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Ivan Santiago Marrero


I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, the most beautiful island present in the Caribbean. I recently graduated from the University of Puerto Rico Humacao Campus with a Bachelor of Science in General Biology and a second major in Industrial Microbiology. During my time as an undergraduate, I developed a great wonder for the nervous system, which eventually led me to pursue undergraduate research at a neuroendocrinology lab at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, under the guidance of Dr. Annabell Segarra. One of my research projects involved the study of how social isolation stress in early periods of development may alter dopaminergic circuitry, which may influence risk-taking behaviors as well as reward-based behaviors. I collaborated on another research project which involved determining if the exposure to anabolic steroids during adolescence influences drug-seeking behaviors. Currently as a Discovery Prep scholar I am working under the mentorship of Dr. Kirk Mykytyn, where we investigate the role of the neuronal primary cilia, a cellular appendage that is ubiquitously expressed in the brain. Our lab has shown that neuronal cilia are enriched with several types of signaling proteins including G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR), like Dopamine receptor 1 (D1R). These receptors can accumulate in neuronal cilia when intracellular ciliary trafficking is disrupted. Utilizing genetic mouse models, which have improper protein localization within neuronal cilia or simply the absence of neuronal cilia, we hope to further understand the function of the ciliary environment and how it may alter D1R signaling in striatal neurons.

I am very excited to be a part of the Discovery Prep program, gaining the necessary training and tools to pursue graduate studies. I wish to continue in the field of neuroscience to further contribute to understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying behavior. Another of my interests is related to music; I am a guitarist, so I profoundly enjoy listening to and making music. Particularly, I enjoy singing and playing local Puerto Rican songs, which are about our history and culture. I hope to one day be able to contribute to the preservation of the musical history of Puerto Rico. I am also a big basketball fan, so I actively follow professional basketball organizations as well as play basketball in my free time.​

What's next?  After much consideration, I've decided to pursue my PhD at Case Western Reserve University.