A Future Full of Opportunities
JOHN F. KENNEDY · THE AMERICAN SCHOOL OF QUERÉTARO
Fall 2012 VOL. 1 NO. 10 ·
To facilitate the balanced development of our students; with commitment and respect for the local community and a multicultural world.
UN AGRADECIMIENTO MUY ESPECIAL A TODOS NUESTROS PATROCINADORES DEL 3er TORNEO DE GOLF
Times Message from our General Director
Mirtha Stappung M.Ed., MA GENERAL DIRECTOR
Debra Cortney MA PRE–SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Mark Dunn M.Ed., MA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Tara Fitzgerald Ed. Admin., MS MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Adrian Leece MA, BSc, FRMtS HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Arturo Bustamante ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR
Dra. Josefina Morgan FINANCIAL DIRECTOR
OPERATIONS AND SERVICES DIRECTOR
Ing. Ángel de Lope Friedeberg , C.P. Benito Adolfo Tagle Jiménez, Arq. Matthew Schmidt Covo, Dr. Raúl Gerardo Paredes Guerrero, Lic. Luz Ma. Aguirre Schoelman, Arq. Martha Naranjo Romero, Dra. María Isabel Miranda Sauce.
An afternoon with Dr. Raúl Paredes
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lic. Mónica Duarte Balcárcel
EDITOR IN CHIEF AND CHAIR OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Lic. Karla Ríos Amaro
Science is all Around Us
Inge de Rosenzweig, Gina Patricia De Gasperín Estrada, Pablo Ordoñez, Roberto Delgado, Karla Ríos, Yolanda Lomelín, Mónica Duarte, Sofia Roa, Andrea Razo, Luis Piña, Marco Antonio Romero Dorantes, Fernanda Burillo Acosta, Ana Paula Esqueda López, María Kompalka Alcocer, Laura A. Vázquez Chávez, Editorial Committee. WRITERS
PROOFREADING AND TRANSLATION
sextosentido DESIGN & COVER PHOTO
Scieⁿce A Future Full of Opportunities
Karla Ríos, Víctor Ortega, Asbed Levi, Robert Potter, Inge De Rosenzweig. PHOTOGRAPHY ALUMNI CONTACT
Virginia Watkins vwatkins@jfk .edu.mx ADVERTISING SALES
Karla Rios Tel. (442) 218 0075 ext. 1010 email@example.com
Pablo Ordoñez Roberto Delgado
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Waking up to Science in Elementary
Your School, Your Space
CLASS OF 2002
17 años asegurando al JFK... dice mucho de nosotros.
Adquiere un Seguro de Educación
Times T Message from our General Director Sin importar lo que pase... nosotros nos encargamos de que tus hijos terminen sus estudios. calle del rio 107 residencial calesa 2nda sección Querétaro
josé ramón vela
tel oficina 2233418 2134381 celular 442 1 81 71 45
his issue of our JFK Times magazine is dedicated to the Sciences. Our school is a small living laboratory in which students of all ages live the sciences through observations, experiences, and interactions in these stimulating surroundings. Development of curiosity helps shape student learning in a setting full of life, movement, activities and action. We hope that you will enjoy reading the following pages. They contain a variety of illustrations of the life that Science plays inside the great JFK community environment! Mirtha Stappung Ruff General Director
Editor's Message ries; to the members of the board, to It seems it was just students, teachers, parents and direca while ago that I tors who have written for the magastarted working with zine; to designers, photographers, Miss Mirtha and Mr. writers and printers who have invested Charles Weiss on the great care in the production of each concept for a new number; to the first advertisers that magazine aimed at the believed in us and who have joined in Kennedy community; a with each edition; to the thousands publication —we concluded— that should of readers in and out of Querétaro. A approach in every edition the successvery special thank you goes to Karla ful trajectory of one of our graduRios, member of the Commuates. nication Department for her Even if the magazine was Even if the dedication to this project, as issued every month, we magazine was well as to Miss Mirtha Stapwould never run out of maissued every pung and Mr. Charles Weiss, terial. We know hundreds of month, we would whom I consider to be the success stories from men never run out magazine’s godparents. and women, proud Kennedy of material. We My commitment as editor in alumni. know hundreds of chief is to add new improveThis is how the JFK Times success stories ments with every number. magazine was born. Its from men and To achieve this, the opinion title granted by Class '07 women, proud of our readers is fundamental. students from the marketing Kennedy alumni. With the aim of enriching elective. future editions, I invite you to JFK Times is much more than a school write and share your comments and sugmagazine. Its content, design, producgestions with me. We are also proud to tion, distribution and merchandising announce that our magazine can now be are done with the level of professionfound at the link www.issuu.com alism of a commercial magazine. /exalumnoskennedy, where you will also As editor in chief, I am very proud find magazines from around the world. of the ten editions we have published to date. Sincerely yours. This success is the result of a team ..... effort. I sincerely thank all the / \ Mónica Duarte Balcárcel people that have collaborated from the / \ firstname.lastname@example.org first edition to the tenth. To alumni |\~~~~~~~/| | \=====/ | that have shared with us their sto| /`...'\ | |/_______\|
OUTSTANDING ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS BY OUR FACULTY OR STUDENTS
By: Inge de Rosenzweig Elementary School's Science Lab Teacher
Waking up to Science in Elementary
Science is thrilling, fun, creative and whole. Here we make bubbles to understand changes in matter, hot cakes to learn chemical and physical changes and paper ball wars as a method for asking and answering questions.
Today I am savoring a moment before my groups come in to work at this beloved Science Lab, which is a little corner of life… because life is about rediscovering science to our delight. 4
What fun it is when we discover nature's wonders. For children, this means experiencing the essence of joy and admiration because, being new to this world, it reveals itself to them for the first time. When the children are bitten by the curiosity bug allows me to teach based on the children's excitement. I am passionate about what I do and love to share it. I would like for us all, parents and teachers, to drive, enjoy and benefit from our children’s natural sense of wonder because it is also fundamental tool for science. Observation leads to asking questions; without this skill they stop questioning things. And I believe that human beings of all ages should keep this reflective capacity to ask why am I doing this and where this is leading me to. From observation coupled with the scientific method, comes a fearless and organized way of posing, planning, experimenting and analyzing… of discovering possible solutions to the situations and problems brought about by life. There is no failure in science, only steps in knowledge. Everything is a learning opportunity. In our school, we have tried to pull away science’s scary mask. Science is thrilling, fun, creative and whole. Here we make bubbles to understand changes in matter, hot cakes to learn 6
"The Destination Imagination program encourages teams of learners to have fun, take risks, focus, and frame challenges while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts, and service learning."
chemical and physical changes and paper ball wars as a method for asking and answering questions. We discover how other disciplines, such as art and math are part of a great never ending knowledge. Kids begin to use the skills they are born with, in a structured fashion, as a tool. Aside from the benefit of offering students a science lab in Elementary, the school has a number of very interesting projects to take science outside the classroom. On Pet’s Friday, students can get acquainted with bunnies, canaries, parakeets, frogs, turtles, fishes and a duck named Panfilo or Lucas. They can take hamsters out of their cage to feed them. We also have Pet Stay, a program that —previous authorization from home and a signed commitment from their parents— lets them take turns to invite
"We are also very proud of our role in the Science Fair... Last year one of our teams was awarded second place."
"Not many years ago, very few students signed in Area 2, which main focus’ is science. Now, with great joy I see that we have more and more students discovering that science is thrilling and fun. I have even run into doctors that were my students."
for the first time in Destination Imagination, a project created to encourage creativity. We won first place at regional’s, which in turn awarded us the pass to the main event in Tennesa hamster home. This allows them to see. It was an amazing experience and learn that a pet is not a toy and what it we are planning to repeat it this year. means to take care of a living creatu“The Destination Imagination prore —all under the watchful eye of their gram encourages teams of learners to parents. This is also a natural, sensitive have fun, take risks, focus, and frame and responsible way of discovering challenges while incorporating STEM life’s cycles in mammals, birds and (science, technology, engineering, and amphibians. mathematics), the arts, and service We are also very proud of our role in learning.” www.destinationimaginathe Science Fair. Not only in the one tion.org that takes place every two years, here in Not many years ago, very few stuour school, but mostly in the one held dents signed in Area 2, which main annually by our school district, where focus’ is science. Now, with great joy our students have had outstanding I see that we have more and more results. Last year one of our teams was students discovering that science is awarded second place, even when four thrilling and fun. I have even run into of the five girls fell ill with the flu the doctors that were my students. How day before. I went to the class for help exciting! and volunteers immediately came to I always tell my students, “Guess the rescue. what? This is a place where crazy ideas We are also working to make the are accepted, encouraged and applauKennedy a door towards global science ded. Bravo! Because it is from crazy ideas that great discoveries are born.” and education. Last year we took part 7
THE JFK SPIRIT
By M. Sci. Gina Patricia de GasperĂn Estrada Science Laboratory Supervisor in Middle School and High School
Science Lab Oursâ€™ are among the best laboratory facilities of all universities and schools in the state.
The Science Lab at our school is a learning and creative space whose main objective is to amplify theoretical knowledge, obtain a higher level of understanding and comprehension from contents presented in class, and drive a higher level of personalized and participative activity that needs the scientific method and a critical perspective to develop. Science, although based on theory, is an eminently practical activity, which makes the laboratory an essential
element. This is why, at school, we continually search for the best tools that allow students to undertake the experiments to corroborate and apply the acquired knowledge, prove the hypothesis that stem from the scientific method, and develop their imagination and analytical ability. During their time at the lab, students gain a scientific perspective that they will use on the many journeys they make all through the school year. They apply what they have learned in the
classroom and in the lab to a wide range of interdisciplinary activities. It is very interesting to see how students, through their work in the lab, develop an increasing interest in science and acquire a scientific criterion. They become scientists with many questions to answer; eager to experiment and build science. Students usually carry out the practices corresponding to all of the science related subjects, but they also develop experiments on the subject for their IB Essay. This means creating an individual project on a specific topic, proving hypothesis and drawing conclusions based on insightful deliberation. They will invest a lot of their lab time researching and applying different methodologies to obtain high level experiments. Oursâ€™ are among the best laboratory
facilities of all universities and schools in the state. Day to day we strive to keep our lab in excellent conditions and to innovate on equipment, instruments, methodologies and materials, so that our students have the opportunity to experiment and let their imagination take flight. We have high technology equipment such as microscopes, a spectrophotometer (used in chemical and physical analysis to measure the wavelength of various substances), an electrophoresis chamber (used to separate, purify and analyze nucleic acids and proteins), movement sensors (to measure the location of an object every given instant), just to mention a few. To see the scientific development some of our students have reached is amazing; just as their capability for critical and reflective thought at all levels.
Students usually carry out the practices corresponding to all of the science related subjects, but they also develop experiments on the subject for their IB Essay.
THEY HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
An afternoon with Dr. Raúl Paredes
He considers studying the brain is very much like studying an internal universe.
By: Sofia Roa, Andrea Razo, & Luis Piña. 12th grade students.
Doctor Raúl Gerardo Paredes Guerrero is the name of the current director of the Neurobiology Institute at the UNAM facilities here in Querétaro. He is a smart successful man, currently researching about the neurobiology of sexual conduct and the brain’s plasticity. He kindly answered all our questions, and also gave us a tour around his laboratory showing us what his work is about. It was very exciting and very interesting so we felt the need to share his answers with the JFK community. Dr. Paredes did not start his professional career in the neurobiology field; he fist had to travel a long journey in order to find his true calling. Since he had always been interested in how the universe worked, Astronomy first caught his eye. But as he thought 10
more and more about it, he imagined the only place an astronomer would work was in an observatory. This didn’t appeal very much to him —he didn’t know the wide range of possibilities an astronomer has. He also thought that it would be hard to find a job here in Mexico as an astronomer. So he took a look at psychology and found there a whole other universe to study. He considers studying the brain is very much like studying an internal universe. His curiosity to learn how the brain works, lead him into the psychological field. Dr. Paredes studied at Northern Anahuac University which was where he got his degree in psychophysiology, a branch of psychology that captured his attention in a particular way. One of the reasons he chose and liked this area was because the great professors
Dr. Paredes currently works at a laboratory studying sexual conduct and the brain’s plasticity, which was his degree’s thesis.
brain plasticity, which is called neurohe had. A couple of them really made genesis, meaning the incorporation of an impact on his studies by the way new neurons into the brain. Plasticity they taught their class —their passion itself is the capacity of the brain to to show and share how the brain works. adapt to new conditions, or what hapYou could say this is what inspired him pens when one learns something new. to go ahead and get a degree in this In his opinion, research is like a never particular area of psychophysiology. ending story because when you first He continued on to get a master’s in develop a question or hypothesis, at physiology, a doctorate in basic medithe moment of answering that quescal research, and a post-doctorate resi- tion, you unlock more questions which dency at Boston’s University in medical in turn lead you to a never ending web research as well. of information. The desire to know and As it happens to most at this stage of learn more becomes infinite and one our lives, Dr. Paredes was not sure at really has a job for a lifetime. He also first of what he wanted to study, but the finds science interesting because it more knowledge he acquired, the more is always questioning itself, breaking interesting and appealing paradigms and increasing this line of work became. It knowledge. The desire to became a challenge. Today, Dr. Paredes loves know and learn Dr. Paredes currently his job and he feels privimore becomes works at a laboratory study- infinite and one leged to be able to work in ing sexual conduct and the something he really likes. really has a job brain’s plasticity, which was for a lifetime. He remembers when he his degree’s thesis. He studfirst started his masters, and ies sexual conduct which is went five to six years without vacaa motivated behavior that is important tions of any kind. But time flew by so to species, but not for individuals. Spe- quickly, that he did not notice —he was cies need to reproduce, so that’s why so interested and focused in studying, the behavior they take towards it comes that by the time he realized he hadn’t into importance. It serves as a good had a break, it was six years too late. model for studying which brain circuits He did not mind a bit though, because are controlling these motivated behav- in reality, he was happy doing what he iors. He also studies issues concerning really loves. 11
A FOCUS ON OUR STAFF
...it is at this early stage where “the brain is like a sponge that traps everything it hears”... This is why this is the best time to instill an interest in science.
This article was a collaboration from:
Science is all Around Us
Fernanda Burillo Acosta Ana Paula Esqueda López María Kompalka Alcocer
We interviewed Gabriela Madrid, one of the most outstanding teachers of the Science Department at our school. She is a Bio-Pharmaceutical Chemist from UNAM with a Masters in Educational Sciences from UVM. Her interest in science began when she was only ten years old and be-
Her interest in science began when she was only ten years old and became fan of a television show where forensic scientists solved criminal cases.
Professor: Laura A. Vázquez Chávez
An interview with Gabriela Madrid Middle School’s Science Teacher
came a fan of a television show where forensic scientists solved criminal cases. In Middle School her Chemistry and Biology teachers made her take real interest in this area. On top of this, just as she was about to graduate and enroll in social service, she was granted a scholarship by UNAM’s Faculty of
in what they are learning. Regarding the academic standards Chemistry and began working at their laboratory. Her job was to guide at JFK’s Science Department, Miss Gabriela considers them to be of students in their experiments; she very high level, since they go beyond discovered then that teaching was SEP’s requirements and include her passion. international standards. The excellent Although she has not practiced grades obtained by JFK students in BCP as a profession, all her knowlother countries, proves this. She adds edge has helped her to gain great it is necessary that students achievements as a benefit from a continued Chemistry and Biology “science has no program of education from teacher, because she limits because Pre-School to High School, human beings can show the concrete have none. as well as taking into conexamples and share her There will sideration the educational experiences to illustrate always be reforms that take place at a better the theory seen in someone asking national level. class. “It is a great chalwhy and there “Science is all around us lenge to make sure that will always be and takes place in our evall of our students have someone trying eryday life. Take a look, for truly learned something to answer.” example, at the technology from me, even going and medicines that have beyond academics”, said been developed. Many discoveries Miss Gabriela. emerged while looking for an answer Her experience as a teacher has to another scientific question. I think helped her see that every student, regardless of their age, academic and that science has to be a part of a truly cultivated person”, expresses Miss socioeconomic level, has something Gabriela. “Science has the responsito teach her. She is constantly motibility of solving the major problems vated by the expressions of surprise faced by humanity and the world: to in student’s faces when they undersearch for answers to climate change, stand a certain subject and when the extinction of the species, and years later they come back to thank world hunger. her with the intention of studying a “In my role as a scientist, I would career related to health or science. like to answer transcendental quesRegarding the importance of scitions such as: What was the unience studies in basic education, she verse’s origin? Was there really a Big says it is at this early stage where Bang? Which was the origin of Life?” “the brain is like a sponge that traps To end this interesting interview, everything it hears”; a crucial moMiss Gabriela commented that, ment where a person starts developin her view, “science has no limits ing into what it will become in the because human beings have none. future. This is why this is the best There will always be someone asking time to instill an interest in science. why and there will always be someIt is a time when children’s sense of wonder helps to get deeply interested one trying to answer.” 13
SPORTS PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR OUR MODEL OF EDUCATION
Physical Therapy By: Marco Antonio Romero Dorantes · Class '08
Hands & Head in Action Athletes work hard for years, they give their heart, body and soul everyday to training – they even sacrifice time with their friends or loved ones in order to excel at their particular sport. However, as sad as it might be, all this hard work leading up to a big game, competition or even to a friendly match with friends (in the case of recreational athletes) can be lost within seconds. It really is heartbreaking to see an athlete sustain an injury that keeps him from doing what he likes the most and all it takes is one second, one misstep, one bad jump – this is where we, physical therapists, come in. Physical therapy is a profession within the health area whose main objective is promoting health and function of the body, while using scientific principles in the process of examination, evaluation, diagnosis and functional prognosis to heal or prevent physical limitations that hinder function or movement. This profession has been around since ancient Greece, however, it wasn’t until the First World War when people were specifically brought in to restore physical function to injured soldiers and thus, modern physical therapy was born. 14
Physical therapy is a profession within the health area whose main objective is promoting health and function of the body, while using scientific principles.
Nowadays, a lot of times when people hear the term “physical therapist” they immediately think of us as simple masseurs, thinking that all we do is give massages. Massage therapy is only the tip of the iceberg; it is only one of the many therapeutic methods we use alongside with others such as electrotherapy, therapeutic laser, ultrasound, hydrotherapy, thermotherapy, kinesiotaping (now very popular thanks to the Olympics) specific mobilizations and exercise itself (just to name a few). Physical therapists can work in a wide range of settings with various kinds of patients. We can work at hospitals, private clinics or be self-employed, helping people ranging from babies with cerebral palsy, to pregnant women, amputees, people of old age, stroke victims, heart attack survivors, and athletes (from weekend warriors to Olympians).
Personally, I have gotten the most personal satisfaction from working with athletes. Maybe this is because I am an athlete (and a former Jaguar) myself; I get a great sense of fulfillment and happiness when I help a patient get back on the field or track. I have even been asked by some of my patients to go watch them play! Not to say that the money isn’t good, but little details like the above are the best reward for this kind of job. We can take almost any athlete and quickly identify, diagnose and fix inefficient movement patterns. Using our knowledge in anatomy, physiology and biomechanics we can fix poor mechanics and unlock previously unknown athletic capacity helping our athletes run faster, jump higher and throw farther. We can also help with the recovery process after a tough training session or match, helping reduce muscle soreness, inflammation, cramps, etc., allowing the athlete to go
back to training hard. In the case of injury, we help athletes during their rehabilitation process. Said process can last a week or two in the case of minor injuries such as a grade one ankle sprain. On the other hand, in the case of more severe injury that requires surgery such as tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee, the process can last months during which we focus on reducing pain, recovering strength, mobility, flexibility and eventually confidence for the athlete to return to his activities as soon as possible. As physical therapists, we use our knowledge and creativity to improve the quality of life of whoever needs us. We seek to perform basic maintenance or repairing of the body, unlock athletic potential and teach ways for athletes and non-athletes alike to prevent injuries, live pain free and happy.
We can take almost any athlete and quickly identify, diagnose and fix inefficient movement patterns.
When any of us whole heartedly undertakes an unselfish effort with the sole purpose of lending a hand, this example, this testimony, is inspiring and contagious. This is what we call a heroic effort. This is what makes the Kennedy a community like few others. Please keep in mind this is your school, your space. Everything you are and think expressed
WHAT ARE WE UP TO?
Your School, Your Space We have said many times that our School, the Kennedy is the result of a great community working together with the goal of giving our children the best possible education. But nobody has to take our word for granted. All through the school we can see what we have built. The multipurpose court and the new floor for our auditorium are tangible examples of what we have accomplished by setting each year our sights on a specific goal. This year’s annual campaign will focus on a beautiful canvas that will cover our Civic Courtyard, shading us from the sun, protecting us from the rain and allowing us to organize a whole array of different events under its shadow.
This year, like the ones before, we are counting on the enthusiastic participation of an army of volunteers to make our project a reality. And with a level of commitment that is hard to find in any institution, our Golf Tournament, Christmas Bazzar, Kermesse and Run will be fueled by the work of close to five hundred volunteers: parents, teachers, principals, students’ staff and sponsors, working as one. We want to thank you all for this incredible effort and invite you to join us and help us in the months to come, knowing that, aside from having an incredible opportunity of rejoicing in your company, you are building the future of our school and leaving a rich legacy for generations to come.
through your participation and opinions, makes us better. That is why we invite you to come to us with your unique set of abilities, experiences, vision and dreams. We will welcome them eagerly to keep making this school —our shool— bigger, better, stronger.
Please keep in mind this is your school, your space. Everything you are and think expressed through your participation and opinions, makes us better.
This year’s annual campaign will focus on a beautiful canvas that will cover our Civic Courtyard, shading us from the sun, protecting us from the rain and allowing us to organize a whole array of different events under its shadow.
Scieⁿce A Future Full of Opportunities By M. Sci. Yolanda Lomelín High School's Science Coordinator
e are very fortunate to be living a great boom in science. The new program that has emerged from advances such as Biotechnology has driven research, generating new careers and plenty of new opportunities for young people worldwide, as well as in Mexico. At the Kennedy, we have two great goals regarding science. The first one is to fulfill the high standards set by the International Baccalaureate, which gives our students the tools they need to enter first rate universities and comply with the requirements to apply to universities such as Stanford or Harvard. The second is getting our students to fall in love with science and discover the great opportunities for employment and development they offer. Mexico now offers high quality education and our highest goal would be that, regardless of them furthering their education outside our borders, our students choose to stay in Mexico as researchers and professionals. We want to achieve that our talent stays in our
To fulfill our objectives —achieving international standards and getting our students invested in science— all of our teachers have Masters if not Doctorate degrees. country. We are already seeing an important increase of students signing up in the biomedical area. Given that careers such as Medicine are very demanding, this might not be an easy choice, but regardless of this, we are seeing more and more students taking on this challenge with a high degree of success. To fulfill our objectives —achieving international standards and getting our students invested in science— all of our teachers have Masters if not Doctorate degrees. Since several of our teachers obtained these degrees from the Neu-
Our laboratory is even superior to the ones at university level in the city. It works to full capacity. Our 11 and 12 grade students are already capable of developing their own experiments.
robiology Institute at Juriquilla, the Kennedy enjoys unprecedented access to materials, equipments and programs from this internationally recognized institution. The unconditional support given by our school to the Science Department is clear to see. Our laboratory is even superior to the ones at university level in the city. It works to full capacity. Our 11th and 12th grade students are already capable of developing their own experiments. Having 24 students in class each working on a different practice designed by them is very exciting. 19
In IB the highest mark is a seven; our students are already being awarded sixes. Given that the international average is 4.3, this is a great accomplishment.
There is no failure in science, only a process to find that a certain procedure will not give you the results you are looking for; or finding, by accident, something you were not looking for. Notwithstanding that the achievements have been remarkable, our goal for the future is to keep raising the bar. Our students are getting increasingly better standards. In IB the highest mark is a seven; our students are already being awarded sixes. Given that the international average is 4.3, this is a great accomplishment. We also want more students going into scientific research. In our country, the notion that research is a badly rewarded field where 20
We are in regular contact with the Neurobiology Institute to open up opportunities for our students to participate as assistants in certain projects. This is the kind of skill development that really takes learning outside the classroom.
opportunities are scarce is still wildly spread. However, now there is plenty to do in science. We are in regular contact with the Neurobiology Institute to open up opportunities for our students to participate as assistants in certain projects. This is the kind of skill development that really takes learning outside the classroom and generates the critical thinking that is needed in science. The high quality of our lab, teachers in constant professional development, education of international standards and the participation at on line scientific forums, are some of the tools the Kennedy offers its students to help them discover the immense possibilities in science. 21
I had never thought about research as a possibility but I became fascinated by science. It trapped me.
neuroscientist Milene talks to us about her passion for science and her interesting work at the Institute of Neurobiology in Juriquilla
Milene, it’s a great pride for the Kennedy community to know you are currently working towards your doctorate at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) one of the most recognized scientific facilities in Latin America. Can you tell us what led you there? I was still studying at the Kennedy School when we visited the Institute of Neurobiology. From that moment on, I set my sights on working there. After graduation, I studied Psychology at the UAQ (Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro) and chose to do my practice at the institute, studying the elderly in the psychophysiology lab. When I finished my practice, I had no doubts about devoting my life to this line of work. I had never thought about research as a possibility but I became fascinated by science. It trapped me.
By Karla Ríos
CLASS '02 22
What are you working on at the present moment? I work in the psychophysiology lab, more specifically, in electrophysiology. During my Masters, I worked with babies four to eight months old. Now, for my PhD thesis, I am researching a treatment known as neurofeedback. It is a therapy that uses electroencephalography with the goal of teaching the subjects to modify their own brain activity. The treatment is based on operant conditioning, which basically consists in rewarding or punishing a certain behavior. Neurofeedback has been used in people with attention deficit disorder, learning disorders, epilepsy, depression and other pathologies. We now know that children and adults show improvement after the treatment, but we don’t know what is happening in the brain; why is electric activity changing. And I am very interested in finding the answer. It is widely used, especially in the United States, but it is yet considered an alternative therapy because, until we know with certainty how it works, doctors are reluctant to recommend it. One of the problems with neurofeedback is that it is being applied without an established foundation.
We place sensors to measure electrical activity in the brain, and when it shows abnormalities, we give the neurofeedback treatment. I am currently working with children 8 to 10 years old with unspecific learning disorder, which means they have a below average performance in calculus, reading and/or writing. We place sensors to measure electrical activity in the brain, and when it shows abnormalities (slower or faster brainwaves), we give the neurofeedback treatment. I will apply Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging before the treatment to see which regions of the brain are activated during certain tasks; specifically reading, attention and calculus assignments. And I will repeat the MRI after the treatment as well. This will help me see what is happening in the brain. It is a non invasive treatment. The sensor is placed in the person to register electric activ24
On a professional level, the school helped me by allowing me to come in contact with the place I now work at. English beign the language of science, mastering it helped me enormously, as well as knowing how to write a good report. The Science Fair —which I won on one occasion— helped me to learn the rigorous and systematic method that is the corner stone of science.
Alumni Breakfast (June, 2010) ity and the subject is given either a reward or a punishment when their brainwaves are at the right or wrong speed and amplitude, respectively. For example, the computer will give them a tone or show them an image when the electric activity is right. They will not know what they are doing to make it right; they might tell you they are controlling their thoughts, breathing or counting. The reality is they are successfully changing their electric activity. We have seen that, after a number of sessions, this activity becomes normal.
During your Academic and professional life, what has been your greatest challenge? As a psychologist, my first big challenge was to step into neuroscience. I had to learn biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, genetics; subjects I had not touched on since high school. The challenge also was to learn and work with biologists, chemists, physicists and scientists from diverse disciplines.
What has been your greatest accomplishment so far? Given that the main goal of science is to generate knowledge; my biggest achievements have been the results of my research, which I have published in scientific articles.
What does the Kennedy School mean to you? I spent all my life at JFK … since preschool. Many of my friends were also there from the start and we built very tight bonds. I still see many of them. I also have great affection for many of my teachers whom I try to see every time I visit the Kennedy.
Recording her son’s brain electrical activity (October, 2012)
WHAT DO THESE WORDS MEAN TO YOU?
Happiness shared by more than one person.
Finding a place to be happy in and surrounding yourself with people you are happy with.
The biggest and most unconditional kind of company and support.
An acquired responsibility
My home, where I have been fortunate to live almost all my life; a place where I feel happy and safe.
A very beautiful country, for its natural richness as well as its culture. A country we all have to work very hard for, but with enormous potential.
On a professional level, the school helped me by allowing me to come in contact with the place I now work at. Being English the language of science, mastering it helped me enormously.
What would you like to share with Kennedy students? I would like for them to know that, if they are interested in medical sciences, they should give it a try; they will never regret it. All living organisms are fascinating, but a human being is so complex that there is no end to what you can study. It’s a truly interesting and unlimited subject. For many people, science remains terrifying, difficult and harsh… a field suited for nerdy people. But I would like to tell girls as well as boys that, even though you need to be dedicated to excel —as you would for any other job—science is fun, thrilling, exciting and a great place to dedicate your life. You don’t need a brilliant mind; just to be eager to learn and be creative. It’s amazing. You never stop learning. I urge them to visit the Neurobiology Institute. We are very lucky to have this wonderful institution, internationally recognized, right in our city. Besides its fascinating 25
topics of research, it has lots of cultural activities that not many people know of and that everyone should take advantage of.
Has it been hard to combine your personal and professional life? As with everything else, you need to find a balance to make things work. Research is a good field for women because you can manage your schedules and it is a great way to fulfill family life as well. I am married and have a 9 month old baby, and although sometimes it is not easy, I can make time for both my family and my job. There will always be people who spend all their time in the lab, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And this is a very gratifying job because science is the foundation for progress, I believe in science to such ends that myself, my husband and mostly my son, are subjects for many studies at the institute.
What are your plans for the future? After I finish my doctorate degree, I would like to get a postdoctoral degree in another country. This is how a scientific career works. You will study many years before you can become a researcher. And as a researcher, you will keep on studying. Afterwards, I would like to return here and stay at the Neurobiological Institute for good.
United Nations Festival (1989)
I spent all my life at JFK … since preschool. Many of my friends were also there from the start and we built very tight bonds.
Cheerleaders for the football team (1991)
Representing Hawaii at the International Fair (May, 1995)
Some articles posted by Milene Healthy aging: relationship between quantitative electroencephalogram and cognition.
Neurofeedback in healthy elderly human subjects with electroencephalographic risk for cognitive disorder.
Roca-Stappung M, Fernández T, Becerra J, Mendoza-Montoya O, Espino M, Harmony T. 2012. Neurosci Lett. Feb 29;510(2):115-20. http://tinyurl.com/stappung-HA
Becerra J, Fernández T, RocaStappung M, Díaz-Comas L, Galán L, Bosch J, Espino M, Moreno AJ, Harmony T. 2012. J Alzheimers Dis. 28(2):357-67. http://tinyurl.com/stappung-NF
Milene and friends outside the classrooms in Middle School (1998)
WHAT ARE WE DOING NOW?
ello, my name is Pablo Ordoñez. I spent my whole life at the Kennedy. After graduation, I entered Puebla’s Universidad de Las Americas (UDLAP). I’d played football my whole life and I was invited to join Los Aztecas, the university’s team. It had not won a national championship We knew we had in ten years, but it had prepared like always been ranked in the top four teams nathe best and that tionwide. My life at the all of our efforts Kennedy had prepared would yield me for the challenges results. This I was about to face. We is just how you learned to work as a feel when you team. We were always taught to compete graduate from against the best. In a school like November 2010, our the Kennedy. team made it to National Finals against the Tec de Monterrey —the five-time winner of the league. It was a close game, but we never lost confidence; we knew we had prepared like the best. This is how you feel when you graduate from the Kennedy and this is how our team, after ten years, became champion again. I was part of that victory; a unique adventure that the Kennedy helped me achieve. 28
oberto is a Law Degree graduate from Universidad Anahuac, and a columnist for the on line newspaper “El Observador Queretano”, who has written two novels. The first one, “El Triunfo de los Otros”, compares psychiatric hospital inmates to regular people with the aim of making a critique that will drive us to reflect on happiness. It was published by Rosa María Porrúa Ediciones in 2009. Pablo has a third In “Sólo lo Sabe La novel on development Luna”, a novel pubwhich will be named lished in 2012 by Plaza y Valdés, a law “1946”. It poses the student drops every- possibility of Winston Churchill deciding to thing and travels to be a writer instead of Europe to achieve his dream of becom- a politician. ing a painter during the cold war. He gets involved in the Velvet Revolution (Czechoslovakia), meets Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett and surrenders to Nadia’s love, a woman he chases through Europe. Pablo has a third novel in development which will be named “1946”. It poses the possibility of Winston Churchill deciding to be a writer instead of a politician. We’ll be waiting to read it! 29
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Published on Nov 29, 2013