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Student Stories


Alejandro Nunez

   Major: Physics
   Research Focus: Atmospheric Composition of L-Dwarfs
   Hometown: Colombia

Alejandro enrolled at Hunter College for a bachelor's degree in physics, with the intention of subsequently pursuing a Ph.D. in Astronomy. With the help of the MBRS-RISE Program, Alejandro was recruited to do research by Dr. Kelle Cruz, an Astronomy professor in the Physics & Astronomy department. Alejandro was surprised to learn how eager Hunter professors are in exposing students to research.

Alejandro has been doing research with Dr. Cruz for the past two years analyzing the atmospheric composition of L dwarfs -star-like objects not massive enough to burn hydrogen in their cores. The study of these objects can shed light on the formation and evolution of stars and planets because they form like stars but are physically similar to giant planets.


Jimena Santillan
   Major: Psychology
   Research Focus: Neurocognitive Development of Attention and Learning
   Hometown: Mexico

Jimena is a senior majoring in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Honors as part of the Thomas Hunter Honors Program. During her junior year Jimena was a NIMH-COR program scholar, a National Institute of Mental Health sponsored program designed to provide underrepresented students with professional development and research training in psychology. This year Jimena is a BP-ENDURE program scholar, a program funded by the National Institute of Health to support diverse students interested in neuroscience related carriers.

Jimena's research interests are in the neurocognitive development of attention and learning. She is currently working as a research assistant in the Language and Concept Development Lab at Hunter College under the mentorship of Dr. Sandeep Prasada. Jimena's main project focuses on the role of linguistic cues in the acquisition of generic knowledge (knowledge concerning kinds and their properties) about novel objects in adults and children. Jimena also works as a research assistant in Dr. Jennifer Mangels' Dynamic Learning lab at Baruch College, where she assisting in a project examining the relationship between rumination and attention allocation during the processing of learning-relevant information. After graduating in the Spring of 2012 Jimena plans to pursue a PhD in cognitive neuroscience to study the mechanisms underlying effective learning at the neural level, with the purpose of using this knowledge as a tool to design interventions to address educational disparities and strive to close the achievement gap.

Jimena was recently accepted into the Cognitive Neuroscience program at the University of Oregon, where she was awarded a Promising Scholar Award. Jimena will be working in the Brain Development lab under the mentorship of Dr. Helen Neville examining the neuroplasticity of selective attention and testing an intervention designed to improve this cognitive ability in children from low socio economic status. Jimena also applied for the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship, which would help support her graduate career. She expects to learn of her acceptance in early April.


David Kattan
   Major: Psychology
   Research Focus: The Relationship between Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation Techniques
   Hometown: Israel

David is a senior majoring in psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience. His interest lies in the biological predisposition to coping mechanisms and psychotherapy outcome. David is currently conducting research in the Regulation of Emotion in Anxiety and Depression (READ) Lab under the supervision of Dr. Douglas Mennin. In the READ lab David is also completing his honors thesis that focuses on the role of adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation techniques in prediction of anxiety and depression. In the future, David plans to earn a doctoral degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on neuroscience research. Ultimately, he would like to pursue a research career that will allow him to study and develop tailored mental health interventions.