Neuroscience Graduate Program - Student Profile


Valerie Estela

Student Profile

As an undergraduate at Lehigh University, I conducted research under Dr. Murray Itzkowitz in the field of behavioral ecology. My senior project, entitled “The influence of female size on male aggression and mate preference in the convict cichlid, Amatitlania nigrofasciata” is what inspired me to pursue a career in research. After graduating from Lehigh in 2011, I went on to become a Biologist at WIL Research Laboratories in the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology Department. While there, my research focused on the effects of preclinical drugs on physical and neurological development of multiple animal models.
Now, in Dr. Rebecca Burwell’s lab, I am studying how the parahippocampal and hippocampal areas of the brain work together to encode episodic memories. I use in vivo electrophysiology in rats during a spatial memory task to look at a hallmark of episodic memory called object-location conjunctive coding.

Undergraduate Institution

Lehigh University

Research | Presentations & Posters | Publications | Accomplishments | Hobbies & Outside Interests

Research Description

Presentations and Posters

• Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Regional Conference (2017): Scientific Talk; “Emergence of object-location conjunctive coding in postrhinal cortex”

• Society for Neuroscience Conference (2016): Poster; “Emergence of object-location conjunctive coding in postrhinal cortex and hippocampus.” V.J. Estela, R.D. Burwell

• 2nd annual Young Scholars Conference (2016): Poster; “The science of what happens where: The role of the perirhinal cortex in object-location conjunctive coding.” V.J. Estela, R.D. Burwell

• 8th annual Lehigh Valley Ecology and Evolution Symposium (2011): Poster; “The influence of female size on male aggression and mate preference in the convict cichlid, Amatitlania nigrofasciata.” V.J. Estela, J.M. Leese, M. Itzkowitz

Publications

• A.N. Bloch, V.J. Estela, J.M. Leese, M. Itzkowitz, Male mate preference and size-assortative mating in convict cichlids: a role for female aggression?, Behavioural Processes, Available online 18 July 2016, ISSN 0376-6357, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2016.07.010. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635716301632)

Accomplishments

• NSF Graduate Research Fellow - National Science Foundation (2015 – 2018)

• Hispanic Scholarship Award - Hispanic Scholarship Fund (2016)

Hobbies and Outside Interests