Peter Mercado-Reyes - This summer I was able to actualize a dream I've had since High School. I was awarded the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Exceptional research Opportunities Program Fellowship to conduct research in the Nobel Prize-Winning Lab of Dr. Eric Kandel at Columbia University. My research was concerned with understanding the molecular mechanisms of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD). The lab is the first to pioneer the use of a new strain of mice for modeling the etiology of PTSD. I worked directly on elucidating the role of reactive oxygen species induction by glucocorticoids, the primary stress hormone, in this new system. I used confocal microscopy in addition too molecular and biochemical techniques in my investigation. Moreover, due to the labs myriad projects ranging from functional prions, to the gateway hypothesis of addiction and classical memory formation, I was exposed to truly cutting edge techniques in optogenetics, electrophysiology and mouse behavioral assessment.
Living in the greatest city on earth, New York City, also proved to be just as stimulating an environment as the lab. I had the most enjoyable weekends going to ethnic neighborhoods and eclectic attractions. It proved to be the most intellectually formative experience of my life as I was challenged by and exposed to a plethora of new ideas, peoples and places.