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Miguel Rivera Rios
Graduate Student

I was born in Puerto Rico, although after a few years of living there, my family moved to Connecticut. I stayed there until I reached preadolescence, when my parents realized they were not so fond of the snow, in which case my family moved to Florida, where we stayed for the rest of my youth. I graduated from the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University, which is about an hour north of Miami. I can safely say that the four years I spent in my undergraduate program have shaped me into the man I am today. I first discovered my desire to pursue a career in the biological sciences somewhat haphazardly, as I was initially an undecided freshman. Since that discovery, however, I have been ravenously immersing myself in the various fields biology has to offer, ranging from cell biology to developmental biology. The curriculum of the Honors College requires all students to perform an undergraduate thesis during their senior year. My thesis was entitled, "Adopting the Orphan: Determining the Role of the Motor Protein KIF9 During the Cell Cycle". I worked alongside Dr. Nicholas J. Quintyne to attempt to elucidate the mechanisms surrounding the largely uncharacterized motor protein's role during cell cycle progression. While working on my thesis, I had the honor of being chosen to attend the annual American Society for Cell Biology conference in Denver, CO to present my findings. Another pillar of the Honors College curriculum was the requirement that all students are to participate in either an internship or a study abroad experience. During the summer after my sophomore year I was chosen to work alongside Prof. Richard Osgood in Columbia University's Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center. While there, I determined the effects of hydrofluoric acid on lithium niobate thin films. It was a truly enriching experience as it was the first time I had performed research so far outside of my own field and it was the catalyst that fueled my desire to perform graduate study at Columbia University. In addition, I had the privilege of working alongside Dr. Michelle Ivey at the Honors College of FAU during my Sophomore year. Together we utilized an Ion Chromatograph to determine the concentrations of various ions in natural water sources. As I like to tell people, I have done some research in a number of different fields, which I think has only helped strengthen my resolve to perform significant and useful research in the biological field. Currently, I am not entirely sure what facet of biology excites me the most. My undergraduate research has prepared me for further research in cell biology, however, I have recently grown interested in the field of developmental biology, however, I am confident that my lab rotations will help me refine my sporadic desires.

Aside from the many academic opportunities I was given while at FAU, I was also able to develop into a leader whom others could rely on, someone I never imagined I would become just a few short years prior to attending FAU. Some of my proudest accomplishments involve the organization with which I spent a majority of my time, the MacArthur Resident Student Association (MacRSA), where I initially served as the Marketing Director and finally as the twice elected President. MacRSA is charged with providing a beneficial experience to all of the residents of the Honors College, which involves putting on programs that both challenge and excite the students, such as the Drag Show and trips to the annual trips to national leadership conferences. During my time, MacRSA was selected as the Club of the Year at FAU and I was selected as the President of the Year. Getting involved with MacRSA led me to become involved with our universities local Gay-Straight Alliance. Moreover, I became a student leadership ambassador with the Elite Owls organization, where I was charged with being a role model for all burgeoning student leaders.

Now that I have officially transplanted to New York I look forward to continuing some of the same activities as I did when I was in Florida. Aside from the science, which I am eager to learn, I also look forward to immersing myself in the New York culture, making a lot of new friends and perhaps acting in a similar role as I did in MacRSA. Finally, in my free time, whenever it manifests, I enjoy a variety of different activities, ranging from reading comics (preferably DC Comics), listening to music, seeing shows and movies and trying new things, which the city has in abundance! 

Miguel Rivera Rios
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