Discovery PREP started at The Ohio State University in 2011 and 32 scholars have participated in the program. After completing the PREP program, these scholars have moved on to do great things. Past Discovery PREP scholars have gone on to graduate school at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, Purdue University, Wake Forest , Indiana University at Purdue, University of Miami, Georgetown University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Many of our past scholars have also stayed in Columbus to join one of the many Graduate Programs here at The Ohio State University including the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program or the Neuroscience Graduate Program.  PREP Scholars have then gone on to hold prestigious postdoctoral research positions at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and The Ohio State University. OSU PREP scholars have published their research as first authors in journals such as, neuroinflammation, Neuroscience, Brain Research, Science Reports, Protein Expression and Purification, Wiley Interdisciplinary Review: RNA and Free Radical Biology & Medicine.  Below you will meet several of these scholars and read about their achievements.

Crystal Bolden, PhD

Hometown: El Paso, Texas 
College and Major: The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Clinical Laboratory Sciences

Crystal’s interest in research was sparked when she participated as an undergraduate summer intern in the Human Genome Sequencing Center’s Genetics and Genomics Research Education and Training Program in Houston, TX.  After completing her B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences at The University of Texas at El Paso she participated in the Discovery Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program(PREP) which motivated her to pursue a PhD.  In the fall of 2012, Crystal began her graduate studies at Wake Forest University.  She had always been intrigued by the integrity and function of hemoglobin and disease processes that occur due to hemoglobin dysfunction such as sickle cell anemia.  So, as a graduate student, she followed her interests by using the redox biology and reactivity of hemoglobin and nitric oxide (NO) to characterize the stability and reactivity of a novel NO-donating small molecule and its delivery mechanism as a way to preserve NO bioavailability in disease states characterized by NO deficiency such as sickle cell disease.  Crystal graduated with her PhD in Molecular Medicine and Translational Science in 2017.  As a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The Ohio State University, Crystal is now applying her knowledge of redox biology, free radical biology, and physical chemistry to synthesize and characterize polymerized bovine hemoglobin (PolybHb)-based oxygen carriers to evaluate the role that NO and PolybHb reactivity plays in the development of endothelial oxidative damage.  Crystal’s professional vision is fueled by her desire to realize, actualize, and optimize her God-given potential and to encourage every young scholar she encounters to do the same.

Monica M. Gaudier-Diaz, PhD

Hometown: San German, Puerto Rico
College and Major: The University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

As a scholar in the Discovery PREP class of 2012, I received all the tools necessary to enter and succeed in graduate school. During my undergraduate studies my exposure to research was minimal, being enough to awaken an interest in science, but not enough to get me into a graduate school program. I was certain that obtaining a PhD in Neuroscience was a requirement in order to feel accomplished, and so I began to work hard for it.  Discovery PREP gave me access to a GRE online prep course, put me in contact with individuals that offered guidance during the application process, and allowed me to join the laboratory of my choice; the rest was up to me.  In 2017 I completed my PhD in Neuroscience at The Ohio State University and currently I am doing a postdoc at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill examining how social support and socioeconomic status modulate physiological responses to academic stress and its impact on health.  I am thankful for the experience and encourage everyone that gets into a postbaccalaureate program to make the most out of it; this is what I did and as I get closer to my goal I feel it paying off.

Xavier Ortiz-Mangual

Hometown: San Sebastian, Puerto Rico
College and Major: University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla, Biology

In 2013, I was selected to become part of 2013-2014 Discovery PREP trainee cohort at Ohio State University.  In the duration of my traineeship, I was fortunate enough to work under the guidance of Dr. James D. Jontes at the Neuroscience Department. In Dr. Jontes Laboratory, I developed a project with the goal to dissect the distinct roles of N-cadherin in the neural development of the optic tectum-retina axis using a zebra fish model. We developed N-cadherin conditional knockouts using the novel CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology and used two-photon confocal microscopy to analyze the various functions of N-cadherin in visual development.

After leaving Discovery PREP at OSU I started the next step in my professional endeavor as a PhD student in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. So far, I am proud to say that I was selected to be a Summer Pre-Doctoral Institute (SPI) Fellow at the University of Illinois Graduate College. To be an SPI fellow allowed me to start to explore the graduate school experience early while working in the Department of Microbiology under the guidance of Dr. Rachel Whitaker on a project to analyze virus-host dynamics in archaeal species. After this great experience, I continued my path to become a Graduate Research Assistant rotating in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. As part of this rotation, I worked in Dr. Derek Wildman’s Laboratory studying differential DNA methylation patterns in genes related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder across different mammalian species, which was a successful continuation of the story that began as a PREP trainee at OSU.

Patrick Nuro- Gyina

Hometown: Orlando, FL
College and Major: University of Bonn-Germany, Agriculture

I thought all was lost after my first attempt into grad school was not successful. I knew my academic transcripts and other accomplishments were among the best but for my lack of research experience I could not make it. However, after a year of training in the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) of the Ohio State University, I am now in the Biomedical Science Graduate Program of the College of Medicine at OSU. In the face of competition, among highly qualified college graduates coupled with limited research funding, I have realized an important tool to lead one into a competitive graduate program is comprehensive research experience.

The PREP program at OSU does not only provide research experience but trains to be ‘a fit in life’. The career development plan, monthly meetings to discuss progress, opportunity to be part of the academic setup and specific tailor-made trainings that are organized by mentors to meet trainee’s needs are what make this program superior. The opportunity to attend any of the numerous scientific seminars organized locally, as well as availability of funding to attend any national conferences of one’s choice helped me to see beyond my immediate working environment.
Though I have exited the PREP program, the intimate contact that exists between me and the program has been a triggering factor in my academics decisions as well as a point of call in terms of need. The establishment as well as the location of the program within the medical center is an engineering factor that enhances translational research. This stimulates interactions between PREP participants and the medical center community. The PREP program has beefed-up my interest in research and I am now confident of being able to undertake research into understanding the immune mechanisms of diseases.

An abstract of my work in Dr. Amy Lovett-Racke’s lab won me a travel award to attend the 2014 Association of American Immunologist (AAI) annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA. This was a great opportunity to meet great researchers and ask necessary questions concerning their work and science in general.

Ivory Patterson

Hometown: Miami, FL
College and Major: Florida International University, Biological Science

I am thankful for having mentors that were supportive of my future ambitions in the healthcare field. My experience allowed me to see my true potential and where my passions lie.


Forget MA, Voorhees JL, Cole SL, Dakhlallah DA, Patterson IL, Gross AC, Moldovan L, Mo X, Evans R, Marsh CB, Eubank TD, “Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor Augments Tie2-Expressing Monocyte Differentiation, Angiogenic Function, and Recruitment in a Mouse Model of Breast Cancer”, PLoS ONE

Nelson Salgado

Hometown: Miami, FL
College and Major: Florida International University, Biological Sciences

My Discovery PREP Experience:

Limited exposure to research during my undergraduate career deterred my initial pursuit of obtaining a PhD in the biomedical sciences, despite my strong science background and the desire to continue my education. The Discovery PREP offered me an incredible opportunity to obtain the research experience I had been working towards, and the next thing I knew I was at the lab bench in Ohio. Being paired with a mentor aided in further developing my critical thinking, and working in the lab gave me the technical skills I needed. Additionally, the professional workshops helped me with making a CV and interviewing. Utilizing the skills I had obtained during the program, I applied to several graduate schools and I was accepted into almost all of them. Currently, I am a second year PhD student in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. I am also a Fellow funded through the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Project. The aim of the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development at the graduate student level is to insure that all pre-doctoral IMSD Fellows are competitive for post-doctoral or research faculty position after completing the PhD degree. Looking back, I feel that the Discovery PREP played a critical role in preparing me for graduate school, and truly marked the start of my career as a scientist.

Tiana Warren

Undergraduate Institution: Carnegie Mellon University, Chemical Engineering
Graduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

My time at DISCOVERY PREP was, and continues to be, instrumental in my success as a researcher. The PREP program leaders truly aspire to create well-rounded researchers. DISCOVERY PREP provided professional development that included resume/CV writing, assistance in preparing a Statement of Purpose for graduate school applications, learning effective strategies for reading journal articles, GRE preparation, and help to identify my strengths and weaknesses and how I could apply them to my research. 
In regards to research, the PREP program provided my first hands-on experience in biomedical research. Through my rotations, I confirmed that engineering was essential to my identity as a researcher. After completing my rotations I joined the David Wood lab where I ultimately identified my specific research interest: protein engineering (particularly as it applies to therapeutics). Amazingly, I was able to disseminate my results through a first-author publication and two conference presentations (one conference trip was funded by DISCOVERY PREP). 
I am extremely grateful for Dr. Virginia Sanders for her vision for the DISCOVERY PREP program and her continual support and encouragement throughout my career. Kelly Dillon and Cisne Edwards were especially helpful during the transition to and from Columbus. I also want to thank Dr. Ana C. Berríos-Allison whose professional counseling was invaluable. And last but not least, I want to thank my OSU research advisor Dr. David Wood for the opportunity to work in his lab and his continual professional support. My time in the DISCOVERY PREP program was invaluable and I would highly recommend the program to anyone looking for additional training before starting a doctoral program.