How does the brain develop and adapt to new situations? What is the contribution of genetic and environmental factors leading to neurodevelopmental diseases, such as autism and schizophrenia? These are some of the questions that Dr. Amaya Miquelajáuregui tries to answer through neuroscience. In her words, "Our brain is probably the most complex living organization, with billions of cells coordinating multiple functions, from breathing to feeling, thinking and learning, making us who we are".
Amaya studied Biology at UNAM where she fell in love with the 'living microcosmos'. She continued her education and obtained her Ph.D. at the prestigious International Max Planck Research Program in Neurosciences in Göttingen, Germany. She is currently a Postdoctoral fellow at UCLA where, using imaging of the living brain, she is able to visualize the dynamics of tiny structures where neurons make synapses and interconnect, and to see the effect of input loss throughout time. Her enthusiasm for her research is palpable in her words: "It is almost like science fiction: we are able to see the brain in action, and quantify the effects of environmental and genetic alterations that lead to disease".
Working at the Papalote Interactive Children’s Museum in Mexico City fueled her passion in neurosciences and science education. She has published scientific papers and book chapters, and she enjoys teaching students. Amaya says that one of her dreams is "to guide students in the use of multiple online resources (such as the Allen Brain Atlas), so that they can actually perform neuroscience research while having fun". Dr. Amaya Miquelajauregui will be hosting the first Brain Awareness Week in Spanish “La primera Semana del Cerebro at UNAM-LA” together with the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for further details!