Each month, we feature a short bio from one of our trainees.  The full interview, along with archived stories (once accrued) appear below.

 


Osiris Martinez-Guzmán , Ph.D.

(May 2021)

osiris-martinez-guzman.jpgWhat drew you to science? Did any aspect of your upbringing or culture have an influence on you? 

My older sister has been one of the biggest influences on me and my interest in science. She exposed me to science pretty early on; she would talk to me about her research and take me to her lab to show me the instrumentation, which made me curious about the science path as a career. She also showed me what graduate school was like and how it was a great next step for me. I also had an amazing seventh-grade science teacher that sparked my interest in science by performing cool science demos that made science fun and interesting.  

What has been your biggest challenge in pursuing a science career? 

The biggest challenge for me has been being away from home and family while pursuing a career in the science. Leaving Puerto Rico for my graduate career was by far one of the hardest decisions Ive had to make, but one of the most rewarding too. The experience has made me stronger and more independent, while making me appreciate more the time I spend with my family and making it even more special. I know that my decisions have helped me incredibly in my development as a scientist, but I still find it difficult missing out moments with my family. But thanks to modern technology we have founds ways to stay connected.  

What do you research and is this always what you wanted to study? 

My research is involved in understanding the importance of nutrient compartmentalization, specifically how cells manage, utilize, and process elevated levels of amino acids in order to combat metabolic overload. The Hughes lab discovered a novel mitochondria protein remodeling pathway called the Mitochondria Derived Compartment (MDC) in which elevated levels of amino acids, especially BCAAs, activate this pathway. Because these MDCs selectively incorporate a group of mitochondrial proteins that are sequentially removed and degraded within lysosomes, I am studying the role of this pathway in the remodeling of cellular and subcellular metabolism. During undergrad, I was very interested in prions and Alzheimer’s disease, so I assume I would lean towards that type of research, but nutrient regulation and organelle communication is a research topic I got heavily interested in during my graduate career and I am very happy I get the chance to work in it.  

Is there anything else you would like to share that might be encouraging to prospective trainees? 

I would say that it is very important to trust yourself and pursue what you are interested in without any doubt. In the begging of my graduate school, I was feeling very insecure of myself because I came from a different background and studied in a small undergrad program that taught science in Spanish. But after getting settled, I realized that none of that mattered, that I only needed to hard work and dedication to secure success in graduate school. 

 


Aldo García-Guerrero, Ph.D.

(April 2021)

aldo-guerrero.jpgWhat drew you to science? 

I would say my interest in research began when I was kid and I felt curious in 2 main topics: Nature of volcanoes and archeology. But, at high-school in Mexico everything changed in my Biology class, I was super excited when I heard for the first time that mitochondria has a bacteria-origin, so I started to develop the interest to understand how scientists are able to reach those type of conclusions. So, I started to search for those careers I could apply to become a scientist. The National University in Mexico offers an undergraduate program in Biomedical Sciences in which undergrad students have their classes, but also, they have the opportunity to rotate at different research labs. I was super lucky and fortunate to be accepted into this program, so my scientific career began at an early age.

What are the strengths and challenges for science in the country you came from? 

In Mexico there are many smart and creative scientists.  We have excellent graduate programs and I would say we don’t lack people who have a big interest in becoming a scientist. However, Mexico still has a long way to go.  We are dealing with 3 major issues: a tight budget, science centralization in Mexico City, and brain drain to other countries. Regarding centralization, in the last years many efforts have been made to create new institutions in different states.  Now that we have more institutions outside of Mexico city, it is a great opportunity for the whole Mexican community to approach science.

Is there anything else you would like to share that might be encouraging to prospective trainees? 

Do not be afraid to look for graduate programs or postdoctoral positions here in our department. When I arrived, I noticed a friendly and inclusive department. In this place, you’ll find a strong scientific community with a great sense of helping each other.

What do you enjoy/miss from your country? 

My country has plenty of traditions and it’s rich in diversity, this can be seen in our celebrations and our exquisite food. I would say what I missed the most is the food and “Día de Muertos” (Day of the Death). On this day, I celebrate with my family.  We have the tradition to gather at a family dinner, where I prepare many entrees and we all build our “ofrenda” to offer food to our beloved family members or friends who have passed away.