Virgilio Lopez is drawn to detail-oriented aspects of science. He chose molecular and cell biology as an undergraduate as a way to understand the body at a cellular level and to prepare him to study human physiology as a PhD student in the Department of Kinesiology‘s exercise science program. Lopez hopes to one day become a research professor while mentoring the next generation of scientists. Here is what he said in an interview.
Where did you study as an undergraduate? What was your major? I completed my undergraduate degree in molecular and cell biology here at the University of Connecticut.
Why did you decide to go to graduate school? I decided to go to graduate school for a couple of different reasons. I really love science and having my own research allows me to be at the forefront of scientific inquiry. Additionally, it is my goal to eventually become a professor to teach and serve as a role model to students from underrepresented backgrounds and communities.
Who is your advisor? What is your field of research? My advisor is Dr. Elaine C. Lee. Our field of research is exercise science/exercise physiology.
Name one aspect of your work that you like. As I am sure any other PhD student would agree, I really enjoy talking about my work. There is nothing more exciting than being able to share what I have learned from my research and how it may contribute to science as a whole.
In your opinion, what is your greatest accomplishment so far? In my opinion, my greatest accomplishment so far has been getting into such an incredible graduate program. The amount of support that I have received from my advisor and other faculty in our department has been invaluable to my success as a PhD student.
When do you expect to get your degree? What then? I expect to receive my degree in the spring semester of 2020. After that, I plan on pursuing a postdoctoral position at another institution to further my research and continue along in my career.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? As a rising senior at UConn, I had the opportunity to conduct a research project on hummingbirds as part of a summer research experience for undergraduates (REU) program at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. I am also a McNair Scholars Program Graduate Mentor and I teach the McNair Scholars Program Summer GRE preparatory course.