Fernando Rodriguez Pérez

Class of 2014
Cell and Developmental Biology
Rape Lab

What sparked your interest in science?

Growing up in a rural area in Mexico, I was blessed with beautiful night skies. At night, I would gaze at the stars wondering what was out there and where everything came from. When my father bought me a microscope for Christmas, I remember going to the garden and getting a thin piece of grass. When I looked through the eye piece, I saw a whole new world! Much like looking into the night skies, looking at that tiny piece of grass made question even more how things came to be. And since then I've been on this quest to try to find those answers. After immigrating to the United States, the language barrier made certain classes quite difficult. However, this wasn't the case for my math and science classes, and so they felt like "refuge" in an environment where everything else was difficult to understand.

What attracted you to UC Berkeley?

Berkeley has some of the best research in the world. The faculty here are so passionate about what their work, and that passion can be contagious! Besides the ground-breaking research that takes place every day in this beautiful campus, I got to say that the graduate students here played a pretty big role in my decision to come here. Every grad student I talked to when I was interviewing was so happy to be here, and they were all so passionate, as well. I was pleased to have found a program where one can do world-class research, and also be happy at the same time.

What are you currently working on in the lab?

In the Rape lab, my project focuses on trying to understand how developmental processes are regulated, more specifically how myogenesis is regulated. We hypothesize that because myogenesis occurs in such a short period of time, accompanied by very drastic cellular landscape changes, ubiquitin could be involved in this process. With this in mind, I want to uncover the role of ubiquitin in regulating the fundamental processes required for myogenesis.

Describe your ultimate dream/goal for your future.

I know the future can change a lot, and so I like to keep an open mind as to what I want to do in the future. I want to stay in academia and become a group leader at a research university, or at an institute. I think mentoring the younger generation of scientists, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, is extremely important and so Ideally I would want to end up in a position that allows me to do that. I also wouldn't mind staying here in the Bay Area.

When I'm not in the lab, I can be found...

The ancient Romans said, "sound mind, in sound body", and so I like to stay active and healthy! I enjoy going to the gym, or just kicking a soccer ball around with my MCB friends. I also really like exploring this area, it has so much to offer!  

If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice during your first year in graduate school, what would you say?

I had a major case of "impostor syndrome". And so I would like to tell myself that things will be okay! It's okay to not know. Also, don't be afraid to ask your PI questions! Or just asking questions in general. You're here to learn, no one expects you come in being an expert.