Award: Fulbright U.S. Student Award
Sponsor: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Institution: California State University
Carmen-Jeanette Stepek graduated in Applied Physics and Mathematics at California State University Channel Islands (2020), where she held leadership positions in student organizations related to the medical field as well as public policy. Carmen also served underrepresented communities and became an advocate for mental health. In 2018, she joined a research group focused on the biophysics and neuroethology of electroreception. Carmen presented this research at many conferences, most recently at the 2019 SACNAS National Conference for Diversity in STEM. She worked as a visiting student researcher with QuSys, of the School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin, in the summer of 2019. During this experience, she contacted Dr. Niamh Connolly and Dr. Jochen Prehn of RCSIs Centre for Systems Medicine and consequently began her grant proposal for Fulbright. As a Ph.D. student and Fulbright Fellow, Carmen will develop an Artificial Intelligence framework to understand the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsons and ALS. Ultimately, Carmen will become a physician-scientist to utilize systems medicine in the development of holistic health and the understanding of pathways associated with neurological disorders.