I am an ambitious individual who recently graduated from my Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at Auburn University. Here is a little bit of my journey in science and research.
2014-2020. Ph.D. Studies:
During my master, I became more interested in evolutionary developmental biology. In 2014, I joined Range Lab, starting my Ph.D. at the Department of Biological Sciences, Mississippi State University. During my Ph.D., I studied the mechanisms by which the non-canonical Wnt16-Fzl1/2/7 signaling antagonizes Fzl5/8-JNK pathway during early anterior-posterior patterning of the sea urchin embryo. My Ph.D. research aimed to better characterize the Fzl1/2/7 signaling and the gene regulatory network it activates to identify possible interactions between the different Wnt signaling branches during this fundamental developmental process. I identified the Wnt ligand Wnt16 as an activator of the Fzl1/2/7 signaling pathway, facilitating its antagonism mechanism to the Wnt1/Wnt8-Fzl5/8-JNK signaling during early anterior-posterior patterning in sea urchin embryos.
I have presented my research at several international, national, and regional conferences. Every year I attend the Regional Society of Developmental Biology Annual Meeting and in 2018 I got awarded with best graduate student presentation that allowed me to attend the Society of Developmental Biology 77th Annual Meeting. In addition, I did a collaboration with Lowe lab at Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, where I learned how to manipulate hemichordate adults and embryos as well as to perform in situ hybridization techniques. In 2018, I was also lucky enough to participate in the 5th Annual Bioinformatics Bootcamp at Auburn University where I could further developed my computational skills.
Throughout the years involved in Developmental Biology, I have learned a wide range of techniques such as sea urchin embryo manipulations, microinjections, in situ hybridization, antibody immunoprecipitation, DNA/RNA extraction, PCR/qPCR, cloning, mRNA synthesis, light and confocal microscopy, etc. In 2018, our lab moved to Auburn University where I continued my research in the early molecular and developmental mechanisms of body axis patterning in the sea urchin embryos.
Photo by Piedad Bartolomé Francés
Presentations at scientific conferences
Photo by Sarah Dutton / © Mississippi State University
Photo by Shane Jinson at Woods Whole
During the Summer of 2019, I attended the Embryology course at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole.The objective of this intensive six-week laboratory and lecture course is to train advanced graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and more senior researchers for research and teaching careers in traditional and expanding areas of developmental biology in a unique intellectual and physical environment not duplicated in the nation’s universities, medical schools, or research institutes. A goal of the Embryology Course is to address major questions currently being pursued in the field of developmental, stem cell, and regenerative biology, followed by critical, exhaustive discussions and laboratory experiments in which techniques, ranging from classic to cutting-edge, are presented and then explored directly in the lab. Often described as a “boot camp” for developmental biologists, outstanding students are chosen from a highly competitive domestic and international applicant pool of individuals who seek a broad and balanced view of modern issues in animal development.
I was so lucky to be exposed to a wide variety of embryonic systems including well established and intensively studied models, both genetic (e.g., C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, mouse) and experimental (e.g. chick, sea urchins, frogs, ascidians). I could also encounter a wide range of additional models that are equally important in their own right, including locally available marine organisms that help fill in the evolutionary history of animal diversity (e.g., cnidarians, nemerteans, planarians, crustaceans, mollusks, annelids, ctenophores). This wide coverage of metazoan phylogeny allows for a close examination of developmental strategies and mechanisms that drive evolutionary change. Hands-on analytical and experimental techniques used to explore invertebrate and vertebrate development involve embryological manipulation (e.g., cell ablation, tissue grafting) as well as molecular genetic (e.g., RNAi, electroporation) and cell biological approaches (e.g., analysis of cell lineage and migratory behavior). I could also apply cutting-edge microscopy and imaging technologies (e.g., confocal and 3D time lapse) using state-of-the-art instrumentation, reagents, and methods. Conceptual topics covered in the course include cell specification and differentiation, pattern formation, embryonic axis formation, morphogenesis, intercellular signaling, transcriptional regulation, organogenesis, regeneration, evolutionary developmental biology, and comparative embryology.
2013-2014. M.Sc. Studies:
During my Masters research in Ecuador, I studied a diverse of fungal species in eggs of different endangered reptiles. I performed the molecular and phylogenetic analyses under the mentorship of Dr. Javier Diéguez-Uribeondo at the Department of Mycology (Botanical Garden of Madrid, Spain). I collected egg samples in the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) and Pacuare Nature Reserve (Costa Rica). From this work, I submitted my master’s thesis titled “Fungal species in eggs of different endangered reptiles of the Galapagos Islands”, and we are currently preparing the manuscript for journal publication.
After my masters, I worked as a research assistant using a wide range of molecular and microscopy techniques (DNA/RNA extraction, cloning, PCR, bacterial and fungal isolation, light microscopy, etc.). I performed data sampling in the Pacuare Nature Reserve (Costa Rica) to continue the project of my master's thesis. In addition, I developed my bioinformatic skills and performed and analyzed phylogenetic trees.
In 2014, I worked as a Research Coordinator in a Sea Turtle Conservation Project (Montezuma Beach, ASVO, Costa Rica). During my time in Costa Rica, I coordinated the different research projects as well as give formal training and mentorship to the volunteers. In addition, I developed several educational programs with the intention to raise awareness in the whole community of Montezuma. We worked with the elementary school of the area as well as different hotels and local volunteers.
2008-2012. B.S. Studies:
I studied my undergraduate degree at Autónoma University of Madrid. As a senior student, I obtained a scholarship from the Santander Bank that allowed me to study abroad at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.
In addition, during my last semester I did an Erasmus Programme at Umeå University, Sweden, where I took two intensive courses in Evolutionary Biology and Arctic Geoecology. In the first course, I extensively investigated pink dolphin dimorphism (“Pink Dolphins: Why do large differences exist between males and females in the genus Inia geoffrensis?”).
In the second course, I performed sampling and data analyses at the Abisko Scientific Research Station (CIRC) in a scientific project ("Sediment accumulation in Lake Torneträsk: a shore to deep basin transect”), part of the PALTO project (Investigating Paleoenvironments and Paleoseismicity in the Abisko area, CIRC).
International Experience during Undergraduate studies
Developmental and Evolutionary Biology
EvoDevo is a field of biological research that compares the developmental processes of different organisms to infer the ancestral relationships between them and how developmental processes evolved
Ph.D. Degree 2014 - 2020
Biological Sciences, Auburn University, US.
Mechanisms (such as structural and chemical changes) that act to induce or repress the expression of a gene and; therefore, regulate transcription or modulate translation of mRNA
Cell type evolution
Cell types are the basic building blocks of multicellular organisms and are extensively diversified in animals. Cell types are evolutionary units defined by common descent rather than phenotypic similarity, and characterized by their ability to evolve gene expression programmes independently of each other. How did this first cell develop? And how did the complexity and diversity exhibited by present-day cells evolve?
M.Sc. Degree 2012 - 2013
Biodiversity in Tropical Areas and its Conservation
International University of Menendez Pelayo, Spain.
B.S. Degree 2008 - 2012
Autónoma University of Madrid, Spain.
Regrowth, restore, or replace of a damaged or missing cells, tissues, organs, and even entire body parts to full function