Daniel Martinez

Year: Senior
Major: Psychology |  Minor: Math
Mentor: Dr. Eric Heuer
Research: Effects of long-term stimulant self-administration on the aging primate brain


I am a 22 year old Psychology major (minor-math, CS specialization) from California. I would like to become a neuroscientist or neurosurgeon (or maybe bioengineer). I came to UH Hilo at the age of 17 (alone) and learned a lot. This experience has toughened me up greatly and given me good work ethic as I am the only one who can help myself. Family problems with cancer, astigmatism, kidney disease, and other issues have created my interest in the biomedical field. I feel that I am well-rounded to tackle various issues given my interdisciplinary studies. I would describe myself as calm, curious, hardworking, organized, and enjoy solving problems.

What motivated you to pursue biomedical research?

A few years back one of my brothers had kidney failure which lead him to have a seizure on his birthday (as well as a weeklong hospital stay). Turns out my brother has IgA nephropathy (aka berger’s disease). He now has dialysis 3 times a week for about 3 to 4 hours and I would one day like to find a method to reduce the amount of time it takes for dialysis or find a supplement that would reduce the amount of dialysis needed. Also, my mother had a 15 to 20 pound tumor in her uterus which caused a massive fright in my family. Thankfully the tumor was benign. I would also one day like to assist in the creation of active monitoring wears which could be a preventive method for cancer and other diseases (i.e. Parkinson’s), among other biomedical topics.

How will SHARP enhance or strengthen your role in your community?

SHARP will expose me to various, state of the art techniques to identify key pathways, etiologies and possible causes of various illnesses and diseases. Through my work at the USDA PBARC, I have been exposed to DNA extraction, PCR gel electrophoresis, and a few other techniques. This has been done on insects such as cathartis, coffee berry borer, spotted wing drosophila, and a few others. SHARP will refine what I have learned at the USDA and will give me critical experience in possibly working with various animals, such as non-human primates and rodents. It will give me critical knowledge to succeed in my pursuit of graduate schooling.