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2017 SRE Program Participant Profiles: Javier Urcuyo

Javier Urcuyo photo.

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
School: Arizona State University
Major/Degree and Year: Applied Mathematics and Biology, Junior
SRE Mentors: Suzanne Lenhart and Rebecca Trout Fryxell
SRE Research Project: Modeling the Spread of La Crosse Virus in East Tennessee

Why did you apply to the SRE program?
The NIMBioS Summer Research Experience is a great way to spend a few months working on publishable scientific research that brings together the two fields that I love and enjoy, mathematics and biology. As if that weren't enough, I would also be able to travel to a new environment surrounded by many bright, like-minded researchers.

What is the purpose of your research?
This project is focused on accurately modeling how a prevalent virus infects children. By being able to accurately understand the spread of this virus in mosquitoes, we hope to be able to predict the seasons with the most infection and implement preventative measures.

Quotation image.

…[W]ith the tools available at NIMBioS, I think that I have made myself more marketable as I move forward in my career. Quotation image.

– Javier Urcuyo, SRE participant

What does the research ultimately accomplish?
By being aware of upcoming seasonal dynamics of infected mosquito populations, parents can ensure that their children take the proper precautions and can significantly lower the risk of infection and potential deaths. Ultimately, working on this project has a direct impact on the community around us here and in neighboring counties. For me, I'm invigorated by being able to work on something that is vastly understudied but could impact a whole family's lives.

Tell us something about your field of study we would be surprised to know.
My favorite part about mathematics is that it can be applied to several different fields, even within biology. Whether it be modeling the spread of a disease to the way humans behave, math is the key to understanding it.

What were your favorite parts of the SRE program?
Without a doubt, the connections that I've made with my fellow participants and professors will last with me forever. Through NIMBioS workshops and the SRE program, I've met some very bright-minded people who will surely go on to do great things.

What new experiences did you gain that have helped you today?
Heading into the summer, I considered myself a weak programmer, which is a skill heavily utilized and sought after in fields that utilize mathematical models, which require a code to run. However, with the tools available at NIMBioS, I think that I have made myself more marketable as I move forward in my career.

Related Links

Main SRE page
2017 Summer Program

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From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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