Thursday, March 14



Select the sessions below to view presenter abstracts

Sponsored Sessions

Michigan Union, Anderson ABCD

Ecology and Evolutionary BIology

9:00-10:30 AM

Andrea Benavides Castaño

Master's Student 

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Title: Variation in Migration Distance in 24 Species of North American Songbirds; Variación en la Distancia Migratoria de 24 Especies de Pájaros Norteamericanos 

Tracking movement with geolocators has led to breakthroughs in knowledge about the real-time migration of songbirds. Prior to geolocators, species-level range maps were the primary method to estimate migration journeys, but these do not contain information about the movements of individuals. Comparing the migration distances of species estimated from range maps versus geolocation data has not been fully quantified, but it is important to understand how well each method characterizes the migratory patterns of a species. To do this, I compared the migration distance between breeding and non-breeding coordinates of 24 different songbird species of North America and their relationship between range maps and geolocation data. I predicted that the migration distance will be similar for both methods. With many birds experiencing population declines, gaining insight on these migration journeys will help determine locations that are important for conservation while also increasing foundational knowledge about their behavior. 

El monitoreo de los movimientos anuales de los pájaros con los geolocalizadores ha resultado en descubrimientos sobre la migración en tiempo real. Antes que existieran los geolocalizadores, el uso de los mapas del rango de los pájaros al nivel de las especies era el método principal para estimar los viajes migratorios, pero no contienen información sobre los movimientos de los pájaros individuales. No existe una comparación entre las distancias migratorias que hay entre la distribución reproductiva y no reproductiva de cada especie estimadas a partir de los mapas del rango y los datos de los geolocalizadores, pero es importante para comprender qué tan bien cada método caracteriza los patrones migratorios de una especie. Para hacer esto, comparé la distancia entre las coordenadas del lugar donde se reproducen y donde no se reproducen de 24 especies diferentes de los pájaros de Norteamérica y su relación entre los mapas del rango de los pájaros y los datos de los geolocalizadores. Predije que la distancia migratoria sería similar entre los dos métodos. Como la población de muchos de los pájaros está disminuyendo, aprender sobre los viajes migratorios de los pájaros va a determinar los lugares que son importantes para la conservación y va a mejorar el conocimiento de su comportamiento. 

Michelle Orozco-Quime 


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Title: Mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) proteins mediate the adaptive mitochondrial response to  endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 

The endoplasmic reticulum is a vital organelle responsible for secretory protein synthesis,  folding, and modification. Disruptions in ER function can lead to widespread ramifications on cell health, so cellular responses to ERS are critical in maintaining homeostasis. The unfolded  protein response (UPR) is a conserved transcriptional response to ERS that can be observed in eukaryotes ranging from budding yeast to mammals. While the UPR is the major pathway of the ER stress response, a multitude of other pathways and organelles have been suggested to play a role in the mitigation of ER stress. Within the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae, this work demonstrates that mitochondria and the ER work together to alleviate ER stress through the  modulation of pyruvate using the MPC proteins embedded in the mitochondrial membrane. MPC1 levels increase following ERS, which is accompanied by increases in cellular respiration and upregulation of OXPHOS subunit Cox2. Additionally, overexpression of MPC1 partially rescues the ERS response in peroxisome deficient mutants. Finally, MPC1 upregulation and the  subsequent mitochondrial response appears to be specific to tunicamycin induced ERS. This work furthers the knowledge of the intersectionality of organelles in the ERS response. 

Patricia Torres-Pineda

Doctoral Student/Candidate

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Twitter (X) @pattorres1 

Title: Diversity and Comparative Phylogenetics and phylogenomics of the genus Limia (CYPRINODONTIFORMES: Poeciliidae) using Next Generation Sequencing; Diversidad y Filogenómica comparativa del género Limia (PISCES: Poeciliidae) utilizando secuenciación de próxima generación 

The family Poeciliidae constitutes an important component of Neotropical freshwater fish fauna, especially in Middle America (Central America and insular Caribbean regions). In the West Indies, the genus Limia is the largest freshwater clade of the region and is thought to have experienced explosive speciation, with Hispaniola (Haití and Dominican Republic) as the center of said radiation, where 19 out of the known 22 species occur. Limia has been proposed as a case of adaptive radiation, nevertheless, this hypothesis has not been tested. To understand patterns and mechanisms of diversification in this group we conducted extensive fieldwork to sample all species of Limia present in the Dominican Republic, with collections spanning their known distribution throughout the country. We used a reduced-representation genomic approach (i.e., ddRAD) to sequence and compare thousands of loci from across the genome of Limia to build a species-level phylogeny for the genus. We also characterized intraspecific genetic diversity among contemporary populations. This high-resolution species-level phylogeny of Limia will serve as a comparative backbone to test hypotheses of both biogeographic and macroevolutionary processes underlying the diversification of Limia in Hispaniola. 

La familia Poeciliidae constituye un componente importante de la fauna de peces de agua dulce neotropical, especialmente en América Central y las regiones insulares del Caribe. En las Indias Occidentales, el género Limia es el clado de agua dulce más grande de la región y se cree que ha experimentado una especiación explosiva, con La Española (Haití y República Dominicana) como el centro de dicha radiación, donde se encuentran 19 de las 22 especies conocidas. Limia se ha propuesto como un caso de radiación adaptativa; sin embargo, esta hipótesis no se ha probado. Para comprender los patrones y mecanismos de diversificación en este grupo, realizamos un extenso trabajo de campo para muestrear todas las especies de Limia presentes en la República Dominicana, con colecciones que abarcan su distribución conocida en todo el país. Utilizamos un enfoque genómico de representación reducida (es decir, ddRAD) para secuenciar y comparar miles de loci de todo el genoma de Limia y construir una filogenia a nivel de especie para el género. También caracterizamos la diversidad genética intraespecífica entre las poblaciones contemporáneas. Esta filogenia a nivel de especie de alta resolución de Limia servirá como una columna vertebral comparativa para probar hipótesis tanto de procesos biogeográficos como macroevolutivos que subyacen a la diversificación de Limia en La Española. 

Roberto Márquez Pizano

Post-Doctoral Scholar

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Twitter (X) @rmp033

Title: The genetics and evolution of colors and toxins in poison-dart frogs; Genética y evolución de los colores y toxinas en ranas venenosas. 

A wide array of organisms use conspicuous signals to warn predators of secondary defenses in order to avoid predation, a strategy known as aposematism. In poison-dart frogs aposematism has evolved quickly and dynamically, with multiple independent origins of conspicuously colored and chemically defended lineages. Although the ecological and behavioral processes guiding the evolution of aposematism in poison frogs are relatively well known, the underlying evolutionary genetic and biogeographic mechanisms remain largely unknown. In this talk I will explore the possible molecular and evolutionary genetic mechanisms behind the correlated evolution of aposematic coloration and toxicity in Phyllobates poison-dart frogs from population genetic, biogeographic and developmental perspectives, focusing on how these processes lead to convergent evolution of integrated multi-trait pheotypes. 

Faculty Panel: Familismo, Research, and Career Success

10:45-11:45 AM

David Cordova, PhD

Associate Professor of Social Work

Thomas Valley, MD

Assistant Professor in the devision of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine

William Lopez, PhD

Clinical Assistant Professor, Health and Behavior and Health Education

Physics Department

Fisica y Cultura: Perspectives from Latinx Physicists at University of Michigan

12:00- 1:00 PM

Francesco Sessa

Graduate Student

Leo Pando-Zayas

Professor of Physics

Cynthia Nunez

Graduate Student

This panel features Latine physicists from the University of Michigan who will discuss the influence of their cultural heritage on their scientific careers and share insights into balancing their research career with their family and cultural roots. Along with sharing their personal experiences, the panelists will also describe their physics research, explore how Latine traditions shape their approach to science, and how their experiences can enrich the field of physics. 

School of Social Work

1:30-2:30 PM

Sarah Paige Bost

Undergraduate Student

Department of Psychology and School of Social Work | LinkedIn

Title: Exploring Gender Disparities: Differences in Discrimination Experiences Among Latinos and Latinas at a Midwestern Predominantly White Institution 

While Latinx students are enrolling at universities at a higher rate than in the past (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021; Zell, 2010), they face many structural barriers in their pursuit of higher education, including discrimination (McGee, 2016; Yosso et al., 2009). However, there is limited research examining discrimination faced by Latinx college students (Flink, 2018). This study aims to help close this gap by investigating gender disparities in the number and types of discrimination experiences encountered by Latinx students at a predominantly white institution (PWI) in the Midwest. Utilizing a mixed method study, two-hundred forty-four Latinx (69% female) undergraduate (n = 102, Mage = 20), and graduate (n = 115, Mage = 28) students completed a survey that captured their experiences as Latinx students. The results of an independent t-test show that the number of discrimination experiences among females was not significantly higher than for males (p = .095). However, chi-squared analyses indicated that there is a significant relation between sex and microaggressions (p=.039). The findings indicate that while there is no significant difference in the overall number of discrimination experiences reported between male and female students, females reported a higher prevalence of microaggressions compared to males. These results suggest that gender disparities may exist in certain aspects of discrimination experiences among Latinx students and emphasizes the need for institutions to address the intersectionality of gender and ethnicity when creating inclusive environments. However, the lack of a significant relationship between sex and the other types of discrimination challenges expectations and warrants further exploration. 

Lady Funcke

Master's Student

DEI | LinkedIn

Title: Luz- Light after Darkness; Luz Despues de la Oscuridad

This project delves into the often-overlooked challenges faced by system-impacted individuals within the Latinx community, shedding light on the pervasive stigmas and barriers that hinder their personal and professional growth. System-impacted individuals, having navigated through the criminal justice system, often encounter societal prejudice and internal community stigmas that hinder their reintegration and pursuit of success. The research explores the multifaceted nature of these obstacles, encompassing social, economic, and emotional dimensions. By conducting in-depth interviews and community engagement initiatives, we aim to amplify the voices of system-impacted individuals, unraveling the intricate layers of discrimination they face within their own community. The primary objective is to initiate a transformative dialogue within the Latinx community, fostering empathy and understanding. Through storytelling, workshops, and awareness campaigns, we strive to dismantle these stigmas and barriers, paving the way for a more inclusive environment. Empowerment strategies, mentorship programs, and skill-building initiatives will be implemented to catalyze positive change. Ultimately, this project seeks to create a narrative shift, turning system-impacted individuals into success stories within their community. By addressing stigmas head-on and fostering a culture of support and collaboration, we aspire to contribute to the broader societal shift towards recognizing the potential, resilience, and value that system-impacted individuals bring to our shared community. This research serves as a call to action for communities to unite in breaking down barriers and collectively building a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.

Julio Canino Rodriguez

Master's Student

Social Work Department, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus | LinkedIn

Title: Unmasking the Invisible Crisis: Student Perceptions and Professional Experiences with Undocumented Domestic Violence Survivors in Puerto Rico

Femicides resulting from domestic violence have risen sharply in Puerto Rico since 2018, yet statistics fail to account for undocumented immigrant survivors. While research exists on domestic violence and immigration as separate phenomena, little explores their intersection. Using the theories of Intersectionality and Social Constructivism, this mixed methods study examined student perspectives and professional experiences regarding the challenges faced by undocumented domestic violence survivors. Social science students were surveyed on their attitudes and beliefs about myths and misconceptions regarding this vulnerable population. Additionally, interviews with professionals working directly with undocumented domestic violence survivors highlighted the acute barriers and injustices they face in securing fundamental human rights protections. Results reveal deep concerns on both fronts - students lack understanding of the interconnected dynamics of domestic violence and immigration even while largely disagreeing with common myths and misconceptions. At the same time, interviews with social workers exposed the excessive hardships undocumented survivors endure when seeking safety and support. Undocumented domestic violence victims can be further victimized by inadequate government assistance, budget cuts decimating specialized organizations, and profound systemic xenophobia. Students and professionals alike perceive systematic mistreatment and barriers to reporting. These results highlight the need for greater awareness, advocacy, and policy changes to protect undocumented domestic violence victims, some of the most marginalized members of society.

Lady Funcke

Master's Student

DEI | LinkedIn

Title: Breaking Barriers: Empowering The Hispanic and Latinx Community; Rompiendo barreras: Empoderando a la comunidad hispana y latina.

This project encapsulates a comprehensive series of workshops meticulously crafted and conducted by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) office within the School of Social Work. Aimed at cultivating a deeper understanding among aspiring social workers, the workshops delve into the multifaceted challenges, stigmas, and obstacles encountered by the Hispanic and Latinx community. The overarching goal is to equip future social workers with the knowledge and skills necessary to address these issues, fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment. The workshops are designed to unravel the intricacies of the unique struggles faced by the Hispanic and Latinx community, highlighting the pervasive stigmas that often hinder their social integration and access to vital resources. By fostering an empathetic understanding of these challenges, the initiative aims to empower future social workers to contribute to breaking down barriers and creating success stories within the community. Throughout the series, participants engage in dynamic discussions, case studies, and experiential learning activities, fostering a proactive approach to addressing systemic issues. Emphasis is placed on developing culturally sensitive and community-specific strategies to support individuals within the Hispanic and Latinx community. The ultimate aspiration is to inspire the creation of success stories by leveraging the skills and insights gained from the workshops, while simultaneously fostering a commitment to advocacy, equity, and social justice within the field of social work.

Este proyecto engloba una serie integral de talleres meticulosamente elaborados y conducidos por la oficina de Diversidad, Equidad e Inclusión (DEI) en la Escuela de Trabajo Social. Dirigidos a cultivar una comprensión más profunda entre los futuros trabajadores sociales, los talleres exploran los desafíos multifacéticos, estigmas y obstáculos enfrentados por la comunidad hispana y latinx. El objetivo principal es dotar a los futuros trabajadores sociales con el conocimiento y las habilidades necesarias para abordar estos problemas, fomentando un entorno más inclusivo y solidario. Los talleres están diseñados para desentrañar las complejidades de las luchas únicas enfrentadas por la comunidad hispana y latinx, destacando los estigmas pervasivos que a menudo obstaculizan su integración social y acceso a recursos vitales. Al fomentar una comprensión empática de estos desafíos, la iniciativa busca empoderar a los futuros trabajadores sociales para contribuir a derribar barreras y crear historias de éxito dentro de la comunidad. A lo largo de la serie, los participantes se involucran en discusiones dinámicas, estudios de caso y actividades de aprendizaje experiencial, fomentando un enfoque proactivo para abordar problemas sistémicos. Se hace hincapié en el desarrollo de estrategias culturalmente sensibles y específicas para apoyar a individuos dentro de la comunidad hispana y latinx. La aspiración final es inspirar la creación de historias de éxito mediante el aprovechamiento de las habilidades y percepciones adquiridas en los talleres, al mismo tiempo que se fomenta un compromiso con la defensa, la equidad y la justicia social en el campo del trabajo social.

YHLQMDLG: Combining My Latino Roots with Neuroscience

2:45-3:30 PM

Carlos Vivaldo

Recent Alumni, Biopsychology PhD

Title: YHLQMDLG: Combining My Latino Roots With Neuroscience

As a first-generation Mexican American, I had no idea what research, college, or being a neuroscientist was all about. In this talk I walk you through my journey going from a New York High school kid to living out in Los Angeles on my own to attend Occidental College. I share with you my experiences of being a first generation college student and working in a psychopharmacology lab, the lessons and skills I learned. I also share with you my struggles of figuring out what to do after college and taking the first job working as a line cook in Japanese restaurants in LA and then NYC. In this talk I walk you through how I realized I wanted to continue my education as a neuroscientist, and how I was able to go from running my own kitchen to running a Clinical Study at Columbia University Medical Center. I highlight the importance of how being a bilingual Mexican American scientist allowed me to run longitudinal neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies on white English-speaking patients as well as predominately Spanish-speaking Hispanic Caribbean immigrants. I find this time of my life and academic career to be one of my happiest times, as I would sit and talk with these subjects for hours listening to their immigration stories, family histories and most importantly getting to experience their culture. As I share with you my time sitting in people’s homes in Washington Heights, it was during this time, that I discovered what I ended up studying in my PhD and now as a post-doctoral fellow. The importance of sounds. Why do some sounds become so integrated into who we are and our sense of selves that even when we have late state Alzheimer’s it can bring us back for a few brief moments. This talk is entitled YHLQMDLG (because obviously bad bunny) but because as a first-generation neuroscientist I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what this path is supposed to look like, so I charted my own and did what I wanted using the skills I knew I had. I used my experiences as a Latino spending so much time listening to music, being in the kitchen and talking with family members to be able to conduct my neuroscience research. I always say working in a kitchen is like running a lab and that’s the exact line that got me into the Biopsychology PhD at Umich. This talk highlights being true to yourself and using every experience to get further on in life.

College of Engineering

4:00-5:00 PM

Joshua Jack


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Title: Building a new carbon economy 

Understanding and advancing the carbon-energy-water nexus is key to mitigating the immense threats of climate change and solving many of the related environmental issues we face today. Due to the rapid decrease in the cost of renewable energy, it is now practical to design new engineered carbon reduction devices that use renewable electrons to drive the transformation of CO2 and other waste feedstock (wastewater, food waste, biomass) into high-value fuels and chemicals while also recovering important resources such as water, nutrients, and energy. Overall, these new sustainable technologies can help us decarbonize various sectors and redirect resource flows within a new circular carbon economy. This presentation will discuss opportunities to leverage cutting-edge integrated electrochemical-biological technologies in diverse environmental and chemical applications including water and CO2 electrolysis, sustainable waste-to-energy transformation, bioproduct and biofuel synthesis, solid waste valorization, and reactive CO2 capture and conversion. Current lab scale experiments have demonstrated excellent production rates, titer, and energy efficiencies. Efforts towards improving reactor scalability, expanding the portfolio of products, and integrating new types of waste streams are on-going.

Lauro Ojeda


Mechanical Engineering | LinkedIn 

Title: Motion Tracking and Biomechanics

Inertial measurement units (IMUs), self-contained devices that acquire kinematic data such as acceleration and angular rate, have been greatly enhanced due to the expansion of MEMs technology and advanced sensor fusion and estimation methodologies. With increasingly broad applications in biomechanical studies, IMUs have overtaken traditional motion capture technologies due to their affordability and portability. IMUs provide equivalent gait parameters compared to conventional optical-based systems and gait mats, as evidenced by our earlier work demonstrating the functional use of foot-attached IMUs. Utilizing the portability of IMUs, our recent research extends beyond lab parameters, evaluating the impact of medical interventions and investigating circumstances of severe incidents like falls. This presentation will delve into the foundational aspects of inertial sensor technology and data analysis, as well as explore several applications of IMUs, such as long-term monitoring, gait assessment, event reconstruction, and biofeedback.

Carlos Urrego

Doctoral Student/Candidate

Biomedical Engineering

Title: Development of a Mouse Model to Evaluate Changes in Female Bone Architecture and Osteocyte Senescence with Type 2 Diabetes; 

Desarrollo de un Modelo Animal para Evaluar Cambios en la Arquitectura Ósea y la Senescencia Osteocítica en Mujeres con Diabetes Tipo 2

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) decreases bone quality and increases fracture risk. Female subjects with T2D have significantly higher fracture incidence and mortality associated with fracture compared to men. The purpose of this study was to develop a female mouse model to evaluate how T2D affects bone architecture and osteocyte senescence. T2D was chemically induced on C57BL/6 mice using a combination of Streptozotocin (STZ) and High-Fat Diet (HFD) while the control group was on a Low-Fat Diet (LFD) and received sham injections (VEH). 12 weeks-old mice had a diet lead-in phase for 4 weeks. Diabetes induction took 2 weeks, after the diabetic state was established (blood glucose levels higher than 250mg/dl) mice were monitored for 12 weeks. At the study endpoint the diabetic group (HFD+STZ - n=13) displayed significantly higher blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (p<0.0001) compared to the control group (LFD+VEH - n=8). Fasting plasma insulin was lower in the diabetic group compared to the control (p=0.0013). There were no differences in body weight between groups. Diabetes altered body composition by decreasing lean tissue, water content and fat tissue percentages (p= 0.0003, p=0.0425 and p=0.0220 respectively). Osteocyte senescence was evaluated by p16(INK4a) expression, the diabetic group displayed increased the expression of senescence-associated markers compared to control group (p=0.0437). Micro-Computed Tomography (mCT) was used to evaluate changes in femoral diaphysis bone volume (BV), Bone mineral Density (BMD), bone fraction (BV/TV), bone length (BL) and Tissue Mineral Density (TMD)  with T2D. Diabetes significantly decreased TV, BV, BL and TMD compared to the control group (p= 0.0002, p=0.0242, p<0.0001 and p=0.0204 respectively); while increased the bone fraction (p=0.0321). Diabetes was successfully induced in female mice, and it promoted changes in bone architecture and osteocyte gene expression.

Lucero Lopez

Doctoral Student/Candidate

Materials Science and Engineering

lucerol@umich | LinkedIn 

Title: The New Generation and the Road Ahead; La nueva generación y el camino por delante

The new generation of Latinos, both native-born and immigrant, is the fastest growing college-educated demographic in the US. The enrollment of young Latinos continues to reach record numbers, in fact, in 2023 UCLA admitted the “largest class of underrepresented students ever, Latinos leading the admission as 38% of the class.” This trend continues into institution of higher education at the graduate level. From 2000 to 2021, the number of Latinos with advanced degrees doubled from 700,000 to 2.5 million, and yet Latinos only represent 8% of all advanced degrees awarded in 2021. The disparity permeates into our academic faculty departments where “Latinos compromise only 6% of faculty members…” or “4% of full-time professors.” What does this mean for our new generation of young ambitious Latinos students entering the Class of 2027 and beyond? Where does the structure of academia support diversity, equity, and inclusion and where does it hinder? What are the resources needed to support the advancement of Latinos in academia? In this discussion, the academic and professional challenges faced by young Latinos pursing education in the United States will be analyzed through the lens of a 1St Generation Latina in STEM with the focus on connecting trends between the shift between Undergraduate to Graduate to Professorship. 

La nueva generación de latinos, nativos de EE.UU. y inmigrantes, es el grupo demográfico con educación universitaria de más rápido crecimiento en Estados Unidos. La inscripción de jóvenes latinos continúa alcanzando cifras récord; de hecho, en 2023, UCLA admitió a la “clase más grande de estudiantes subrepresentados de la historia, con latinos liderando la admisión con un 38% de la clase”. Esta tendencia continúa en las instituciones de educación superior a nivel de posgrado. De 2000 a 2021, el número de latinos con títulos avanzados se duplicó de 700.000 a 2,5 millones y, sin embargo, los latinos solo representan el 8% de todos los títulos avanzados otorgados en 2021. La disparidad se extiende a nuestros departamentos académicos donde “los latinos comprometen solo el 6% de miembros del cuerpo docente…” o “4% de los profesores” ¿Qué significa esto para nuestra nueva generación de jóvenes estudiantes latinos ambiciosos que ingresan a la promoción de 2027 y más allá? ¿Dónde apoya la estructura académica la diversidad, la equidad y la inclusión y dónde la obstaculiza? ¿Cuáles son los recursos necesarios para apoyar el avance de los latinos en el mundo académico? En esta discusión, los desafíos académicos y profesionales que enfrentan los jóvenes latinos que buscan educación en los Estados Unidos se analizarán a través de la lente de una latina de primera generación en STEM, enfocándose en conectar las tendencias entre el cambio entre pregrado, posgrado y cátedra.

Closing Ceremony Sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inlcusion

Michigan Union, Pendleton Room 6:00 - 9:00 PM

Order of Events 

5:30 PM: Dinner is served with DJ and photobooth 

6:00 PM: Programming Begins

6:45 PM: Raffle for presenters and attendees

7:00 PM: Music, Dancing, and Celebrating

9:00 PM: Event Concludes

Buffet Menu 

Corn Spicy Esquites

Moqueca de Camarones Coconut

Ropa Vieja


Papas en Salsa Verde

Vanilla Tres Leches

Mojito (Mocktail)

Click on the dates below to see the detailed event program for Latinx Research Week 2024