Meet a Roadrunner: Doctoral student Jossina Gonzalez has passion for neuroscience

Jossina Gonzalez

Jossina Gonzalez

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(May 9, 2013) -- Meet Jossina Gonzalez. She's a young woman with a passion for neuroscience, and she graduates this month.

In 2004, Gonzalez was accepted into the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston to prepare for training as a physician. However, when the university learned she was unable to walk and generally weakened due to a debilitating neurological condition, the health science center revoked her admission, causing an uproar that landed in the laps of the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Office of Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

The crux of the issue was whether she could complete the physical training of medical school, residency and the day-to-day of physicians. Ultimately, Gonzalez lost her fight. Disheartened, she began pursuing other avenues.

"I had Jossina in my undergraduate neuroscience classes, and almost every time we took an exam, her grades were much, much higher than the rest of the class," recalls Brian Derrick, a professor in the UTSA Department of Biology. "I suggested she ought to become a scientist. She was just so smart. She needed to put that talent to work as a researcher."

Energized by Derrick's encouragement, Gonzalez applied and was admitted to the UTSA neurobiology doctoral program in 2007, five years after receiving her bachelor's degree in biology. Since that time, she has been studying the biological basis of hippocampal mnemonic function in the hopes that her research will provide new insights about how memories are encoded and recalled. She plans to pursue post-doctoral training to become an academic research neuroscientist.

Do you know an amazing UTSA student who has beat the odds to accomplish their dreams? Email social@utsa.edu, and we will consider your submission for the next installment of Meet a Roadrunner.