My name is Durbis Castillo and I am a chemistry student at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, working on my thesis as a post-senior for the Joint Center of Research in Sustainable Chemistry.
I was born in Venezuela, country in which I was raised and lived until the age of 9, having a strong cultural influence from Spain due to my grandparents. Thereafter, I moved to Mexico, where I study science and became interested in medicinal chemistry.
Previously, I have worked and studied at University College London, University Ludwig-Maximilian Munich, Kassel University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where I have learned topics that range from nanotechnology and computational chemistry, to drug development and delivery.
On this matter, VISRA offered me the great opportunity to work in fields of the biomedical sciences that were of only basic understanding to me, such as structural biology and biochemistry. During the program, I will work on the characterization and mutational analysis of a subdomain in yeast DNA primase in Walter Chazin’s lab, under the mentoring of the graduate student Lauren Salay. The importance of this project relies in the very nature of DNA replication as one of the essential steps for life and in that failure to appropriately replicate DNA can lead to diseases such as cancer.
Apart from the research being done at Vanderbilt University, the city of Nashville offers a friendly and traditional approach to American culture. The growing economy of the area, as well as the southern hospitality have complemented my favorite hobbies and leisure activities, such as photography, painting, music, and hiking.
Finally, one of the most important things I am taking with me from this experience, is the amount of diversity, and new ideas I was exposed to. Different people from different cultures and backgrounds give a broader idea of what the world needs from the potential scientists like us.