Kiara Vega Bellido's picture

Vega Bellido

  • ( December-2023 )
  • Houston, Texas, USA

About (Summary)

PhD student in the Daoyun Ji Systems Neuro Lab at Baylor College of Medicine ( who aspires to be a lifelong student of the nervous system. Currently, my intellectual resources are being poured into my thesis project on the neuroplasticity underlying Contextual Fear Memory acquisition and subsequent mnemonic processes (e.g. retrieval, sleep-mediated consolidation, etc). I study the synaptic plasticity that occurs in a specific bundle of hippocampal connections: the famous Schaffer collateral synaptic pathway. The main technique we make use of in our lab is microdrive tetrode recordings in freely moving rats and mice in order to answer questions about how the brain encodes, stores, and uses information pertaining to episodic memory. Therefore, I use electrophysiological measurements such as fEPSPs and spiking probability as proxy indicators of synaptic transmission strength. Changes reflected in these measurements are due to changes in the strength of the synapses upstream of the cells being recorded; in our case in CA1 pyramidal cells. Besides my working on my project, my passions include scicomm, science policy advocacy, and dismantling stigma surrounding mental illness through education and awareness. Thus, I engage in many initiatives and work outside of the lab that I consider greatly important and that contribute to my fulfillment, some of which I've outlined here.


University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez
2012 to 2016
Baylor College of Medicine
2017 to 2023

Your Major

cognitive neuroscience

Language Proficiency

English (US)

Honors and Awards

Magna Cum Laude
Graduated from B.S. with High Honors
Echegaray F Espada Endowment Scholarship
Recipients are outstanding Puerto Rican students that demonstrate potential.
Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC Scholar)
Grant awarded to exceptional students with promise and ambitions for life sciences research.
Honorable Mention of Best Oral Presentation at the SSRP Amgen Scholars Symposium @ Stanford University
Honorable Mention of Best Oral Presentation at the SSRP Amgen Scholars Symposium @ Stanford University
Honor Society Graduate Achiever Scholarship
This scholarship seeks to reward an ambitious graduate student who has performed at a superior rate both academically and holistically.

Grad School Interests

Systems Neuroscience approach to studying cognition; specifically, how the brain encodes, stores, and manipulates episodic memory. Moreover, interested in the neuroplasticity mediating contextual Establishing a strong SACNAS@BCM chapter, be a good mentor for the AGSD Mentorship program, and a decent teacher for the kids at the Saturday Morning Science groups, etc. But most importantly, revive the science policy group with fellow student advocates.

Intended Job Path

Science communication/policy and offer counseling/therapy services.

Job Experience

BCM Life Ambassador
Baylor College of Medicine
July, 2020 to August, 2020
Private Tutor
Gave private calculus lessons.
July, 2016 to April, 2017


Outreach Coordinator for Hispanic Women in Science Organized outing to Star of Hope Temporary Housing and served lunch to the indigents.
Hispanic Women in Science
September, 2018 to September, 2019
Volunteer for BCM Bodyguard Program Volunteer to help organize and set up health and wellness events for underserved populations in Houston.
BCM Bodyguard
September, 2019 to September, 2020
Saturday Morning Science Saturday Morning Science is a BCM program geared at enhancing opportunities for middle and high school students interested in science careers. COVID was unable to deter our Spring and Summer programming, and with the help of many of you, we were able to provide virtual didactic and small group sessions that received glowing praise from the students.
Baylor College of Medicine
October, 2020 to December, 2020


Reading, writing, cooking, hiking, camping, board games, gardening, socializing with family and friends.
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