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Florida State University


"For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to become a physician for the awesome responsibility of ensuring my patients' health, while invoking hope, compassion, and grace under fire," says Belinda Gavino, an Honors in the Major senior in Biology.

Belinda believed she would acquire such abilities at Florida State—"a people-centered institution that invests a great deal of its resources in its students, making sure we are adequately prepared for our vocations, without neglecting the holistic education we achieve along the way."

Since her freshman year, she has met professors who have fostered her growth by giving her practical applications to classroom subjects. In a Directed Individual Study under the supervision of P. Bryant Chase, professor of Biological Science, Belinda "studied the effect of familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy mutations in the muscle protein troponin, using an in vitro motility technique." Dr. Chase, she says, "consistently teaches me to appreciate science by challenging me to think more deeply about my research."

Belinda says, "Because of the immense altruism I was shown in the beginning of my collegiate journey, I was, in turn, inspired to cultivate this same environment for my fellow students." One of her most rewarding experiences was as a teaching assistant for the Biology I for Majors class. She also became one of the first Biology Mentors, a group that provides mentoring and tutoring for students in the sciences, and she later served as the group's president. "Another activity that closely mirrors this was my role as a Freshman Interest Group leader for 24 pre-med students. I was impressed with their motivation and how they played off their respective strengths."

For the past year, Belinda has been working on her Honors in the Major Thesis. "One of the most promising medical uses for nickel and other metal nanoparticles is as a means to deliver DNA into specific cells using magnetic manipulations, including heart tissue. On the other hand, some researchers use nickel sufide, a known potent carcinogen, to induce and study rhabdomyosarcoma, a progressive type of cancer found in muscle tissue. Given that different nickel compounds are used to elicit conflicting results (one to treat potential diseases and the other to induce cancers), my research revolves around studying the effect of particular quantities of nickel compounds on cardiac myocyte tissue culture to potentially dispel any safety concerns regarding the use of nickel nanoparticles in medical applications."

She has presented her research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Salisbury, Maryland, and she will begin her medical studies in June. "Choosing medicine is pursuing a dream. It is the same with everything in life—success is not a passive process."

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