Trainee Bios

Aden, Sabrina

Taiwan Team

Hello future applicants! My name is Sabrina Aden and I am a summer 2017 MHIRT fellow. I researched at Kaohsiung Medical University, more specifically my project was centered on identifying the association of CETP polymorphisms with risk of chronic kidney disease in a subset of Taiwanese participants. The goal of the study is to understand the genotypes present in Taiwanese populations and provide necessary preventative measures to individuals that carry an at risk genotype. My summer was incredible and I wholeheartedly recommend applying to SDSU MHIRT. Regardless of the site, research topic you choose or mentor I assure you that you will learn a lot. I had the opportunity to learn new techniques and become a better researcher. I hope to apply the skills I obtained from my research experience this summer to current and future research endeavors. Currently, I am an undergraduate on my last year studying Biology at San Diego State University. I am seeking to pursue a future career in medicine as well as an MPH in public health. My goal is to apply my experiences and knowledge into a dual career in research and medicine that will someday enable me to effectively reach under-served communities.

Bejar, Paula

Taiwan Team

Hello everyone! My name is Paula Bejar and I was part of the MHIRT Summer 2017 Taiwan Cohort. I attend San Diego State University and I’m a Biology major. Following my participation in the program, I will have a year until I graduate in May of 2018. My time in Taiwan was truly life-changing, in every sense of the word! It was a first of many experiences for me. I had never traveled by myself and I hadn’t been to an Asian country before either!! In Kaohsiung, Taiwan, our cohort group was hosted by Kaohsiung Medical University. My research mentor was Dr. Hseuh-Wei Chang and I worked under his guidance, alongside other members of his lab. My project focused on the anti-proliferative activity of natural plant extracts on oral cancer cells. Specifically, I used unripe chili pepper extract and I tested its antioxidant and anti-proliferative effects on oral cancer cell lines. This was a new area of research for me and I learned a lot! I appreciate how this program has expanded both my scientific and cultural knowledge. I’ll never forget how wonderful Taiwan is and how thankful I am for the MHIRT program.

Brown, Veneese

Taiwan Team

你好! Greetings! My name is Veneese Brown and I was a MHIRT Fellow for the Taiwan site at Kaohsiung Medical University. My research was in the sports medicine department and entailed me using a Biodex in order to measure the power and force output of my patients. This was done in order to find an optimal amount of force needed for the elderly to conduct effective power training. I am currently a 4 year Microbiology student, attending California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. I am currently doing research in an environmental virology lab. I aspire to get a PhD. in infectious disease and possibly global health. My experience from the Taiwan site has given me the research confident I need to pursue future research abroad. The MHIRT Program was an unforgettable, life changing experience, and I highly recommend all to apply.

Gill, Indigo

Taiwan Team

Nǐ hǎo prospective MHIRT trainees. My name is Indigo Gill. I spent my 2017 summer in Kaohsiung, Taiwan at Kaohsiung Medical University where I screened for the single nucleotide polymorphisms of the CETP gene from the DNA of Taiwanese participants in order to determine the polymorphisms’ association with susceptibility for risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Before boarding my flight to my research site more than 8,000 miles away from home, I was an apprehensive mess, scared of the unknown. I was totally dedicated to making this experience an awesome one, but fear kicked in the night we touched down in Taipei and I realized that I couldn’t read a thing in 7-Eleven. Almost everything was in Mandarin Chinese. However, after spending an incredible and dynamic 10 weeks in Taiwan, I can now say that I’ve been transformed as an African-American woman, as a professional, as an undergraduate in STEM, as an individual. Through the bumps, bruises, laughs, and triumphs that I experienced with this program, I know with confidence that my potential and ability to adapt is as great as I decide it will be. If there is anything I have gained through my MHIRT experience, I have learned self-awareness and the fact that I can quite literally do whatever I put my mind to, whether that be visiting new countries and communities, learning a new language, or opening my own practice. Upon my graduation from Xavier University of Louisiana, I plan to earn a Master’s of Science in Nutrition and to then matriculate into medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. With my future knowledge in medicine, public health, nutrition, and food security, I would like to heal predominantly minority communities through a more holistic and nutrition-based approach when applicable. Even more, I hope to continue pushing forward with biomedical/public health research, becoming proficient in a foreign language, and being open-minded to the beauty of learning about new cultures. While researching in Taiwan, I developed so many beautiful friendships with people from around the world: Indonesia, India, Belize, and Germany. And in my discussions with these individuals, I grew in my ability to see the world outside my own perspective, outside of my privilege. It’s only appropriate to say xièxiè Taiwan and the SDSU MHIRT Program for all of the laughter, lessons, and practice conducting PCR and restriction enzyme digest. I am so grateful to have memories of my 2017 summer abroad which I can take along with me wherever I go.

Gutierrez, Myrna

Mexico Team

Hello everyone! My name is Myrna, and I am a biology major at Stanislaus State University. I was fortunate to be a part of the Ensenada research team at CICESE this past summer. The research I worked with was focused on mitochondrial dysfunction in relation to diabetes and obesity. I learned many cell culture techniques along with different ways you can optimize an experiment by thinking about what’s going on at the molecular level. Although my mentor spoke both Spanish and English, I chose to be spoken to in Spanish through my stay in the lab in order to get more of the cultural experience; along with practicing speaking and writing Spanish. I really enjoyed learning science in another language. Some terms were similar, and others I have never heard before. I found it interesting how language also contains culture within it, and the way ideas are expressed. This can help when collaborating with researchers from different cultural background. CICESE also offers several research presentations you can attend from both people working here and guests from other areas. Attending these can help you acquire skills in public speaking relating to science projects, and answering questions about your research. My future plans are to find opportunities in research related areas at or around my university to help me grow as a student, and get the most experience possible before graduation. After my MHIRT experience, I am researching different schools and planning ways I can continue my education after graduation.

Martinez, Marisela

Mexico Team

Hi prospective MHIRT- Ensenada Team, my name is Marisela Martinez, I graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s in bioengineering this past May 2017, and had the opportunity to be part of the MHIRT-Ensenada team. During, the course of my undergraduate career I had the opportunity to do research on campus, and because of these experiences I chose to apply and participate in the MHIRT program. This past summer I worked in Ensenada, evaluating transduction conditions for gene engineering therapeutics in animal models. It was an amazing experience, had the opportunity to learn a lot of different techniques, work with mice, and work on new and promising therapeutic approaches. The experience that MHIRT provided for me was great, I had the opportunity to learn more about the types of research done in Mexico, the way the academic and research system works, and learn a bit more about the culture. These experiences have made me more aware and allowed me to appreciate my culture. Overall, everything that I have learned this summer will help me in my future career endeavors as I look for a job and start grad school the following year. I encourage everyone to apply and take advantage of this fantastic research site and of what Ensenada has to offer.

Perez, Javier

Taiwan Team

Nǐ hǎo future MHIRT fellows! My name is Javier and I am from San José State University’s B.S. Chemistry concentration Biochemistry class of 2017. This past summer I was a part of the Taiwan cohort that did research at Kaohsiung Medical University. At the MHIRT sites one learns new techniques and methods that might otherwise be carried out differently in the U.S. I was matched up with the Department of Biomedical Science and Environmental Biology where participant DNA was isolated and analyzed to screen for their CETP genotype, and later their association to CKD risk levels. Having a biochemistry background was great for my research as I did conduct PCR and restriction enzyme digest on DNA. My experiences of MHIRT through SDSU was revealing and didactic as I did learn many things about Taiwan and Asia that I really did not consider before being there. I was also allowed to personally appreciate a culture outside my own by immersing myself in theirs for ten weeks. MHIRT offers students a chance not only to do research, but to do research in a far out place where you get to discover science and self. Taiwan is an ongoing site that has much to offer its people and I encourage prospective MHIRT fellows to consider this resourceful program.

Ramirez, Edgar

Taiwan Team

Nǐ hǎo future cohorts! My name is Edgar Ramirez and I was part of the Taiwan MHIRT team this past summer. First of all, I would like to congratulate and wish you good luck embarking on this great adventure that is ahead of you. The MHIRT program is fantastic, it provides students with the opportunity to conduct research internationally, putting your name out there as it culturally expands your views. As a senior student at San Diego State University (SDSU) pursuing a Biology-Bioengineering degree, it was important for me to find what exactly I wanted to do once I graduated. I know I wanted to do something in rehabilitation, since it’s a way to give my services to the community.

Currently I work conducting research in SDSU’s Rehabilitation Biomechanics Lab where I contribute in a study analyzing the impact of using an assistive exoskeleton robotic device as a therapeutic tool to improve the walking function in patients with neurological injuries. Also, I’m in the process of writing an article on my project where I analyze the effects of the feedback provided by the exoskeleton and how that impacts overall task performance and motor learning via muscle recruitment. Hopefully the information I gathered can benefit therapists in designing personalized training programs for patients who are wheelchair bound to start walking again. Besides my research, I work on the development of the “Medical Emergency Personal Flotation Device (PFD)” for my Senior Engineering Project with the goal of creating a wearable sensing device that can sense when a person is in distress or unconscious underwater, saving water athletes lives from drowning by inflating the PFD.

In Taiwan I was fortunate to join the Sports Medicine Research Lab at Kaohsiung Medical University (KMU). My project, which I absolutely loved working on, revolved around the development of an innovative apparatus for lower-limb muscle strength and resistance power training for elders with motor dysfunction. Recently, the apparatus qualified to enter a SolidWorks Sports Medicine design and novelty devices competition. What I liked about working there was that I found a project that perfectly fitted my skillset, design and research but not only that, it emphasized in rehabilitation and providing services to the community in need. The lab personnel were pretty fun and great to work with too, very smart, friendly and helpful. I highly recommend joining this lab if you have the opportunity, I made some great friends there who I speak to almost daily and would like to revisit one day.

Coming back from the program, many biomedical companies that have to do with sports medicine/rehabilitation research and device design from both the United States and Taiwan have opened their doors to me to work upon graduation. Also, some universities have contacted me for some interviews about entering their Master’s or PhD. programs. I account all of this success to the program who has helped me by providing the platform where I could refine and showcase my academics, social/networking talk, research and design skills, utilizing all three abroad to help a community in need.

2016 MHIRT Cohorts

Hello, thank you for reading the cohort biographies of the 2017 MHIRT program. We have archived the previous biographies so you can read even more experiences of what it’s like to be a part of this great program. You can view them by clicking on the following link:

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