WNMU Senior Eyes Ph.D./M.D. After Undergraduate Research Experiences

Brenda Prieto

© Western New Mexico University

The highlight of Brenda Prieto’s summer was seeing a mouse get dissected and performing a dissection of her own.

“This summer, I researched a tuberous sclerosis complex disease. It’s an autosomal disease that causes cysts in kidneys which can cause kidney failure. We looked at ways to stop it and pathways it could attack,” she said.

Through the Undergraduate Pipeline Network paid summer research experience at UNM, Prieto—a WNMU senior double majoring in cell/molecular biology and chemistry—studied the kidneys of mice. “What I focused on was focused on extracellular vesicles derived from the cystic kidneys. We did electron microscopy to see the vessels and make sure they were purified correctly. At the end, we were able to see the effect on cell growth.”

The experiment wasn’t her first. I addition to her coursework at WNMU, she has spent the past three summers conducting research. Now, she’s dreaming up a hands-in senior project in the laboratory.

Prieto is working toward an eventual M.D. but is tempted by the option to complete a Ph.D./M.D. combination because “research is something I’d like to do in the future.”

She encourages every student to try for an undergraduate research experience and even capitalize on opportunities through the WNMU Student Research and Professional Development program. “I applied to several. It wasn’t just this one I applied to,” Prieto explained.

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