Testimonials and Interviews
Alejandro L. Hernandez with his mentor Dr. Enrique Rodríguez
Alejandro L. Hernandez-Padilla
What does being part of PR INBRE mean for me? When I formulate this question in my mind, a mixture of beautiful emotions come to me. When I received the letter of acceptance to belong to this program throughout the summer, I was very excited for the opportunity. I decided that I would give it all with great determination and thus accept the challenge. So, the first few weeks were a bit stressful as I got used to the routine of traveling to a new campus and being able to carry out experiments on it. However, my mentor, along with my co-workers in the laboratory, made this process very rich in learning and developed a new facet of mine as a researcher.
On the other hand, the data analysis workshop seemed super interesting to me because I am quite a fan of computers and there, I was able to discover and use many new resources that will undoubtedly help me in my future projects as a researcher. Also, I would like to highlight my experience in the ChEMTox laboratory, which was spectacular since I learned to handle laboratory instruments that I had never used, as well as networking with a colleague from PR INBRE, which is very important to continue creating connections so that later I can collaborate with them.
Without a doubt, in my experience at the Río Piedras laboratory, I was able to learn more about what it means to work as a team, to know how to handle the situation when results do not end as expected, but this is what science is all about. Thanks to this opportunity that PRINBRE gave me, I was able to reaffirm that my passion for science is more real than I imagined. Also, I was able to overcome many fears by standing in front of the public and presenting everything I had been working on in the summer, but I had immense satisfaction when I achieved it. In conclusion, the community engagement workshop gave me the opportunity to learn how important it is to collaborate with the community and make them part of your research. When we make science/investigations our goal is to contribute positively and help solve many issues and/or problems the community has. Every researcher needs to be engaged with communities because this way we can help solve many problems they have and we, as scientific, learn so much from them that eventually will be useful for conducting our research.
Omaris Rosario with her mentor Dr. Enrique Rodriguez
“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” -Vincent van Gogh. This summer gave me the opportunity to learn that there are no impossible things if you work hard, stay focused, you are responsible, and committed to achieving your goals. At first, when I received the acceptance letter to the PR INBRE Summer Internship, I was shocked and nervous because I never had a research experience before. I had a lot of uncertainty, but I trusted myself and gave my best to learn and enjoy this new experience. Days working at the laboratory in UPR Río Piedras felt great, I was so excited to meet new people and learn new things. I was lucky that I already knew my mentor because he was my professor of biology and genetics in UPR Cayey, he knew me since I was a first year student. I was able to meet other professionals that helped us in our investigation and experiments. Those people are undoubtedly an important part of my development because I learned so much from them.
This internship gave me the opportunity to take workshops that helped in my investigation and expanded my knowledge for future research experience and/or personal development. We took a data analysis about “R" that was so helpful for learning how to organize, analyze, and interpret data, which is basically the most important part of realizing research and experimentation. When taking these workshops sometimes I felt lost and stressed because things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, however, I had a very good experience learning about this. On the other hand, one day I went for the first time to Ana G. Méndez University Cupey Campus and had such a great experience participating in a “cells workshop" where I had the opportunity to see breast cancer cells and work with them. Also, I had the opportunity to meet wonderful professionals and students from which I learned a lot.
Additionally, I participated in a workshop about community engagement. I always thought that communities were a very important part of research because scientists investigate and most of the time those who benefit from new discoveries are the community. Community participation is essential to promote the design and implementation of best clinical practices, and the improvement of population health. I learned that community engagement is the process of working collectively with others who share geographic proximity and the same interest to solve problems that affect their well-being.
Last but not least, I had such a great experience when presenting orally my preliminary data about everything that I worked with this summer. I was so nervous because I never spoke orally to present a research like this before. At first I felt that my nerves took over me but I was able to manage the situation and spoke fluently. I had a recognition that I did not expect, everything was so wonderful and special that without a doubt I want to stay in the field of research and continue learning. Finally I learned that “every researcher needs to be engaged with communities because this way we enhance their personal development and give them opportunities like empowering those who are most affected by conditions or issues to change them".