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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Florida International Postdoctoral Fellow Receives First Place Award at International Meeting

Dr. Kalynda Gonzales, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dean Tomás Guilarte at the FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, received the 1st Place Award for the postdoctoral poster competition at the 28th International Neurotoxicology Conference that took place September 25-28 at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

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[Photo: Dr. Kalynda Gonzales]

The topic of the conference was “Manganese Health Effects on Neurodevelopmental and Neurodegenerative Diseases.” Dr. Gonzales’ winning research presentation was entitled “Loss of striatal cholinergic interneurons in the presence of intact nigral dopaminergic neurons in early manganese-induced parkinsonism.”

The award ceremony and dinner took place at the New York Academy of Medicine where she was given the 1st place award, $500, and an annual subscription to NeuroToxicology. Speaking about this recognition, Dr. Gonzales stated: “It was quite exciting to present my new findings of striatal cholinergic degeneration in an animal model of environmentally-induced parkinsonism. These data are the first to definitively demonstrate neuronal loss resulting from chronic manganese exposure, bringing us closer to understanding atypical parkinsonism and finding a potential therapeutic target. It was a great honor to receive 1st place for my presentation of these findings in front of such a prestigious audience.”

Dr. Gonzales received a Bachelor of Science with Honors from the University of Massachusetts in Boston and a Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. For Dr. Gonzales, brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease are of particular interest because of the large, affected populations across the world and the current necessity for more efficacious treatments. This is why she has exposed herself for over twenty years to a variety of working environments, ranging from the clinic where she was a nursing and physical therapy assistant, to the science lab where she has studied abnormal brain circuitry in various parkinsonian animal models.

Dr. Tomás Guilarte, Dean of the FIU Stempel College and Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health, brought Dr. Gonzales to FIU with him when he joined the College in January 2016. Speaking about this new accomplishment, he stated: “I am very proud of Kalynda and her work, and she is another example of the great science that can be done at Stempel and FIU.”