GU IMSD Fellow
The Georgetown University Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (GU IMSD) is designed to develop a diverse cadre of doctoral scholars prepared for careers in the biomedical scientific workforce. Our incoming GU IMSD Fellows share their interests, career goals, and advice for aspiring Ph.D. students.
Alec Gamboa is studying in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown. He previously earned a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.S. in Cognitive Psychology at George Mason University.
How did you become interested in your area of study?
I am interested in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration. I am also interested in the chemical structure of Ayahuasca and its role in neurogenesis. After witnessing how horrible dementia can be, I made it my goal to understand these mechanisms and contribute to society through scientific findings.
What do you hope to gain from the GU IMSD program?
I hope to get a better understanding of other fields through my IMSD cohort, and of course, I hope to develop new friendships and connections. I am also excited to learn new skills to structure the rest of my doctoral degree through the trainings offered.
How have your previous experiences or your background influenced your personal or professional development, interests or career goals?
I have always been interested in interdisciplinary work. I think it’s fascinating to be able to bring different fields together and share methodologies that contribute to the same topic. I come from a diverse research background that includes clinical, cognitive, and cellular work. I want to use these backgrounds to become an interdisciplinary scientist.
What advice do you have for applicants who want to pursue doctoral programs?
You have to trust yourself.… I know it can be extremely difficult and there will be times when you think you are not good enough to pursue a doctoral degree. However, know that you are.
What do you want to do after you complete your doctoral studies?
I would like to complete a postdoc with my own grant and one day be a principal investigator to continue research.
How has mentorship impacted your educational/career journey?
I have always been hard on myself based on several factors that occurred before I started my academic journey (university), but two people took me under their wing. Drs. Claire Milligan and Tara Chaplin – my original research advisors/mentors who gave me a chance when no one else would. Their mentorship encouraged me to value interdisciplinary work and become the young scientist I am today.
What is your life motto for overcoming challenges and/or for supporting diversity and cultural understanding?
Regarding challenges, just be able to get back up. It’s easier said than done and you may not fully believe in yourself, but many others do; use that motivation to pursue your goals. It won’t be easy, it’s not supposed to be. It’s also important to have an open mind to different backgrounds; there’s always something to learn. If you don’t know how, just ask about their cultural food.