GSBS student named to prestigious research organization
By Cari Hyden
As an undergraduate, Jaclyn Bermudez made an important finding in a biology lab – she discovered she loved research.
Now a PhD candidate in the Visual Sciences program in UNTHSC’s North Texas Eye Research Institute, her career trajectory has rocketed skyward ever since. And this year she became a board member of the world’s largest and most respected eye and vision research organization – the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).
The El Paso native was studying at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio when she made her discovery.
“Compared to medicine, research allows you to impact more people,” Bermudez said. “It allows you to answer questions that no one has thought to ask.”
She participated in research projects throughout her undergraduate years, searched online for PhD programs and was impressed by UNTHSC’s program, which emphasizes collaboration.
Since then, she’s compiled an impressive list of accomplishments. She founded a student chapter for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). She was accepted into UNTHSC’s NIH-funded Minority Opportunities in Research and Education (MORE) program and was awarded an NIH-funded Neurobiology of Aging training grant, directed by Dr. Meharvan Singh, Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science.
In addition, she was awarded the UNTHSC’s Wordinger Scholarship in Visual Sciences and earned a first-place award in the 2015 RAD competition for a poster on her glaucoma research findings.
No surprise, then, that ARVO wanted her as its next at-large member-in-training trustee. Her non-voting role will be to communicate the needs of ARVO’s members in training (primarily post-docs and students), who represent a third of its membership, for the next two years.
“I hope to bring the voice of minorities and women to the members in training and the board,” Bermudez said. She’ll also continue her passion, research.
“At times research is scary,” she said, “but there are small victories in the lab. When you finally start believing your hypothesis, you feel like you’ve really discovered something awesome.”
She eventually wants to teach and move into a leadership position in higher education where she can promote interprofessionalism.
“I’d like to get more scientists and physicians together to better answer questions about what happens during the disease process,” she said. “Then we can develop better treatments.”