PeerJ Awards Winners at AMCA 2024

by | Mar 27, 2024 | Award Winner Interviews

The AMCA Annual Meeting is the premier education and networking event for researchers, educators, vector control professionals, industry representatives, and students in mosquito control. Every year since 1938, hundreds gather to hear the latest research, share ideas, and form collaborations. Our educational sessions and exhibit hall help to put attendees on the cutting-edge of this ever-expanding field! At the 90th Annual Meeting in Dallas Texas we had 950 attendees, 56 exhibitors and we accepted 345 abstracts to be presented.

Natalie Perry, Event Manager

 

Mariana Lizbeth Jiménez-Martínez Master’s candidate at Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, México. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

I’m a graduate student pursuing a Master degree in Medical and Veterinary Entomology with a Bachelor Degree in Genomic Biotechnology. My research interests primarily revolve around understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying vector-borne diseases, particularly focusing on mosquitoes like Aedes aegypti. I’m passionate about exploring how advancements in biotechnology and genomics can be leveraged to develop innovative strategies for vector control and disease prevention.

What first interested you in this field of research?

My interest in this field stemmed from a combination of my fascination with genetics and my concern about the significant public health burden posed by mosquito-borne diseases. I was intrigued by the complexity of interactions between vectors, pathogens, and hosts at the molecular level, and I saw an opportunity to contribute to addressing these challenges through research. The potential to apply cutting-edge genomic techniques to understand and combat vector-borne diseases motivated me to pursue this field of research.

Can you briefly explain the research you presented at AMCA 2024?

At AMCA 2024, I presented a study focusing on the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in different life stages of Aedes aegypti, specifically investigating miRNA expression profiles in larval, pupal, and adult stages under basal conditions. Using a combination of bioinformatics and molecular biology techniques, we identified several miRNAs potentially involved in regulating key developmental processes in the mosquito. Our findings shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying mosquito development and provided insights into potential targets for vector control strategies.

How will you continue to build on this research?

Moving forward, I plan to delve deeper into the functional characterization of the identified miRNAs and their targets in Aedes aegypti. This will involve experimental validation of miRNA-target interactions and further exploration of their roles in mosquito biology using techniques such as RNA interference (RNAi) and functional genomics approaches. Additionally, I aim to collaborate with experts in vector ecology and epidemiology to integrate molecular findings into broader vector control strategies, ultimately contributing to more effective and sustainable approaches for combating mosquito-borne diseases.

What would you highlight about your experience at the AMCA 2024 conference, and how do you believe it has impacted your perspective on vector control research?

During my participation in the AMCA 2024 conference, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in an enriching and collaborative environment where I could interact with researchers from diverse parts of the world. The experience was truly rewarding as I got to firsthand witness the latest advancements in the field of vector control and establish connections with renowned researchers as well as representatives from companies and institutions sharing our interests. This experience has inspired me to seek future collaborations both nationally and internationally, recognizing the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in seeking effective solutions for public health challenges related to vector-borne diseases.

Can you provide some insights into your current research work and the laboratory where you’re conducting your master’s studies?

Currently, I am pursuing my master’s studies at the Laboratory of Molecular and Structural Physiology at the Faculty of Biology, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. Under the guidance of my thesis advisor, Dr. Iram Pablo Rodríguez Sánchez, our research endeavors focus on studying organisms through an integrative approach that incorporates omics sciences such as genomics, transcriptomics, miRNomics, metabolomics, and metalomics. Through these methodologies, we aim to unravel the mechanisms and functions of these organisms, understanding their functioning and how they adapt under different conditions. This interdisciplinary approach allows us to gain comprehensive insights into biological systems and their responses to environmental cues, ultimately contributing to broader scientific knowledge and potential applications in fields such as biotechnology and environmental science.

As a Latin American student pursuing scientific research, could you share your perspectives on the impact of diversity and representation in the global scientific community?

Being a Latin American student in the field of scientific research offers a unique perspective on the importance of diversity and representation in the global scientific community. Latin America has rich biodiversity, cultural heritage and scientific talent, but is often underrepresented in the international scientific discourse. As a Latin American researcher, I believe that embracing diversity not only fosters inclusion, but also enriches scientific research by bringing a variety of perspectives, methodologies and solutions to complex problems. By advocating for diversity and promoting equitable access to opportunities, we can harness the full potential of scientific talent around the world, leading to more innovative and impactful research results that address the diverse challenges facing our global society.

What are your plans after completing your master’s degree, and how do you envision continuing your academic journey in the future?

Upon completion of my master’s degree, I aspire to continue my academic journey by pursuing a PhD program. I am eager to explore opportunities to broaden my research horizons and learn about diverse scientific perspectives by immersing myself in international academic environments. Emigrating abroad would not only provide me with the opportunity to collaborate with leading researchers and laboratories but would also allow me to contribute my experience and expertise to the global scientific discourse. By taking the opportunity to work in different research environments, I intend to enhance my skills, expand my professional network, and ultimately contribute significantly to the advancement of scientific knowledge and innovation on a global scale.

What sparked your interest in pursuing a career in science?

My journey into the field of science was ignited by a fascination with understanding the intricate regulatory mechanisms that govern biological systems. Initially I have a graduated as a Assistant Nurse, I was captivated by the complexity of how organisms maintain homeostasis and respond to internal and external stimuli, this curiosity led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in genomic biotechnology.

During my undergraduate studies, I had the privilege of crossing paths with Dr. Rodríguez Sánchez, whose research in vector control and molecular biology immediately caught my attention. The prospect of studying organisms with such profound implications for human health, despite their minuscule size, resonated deeply with me. Dr. Rodríguez Sánchez graciously welcomed me into his laboratory early in my undergraduate journey, exposing me to the captivating realm of vector control research.

Through my involvement in Dr. Rodríguez Sánchez’s laboratory, I was able to witness first hand the profound impact that research in vector control can have on public health outcomes. This experience solidified my commitment to contributing to this field, leveraging my background in genomic biotechnology to unravel the molecular mechanisms driving vector-borne diseases and explore innovative strategies for their control. By bridging my nursing background with genomic research and vector control, I aspire to make meaningful contributions to safeguarding human health and well-being in the face of emerging global health challenges.

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