Internship Profile: Julia Velasquez Conducts Neural Research

Aug 06th, 2022

Internship Profile: Julia Velasquez Conducts Neural Research

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Name: Julia Velasquez

Hometown: Northbrook, Illinois

Year: Class of 2023

Major: Neuroscience with a minor in psychology

Internship: Velasquez is building model simulations of neurons at the University of Missouri Columbia (Mizzou) as part of the Neural REU Project, a research fellowship sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Mizzou Engineering. She works alongside a faculty mentor and graduate students in the College of Engineering.

How HPU helped you get there: “HPU has raised my self-confidence through various leadership opportunities and involvement activities, such as being a University Ambassador, part of the Strickland Women’s LIFT Fellowship Program and conducting zebrafish research. The classes and faculty in the Wanek School of Natural Sciences ignited my passion for neuroscience and helped me find my calling: Working in a research lab and eventually becoming a professor at an undergraduate institution. The Strickland Women’s LIFT Fellowship has helped me form great relationships with several women, including HPU alum Lindsay Scott ’13. Lindsay connected me with Dr. Andrea Perreault ’15, another HPU alum I meet with virtually every month. She is one of my many mentors outside of the classroom.”

Most impactful mentor at HPU: “My most impactful mentor at HPU is Dr. Kristin Ackerman in the Department of Medical Sciences. I first met Dr. Ackerman through the Science Advantage Bootcamp Program she runs with Dr. Brett Woods. I have been a member of Dr. Ackerman’s zebrafish lab since the second semester of my freshman year, in addition to having her as a professor and academic advisor. She is supportive and encouraging of all my extracurricular endeavors. We share many of the same values and are both enthusiastic about HPU. She is someone I can talk to about anything, not just research. Dr. Ackerman has played a crucial role in my success at HPU, both inside and outside the classroom. We have such as great relationship, and I am beyond grateful to have her as a mentor.”

What has your internship experience been like, and how is it preparing you for your future?: “I have been able to take everything I have learned at HPU and apply my knowledge in a real-world setting. This experience is preparing me for the future by allowing me to network with students and faculty outside of HPU, gain exposure to a public university’s research lab and learn how to juggle multiple research projects at once.”

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