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The places they’ll go

Since 2006, the research scholars program has produced roughly 120 graduates, with the vast majority now engaged in STEM-related jobs, graduate school, or medical, dental and veterinary schools. Angelina Bortoletto, a 2013 NMSUHHMI alumna, is currently in her second term of medical school at Baylor College of Medicine. “The HHMI program introduced me to my college mentor, Dr. Shelley Lusetti,” Bortoletto says. “For the three years that I worked with her, she truly encouraged me to explore research as a career option and is one of the major reasons that I find myself at one of the top M.D.-Ph.D. programs in the country.” Also finding great success following her stint as a research scholar is Kellie Jurado, a 2010 NMSU-HHMI alumna, who defended her doctoral thesis at Harvard University last summer and recently began a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale. “I am very excited to continue my journey within academic science

Research by NMSU-HHMI scholars could ultimately have far-reaching impact as they work to discover scientific and medical breakthroughs with lifesaving potential. and credit the mentors and research experiences I had during my undergrad work as instrumental in setting my path within this career,” she says.

Mindful mentors

The more than 50 past and current NMSU-HHMI faculty mentors seem to be equally pleased with the experience. “What I love most about my job is working in the lab doing research,” Unguez says. “Sharing this experience with students can be so gratifying, because I get to share my enthusiasm for science and knowledge of its process in a very hands-on environment – one I prefer more than the lecture room. That’s why having the NMSU-HHMI Research Scholars Program is so exciting.” While the mentors work to propel some of the school’s most dedicated

young scientists toward their goals, student involvement is also helping to advance the efforts of NMSU labs; research scholars often contribute to published studies and provide data that lead to federally funded grants. “We appreciate that they are willing to bring undergraduates into their labs and get them fully engaged in doing research,” Preszler says. “I think our faculty does an incredible job mentoring undergraduates in their research laboratories – it’s a much more time-consuming way to do research than using technicians, but it’s also much more exciting and much more fun.”

The big picture

Though student researchers form the backbone of NMSU-HHMI’s success, the program provides opportunities for dedicated students regardless of their long-term career goals. “Many federally funded training programs at NMSU have a specific mandate to transition undergrads to graduate school,” Shuster says. “The HHMI program hopes that participants will go off and do something excellent, whether that’s graduate school, medical school or education.” DARREN PHILLIPS

what happens when the fish’s electric organ is no longer electrically activated or receiving information from the brain. This data will provide new information on the effect of electrical activity on certain proteins and cells in not only fish, but also mammals. “I have learned more about working in a laboratory than I could ever hope to learn sitting down at a desk for semesters on end, or reading numerous textbooks,” Selters says. “I learn by doing, and HHMI is the reason that I am beginning to feel confident that research is what I want to do with my life.” Fellow research scholar and biology major Josh Marquez works in the laboratory of comparative immunology under Maria G. Castillo, an NMSU assistant professor of biology. Marquez credits this opportunity with providing him the resources to meet his future ambitions of becoming a doctor. “I will be applying to M.D.-Ph.D. dual degree programs this coming year,” he says. “The HHMI program has led me to develop skills in research, which I will utilize in the future as a doctor and scientist.”

NMSU biology student Linner Itauh presents her research poster during the lab component of an NMSU-HHMI undergraduate guided biological research class in Foster Hall. The 2015 class is taught by biology professor Tim Wright. Spring 2016 | New Mexico State University | Panorama


Panorama - Spring 2016  

Panorama is NMSU's Alumni and Friends magazine. To read the current issue, visit To view the Fall 2016 issue as a...

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