PRCEN Graduate Students

 

Name: Alexander Rodriguez

Education info & Academic Interest: I am a current graduate student in the PRCEN project. I have a chemistry bachelor’s degree, where I specialize in method development and environmental sample analysis for trace pollutants. In the past I have work with the method development for detection and quantification of neurotoxins, like beta-Methylamino-L-alanine, in large bodies of water in Puerto Rico. I am currently working with the effects on the myocardial rates of Callinectes sapidus when expose to known emerging pollutants, like acetophenone and tributyl phosphate, present in the San Juan Bay Estuary.

Email address: alexanderodz@gmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Mayra Sánchez

Education info & Academic Interest: I am a graduate student of the Department of Environmental Science and I've been a part of P.R.C.E.N since 2013. Currently I'm in the Estuary Group and my research interest relate to anthropogenic impact of urban coastal ecosystems. The overall goal of my ongoing research is to determine the environmental changes and emerging contaminants on the Condado Lagoon San Juan, Puerto Rico and understand their impacts on the startle behavior (C-start) of estuarine fishes.  With the goal to develop a rapid, sensitive, and low cost biological assays for marine and estuarine ecosystems management.

Email address: mayra.a.sanchezg@gmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: José L. Ortiz

Education info & Academic Interest: I received a Ph.D. degree from the Intercampus Doctoral Program between the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras and Medical Sciences Campus. I was working with an invertebrate model in the lab of Dr. María A. Sosa in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at MSC.  Macro-crustaceans are major constituents of freshwater ecosystems, yet little is known about how anthropogenic activities affect their survival, and important aspects of their behavior, such as locomotion and aggression, and the underlying neural circuitry. We study how levels of urbanization and organic and metal contaminants in representative rivers affect the population relative abundance, aggression and general activity of a local freshwater macro-invertebrate, Macrobrachium carcinus, the most prevalent prawn species found in the rivers of Puerto Rico.

Email address: joseortizlugo@gmail.com
Advisor: María A. Sosa Lloréns

 

Name: Sean Kelly

Education info & Academic Interest: I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Biology Department at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras.  My thesis research is focused on investigating how urbanization can affect the transfer of stream subsidies to riparian orb-weaving spiders.  One of the possible negative impacts we are investigating is whether increasing urban density results in a greater concentration of aquatically derived environmental contaminants in riparian spiders.  Many environmental contaminants can be bioaccumulated within the food web and they can negatively impact developmental or neurobiological processes within consumer organisms.  This work is meant to highlight the indirect effects that urban streams can have on terrestrial food webs as a source of harmful contaminants to riparian consumers.

Email address: spkelly.84@gmail.com
Advisor: Alonso Ramírez

 

Name: Michael Marty

Education info & Academic Interest: I am a B.S. in environmental sciences from University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras campus (2012). I started working with P.R.C.E.N on summer 2013. My research is based on the molecular mechanisms triggered by thermal stress leading to coral bleaching. Preliminary research on model species Aiptasia pallida, a sea anemone, showed that exposure to natural antioxidants during an incubation of 4 days reduced reactive oxygen species, precursors to bleaching, from coral tissues. I am now interested in seeing how these antioxidants may affect a coral's symbiotic relationship and viability. Most of my work will be done using microscopy with fluorescent measurements.

Email address: michael.marty32@gmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Ivan Adamés

Education info & Academic Interest: I am a graduate student of the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical science campus. I have a BS in General Sciences and Biology at the Central Bayamon with Post-Baccalaureate courses in Molecular Biology at the University or Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. I am currently working in dissecting the developmental molecular mechanism for the temperature-dependence of synaptic growth at Drosophila Neuromuscular Juntion for my thesis.

Email address: aretzius@gmail.com
Advisor: Bruno Marie

 

Name: Kevin de Leon

Education info & Academic Interest: My undergraduate foundation is from the natural science faculty of the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, where I acquired a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Sciences. While being an undergraduate I participated in P.R.C.E.N for two years in the terrestrial project, working on the molecular mechanism of temperature dependent synaptic growth.  Presently, I am a Ph.D student of the Biology Intercampus Program. My current work is related to the effect of different contaminants found in the environment on synaptic growth and stability.

Email address: kevindeleonupr@gmail.com
Advisor: Bruno Marie

 

Name: Francisco Soto

Education info & Academic Interest: I completed my B.S. in Coastal Marine Biology at the UPR-Humacao and my M.S. at UPR-Mayaguez. My doctoral research project is focusing on several phases of environmental research within the Puerto Rican archipelago under the guidance of Dr. Alberto Sabat. One of these phases is part of the current multidisciplinary study within the NSF CREST PRCEN project. I am studying the demography of coral species susceptible (e.g. Montastraea annularis) and tolerant (Porites astreoides) of environmental change under three different sets of conditions: healthy (Culebra reef), healthy/urbanized (Fajardo reef) and urbanized degraded reef (San Juan reef). Results from my study will be linked to other studies within the marine component of the NSF CREST PRCEN project involving calcification rates and symbiont composition of the two coral species studied. Hence, my current research is highly important for the goals of the PRCEN. Coastal problems have always marked a negative spot in the development of the Puerto Rican archipelago.

Email address: coralero@gmail.com
Advisor: Alberto M. Sabat

 

Name: Alex E. Mercado

Education info & Academic Interest: I obtained my B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras in 2000 and earned my M.Sc  in Marine Sciences in 2008 at the Department of Marine Science at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. I recently obtained my Ph.D. in Biology (Ecology and Systematic) at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras working under the supervision of Dr. Alberto Sabat. My dissertation focused on the demography of the threatened coral Acropora cervicornis. The goals of the research were to comprehensively study the demographic performance of two wild populations of this threatened coral and to determine whether coral transplantation is a feasible approach to restore depleted or locally extinct populations. The third goal was to model the branching dynamics of A. cervicornis in order to aid coral “gardeners” in developing “harvesting” plan.  I was a PRCEN fellow from 2102 to 2015.

Email address: amolinapr@gmail.com
Advisor: Alberto M. Sabat

 

Name: Neidibel Martínez

Education info & Academic Interest: I worked with PRCEN as an undergraduate student of the Environmental Science department for two years (2011-13), in the marine project, for the study of a mechanistic understanding of calcification in Puerto Rican coral reefs. My research was to study of the effect of temperature and salinity on photosynthesis in the coral Porites astreoides. After them I follow for my master degree, starting in august 2014, in the same department, working with Dr. Roberson as my research advisor professor. Porites astreoides have shown greater resistance to climate change, suggesting differences in the response of each coral to climate change may be due to variation in the ability to acclimate. The purpose of this research was to identify how changes in temperature and salinity could alter photosynthesis and bleaching in this stony coral.

Email address: neidymartinez18@gmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Xochitl Perez

Education info & Academic Interest: I received with magna cum laude her Barchelor’s degree in Physics Engineer from Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Azcapotzalco campus in Mexico City. During her bachelor's she award a scholarship supported by Mexican Navy. She was a member of the Mexican Navy Research Institute; she developed several mathematical models in areas such as medical images, tracking systems and motion stabilization systems. She also has been a researcher in the Laboratory of Intracellular Communication in the Department of Physiology at the Universidad Autónoma de Mexico; she worked on electrophysiological and theorical experiments. Currently, she is a fellow of the Puerto Rico Center for Environmental Neuroscience, where she has developed extraction methodologies for organic contaminants from environmental samples. Also, she developed electrophysiological models for in vivo and in vitro experiments to study the contaminants effects in the nervous system . In addition, she studied the contaminant uptake and bioaccumulation in the C. sapidus hemolymph. She will like to continue studying anthropogenic effects in areas such as genetics and ecology.

Email address: xochitl.perez@upr.edu
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Ana I. Ortiz

Education info & Academic Interest: I have a bachelor degree in Biology. I am a graduate student from the School of Medicine at Medical Science Campus, UPR. I have participated in PRCEN Program since 2012 and I have a fellowship since 2013-present. My research project is part of the sub-project of river ecosystem. The title of study is Effects of Urban River Pollutants in Modulating Prawn Behavior and Neural Function.

Email address: ana.ortiz1@upr.edu
Advisor: María Sosa Lloréns

 

Name: Jonathan L. Crooke Rosado

Education info & Academic Interest: I have a Biology BS from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus. Since 2012 I am enrolled in the Anatomy Doctoral Program in the UPR-MSC and since then I am collaborating with the PRCEN. I work specifically in the river subproject and I am currently developing my thesis entitled “Effects of urban river contaminants on behavior, synaptic function, and gene expression on the nervous system of freshwater crustacean Macrobrachium rosenbergii”.  This research will help us to clarify what is still unknown about the introduction of emergent contaminants and its alterations to the behavior, physiology and nervous system of the aquatic fauna.

Email address: jonathan.crooke@upr.edu
Advisor: María Sosa Lloréns

 

Name: Laura Vicente Rodríguez

Education info & Academic Interest: I completed my B.S. in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey in June 2014. I am currently a graduate student from the Anatomy and Neurobiology Department at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. I have been always interested in understanding how different molecular compounds modulate our behavior patterns. In 2012 I became part of the Puerto Rico Center of Environmental Neurosciences (PRCEN) group. From 2012 – 2014, I worked with PRCEN on the Rivers subproject determining how contaminants found in Puerto Rican rivers affect aggressive behavior in fresh water prawn pairs.  Currently, I am working on the Oceans subproject examining the mechanisms by which newly settled coral larvae of porites ateroides sense their environment.

Email address: laura.vicente@upr.edu
Advisor: Joshua Rosenthal