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2021 Predoctoral Researchers


María José (“Majo”) Blanco Salazar

National Autonomous University of Mexico

María José Blanco Salazar has been doing research since high school, when she joined a summer research program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). That experience sparked a fascination with the mechanisms regulating gene expression, and especially the idea that understanding gene expression can have an impact on human health.

After high school, Blanco Salazar joined UNAM for a Basic Biomedical Research undergraduate program that allowed her to rotate in different laboratories each year. “I was thrilled to explore diverse scientific fields,” she says of her research, which included studying protein dynamics in yeast, signal transduction in proteobacteria, and epigenetics in the fruit fly, Drosophila.

Blanco Salazar’s interest in the Stowers Graduate School was piqued in 2017, when she saw Assistant Investigator Ariel Bazzini, PhD, give a talk about his research where one of his final slides shared information about the Summer Scholars program at the Grad School.

“As if by destiny, a few days later a friend from my undergrad program talked to me about her experience being part of the Stowers Summer Scholars program,” she says, “and I got excited about how fascinating the Stowers Institute sounded, not only in terms of research, as I had learned from Dr. Bazzini’s talk, but also in terms of the scientific environment.”

She joined the Bazzini Lab in the summer of 2019 for an eight-week internship, where she was delighted by the hands-on research experience and fascinated by the lab’s work on codon optimality and the novel mechanisms regulating mRNA stability. She also loved being able to discuss science with the other researchers and was impressed by the diverse and supportive environment. She decided it was the environment she wanted for her PhD experience.

When she’s not in the lab, Blanco Salazar enjoys hanging out with family and friends, singing, reading fantasy books, and spending time enjoying nature.