PRCEN Undergraduate Students

 

Name: Dakeishla M. Díaz Morales

Education info & Academic Interest: I am a graduated from the UPR-RP with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. During my undergraduate studies, I have been an active member of the Student Chapter of the Marine Environment Society working in outreach and research projects concerning the impacts of human disturbances on the marine environment with Dr. Edwin Hernández Delgado. Later, I participated of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program sponsored by the National Science Foundation where she studied parasitism in annelids with Dr. Isaure de Buron at South Carolina. Currently, I works with P.R.C.E.N in a research project that assess how contaminants (Acetophenone and Tributyl phosphate) affect the heart rate of Blue Crabs (Callinectes sapidus) along with Dr. Loretta Roberson and Alexander Rodríguez. Recently, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research on ecotoxicology and parasitology at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany with Dr. Bernd Sures.

Email address: dakeishla.diaz93@hotmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Yanice Duquesne Maldonado

Education info & Academic Interest: I got my bachelor degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. I’ve been part of the PRCEN organization for three years, working in the environmental science laboratory with Dr. Loretta Roberson. I’ve collaborated on various projects related to the San Juan Bay Estuary, as for example “The Myocardial effect on Callinectes sapidus after exposure to sub-lethal concentrations of Acetophenone and Tributyl Phosphate”. I’m currently focused on studies on estuarine waters to identify different compounds and possible emerging contaminants and their concentrations from years 2012-2015. The name of my current research is the “Annual variation in the presence and distribution of phthalates in the San Juan Bay estuary”.

Email address: yaniice08@hotmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Vanessa Santiago

Education info & Academic Interest: I am an undergraduate student in the Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras campus. My research interest are in contaminants of emerging concern in the San Juan Bay Estuary lead me to presented my research work in the 2014 Emerging Research National Conference. Currently I'm member of the PRCEN Estuary Project.

Email address: vsant57@gmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Roberto Reyes

Education info & Academic Interest: As an undergraduate student of the Department of Biology at U.P.R-R.P I have had the opportunity to participate in various educational and research activities in the areas of herpetology, botany and aquatic ecology during my last four years of study.  As of March 2015 I began working with the P.R.C.E.N program under the mentoring of Dr. Alonso Ramirez and Sean P. Kelly.  With this program I have had the opportunity to plan my own research project that will be presented as my senior thesis. I am investigating stream ecosystems and riparian areas, specifically in the impacts of urbanization and human disturbance on communities of aquatic macro-invertebrates and riparian spiders.  We can use this kind of study to better inform the general public and the local communities of Puerto Rico about how anthropogenic activities can impact streams and what we can do to monitor and improve these important ecosystems.

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

 

Name: José Sánchez

Education info & Academic Interest: I'm an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, majoring in Biology, while also completing a minor in Environmental Science.  I have been actively involved in research at the university for over four years. I currently work at a tropical stream ecology laboratory lead by Alonso Ramirez. This past year, as part of the program I have been working with Sean Kelly, a graduate student leading my own project. It involved looking at the asymmetries and irregularities occurring in riparian spider webs as a possible indicator of urban impacts.

Email address: jas091988@gmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Jean Carlos Casellas

Education info & Academic Interest: I am coursing through my third year as a biology major student at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus. I currently form part of the fellowship program of the Puerto Rico Center of Environmental Neuroscience. The subject of our research is on Callinectes sapidus or blue crabs from the Estuary of the San Juan Bay of Puerto Rico and its uptake of representative organic contaminants in its tissue and how it affects its heart rate.

Email address: vsant57@gmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Frances García

Education info & Academic Interest: I went to Colegio San Felipe in Arecibo, Puerto Rico and currently I am a student in the Department of Computer Science. I started to work with PRCEN in August 2014 under the Estuary group. My mentors are Dr. Loretta Roberson and the graduate student Mayra Sánchez,  my work consist of  collecting samples, up keeping marine aquarium and my research aim is to monitor the water quality data of the San Juan Estuary.

Email address: fa.garciarobles@gmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Wilson Aquino

Education info & Academic Interest: I recently graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Cellular and Molecular Biology. At the present time, I’m doing research at the Institute of Neurobiology of the University of Puerto Rico, under the mentoring of Dr. Bruno Marie-Bordes. Using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, our research is directed at the molecular control of synaptic homeostasis, trying to determine the effects environmental factors (such as temperature or contaminants) on the synapse morphology and plasticity. Specifically my project is directed at the involvement of RNA editing carried out by a molecule called ADAR (adenosine deaminase acting on RNA), on synaptic growth at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. Being posttranscriptional regulation one of the most powerful tools in the adaptation of organisms to environmental changes, we believe that ADAR’s activity of editing its target RNAs is involved in the synaptic growth, since many RNAs involved in neurotransmission have been showed to be edited by ADAR.

Email address: wilson.aquino@live.com
Advisor: Bruno Marie

 

Name: Yaileen Velez

Education info & Academic Interest: I am a Human Biology student at the University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus. I am currently involved in the research of Marine Systems: CoralDemography under the supervision of Dr. Alberto Sabat and Francisco Soto, which is a graduate student in Environmental Sciences. There are two types of corals studied in this research, the Porites Asteroides and the Orbicella annularis. The Porites are a species resilient to stressors and anthropogenic pollutants, while the Orbicella species are susceptible to them. Both species are examined in a low and high coral cover reef in Eastern Puerto Rico. My work consists in analyzing photos that were taken in the field using Coral Point Count with Excel extensions. This program allows me to estimate the size of the colony by measuring the planar surface in square centimeters. This work enables us to compare both species and see what factors are affecting its development and help them to be more resilient.

Email address: yaileen.velez1@upr.edu
Advisor: Alberto Sabat

 

Name: Roberto Rodríguez Morales

Education info & Academic Interest: I am graduated from the University of Puerto Rico at Bayamón. In that institution I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Biology by June, 2015. Before this, I had a research experience at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during Summer 2014, where I worked culturing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). As of November 2013 I started working at Dr. Behra’s lab in the UPR-MSC Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, where I began studying the process of regeneration in the zebrafish lateral line after exposure to river contaminants. Specifically, I am studying this process in zebrafish that carry a mutation in the eya2 gene, which is thought to be implicated in the reappearance of hair cells. I became a member of the PRCEN as an undergrad student since January 2015, and will be entering the doctoral program of Anatomy in this upcoming August, 2015.

Email address: robertromo9@gmail.com
Advisor: Martine Behra

 

Name: Carmen Gonzalez

Education info & Academic Interest: I am an Integrative Biology undergraduate student from 2009 until now.  I worked at the Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation CREST-CATEC from 2010 through 2014, specifically with identification of coral diversity and coral recruitment; my mentor was the Dr. Edwin Hernandez Delgado. Some of the titles of the investigations that I was part of are: “Large-scale coral recruitment patterns in Mona Island, Puerto Rico: Evidence of a transitional coral community trajectory after massive bleaching and mortality”, Coral reefs in transition: the slippery road to ecological collapse?, and Community-Based Coral Reef Rehabilitation in a Changing Climate: Lessons Learned from Hurricanes, Extreme Rainfall, and Changing Land Use Impacts. From March 2015 through now, I am working at PRCEN, with the master degree thesis of Neidibel Martínez (Biology graduated student), titled “Effect of temperature on photosynthesis in the Porites astreoides juveniles”. On the other hand, I am working with measurement of Porites astreoides colonies to see if there is a relationship between coral measure and the number of larvae’s that they produce, and with the identification of coral species by photo-transects analysis.

Email address: carmenbiology@hotmail.com
Advisor: Loretta Roberson

 

Name: Linet Adorno Rivera

Education info & Academic Interest: I am a fourth year undergraduate student in Nutrition and Dietetics Program at University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. My research experience has been in the area of nanotechnology. Approximately one year ago, I started working in the laboratory of Dra. Liz Díaz in a project related to the biosynthesis of metallic nano-particles using eco-friendly and cost effective methods. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego, California to present my project in the 5th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts 2015. It’s my first time participating in the PRCEN program in which I started working on June of this year. Currently, my project consists of creating bio-sensors that are selective to emerging contaminants of the estuary using metallic nano-particles.

Email address: linet.adorno@upr.edu
Advisor: Liz Diaz

 

 

Name: Maria del Mar Cordero

Education info & Academic Interest: I'm an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus majoring in the Interdisciplinary Program. In January 2014, I started my research experience working in biosynthesis of metal nanoparticles. Since June 2015, I work with PRCEN in a new research project that monitors the contaminants in the San Juan Bay estuary under Dr. Liz M. Diaz.  My research, “Creating of biosensors to detect emerging contaminants in the estuary using metal nanoparticles,” studied different methods to create a sensor using metal nanoparticles (which are synthesized in our laboratory using green chemistry methods) and their propert ies. In this case we want to create a sensor that could be selective to a toxin.

Email address: mariadelmarcordero@yahoo.com
Advisor: Liz Diaz

 

Name: Derek García Almedina

Education info & Academic Interest: I am a third year undergraduate student at UPR Río Piedras Campus, majoring in Chemistry. Since summer of 2014 I work under the tutelage of Dr. Liz Díaz and the graduate student Anibal Hernández in environmental analytical chemistry. I started working with the PRCEN program on June 2015, investigating the potential of different marine macroalgae as indicators of the presence of emerging contaminants and neurotoxins in water. The presence of environmental stressors affect the development and physiology of these organisms: growth rate, photosynthetic capacity, and the production of secondary metabolites, such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, pigments and VOCs. Using analytical techniques such as headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), a VOCs profile for the different marine macroalgae could be worked out, and correlated to the environmental conditions they were exposed to, such as the presence or absence of contaminants and neurotoxins in their environment.

Email address:derek.garcia@upr.edu
Advisor: Liz Diaz

 

 

Name: Nabila Chaudhri Martínez

Education info & Academic Interest: I graduated from the UPR-RP with a Bachelor’s Degree in General Sciences. In my last two years of undergraduate studies I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Martine Behra in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology of the UPR School of Medicine. The title of my project is MYBPC1 mutation in Zebrafish larvae as a model for human Cardiomyopathies’. My project focuses on a certain mutation found in the Myosin binding protein C (MYBPC). This protein is necessary for the thick filament stability, proper contraction and development of specific muscle fibers. However its function is not well understood. Mutations in the MYBPC have been linked to various human cardiomyopathies. In humans, heterozygote carriers are at higher risk of heart failure and sudden cardiac death (SCD). To understand how such mutations can cause SCD, we propose to use Zebrafish as an animal model. I entered The PRCEN program in January 2015 up until May of 2015.

 

Email address: bilasofia427@gmail.com
Advisor: Liz Diaz

 

Name: Yesenia Bruno Laureano

Education info & Academic Interest:I am an undergraduate student studying a cellular and molecular biology degree and also for getting a certification for be a biology teacher. I began research studies measuring sponge area and length. Then I continued with physiological studies with Acropora cervicornis under thermal stress. My sub-investigation was to make physiological studies to a less sensible coral as Siderastrea siderea for compare its physiological responses and determinate what can contribute to the sensibility in these corals. At the moment I am repeating experiments to obtain new data about S. siderea and I'm doing new studies as the concentration of lipids and see if the coral can recover from thermal stress.

Email address: amsabat@gmail.com
Advisor: Alberto Sabat