BY CARLOS GONZALEZ
2012 CSUSM Student Research Competition Finalist
As someone who came from a rural community without scientific resources or opportunities, working in a research lab has truly been a dream. The intellectual rigors of research force the development of valuable skills, such as the ability to work systematically through complex issues. These skills have helped me to excel academically, and have instilled in me the confidence to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience after I graduate. Eventually, I hope to impart these same values to the next generation by teaching and conducting research at a university.
About my Research
Working as a student-researcher in Dr. Keith Trujillo’s neuroscience laboratory, my current research focuses on drug-induced biological and behavioral differences between adults and adolescents. The characterization of a drug’s effect has most often been obtained from studies using adult subjects. However, recent experimental evidence shows differing outcomes when comparing the response of adults and adolescents to a variety of drugs. Additionally, studies have shown that individuals who begin using drugs as adolescents are at greater risk of becoming addicted. Therefore, it is paramount that we understand the effects of drug abuse during adolescence.
In my latest study, I hypothesized that adolescents would show greater ketamine-induced deficits in spatial learning as well as a greater aversive response to ketamine than their adult counterparts. To test these hypotheses, I employed an animal model in which I compared the responses of adolescent and adult rats to ketamine in two distinct behavioral tests. The results showed trends consistent with my hypothesis.
Carlos Gonzalez is among the twelve finalists representing CSUSM at the 26th annual statewide Student Research Competition held at CSU Long Beach on May 4-5. Hear firsthand how his research is leading to new discoveries, positively impacting his education and propeling him toward his future aspirations.