Herpetologist Highlight

Herpetologist Highlight

Name:  Keira Lopez

Age: 21

Website / Twitter Handle / Instagram: Twitter: @keiralopz

Where do you work? Mackessy Lab at the University of Northern Colorado (UNCO)

Position: Undergraduate Research student where I am working on characterizing serine proteases in Crotalus viridis viridis (Prairie Rattlesnake) venom. I was able to present the first part of my research at the Tri-Beta conference (at Colorado State University) and at the UNCO Research Day.  I am learning so much about all the different equipment and procedures that are used in venom analysis labs. This includes using low pressure and high pressure liquid chromatography to purify proteins, and casting Tris-Glycine gels for electrophoresis and Western blots from scratch, and I have become the go-to person when someone needs a gel.

How did you get there? Learning through Engaging and Authentic Practices (LEAP) is a newer organization on campus. It is designed for a select group of first year college students who are mentored and encouraged to get involved academically. If I had not been a part of their second cohort my first year at UNC I might haven not joined a research lab. I decided to give back to LEAP by becoming a mentor, and next year will be my third year as a mentor for the incoming 2019-2020 freshmen.

Was there any particular hardship that you had to overcome to work in your position? No

What advice do you give to someone interested in your profession? What advice might you have for someone from an underrepresented group who is interested in entering your field?

Do not focus on competing against others. Compete against yourself and work on how you can improve, and ask for help!

What’s your favorite herp? Stiletto Snake (Burrowing Asp)

Why are you an HL member? I am becoming an active member in the herpetology community as a means to improving advocacy for myself and my research.

Is there anything else you would like to add? I am so thankful to be a part of a hardworking and fun research lab that is inclusive and supportive.

Is there a good caption for your attached photograph?

Fieldwork in Nebraska – It’s not for everyone!

Fieldwork in Nebraska – It’s not for everyone!
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