Teaching & Mentoring

Teaching Experience

My parents, who did not have the opportunity to attend college, always instilled in me that education is a privilege and that it is important to use that privilege to share and pass on any knowledge I gain to others without it. This inspires every aspect of my experience and aspirations as a teacher and mentor. With this privilege in mind, I know that I have successfully learned something when I can take a complex topic and “break-it-down” to family and friends with the same ease as explaining it to fellow scholars. To help students achieve this practical learning goal, I use several modern pedagogical techniques that integrate independent and collaborative learning with an emphasis on applying learned principles to everyday life. The ability to communicate knowledge from the psychological and brain sciences to people outside academia is invaluable. Understanding how basic mechanisms shape behavior can prepare students for careers in research, medicine, law, business, and other entrepreneurial avenues. An important way to help students see this potential is through projects that challenge students to apply content to real-world issues.

Mentorship Experience

I am passionate about mentoring students because it is another way that I can pass on my knowledge to others around me. I am a strong believer in progressive practices that help equip students to become independent scientists, while prioritizing personal growth and shared learning between mentor and mentee.

I am committed to making sure that everyone I mentor develops confidence as a researcher and doesn’t just feel like a good helper. I spend significant time meeting with students one-on-one to go over the basics of experimental design and data analysis. By engaging every student in data analysis and pushing them to read the literature and creatively make sense of results, I hope these students grow in their skills that could support a career within or outside scientific research. During my time in grad school, I have mentored several undergrads in research. For many of these students, I have served as official advisors on capstone/honors committees and have supported their applications for competitive internal funding awards to support their involvement on projects. Many of those students have presented research they conducted in the lab at national or international conferences. Many of them will become co-authors on papers; two already have. My mentorship has been recognized with a Duke-wide Bass Connections Award for Outstanding Mentorship and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Duke’s highest mentoring award.

Additional mentorship involvement

In addition to the research mentoring I am involved with in the lab, I am a mentor for Duke’s F1rst program and Científico Latino where I provide academic and career support for undergraduate students from similar backgrounds. I am also involved as a mentor with the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Internship, a Duke graduate student organized training program designed to introduce neuroscience research to students from underrepresented backgrounds in science. As a mentor for Duke’s NSF REU program “Lifespan Approaches to Diverse Psychology”, I have personally guided students who have less access to research labs in studies on neural mechanisms of reward and prosecutorial charging decisions in cases of police brutality. Since this program centers identity-matching, I have learned to draw on my personal background as a first-generation Chicanx and Latinx son of immigrants to build formative bonds with mentees of shared identity that encourage them to pursue careers in research.