is doing it. Do something truly new. A career in scientific discovery requires a curious, creative mind, and I would encourage new scientists to embrace and trust this creativity.
What do you think the biggest challenge researchers in your field are facing?
The most talked about challenges are funding concerns, and issues with rigor and reproducibility in science. What is less talked about is that science is poorly communicated. To improve science communication, being able to explain your work to a non-scientific audience is just as important as publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. But this skill is under-rewarded in the current system. Another challenge is the incredibly stressful life of a Ph.D. or postdoc. I believe we need to focus on supporting a work/life balance to cultivate successes in the laboratory. For example, family leave policies and child care solutions can help support the next generation of researchers.
What is the most important thing going on in your field that no one is talking about?
One idea that isn’t discussed too often is the regulations and laws behind research with human subjects. Right now, Congress is working to change these laws in the favor of scientists to decrease administrative burdens for collecting patient information and patient samples, which I believe would increase research activity.
Specifically, the regulations for biobanks of human biospecimens is under review. If this is approved, patients would be able to donate their information and biosamples to large research systems and biobanks in a more streamlined, highly ethical way. We will see if these new regulations go into effect in July of this year.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.” -- Marie Curie
San Antonio area high school and undergraduate students who participated in UTSA’s TRiO Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search and McNair Scholars programs will present their summer research projects and compete for top honors at the 8th annual symposium.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
Experience a fun, interactive week at UTSA as new students and their families take the first steps to becoming a Roadrunner.Various locations, Main Campus and Downtown Campuses
Throughout the summer, UTSA offers more than 60 camps in science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, language, culture and more.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
This event guides seniors and graduate students on the last phase of their college career and prepares recent alumni within one year of graduation for the world of work. Workshops and sessions will provide information on interview skills, job search strategies and networking.Student Union, University Career Center, 2nd floor, Main Campus
The gala brings together UTSA alumni, friends and guests to celebrate the association's 41 years of scholarships, services, programs and the 2018 Alumni Award recipients.Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr, San Antonio
As part of the citywide Kidcation and the ITC's free second Sunday, kids and families will have an opportunity to interact with cowboy docents, practice their skills at roping, learn about life on the cattle drives, make their own spurs, grab a seat for cowboy story time and work on cowboy-themed hands-on crafts.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Dozens of fun and free events to welcome new and returning Roadrunners.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The kickoff to Roadrunner Days, the UTSA community welcomes the thousands of students who move in to their new homes as they begin their journey at UTSA.Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall, Main Campus