Becker student’s research to be shown at conference

Becker student’s research to be shown at conference

Published on: November 19, 2019


Christina Gomez stands next to a poster describing her research project.

Becker College senior Christina Gomez stands next to a poster describing her research project.

Christina Gomez, a senior biology major at Becker College, is having a portion of her research project presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Anaheim, CA. Her project, “The Horizontal Transmission of Cryptococcus Neoformans in a Murine Model,” is also her Senior Seminar Capstone project. She began working on it last semester during her Research Methods class when Professor Susan Whitehead challenged the class to ponder a problem they could possibly solve.

“I am so honored,” Gomez said of the recognition. “This acceptance validates the beginnings of what I hope to be a long career that allows me to help others and make contributions to science and the world. Even if it is in some small way, I just want to make a difference for the better. I am a woman breaking through scientific barriers—that is what the conference selection made me feel and think.”

Professor Whitehead said she was pleased that Gomez’s research was selected for the conference. “I am very happy that Christina is representing Becker College in this way; she is an excellent ambassador,” Whitehead said. “Proud seems like such a trite response, but it completely fits the bill.”

Gomez noted that while she discovered her love for biology while she was in high school, it took her a few years to find her place at Becker College.  “I am a transfer student who spent three years at another college,” Gomez explained, “and I have achieved my most treasured accomplishments here at Becker over the past two years.”

Gomez said was drawn to Becker due to the many opportunities the College offers for studying animals, not just in the vet science program, but also through animal research and biology. “If I didn’t end up at Becker College, I may not have found my calling in research.” Gomez said. “The Becker community helped me choose my career, helped place me in my current job, and will continue to guide me in my future endeavors. My experience here has shaped the woman I have become and I have made lifelong friendships with students, faculty, and staff.”

Gomez plans to graduate from Becker in December and continue her education in pursuit of a Ph.D.

“I will be at UMASS Medical School in the Biomedical Science Doctoral Program, working towards my Ph.D. in Immunology,” she said. “I plan to continue my research behind the mechanisms of pathogens targeting immunocompromised individuals, along with the vaccine development research I currently work in.”

 

About Christina Gomez’s Research Project

When Gomez was working with a mice colony, she noticed an infection in some mice and wondered if it was a horizontal transmission. She pitched her idea to her internship director at UMass, where works as a research associate in the infectious disease lab.

She studied pathogenic fungus that targets immunocompromised individuals. The focus was on how the fungus colonizes within the GI track of mice. While this started off as a smaller project, the results provided new questions that lead Gomez to do pilot studies. She broke some barriers that weren’t expected and came to new ideas.

“Christina has come up with a second question while working on her project and will be looking at where the fungus manifests in the system,” said Whitehead.

The first segment of Gomez’s research will be completed in November and be on display at Becker’s Senior Showcase in December. She also intends to publish her findings.