Undergraduate Researcher Spotlight: Belen Gutierrez
Belen Gutierrez is a junior studying biological sciences with a concentration in cellular and molecular (CAM) in the College of Sciences. Over the summer, she conducted research under Dr. Kelly Tseng, Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences, as a member of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): Mechanisms of Evolution program. Gutierrez presented her research poster titled, Regulation of Eye Regrowth in Xenopus laevis, alongside 25 other undergraduate researchers during the OUR Summer 2021 REU Showcase.
What are your research interests and future career goals?
Currently, I am working alongside a graduate student studying a potential regulator of eye regrowth, which has been very exciting. In the future, I hope to become a research scientist and continue studying regeneration, finding out more about different organisms and their types of regeneration.
Please describe the impact of research involvement on your personal and professional development.
Research was an interest of mine for some time, but I had not understood the scope of what research exactly entailed. Working in the Tseng lab, I got first hand experience at real research, not only learning how to conduct experiments, but how to actually think like a scientist. The time in the lab also helped me further understand what I truly want to pursue career wise.
What is one piece of advice you would give to future researchers?
I would recommend asking questions, even if you think they’re simple or seem obvious. Without asking questions, you prevent yourself from moving forward when instead you could be learning and advancing much quicker.
Please describe the impact of COVID-19 on your research and the role of the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) at UNLV on your research development.
With COVID-19, my involvement in research was definitely put to a stop for awhile. Thankfully, with the help of the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), I attended various research workshops and seminars online. I learned plenty on how to create posters, write professionally, as well as advice on networking with other professionals.
Do you have anything you would like to add about your REU opportunity?
I would like to thank my Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Kelly Tseng, for her help and support during the summer program. It was an especially different experience for me, but with her guidance, along with help from my lab members, I managed to learn and complete so much.