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Luisa A

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Rutgers University


Neuroscience, neurobiology, psychology, neurophysiology, brain plasticity, neuroanatomy, methods in neuroscience, animal research, psychobiology, critical thinking, science communication, mental health, anxiety, depression, stress, impostor syndrome, and dance


Hi there! My name is Luisa Fernanda, and I am a Mexican-American student at Rutgers University pursuing a doctoral degree in neuroscience. My research experience spans a variety of fields. I have done animal research in the following areas: drug abuse, the motivational aspects of depression, spinal cord injury, and emotional learning. Currently, my research focuses on the neurophysiology of salience and prediction error processing in the insular cortex. I have a bachelors degree in psychology with a minor in biology and have found a passion for teaching and mentoring students over the years! I began by tutoring students with disabilities at my community college in Texas, followed by mentoring students in different departments through Rutgers' Minority Biomedical Research Support program. Afterwards, I taught recitation sessions for an undergraduate Introduction to Neuroscience course, and obtained an Advanced Certificate in Effective College Instruction from the Association of College and University Educators. My hopes are that I will remain within academia and pursue a professorship, particularly in STEM programs dedicated to minority populations and also to our deaf and hard of hearing community. I am interested in empowering students with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and effective learning strategies in order for them to become autonomous and motivated learners and researchers. My hobbies besides teaching include Latin dancing, reading fiction novels, learning sign language, playing the flute and piano, and rock climbing. I am delighted to be a part of this program and look forward to our learning experience together!

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.

Review Paper on the Neurobiology of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This project would aim to succinctly review current models used to study the neurobiological mechanisms of PTSD. Students could further add in their personal interest in the project by looking at this in light of: gender differences, human versus animal models, or basic research to clinical treatments.

Coding skills


Languages I know

Spanish, and working knowledge of American Sign Language

Teaching experience

- I was a tutor for students with disabilities in my community college in 2014 and 2017. - I mentored students in Rutgers' Minority Biomedical Research Support program in 2018. - I was a teaching assistant for an undergraduate "Introduction to Neuroscience" course at Rutgers. I gave weekly recitation sessions, as well as review sessions and individual mentoring. - I have mentored undergraduates in neuroscience research laboratory skills.


Work experience

Rutgers University-Newark (2017 - Current)
Graduate Assistant and Teaching Assistant
University of Missouri-Columbia (2016 - 2016)
NSF Neuroscience Summer Internship - Research Assistant: Spinal Cord Injury
University of Connecticut (2015 - 2015)
NSF Physiology and Neurobiology Summer Internship - Research Assistant: Motivational Aspects of Depression
University of Texas at El Paso (2014 - 2015)
Research Assistant: Drug Abuse Research


University of Texas at El Paso
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
Rutgers University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

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