The biochemistry student will study fetal cells
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 infants.
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 extend them.”
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.”