Alejandro Medina Valencia
Hometown: Waterloo, Iowa
Why did you choose Iowa State University?
I chose ISU because it is locally close to me and good science programs
How did you become interested in your major?
I have always been curious about how things in nature worked and wanted to keep expanding my knowledge.
What are your current goals following graduation?
I am pursuing a PhD in Ecology at Penn State this upcoming semester.
Internships: I had an REU at Mountain Lake Biological Station in Virginia. I worked as a up and coming researcher developing my own project, writing a paper, and giving a presentation in the span of 10 weeks. I loved living in the mountains for two and a half months with many wonderful scientists that taught me the basic skills to keep doing research.
Campus activities: I have been a part of the George Washington Carver Program, STEM Scholars Program and Ronald E. McNair Program. All these organizations have helped me develop community, communication, and passion to pursue higher education that would be beneficial to underrepresented groups as a role model and future collaborator.
Research experience: I am currently finishing my research with Dr. Eric Riddell and got to design and write about a project involving bumblebees and their physiology. This lab was my first introduction to being a scientist and gave me a lot of perspective on what standards and healthy mentors look like. This also helped develop my skills further through the creation of a paper that we hope to publish and coding knowledge.
Do you have an example of how a professor or staff member has supported you at Iowa State?
One example would be Dr. Amy Toth, whose classes helped guide me to take research seriously and eventually helped me on my project directly due to her expertise.
What are a few things you love about your major and department?
It is really a diverse program in regards to gender, race and nationalities. I got to meet many students that had very unique perspectives along with having diverse professors that had diverse sets of knowledge.
How would you fill in the blank for high school students interested in your field?
“You’re going to love studying the sciences at Iowa State because ….”
You get to decide what kind of animal or question you want to know more about and then get to tell people all these cool facts you discovered that no one else ever knew.
My best advice to new students is that you might not know exactly what you want to do know and that’s ok. The first year is all about stretching out and seeing what college has to offer and then taking the plunge when something clicks in one of your classes.