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Meet Postdoc Alberto Ayala-Sarmiento, PhD

Meet Our Postdocs is an occasional series featuring our postdoc students

Alberto Ayala-Sarmiento, PhDAlberto Ayala-Sarmiento, PhD, a postdoctoral scientist in the Breunig Lab, is focusing primarily on tumor modeling through genetic engineering and the development of new transgenesis tools. 

Ayala-Sarmiento was one of three Cedars-Sinai postdocs who won the art-in-research contest last year during National Postdoc Appreciation Week. His image showed a mouse brain with an early-stage brain tumor. 

Here, we learn more about what inspired Ayala-Sarmiento to become a scientist and how he hopes to make an impact in the world.

What inspired you to become a scientist?  

After reading Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene, I became fascinated by the way in which biological phenomena could be deciphered through science.

Who is your science hero?

I admire many scientists, but my hero is Victor Frankenstein, a fictional character from “Frankenweenie.” He reminds me that science isn’t only driven by our minds. 

What has been your greatest scientific achievement in your career so far?

I wouldn’t say I have just one greatest scientific achievement. I think each one is equally important for solving the respective question and/or problem.

What helps you overcome a rut or period where you’re stuck in the same place with research or science in general? 

When this happens, I find myself needing to disconnect from science. For example, I’ll go for a run or I’ll go to the movies, and I’ll reflect when I feel calm. 

What is your favorite thing about science and research? 

The nerves I feel before verifying the results of a key experiment and the joy after a new discovery are some things that really give meaning to what I do. 

How do you want to change the world? 

By developing new technologies. Even if they all don’t make it, I hope they serve as the basis for other technologies that will successfully reach society.