Jaxie Friedman and SURP mentor Dr. Fernando Cardozo-Pelaez
School: Wesleyan University
Major: Environmental Studies, Science in Society Program
Current Year in College: Senior
Mentors: Fernando Cardozo-Pelaez
SURP Project Title: Evaluation of Pesticides on Motor Behavior and Brain Neurochemistry
- -Dean’s List, 2011-2014
- -Tour Guide of the Month, February 2014
- -Member of the National Honors Society
- -AP Scholar with Distinction
- -“Student Most Likely to Make a Difference in the World” Scholarship
- -Vice Principal’s Award
- -Future Artists Award
- -Teacher with Aids and Sexual Health Awareness
- -Volunteer with Middletown Urban Gardens
- -Volunteer at Long Lane Organic Farm
- -Member of Rho Epsilon Pi
- -Member of the American Medical Students’ Association
- -Wesleyan University Tour Guide
I fell in love with science when I was completing a pig dissection in my freshman year of high school and my passion for various scientific fields has only grown since then. Two of my greatest academic interests are environmental studies and human health and I was thrilled to discover this program analyzing the intersection of the two. My academic background includes both extensive scientific laboratory-based courses as well as others analyzing science from a historical, philosophical, and cultural perspective. I have always wanted to experience first-hand what it is like to be a scientist, conducting experiments and working in depth and at great length on a particular topic. I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in scientific research through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, expanding my scientific understanding and developing my laboratory skills.
This summer I am working with Dr. Fernando Cardozo-Pelaez analyzing the neurochemical and motor behavioral effects of pesticides such as Paraquat on Drosophila flies. The project attempts to illustrate the potential use of such models to better understand Parkinson’s disease in humans. I am incredibly excited to be working on this project because I have always found neurology particularly fascinating and care deeply about safe, healthy, and sustainable agriculture production. This project enables me to link these interests and to contribute to scientific study in a profound way, by analyzing the potential toxicity of commonly used pesticides in the brain.
My experience thus far in the program has been fantastic; working with the incredibly intelligent and accomplished scientists at the CEHS, contributing to important and interesting research in the environmental health field, participating in the tremendous opportunities made available by the SURP staff—such as wildlife and cultural excursions and engaging academic lectures—has been a profound privilege. I am so excited for the remainder of my time in this program and I look forward to using the many scientific skills that I have developed so far as the work progresses. I am also excited to be able to develop close relationships with successful scientists who can provide me with insight as I begin to prepare for a career in the health sciences. Lastly, as a nature-lover visiting Montana for the first time, I can’t wait to see more of the beautiful wildlife that can be seen in and around Missoula, MT this summer.
For more information about SURP, please visit: https://education.cehs.health.umt.edu/content/summer-undergraduate-research-program
For more information about the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, please visit: http://cehsweb.health.umt.edu/