• mvelezq@gmail.com

Education

PhD
Howard University (HU), Biology (Microbiology), May 2013
Dissertation: “Study of Viable Airborne Bacterial Populations in Mali using Phenotypic and Phylogenetic Characterization”
Committee: Broderick Eribo, Ph.D. (advisor), Winston Anderson, Ph.D. (chair), Vernon Morris, Ph.D. and Courtney Robinson, Ph.D.

BS
Universidad Metropolitana (UMET), Biology, May 2004
Science Honor Student

Scholarships and Awards

  • NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) Fellowship 2012-13
  • Environmental Protection Agency/ Greater Research Opportunities (EPA/GRO) Fellowship 2008-12
  • National Science Foundation – HRD (RISE) Fellowship 2007
  • NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) Fellowship 2005-06
  • Howard University NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences 1st place Oral Presentation Undergraduate Summer Internship Program 2005
  • Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees Of Success in Earth System Science Program (MS PHDS)
  • Professional Developmental Program 2004
  • Class 2004 Science Honor Student 2004
  • PRHONOR Program, National Science Foundation/Model Institution
    For Excellence (MIE) Scholarship. 2000-04
  • NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and Howard University Fellowship for Atmospheric Sciences (GoHFAS)
  • Summer Internship 2001

Research Experience

Dissertation, Howard University, Washington, D.C.            2006- present

Advisor: Broderick B. Eribo, Ph.D   email: beribo@howard.edu

  • Title of Ph.D. Dissertation: Study of Airborne Bacterial Population in Urban Areas using Phenotypic and Phylogenetic Characterization
  • Description: The total microbial population of air samples was characterized using both, culturable and non-culturable techniques, including 16S rRNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. In addition to the microbiological analysis of the air samples, the meteorological conditions of the collection site were collected. Our goals were to identify and characterize airborne microorganisms and to make a correlation between bacterial species in the air and changes in the atmospheric conditions (temperature, heat index, humidity, wind speed and direction) at the site of collection.

J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), Rockville, M.D.            June-Dec/2008

Research Fellow, Supervisor: Karen E. Nelson, Ph. D.  email: Kenelson@jcvi.org

  • Project: Successful detection of limited quantities of DNA on ambient air filters using adapted approaches
  • Description: In this study, four DNA extraction and three pretreatment methods were compared, modified and analyzed. All the methods tested included: DNA extraction directly from air samples, 16S rRNA amplification and sequencing techniques. Our goals were to compare the performance of the innovative methods with other widely used DNA extraction methods on air samples collected on filter membranes, and to provide a tool that will allow bacteria to be identified and ultimately monitored in the air using a fast and relatively inexpensive approach.
  • Number of hours/week: 20 hours Salary: $25/hr

NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS)             June-Dec/2005

Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Research Fellow, Advisor: Vernon Morris, Ph. D          email: vmorris@howard.edu

  • Project: Microphysical and Chemical Analysis of Saharan Dust Particles Collected in La Parguera, Puerto Rico and AEROSE-04
  • Description: Use of Jeol JSM-6360LV Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Energy Dispersive X-Ray Microanalysis (EDAX) to determine the chemical and morphological characteristics of Saharan dust particles.  Our goal was to determine individual particle diameter, crystal formation characteristics and chemical composition.

Summer Biomedical Training Program, University of                                     June-July/2003

Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Baltimore, M.D.

Summer Intern, Advisor: Mauricio Bustos, Ph. D

  • Project: RNA interference (RNAi) analysis of the function of the

ubiquitin protein ligase gene At2g47700 in Arabidopsis thaliana.

  • Description: Use RNA interference (RNAi) strategy to reduce or eliminate the expression of the At2g47700 gene. Our goal was to determine its function in plant development and characterize phenotypic changes that may occur in comparison with wild type Arabidopsis thaliana.

NASA EPSCoR/ Collaborative Research Program, Benedict             June-July/2002

College, Columbia, S.C.

Summer Intern, Advisor: Larry L. Lowe, Ph. D.

  • Project: Synthesis and Cloning of Micro gravity Activated cDNA Genes.
  • Description: Isolation and cloning of unique cDNAs generated by means of mRNA differential display-PCR from total RNA extracted from skeletal muscles of adult male rats exposed to and not exposed to simulated microgravity (overload-induced injury) Our goal was to determine whether these genes could be associated with known families of genes implicated in the regeneration or repair of atrophying skeletal muscles.

Universidad Metropolitana (UMET), San Juan, P.R.            2001

Research Assistant, Advisor: Lycely Sepulveda, Ph. D.

  • Project: Isolation and Characterization of Pseudomonas stutzeri strains from Puerto Rican samples.
    • Description: Use of culture dependent methods for the isolation and characterization of Pseudomonas stutzeri bacterial strain from different environmental samples including water, sediments, wastewater treatment plants and soil from different places of Puerto Rico. Our goal was to be able to isolate and possibly find new denitrifying bacteria, which could help us with contamination problems.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)             June-July/2001

and Climate Prediction Center (CPC), Goddard Space Flight Center/Howard University Fellowship in Atmospheric Sciences (GoHFAS) Summer Program,

Howard University, Washington D.C.

Summer Intern, Advisor: R.W. Higgins, Ph.D.

  • Project: Relationship between Temperature and El Nino Southern Oscilation in the United States.
    • Description: Analyze data and compare the normal temperature patterns with the temperature patterns in El Nino years.

Teaching Experience

Howard University, Washington, D.C.            June-July/2012

Research mentor, HU NCAS Summer Research Internship Program

  • In collaboration with other mentors, undergraduate students learned how to operate standard laboratory equipment, read and interpret data from scientific instruments or equipment. They also learned how to compose and produce reports, documents and related material and, communicate information and ideas in writing and orally. My contribution was to train the undergraduate student on how to use software programs to produce phylogenetic trees using bacterial sequencing data. I also helped with the interpretation of results and related material. At the end of the period, the student had the opportunity to present the results of the research in a research symposium.

Howard University, Washington, D.C.            May/2007 to May/2012

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Biology Department

  • Taught General Microbiology Laboratory, an undergraduate course averaging 25 students per semester, covering the following topics: Media preparation, microscopy, use and application of API 20 strips, analysis and interpretation of bacterial physiological and biochemical characteristics, isolation of bacterial species from the environment using culture dependent methods, PCR technology, 16S rRNA technology, agarose gel electrophoresis, plasmid isolation, bacterial transformation, GeneBank database search and phylogenetics.
  • Developed quizzes, exams, and homework
  • Coordinated grading and labs with a team of 5 teaching assistants

Universidad Metropolitana (UMET), San Juan, P.R.             2005

Research mentor, Saturday Research Academy (Pre-college program)

  • Taught pre-college high school students the use of the scientific method to solve environmental problems during a sixteen (16) week period. Part of the teachings included the development of a research study. During this period, students learned how to operate standard laboratory equipment, read and interpret data from scientific instruments or equipment. Enter, transcribe, record, store or maintain information in either written or electronic form. At the end they learned how to compose and produce reports, documents and related material and, communicate information and ideas in writing and orally. At the end of the period, the students had the opportunity to present their results of the research in the Pre-College research Symposium.

Luis Munoz Rivera Elementary School, San Juan, P.R.             2005

Teacher assistant

  • Assist the teacher with grading quizzes, exams and homework.

Publications

Conference Papers

(Abstract-Reviewed)

Velez-Quinones, M.A., Nelson, K.E., Morris, V.R., Robinson, C.J., Koita, O. and Eribo, B.E., “Analyses of Viable Airborne Bacteria in Bamako, Mali: Potential Sources and Transport Patterns”, American Society for Microbiology 113th General Meeting, May 18-21, 2013, pp. 1174.

Velez-Quinones, M.A., Morris, V.R., Eribo, B. and Nelson, K.E., “Study of viable airborne bacterial populations in Mali using phenotypic and phylogenetic characterization”, First International Workshop on the long-range transport and impacts of African dust on the Americas, Oct. 6-7, 2011, pp. P-020.

Velez-Quinones, M.A., Morris, V.R. and Nelson, K.E., “Application of genomic method for the detection and identification of airborne microbial DNA.” NOAA Office of Education Fifth Annual Education and Science Forum, November 12-14, 2009, pp. P1.46

Velez-Quinones, M.A., Morris, V.R. and Nelson, K.E., “Study of airborne microbial diversity in Mali using phenotypic and genomic technology.” SACNAS National Conference, October 9-12, 2008, pp. 96

Presentations

Poster presentation, “Analyses of Viable Airborne Bacteria in Bamako, Mali: Potential Sources and Transport Patterns” American Society for Microbiology 113th General Meeting, Denver, C.O., May 2013

Poster presentation, “Study of Viable Airborne Bacterial Populations in Mali using Phenotypic and Phylogenetic Characterization.” First International Workshop on the Long-Range Transport and Impacts of African Dust on the Americas, San Juan, P.R., October 2011

Poster presentation, “Application of genomic method for the detection and identification of airborne microbial DNA.” NOAA Office of Education Fifth Annual Education and Science Forum, Washington, D.C., November 2009.

Poster presentation, “Study of airborne microbial diversity in Mali using phenotypic and genomic technology.” SACNAS National Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 2008.

Oral presentation “RNA interference analysis of the function of the ubiquitin protein ligase gene At2g47700 in Arabidopsis thaliana.” XIV Undergraduate Research Symposium, UMET, Puerto Rico, October 2003.

Poster presentation, “RNA interference analysis of the function of the ubiquitin protein ligase gene At2g47700 in Arabidopsis thaliana.” SACNAS National Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, September 2003

Poster presentation “Synthesis and Cloning of Micro gravity Activated cDNA Genes.” XIII Undergraduate Research Symposium, UMET, Puerto Rico, October 2002

Poster presentation,  “Synthesis and Cloning of Micro gravity Activated cDNA Genes.”  SACNAS National Conference, Anaheim, California, September 2002.

Oral presentation, “Isolation and Characterization of Pseudomonas stutzeri strains from Puerto Rican samples.”  Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium, UMET, Puerto Rico, May 2002

Poster presentation,  “ Relationship between Temperature and El Nino Southern Oscillation in the United States.” XII Undergraduate Research Symposium, UMET, Puerto Rico, October 2001.

Poster presentation,  “ Relationship between Temperature and El Nino Southern Oscillation in the United States.” SACNAS National Conference, Phoenix, Arizona, September 2001.

Poster presentation,  “ Relationship between Temperature and El Nino Southern Oscillation in the United States.” National MIE Conference, UTEP, Texas, 2001.

Professional Training/ Conferences attended

American Society for Microbiology 113th General Meeting

Denver, C.O., May 2013

First International Workshop on the Long-Range Transport and Impacts of African Dust on the Americas

San Juan, P.R., October 2011

Preparing for an academic career in the geosciences

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, July 2009

2009 EPA STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference

American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C., September 2009

Gordon Research Conferences: Molecular Basis of Microbial One-Carbon Metabolism Magdalen College, Oxford, England. August 2006

Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) Annual Meeting

University of South Florida, Saint Petersburg, July 2005

Joint Oceanographic Institution (JOI) Bering Sea Drilling Workshop

Fairbanks, Alaska, 2005

Description: I was awarded by JOI in collaboration with MSPHDs professional developmental program an entrée into the workshop with the aim to be expose into the world of global science and science program management. I was paired with a mentor who provided context and answered questions about the proposals or discussions taken in place.

The Ocean Carbon System: Recent Advances and Future Opportunities”: An Ocean Carbon and Climate Change (OCCC) Workshop

Woods Hole, MA, August 1-4, 2005

Description:  I was awarded by WHOI in collaboration with MSPHDs professional developmental program an entrée into the workshop with the aim to be expose into the world of global science and science program management. I was paired with a mentor who provided context and answered questions about the proposals or discussions taken in place.

American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting

San Francisco, California December 2004

New Mexico Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate (NMAGEN)

Las Cruces, N.M.  2004

SACNAS National Conference

Austin, TX, September 2004

Professional Affiliations

American Society for Microbiology (ASM), 2009-Present

Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), 2001-Present

Languages

English: Superior Reading and Writing, Advance Listener and Speaker

Spanish: Native Language

Skills

Applications

Superior level in Word, Excel, Power Point and Intermediate level in Origin 7.0, Image J, Endnote X1 and Adobe Photoshop CS 4

Bioinformatics

Database- NCBI Nucleotide GenBank, Ribosomal Database Project, Novice level in SQL

Sequence Analysis- FASTA, EMBL-EBI ClustalW2, MAFFT 6, PHYLIP 3.5c and Phylogeny.fr “One-Click”

Laboratory

General Microbiology Techniques including: culturing, preparation of media, microscope, API 20 strips, analysis of bacterial physiological characteristics, isolation of bacterial species from the environment, isolation of pathogenic bacteria from body parts and much more.

General Molecular Biology Techniques including: RT-PCR, PCR technology, restriction enzyme digestion and analysis, DNA cloning and vector systems, Gateway cloning, agarose gel electrophoresis, spectrophotometer, mutagenesis – UV induced, isolation of bacterial species directly from the environment (non-culture dependent), 16S rRNA technology, plasmid isolation, bacterial transformation, gene expression, DNA fingerprinting, Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) to track gene expression, Southern blot, Northern blot, Western blot, DNA microarrays, bacterial transformation, Helena Titan III cellulose acetate protein electrophoresis system, and much more.

References

Dr. Broderick Eribo, Associate Professor

Biology Department

Howard University

414 College Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20059

Phone: (202) 806-6937/4165

Email: beribo@howard.edu

 

Dr. Vernon Morris, Associate Professor

Chemistry Department and Program in Atmospheric Sciences

Howard University

525 College Street NW, Washington, D.C. 200059

Phone: (202) 865-8536

Email: vmorris@howard.edu