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Student Spotlight

Justine Ortega-Méndez

I am a second-year PhD student in the Pharmacology and Toxicology program. Before starting graduate school on September 2020, I finished a BS in Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla in Mexico. From the moment I choose a scientific career and according to my goals, I knew I had to pursue graduate studies. I looked all over the world from programs related to biomedical sciences and ended up selecting UTMB as the place I wanted to be.

Despite having a great interest in mental health disorders, during my first year my vision widened. I realized that infectious diseases are also a great area of interest, thus I'm now working at the Castellanos Lab at the Infectious Diseases Division of the Department of Internal Medicine. I'm currently doing research literature to shape my dissertation proposal, which will be in the use of nutraceuticals as an alternative to treat Cryptosporidiosis. This is a waterborne parasitic disease that causes deadly diarrhea in malnourished children and immunocompromised individuals from underdeveloped and developing countries.

As the Executive Secretary of the Graduate Students Organization (GSO), my objective is not only to develop my leadership and socializing skills, but also to serve as a voice to the graduate students to assess their needs. I'm also looking forward to creating, along my fellow officers, pandemic-friendly events to remember everyone that not everything is science. If students have any concerns, please reach the GSO by emailing


Past Student Spotlights