Mentor: Joseph F. Petrosino, Ph.D.
Undergraduate major: Biology
Undergraduate school: Northwestern State University
Research Interests: Gut microbiome; gut-brain axis; mental health; metagenomics; big data and biostatistics
What is Your Research Interest?
My research focus is on the gut brain axis. Specifically, I am interested in how the gut microbiome modulates and is modulated by Major Depressive Disorder. I am mining a data set that contains metagenomic and clinical data from a cohort of subjects from an inpatient psychiatric hospital to better elucidate the role of the microbiome in psychiatric symptom severity and treatment.
Why Did You Choose Your Mentor?
As the director of the Center for Metagenomic and Microbiome Research, Dr. Petrosino is at the forefront of Microbiome Research. Being a member of the Petrosino Lab has given me the opportunity to learn not only more about the microbiome, but also gain valuable skills in bioinformatics, data mining, and metagenomics. Dr. Petrosino has allowed me to explore many different interests and has continuously provided me with the resources and mentorship necessary for success. His mentorship style has allowed me to cultivate many skills both as a student and as a scientist.
What Aspects of Training Has Been Most Influential in Preparing For Your Intended Career?
The collaborative nature of BCM, has been extremely helpful in my training. I am very interested in big data analytics and mental health, which is not necessarily the focus of my lab. However, I have been able to develop great relationships with different experts at BCM, MD Anderson, and Methodist Hospital who have been able to help cultivate skills in those specific areas!
Did Baylor's Location in the Texas Medical Center Enhance Your Experience?
Being in the world’s largest medical center has been one of the major keys to my training. I have so many different resources and opportunities right at my fingertips. BCM’s collaborative nature has allowed me to work with a number of different lab’s and hospitals which has not only helped to advance my thesis project but has also allowed me to develop skills and networking relationships that will help my transition from graduate school into my career!
What Are Your Career Plans?
I am very interested in big data analytics and am interested in pursuing a career as a data scientist following the completion of my Ph.D.
What Do You Enjoy About Living in Houston?
Houston is such a great city! I love that there is something to do literally every day of the week! There are always festivals and outdoor movies happening on the weekends! Houston is also a city filled with really kind and awesome people. I have truly made lifelong friends both inside and outside of BCM. I wouldn’t trade the opportunity of living in Houston for anything in the world!
What Advice Do You Have for Prospective Students?
My advice is to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to both looking for a potential graduate school as well as deciding on a research focus. Being willing to be bold and experience a new environment and maybe even a new field of study can open the door to unexpected opportunities and passions!