Hard work, determination and intelligence are all qualities that Josh Regalado possesses, but it was his passion for his education in neuroscience that earned the University of Nevada, Reno 19-year-old sophomore the 2015 Barry Goldwater Scholarship.
From a young age, Regalado had an interest in understanding the biological aspects of mental processes. Since high school, he knew he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to further delve into this area of interest. Regalado is now a sophomore majoring in neuroscience with a minor in philosophy, and has already found his niche within the neuroscience field.
“I yearned to know the cause-and-effect relationship between the changes that occur in the brain and what we observe as behaviors,” Regalado said. “This way, I think I can find better therapies for mental disorders than what are currently available in today’s market.”
Regalado’s focus in neuroscience is what helped him stand out for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, the scholarship is awarded to students who show a strong interest in pursuing research careers. Its purpose is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.
Although this is only his second year at the University, Regalado has shown a deep understanding in the science field beyond his years. To be considered for the Goldwater Scholarship, he had to write three essays detailing his professional aspirations, motivation for pursuing a scientific research career and even draft a proposal for future research.
From the start of his undergraduate career, Regalado became involved with existing research within the University’s interdisciplinary neuroscience program where he began working with his mentor Alex Keene, associate professor in the Department of Biology. Regalado assists Keene with his research in sleep and metabolism.
“I saw an opportunity to engage in research similar to my field of study,” Regalado said. “Now, after having been working with Alex for over a year, I see a great opportunity to attend graduate school and I'm working hard to be able to make that happen. I'm also very fortunate to be in the McNair Scholars Program, which has immensely helped me in my desire to attend graduate school.”
Regalado is also working on research regarding the distinct evolutionary adaptive behaviors and enhanced sleeping behavior shown in starvation-resistant flies. This research will be published in the scientific journal, the Public Library of Science.
Regalado plans on continuing his research with Keene in preparation for graduate school. Even though he knew he wanted to work with mental processes since high school, his work with Keene has solidified his passion.
“By undergoing the exhaustive research process on my own, as well as reading groundbreaking papers, I have learned that I receive the most satisfaction whenever I am doing something related to research,” Regalado said.
One of Regalado’s biggest inspirations is Seymour Benzer, famous physicist, molecular biologist and behavioral geneticist. Regalado’s No. 1 goal is to make a great scientific discovery within his lifetime.