Paula Valiño, Undergraduate student, Biochemistry
Delves into brain development
• Hometown: Ourense (Galicia, Spain)
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Joshua Weiner, Professor, Biology
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Biochemistry B.S., University Honors, pre-med track
• Please describe your research: I investigate the role of gamma-protocadherins, which are cell adhesion molecules found on the surface of neurons over development. Interactions between gamma-protocadherins during the fetal and early post-natal stages regulate neural connections by influencing the development of dendrites and the formation of synapses. I study the effect of the presence or absence of certain gamma-protocadherins in dendrite arborization and the mechanisms by which these proteins regulate brain development.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? My research matters because there is still much that we don’t know about how the brain works and how it develops. Understanding the brain’s normal functioning is crucial to pinpoint how it malfunctions during disease processes and what can be done to treat and cure these abnormalities.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started the summer after my freshman year.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Research has allowed me to access resources and mentors that have aided me with my studies as well as my personal development. My research has helped achieve a better understanding of my classes and the methods leading to the knowledge we currently have.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I want to stay involved in research and apply to graduate school in a field related to Neuroscience. I would love to keep learning more about how the brain works and develops.
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