The biochemistry student will study fetal
Cañada College student Mayra Rios will travel to Brown University in
Providence, Rhode Island this summer for an internship to study fetal cells to
better understand how doctors can accelerate lung maturation in premature
Rios heard about the internship from a Brown recruiter when she was
presenting at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
in San Jose last summer. Rios studied under Dr. Khameeka Kitt at Stanford
University, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Stanford School of Medicine’s
Cancer Institute. Kitt encouraged Rios to present her research on the effect of
mechanical strain on epithelial cell-cell adhesion at the conference.
“At Brown, I’ll be working to identify key regulatory pathways that
control fetal type II cell differentiation as well as analyzing the effect of
mechanical forces on fetal alveolar cells,” Rios said.
Rios is hoping to transfer to
Stanford, Brown or a UC school. She was also accepted for an internship at
Dartmouth College but turned it down to accept Brown’s offer.
“I would like to work as a research scientist at a biotech company or
at a university,” she said. “I am interested in developing synthetic livers.
Many people are victims of liver cancer and die waiting for a liver transplant.
I think it would make a positive impact on society if we are able to develop a
synthetic liver that is capable of carrying out all of the physiological tasks
that a normal liver does. It would save many people’s lives, or at least help
Rios credits Cañada with helping her grow academically. “It has
provided me with opportunities to expand my creativity and critical thinking skills,”
she said. “Cañada has wonderful professors who are highly accessible and
dedicated to teaching. The faculty and staff truly care for the success of the
students by giving the best advice and service.”
That advice led to the internship at Stanford University and now to a
second internship at Brown University, Rios said. “Staff and faculty at the
college have made me aware of internship and scholarship opportunities. These
types of opportunities have increased my confidence in transferring to a four-year
institution to continue my academic pursuits.”
Rios said students who are interested in science or math should become
involved in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Center at
Cañada. “Even if they aren’t 100 percent sure of their major, it’s a good way
for students to explore different academic options. There are field trips to
four-year schools, national conferences, retreats and other ways to explore
possibly career paths. Take advantage of the resources Cañada offers.”