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Adrian Vasquez’s passion for nature can be traced back to his childhood spent capturing insects and staring at pond creatures for hours at a time. Neighborhood children would always come by to ask questions about the creatures he carried around in jars and buckets. Growing up, he realized there was so much more to learn beyond his immediate surroundings and he set out on a journey of education and discovery. He encountered many roadblocks along the way, but with the support of his wife and family, he persevered. Vasquez's years of training were spent executing research in a diverse set of biological areas including molecular genetics, physiology, and ecology. Teaching summer undergraduate and high school prep courses, participating in career day at schools and encountering other curious individuals allowed him to share his experiences with many students both young and old. Reminiscing about his childhood, his neighborhood friends, and their questions, he is excited to work with ReBUILDetroit scholars and their inquisitive minds. Adrian looks forward to engaging with these upcoming scientists, not only as an educator but also to encourage them to embrace their passions and let them know that if he could do it, so can they!
How does your research fit in with the ReBUILDetroit program and the biomedical field?
My research is an integrative and collaborative effort. It spans many fields and contributes scientific diversity to the ReBUILDetroit program. These fields include physiology, molecular biology, and ecology. It has allowed me to collaborate with diverse institutions including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Karmanos Cancer Institute, United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Belle Isle Aquarium, conducting research on the urban watershed that constitutes the Detroit River. My studies use modern technologies, such as next-generation sequencing, which can be used to study diet composition of invertebrates and 19th-century histochemistry useful for physiological studies. My proposed studies at two urban parks in Detroit aims to investigate the state of biodiversity and ascertain the impact of pests that carry human pathogens. I will also recruit student citizen scientists from the ReBUILDetroit program to assist with aspects of this research and put into practice creative pedagogical methods. This partnership allows the ReBUILDetroit students that have access to me, to be able to learn from my large spectrum of experience and the area of interest that I bring to the program.
What do you hope to achieve with your appointment as a Postdoctoral Training Fellowship in ReBUILDetroit?
Recruiting and supporting students in STEM fields who would otherwise not be represented is a strong desire of mine. My goal is to be a facilitator, guide, and a source of encouragement for future scientists, rather than a stumbling block. I hope to leave my mark on the ReBUILD program by investing the time and wisdom that others have invested in me, into the lives of young scientists. I look forward to learning creative and evidence-based teaching methods that are being used across the consortium. During my tenure at ReBUILDetroit, I want to develop and successfully execute an independent research program with the help of my ReBUILDetroit mentors. This will be a great step forward toward establishing myself in the STEM field.
What is the best advice that your research mentor gave you?
Work hard to stop the reproach.
As a mentor, what advice would you give to ReBUILDetroit scholars?
Your life journey empowers your future advance.
The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.