From Puerto Rico to Durham, meet Roy – budding biologist and Miami Heat fan

By Roy Brooks Rivera

Hola a todos los lectores del Toxinsider blog, soy uno de los nuevos integrantes de internado del Superfund.  For those of you who don’t know Spanish, let me translate: Hi to all of the Toxinsider blog readers, I’m one of the new Superfund interns.  I’m coming here from Puerto Rico which is located here:

A map. That's Puerto Rico in the circle.
A map. That’s Puerto Rico in the circle.

In Puerto Rico I’m a 3rd year undergrad, majoring in general biology at the Universidad Metropolitana which is in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico.

How did I end up in Durham?

I came across this internship opportunity with the Neural and Behavioral Toxicity Assessment Core in the Duke Superfund Research Program and couldn’t pass up applying for a position. I chose the NBTA Core because it sounded like a challenge to me considering I don’t have a background in neurobiology or psychology. Rather than trying to find an internship in something that I might know my way around, I wanted one that would introduce me to a completely new field. This way I will learn as much as I can, experience new things and broaden my horizons in scientific research.

When I complete my internship, I expect to be well rounded in research procedures and to have become a skillful individual. I hope to learn how to successfully handle zebra fish as well as rats since I will be working with them. I can’t be more specific because I myself don’t know what to expect, but neurobehavioral effects of developmental toxicants in zebra fish does sound really interesting. Since this is my first internship I also hope to generally find my way around the lab and learn how to work with tools that I may need, like setting up trial experiments, getting doses of drugs ready for use and exposing the animals to them. Typically, I’m a more quiet and reserved person, so while I’m here I hope to be able to develop better communication skills to use with my peers as well as with people who are unfamiliar with the work I’m doing in the lab. While this is a research internship and I know I’ll gain scientific research skills, I also hope to obtain skills that will help me grow as an individual.

Roy and the Miami Heat!
Roy and the Miami Heat!

What will I do when my internship is finished?

My first priority is to return to Puerto Rico to finish my degree.  I’m still not completely sure what I want to do after I graduate. Every research field is of interest to me. I was lucky enough to go to many seminars and conferences this year, each one on different subjects and they all seemed so interesting to me, so for now I’m just going to keep an open mind and explore as many research fields as I can to see which I enjoy the most. This can go hand in hand with my future goals. I know I want to do something related to medicine and something that positively impacts future generations, but exactly what, I do not know at the moment. If I decide to be a surgeon of some sort, which has been an interest of mine, then my goal is to go to medical school and beyond, but if I decide to be a researcher, then I’ll attend graduate school. But if you couldn’t tell, I like a good challenge, so who knows, maybe both!