Laura S. Pesquera Colom
Hometown: Toa Alta, Puerto Rico
Why did you choose Iowa State University?
I wanted to have the resources of a big school at my disposal but wanted to be able to join small communities such as the Honors Program and WiSE to receive mentorship, support and build connections.
How did you become interested in your major?
I wanted a major that would prepare me to pursue a career in healthcare. A major in Biology allowed me to take electives such as Developmental Biology, Anatomy, and Physiology that created an excellent foundation for the rest of my career.
What are your current goals following graduation?
I graduated from Iowa State University in the Spring of 2019. Recently, I received my Doctorate of Dental Medicine from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. This summer, I will be moving to Chicago, IL to pursue residency in the field of Periodontology at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Campus activities: My experiences at Iowa State University helped me grow as a leader and as an individual. I was a Residential Advisor (RA) which taught me how to problem solve, work with people of all different cultures and beliefs, and have fun at my job! I also was part of the Honors Program which allowed me to get involved in research, make great friends and take enriching courses. As part of Student Government, I was able to advocate for the health and wellness of students and help fund meaningful programs. My countless experiences in the institution exposed me to leadership roles and broadened my horizons.
Research experience: During my undergraduate career, I worked on two different projects. First, I worked with Dr. Donald S. Sakaguchi and Dr. Bhavika B. Patel on a project involving the recovery of encapsulated adult neural progenitor cells from hydrogel fibers. My role was performing immunocytochemistry experiments on recovered adult neural progenitor cells (AHPCs) and quantifying the proliferation and differentiation of the cells via imaging and analysis of samples using Fiji software. In my second research experience, I worked with Dr. Surya K. Mallapragada, Dr. Metin Uz, and Dr. Donald S. Sakaguchi on creating functional scaffolds for retinal regeneration and repair. We worked on the fabrication of porous, biodegradable PLLA/PLGA scaffolds to seed Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and Retinal progenitor cells (RPCs). These experiences sparked my fascination with stem cells which are foundational to my future work in the field of Periodontology. I also learned the importance of research which now helps me make evidence-based decisions as a clinician.
What are a few things you love about your major and department?
I loved how I was able to receive one-on-one mentorship from professors and graduate students. I felt comfortable going to office hours, receiving help from peer mentors and SI instructors! Everyone is friendly and wants you to succeed.
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 ….”
...of the diversity in experiences and opportunities that the school offers.
Do you have an example of how a professor or staff member has supported you at Iowa State?
My greatest mentor at Iowa State University was Dr. Donald S. Sakaguchi who encouraged me to apply to every grant, program and research experience that was available! He created a great sense of community in his laboratory which allowed all the research members to become friends.
My best advice for new students is to join programs, learning communities and clubs. Not only will it help you build your resume and grow, it will also allow you to meet friends and develop a sense of belonging in a big school!