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Maria I

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Tufts University


Synapse biology, neuroanatomy, neurodegeneration


Hi! My name is Maria and I am currently working toward my PhD in Neuroscience. My thesis involves examining the interaction of pathologic alpha synuclein (a protein implicated in Parkinson's Disease) with the synaptic organizer, Neurexin 1. I'm interested in how this interaction could assist pathological spread of disease, as well as how it can disrupt normal synaptic function. Previously, I have also previously worked on projects related to Huntington's Disease, ALS, and Alzheimer's. Over the past few years, I have worked with summer students and have really enjoyed mentoring, so am excited for this opportunity with Polygence! In my spare time, I enjoy riding my bike, reading, cooking, and going to the beach.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Untangling the many features of neurodegeneration

Many neurodegenerative diseases are best known and diagnosed by abnormal clustering of proteins or cell death in specific areas of the brain. However, there are a number of other factors involved prior to or in parallel with these events: propagation and pathological spread, dysruption in normal brain function at the cellular level, and minor changes in additional brain areas. Identifying and understanding these smaller components could be useful in early detection, prevention, or treatment to mediate the more well-recognized, advanced stages of the disease.

Teaching experience

I have previously worked with high school and undergraduate students in a lab setting, teaching them wet lab skills and general experimental design. I also volunteered as a Program to Advance Training in Health & Sciences (PATHS) mentor at Yale, supporting undergraduate students or recent graduates underrepresented in science in their goal of applying for and earning a PhD in the biomedical sciences. I have also served as a teaching fellow in a Neuroanatomy course for first- and second-year MD students. Lastly, I have volunteered virtually to present modules on neuroscience to elementary and middle school students.


Work experience

Yale University (2019 - Current)
Visiting Assistant in Research
Massachusetts General Hospital (2014 - 2018)
Laboratory Technician
Boston University Department of Pharmacology (2010 - 2013)
Undergraduate Researcher


Boston University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2013)
Neuroscience & Psychology
Tufts University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

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