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 UTD. I joined the Neuroscience Student Association (NSA) as soon as I arrived at UTD. 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 and started a book club with free digital copies of neuroscience books provided by the authors.
As an undergrad I gained experience as an research assistant starting with The Texas Biomedical Device Center (TxBDC). Much of my job there consisted of managing the habituation, training, and care of the research animals, and I also spent any extra time in the lab observing and learning as much as I could. Outside of animal handling, I exceled at troubleshooting, I ventured into perfusions and micro-construction, and I observed surgeries, and both motor and auditory mapping. I eventually left TxBDC with the opportunity to learn different skills in the 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 (Ted’s), an applied neuroscience company. While it 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 started the Master's program for 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. To expand my skills, I’d like to add to my experience in animal and cellular research with brain imaging, computational modeling, and/or human behavioral experiments. This conveniently coincides with my increased interest in researching cognitive systems. What interests me most are intrinsic or complex motivation. I’d like to work on understanding this by exploring social motivation. How much of any social animals’ social motivation is learned through the dopaminergic reward system, and how much is intrinsic? If there are intrinsic mechanisms to drive social interactions, I’d like to explore and understand those.
Please feel free to contact me to ask questions or talk about anything academic or professional
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 been independent pretty much my whole adult life. I got married and divorced young, but I’m very lucky to have met my wonderful partner, Kira Mills, and we’ve been together for about 6 years. I’m not the best student, I never have been, but I do learn concepts and develop understanding very quickly and easily. I learned as an adult that I have ADHD, so as would be expected rote memory and even moderate reading is difficult for me, however I listen to audiobooks and podcasts pretty much all day, every day and learn continuously through that. 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. We also like to watch TV together even if our tastes don’t always match, and take every opportunity to spend time with our friends whether it be having a drink at our local bar, playing board games, or simply enjoying each other’s company.
My own personal hobbies are pretty much all ex-hobbies. I used to read LOTS of comic books, particularly Marvel and independent publishers, and would love to talk about nonsense like when Aunt May became a herald of Galactus with anyone who’s interested. I still collect peculiar comics whenever we go estate sales or antique shops, and those also just get filed away in a box under the bed. When I was in high school I was really into parkour, and was able to impress my friends with kong vaults and climbing buildings. I still love it theoretically but my body can longer do those stunts, and as an adult I’m afraid of breaking myself or other people’s stuff, so it’s not common for me to jump over and climb onto things anymore. As I mentioned earlier I also listen to a lot of podcasts so PLEASE ask me for suggestions. Oh, and I have a beautiful baby niece that I love to spend as much time as possible with!
Please feel free to contact me to ask questions or talk about anything not professional