Postdoctoral Research Associate Earns Prestigious Fellowship for Summer Independent Research

Dr. Alejandra GonzálezDr. Alejandra González

Dr. Alejandra González, postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Mario Romero-Ortega, was recently selected as a fellow of the Grass Fellowship Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) this summer. This prestigious award will allow her to pursue a project entitled “New Cerebellar-Autonomic Circuits for Closed-Loop Neuromodulation in Hypertension”.

“Alejandra’s accomplishment is highly significant as it rewards her hard work, commitment and intellect. For The University of Texas at Dallas, the award highlights the quality of our students and the relevance of their scientific and technological training that positions them among the best in the world,” Romero-Ortega said.

González shared her thoughts about her award and where she will go next.

On Joining a Prestigious Fellowship Program

Becoming part of the “Grass Family” is a life changing event in my professional career. The Grass Fellowship is a highly prestigious program in the international neuroscience community. For me, it represents a unique opportunity to work independently on my own project as principal investigator (PI). It is invaluable for me since it will provide me with the opportunity to gain experience in conducting research not only in the experimental aspect in a cutting-edge environment, but also in the management of a budget, selecting and setting up laboratory equipment, and discussing my research to an international audience.

I believe it is fundamental for young scientists to get involved in challenging and competitive environments that give the opportunity to question your research and to evaluate others. This allows people to develop critical thinking skills in order to perform better quality science. I will experience participating in a weekly private seminar series while interacting with eminent investigators at the MBL to discuss our research projects. In addition, a yearly Forbes Lecturer (a high-profile scientist from outside the MBL community) will spend a portion of the summer in the Grass Laboratory interacting with the fellows, which without a doubt will be an enriching experience.

On Her Win for UT Dallas and the Bioengineering Department

Being selected as a Grass Fellow requires preparation, and without a doubt, the training I have acquired at UT Dallas has been fundamental.

I have to recognize the great work of Dr. Romero-Ortega, PI at the Regenerative Neurobiology and Neuroelectronics Laboratory in the Bioengineering department. While I have worked in his laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher, he has been a great example and coach for me.

I also must highlight the efforts of the Office of Graduate Studies. The creation of a dedicated space for postdocs, workshops and events focused on career development all have helped me in my professional preparation.

In order to recognize the great spirit of multicultural diversity and inclusion UT Dallas promotes, I’d like to mention that I’m a MSc and PhD graduate from the Neurobiology Institute, UNAM at México. Once I joined UT Dallas, I found open doors in a vibrant multidisciplinary environment that has allowed me to establish and participate in collaborative projects that have expanded my previous research focused on molecular and cellular neurobiology to the fields of neural engineering, electrochemistry and materials science. My Grass research proposal was designed by combining these research fields, which reflects the relevance for UT Dallas to continue promoting these programs.

On Her Summer Program Plans

I expect to make the summer as productive as possible by performing research and interacting with the trustees and fellows. The experience itself of setting up my laboratory space and equipment and conducting my research in such a vibrant environment will be a determining factor in my career.

On Her Long-term Career Goals and Preparation for Her Future

One of my professional goals is to establish my own research line as a PI. I know that is not an easy road and will involve constant preparation through the development of specific skills. The Grass Fellowship will provide me with the opportunity to implement systematic steps and to practice conducting research in a relatively short period of time, but with all the resources at hand. I believe this is great training to achieve my future goals.

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