Psychology Major Grows By Leaving Her Comfort Zone

WNMU psychology major Jazmin Castillo

© Western New Mexico University

Psychology major Jazmin Castillo applied for a summer research experience thinking it would boost her application to graduate school. “Plus, it was a good opportunity to get out of my comfort zone,” said the Silver City native.

As part of the BUILDing Scholars program in El Paso, she researched addiction psychology in animal models, focusing on how dietary intake impacts drug sensitivity. “We focused on a diet similar to the ketogenic diet,” she said. “On experiment days, we administered morphine in 15-minute increments. Then we’d put the rats’ tails in warm water and see how long they’d leave their tail in the water.”

It was her responsibility to feed the rats daily, weighing them and their food to see how much they consumed. “I didn’t want to work with animal models but I met with my mentor and she said it could be a good experience for me,” she said. “I’d didn’t expect to pick it up so quickly.”

At the closing symposium, she presented hypothetical data because there wasn’t enough time to complete the research project. But now, in her third year of school at WNMU, Castillo is experimenting with her own interests and hypothesizing about the direction of her future career. “Maybe behavioral neuroscience,” she guesses right now. “I do want to do more human experiments.”

Also working toward a minor in sociology due to her interest in women and gender studies, Castillo is open to exploring all aspects of the field. “Even my research experience was a different form of psychology than I’d known.”

Castillo aims to get involved in more undergraduate research at WNMU and stay active in the WNMU Psychology Club.

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