Student Combines Biology and Anthropology

Javier Cintron is no stranger to student research. He’s been tackling problems alongside John Starbuck, Ph.D., this year, but now he has received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) that will allow him to continue working this summer in Starbuck’s lab.

“It is encouraging to be accepted into a program like this because it means I am doing something right,” Cintron said. “This fellowship gives me the chance to learn more about how research is conducted, and to pursue my project with great fervor.”

His research looks at the impact a special compound found in the leaves of green tea has on facial structures. The compound, EGCG, is added to a gene found on chromosome 21, a chromosome that plays a strong role in the altered anatomy associated with Down syndrome. Through 3D images of children, Cintron compares children with Down syndrome who have taken the compound to children who did not and children without familial history of the genetic disorder to see whether or not the addition of the EGCG compound to the gene affects facial structures.

“These comparisons will allow us to determine if facial morphology improved as a result of EGCG supplementation,” Cintron said. “I am very excited to continue working on this project this summer.”

Cintron is currently pursuing both an anthropology and a biology degree during his time at UCF.

“I originally came in as a biomed major, but quickly realized that, although I love science, I did not want to have a career in biomedical research,” he said.

After taking a general anthropology course, taught by Michael Callaghan, Ph.D., Cintron realized the field offered him a chance to capitalize on his already-present passion for people and culture.

“I have always loved anthropology,” he said. “When I was younger, I would always be reading a book about archaeology or about Ancient Egyptian culture. I just didn’t realize what it was until I came to UCF.”

UCF offered him an opportunity to pursue courses within the anthropology field, and ultimately he decided to work toward two degrees.

“No matter what goals you have in life, always keep your interests in mind,” he said. “Have a passion and find a way to include it in your pursuits.”

Cintron hopes to take his passion in anthropology and interest in biology on to medical school and eventually become a physician.

“I believe that studying anthropology at UCF will make me a competitive applicant and provide me with skills that would allow me to become a great physician,” he said. “At the very least, I would like to utilize my anthropological background when moving forward toward my goal.”

Comments are closed.