Home About Me


I'm really not all that exciting, but I'm flattered

Professional Life

I am a first generation student with an absolute dedication to learning more about the brain. School has always been where I want to be, and learning has been what I want to do. My parents’ only career hope for me was that I finished high school, but every year I become more singularly focused on my path to a career in research. I have experienced many careers, but none of them have provided me the same satisfaction I get from pursuing my academic interests.

While working full-time, I also attended Dallas County Community College and earned an A.S. degree before transferring to UT Dallas, and joined the Neuroscience Student Association (NSA) as soon as I arrived. NSA helped me find mentors and gave me the confidence to become a mentor myself. After a year of participating in the organization as a member I was elected Vice-President. As VP, NSA became my pride and joy: I invigorated our online presence, obtained volunteer opportunities for members to attend two local neuroscience conferences, and hosted events with medical students, grad students, and faculty to show our members the importance and utility of understanding research. After a year serving as VP, I became the President and I adapted our group for entirely virtual engagement with projects like starting a book club with free digital copies of neuroscience books provided by the authors.

As an undergrad I gained experience as a research assistant starting with The Texas Biomedical Device Center (TxBDC). My responsibilities consisted of managing the habituation, training, and care of animals for studying vagus nerve stimulation for motor recovery. This was my first experience with research and I was hooked, I arrived early and stayed late every chance I could to observe and learn about all other aspects of the lab. While there, I exceled at troubleshooting, started micro-construction of vagus stimulating devices, and observed surgeries, perfusions, motor mapping, and auditory mapping. I eventually left TxBDC with the opportunity to learn different skills in Dr. Price & Dr. Dussor’s Pain Lab under a work-study. In the Pain Lab I surgically removed trigeminal nerves from mice and cultured them for electrophysiology.

I have also obtained professional experience by interning for Ted’s Brain Science, an applied neuroscience company. Although my responsibilities started as simply managing wholesale accounts, I continued proving myself useful by attending and participating in several company meetings and performing data analysis and visualization. While working at Ted’s one of the most beneficial experiences I had was when I helped write, compile, and submit a grant application.

After I graduated from UTD with a B.S. in Neuroscience I completed the Master's program in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience. My goal is to earn a Ph.D., work in academia, and to run a lab of my own, but my current career objectives are to gain the skills and knowledge needed to design and execute my own experiments. I’m interested in learning methodologies across domains, so after my experience in animal and cellular research, I joined Dr. Filbey's Addiction Lab to develop human research skills. There, I developed skills with neurocognitive testing, brain imaging, survey/analytical software like REDCap, and neurocognitive presentation software like PsychoPy and E-Prime, as well as non-methodological research skills like experimental design, writing IRB submissions and modification requests, and writing data extraction and analysis scripts in Python. These skills have strategically coincided with my interest in researching motivational systems.

My research interests pertain primarily to intrinsic and complex motivation. I’d like to work on understanding this by exploring social motivation. I'd like to pursue questions like: How much of any social animals’ social motivation is learned through the reward system, and how much is innate? If there are truly innate social motivation systems, how are they encoded, and if social motivations that appear innate are actually learned, how are those motivations learned and how are stimuli encoded to interact with the systems?

Please feel free to contact me to ask questions or talk about anything academic or professional

Personal Life

I grew up in Texas in a small college town, Commerce. My father suffered a stroke when I was a child that put him on disability, then when I started college he suffered another stroke that put him in a nursing home, so I’ve had an independent adult life. I also wouldn’t be who I am without my amazing partner, Kira Mills; we’ve been together for about 8 years and married for 1. I haven't ever been a perfect student in terms of grades, but I have always learned concepts and developed an applicable understanding very quickly and easily. I learned as an adult that I have ADHD, so rote memory and intense reading is difficult for me, but I adapt and use text-to-speech services for my academic reading, and continuously learn by daily listening to audiobooks and podcasts. My partner and I have 1 dog, a Belgian Malinois named Axel, and he’s a perfect boi.

Together, my partner and I have fostered over a dozen dogs and deeply enjoy socializing them and taking care of them until they find their forever home. One of our hobbies is collecting antique science books, unique trinkets, and art from local artists that ends up just piling up in a box somewhere. We also like to hike as often as possible (never often enough though). We’ve been hiking in several different terrains over a few states and always enjoy the unique atmosphere, wildlife, and plants that vary at each location. I’d be lying though, if I didn’t say our most common shared hobby is simply sitting on our couch watching trashy TV and earnest but awful movies. Although life can be hectic and busy, we try to have weekly dinner with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece, and we take every opportunity to spend time with friends by having a drink at our local bar, playing board games, or simply enjoying each other’s company.

For my personal hobbies, I collect unique comic books from estate sales and antique shops. Although I'm no good at it, I love to go rock climbing, and as I mentioned earlier I listen to a lot of podcasts so ask me for suggestions or follow these links: podcasts, books

Please feel free to contact me to ask questions or talk about anything not professional