LSAMP Alumni Profile

Natalie Meléndez-Vázquez
Ph.D. student, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus
Puerto Rico LSAMP

Past Clubs/Organizations
1. Graduate Women in Science - Puerto Rico Chapter Nov 2020 – Present • Representative of the Dep. of Microbiology and Medical Zoology of UPR-MSC (November 2020 – Present) 2. Microbiology Students’ Chapter- UPR MSC August 2019 – Present • Treasurer (August 2020 – Present) 3. Graduate Student Association UPR-MSC August 2019 – Present 4. American Society for Microbiology (ASM) August 2018 – Present 5. Puerto Rico Society of Microbiologists August 2016 – Present 6. The National Society of Leadership and Success Nov 2016 – May 2018 • Secretary (November 2016 – May 2018) 7. Graduate Student Association UPR-MSC August 2019 – Present 8. Microbiology Students Chapter- UPR Humacao October 2015- May 2018 • President (August 2017– May 2018) • Vice-president (August 2016 – May 2017)

Past Research
Doctoral Research at UPR-MSC; PI: Dr. Filipa Godoy-Vitorino Thesis project: Assessing the role of gut microbial communities in modulating the efficacy of an oncolytic viro-immunotherapy against gastric cancer. Collaborated with the molecular approaches and bioinformatic analyses of the gut microbiome and the inferences on the microbial influence related to the treatment efficacy. As part of the project, I am a research assistant of the NIH/NCI project 2U54CA096297-16 (6434). Holstein Cow project: Focused on determining whether the variance in milk production and reproductive efficiency between Slick and Wild Type Holstein Cows may be associated with the rumen and hindgut microbiomes. Collaborated on data analyses using different bioinformatics pipelines such as QIITA, QIIME, MicrobiomeAnalyst, and R. Undergraduate Research at UPR-Humacao; PI: Prof. Julia Vergara-Gómez Evaluated the antibacterial effects of 100% pure essential oils extracted from aromatic plants (Cinnamon, Clove, Pennyroyal, Bay Rum Tree, Ylang-Ylang, Citronella, and Lemongrass) and commercial standards following the Kirby-Bauer Disk Diffusion Susceptibility Test. Collaborated with the extractions of the essential oils with the Water Distillation Technique and Hydrodistillation with Clevenger Adapter. Also carried out the Kirby-Bauer test and analyzed the data. In addition, I prepared a modified Kirby-Bauer protocol to be implemented in a new elective course (Phytochemistry) offered at the campus. Undergraduate Research at UPR-Humacao; PI: Dr. Francisco Fuentes-Rivera Used nematophagous fungi as an alternative bio-control mechanism against nematodes affecting agricultural crops. Collaborated in finding, isolating, and testing the nematophagous abilities of soil fungi. Undergraduate Research at UPR-Humacao; PI: Dr. Carmelo García-Ruíz Determine a metal oxide (zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide) capable of degrading promazines into products of lower toxicity. Collaborated with making the promazine solutions and thin films to test the degradation of the molecule through a spectrophotometer.

Natalie Meléndez-Vázquez

I'm a microbiologist with an interest in the influential roles of the microbiome in the development of gastrointestinal cancers. I'm currently working in a Microbiome Lab that integrates next-generation sequencing, metagenomics, physiology, and bioinformatics to better understand host-microbe interactions. Particularly, I am keen to develop an academic career. Throughout my performance in my undergraduate years and early Ph.D. career, I have demonstrated excellent leadership skills as well as reliability, punctuality, and respectfulness. Firm responsibility and working capacity have never seize to be governing ideals throughout my work. My goal is to establish as an academia investigator, not only focusing in the research aspect, but also in educating and promoting science (STEM) in the younger generations. I wish to be a figure that helps students whenever they have doubts; reassuring them they are not alone as well as provide that guidance many desire to have, but can't always find. With my past and current experiences, I believe I can be an asset to LSAMP Alumni Group and help with their mission to mentor students.

I am available to mentor in the following ways
Attend Conferences, Mentor Students

My areas of expertise include
Grad School Process, Leadership Skills, Research Posters, Research Presentation, 1:1 Mentoring