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UDLAP Graduate Obtains the Charles Darwin Award in Psychology

Havana, Cuba. Angélica Castro Méndez, a recent graduate from Universidad de las Américas Puebla, presented her thesis on metabolic syndrome before the experimental psychology group of the Inter American Society of Psychology (ISP), earning the Charles Darwin Award for young researchers in experimental and compared psychology.

A few months ago, the UDLAP graduate went to San Diego, California to present the first advances of her thesis, about morphological changes in different parts of the brain due to metabolic syndrome in animals, before the world’s most important congress on neuroscience. Then she attended the XXVII Interamerican Society of Psychology congress to present the second part of her project, which will be transcendental due to the results.

“We analyzed the CA1 hippocampus, dentate gyrus and prefrontal cortex layer 3 for their implication in memory, attention, and decision-making. We found that there is a decrease in arborization of the dendritic length when comparing obese and healthy [animal models],” explained Angélica Castro, who added that samples were taken of three strains: one diabetic and obese, the other with predisposition to both syndromes, and one that was relatively healthy.

With this project, the UDLAP Honor’s Program graduate earned the Charles Darwin Award by demonstrating that there is cognitive damage in memory, attention, and decision-making deficiency in living beings who are obese, an important result for the world. “I am very happy, satisfied and proud, as well as thankful to all the people who have been involved and have supported my project”, expressed the former UDLAP Clinical Psychology student.

This award was given during the XXVII ISP Congress, where Castro Méndez gave a ten-minute presentation before a jury of international members who gave their verdict due to the validity and importance that it has for the psychology field. Besides the award, this encounter with colleagues allowed her to meet people from all over the world and propose different projects. “Among the people I met were several doctors and post-docs. For example, I met a student of neuropsychology from Brazil and several presenters from Chile. This created an environment of collaboration that may lead to a stay in their labs or to carry out joint research”, she said.

It is important to mention that this work is a team effort with noted researchers like Dr. Rubén Vásquez-Roque and Dr. Julio César Penagos Corzo, both UDLAP faculty. This is the second occasion that a graduate from Universidad de las Américas Puebla receives the Charles Darwin prize for young researchers. In 2017 Sofía Navarro Báez achieved it in the pre-graduate category for her work Mindfulness Effects in Amplitude and Latency of P1 During Affective Priming Tasks.