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Biotechnology Student Shows Initiative on Path to Degree

By Eric Breier

Nadia Delgadillo Miranda made a promise to herself when she enrolled at Cal State San Marcos: She would seek out every possible opportunity to prepare herself for a career in science.

As part of that vow, Nadia attended meetings for the Office for Training, Research and Education in the Sciences (OTRES), which helps students’ career development in biomedical sciences and related disciplines.

Juniors and seniors at the OTRES meetings were encouraged to seek work in a campus laboratory. Nadia was just a freshman at the time, but figured she might as well give it a shot, too. She had no idea how unique it was for a first-year undergraduate to seek a lab position.

“I was just jumping into any opportunity I could find,” Nadia said.

It didn’t take her long to secure a position in the lab of biology professor Julie Jameson.

“She immediately impressed me with her ambition,” Jameson said. “I took a risk on this young, aspiring scientist, and it was one of the best decisions I have made.

“Nadia is a bright, ambitious young woman who has a wonderful knack for science and will go on to do great things in her future career.”

Nadia will be the first in her family to earn a degree when she graduates in May with a bachelor’s in biotechnology. While her family is eager to celebrate the accomplishment, Nadia simply sees it as another step on her path to earning a Ph.D. and pursuing a career in cancer immunotherapy.

As a teenager growing up in San Francisco, Nadia knew she wanted to pursue a science education. But she had no idea where to start. A high school chemistry teacher encouraged her to research biotechnology programs, which is how she discovered CSUSM.

While a 500-mile in-state move might not seem like a big deal, it proved challenging for someone from a tight-knit family with limited financial means. Nadia still remembers her first trip to San Marcos and seeing the intersection at Twin Oaks Valley Road and Barham Drive for the first time.

“San Francisco is a city where everything’s cramped, so when I saw the block on Barham, I had never seen an intersection so wide,” she said.

Despite the challenges of being away from home, Nadia wasted little time taking full advantage of the opportunities at CSUSM.

She joined the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program, which works to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups graduating from a STEM discipline. She is also part of the first cohort of TRIO McNair Scholars Program, which assists students with research opportunities and dedicated mentoring, with a goal of helping them succeed in graduate school.

In Jameson’s lab, one of Nadia’s early projects was determining whether T cell populations that have become reduced in the intestinal epithelium – the tissue that lines internal surfaces – of obese and diabetic mice can be restored with diet-induced weight loss. Nadia was accepted into CSUSM’s Summer Scholars Program and spent the summer working on the project. At the end of the program, she presented her work on campus and at multiple conferences, including the annual meeting of the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology, or CSUPERB.

“These experiences have strengthened Nadia’s ability to communicate within the field,” Jameson said. “During these presentations, fellow scientists are often surprised to find that Nadia is an undergraduate and not a graduate student.”

Nadia will continue her education in the fall when she begins a doctoral program. She is leaning toward attending UC Merced, about a two-hour drive from her family. While her goal is to work on cancer immunotherapies, she also wants to help students with backgrounds similar to her own pursue a STEM education. She is already a role model for her younger brother and sister, and she hopes to serve a similar role for others.

“For my Ph.D., I want to have an undergrad, someone that I can mentor because that’s how I got where I am now, and I want to give other students opportunities to conduct undergraduate research,” she said. “And when I work in industry, I want to make a program especially for high school students because that’s where I really started to see what I wanted to do in college. I want to make a program that helps college students and high school students figure out if STEM is right for them.”

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist | Office: 760-750-7314