The application for the 2014-15 PREP program will be available in January 2014.
Amarylis Velez-Perez is an alumna of the 2009-2010 PREP program, where she distinguished herself as an exceptional scholar and researcher. Before coming to UMass, she obtained her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.
Velez-Perez was placed in UnJa Hayes’s laboratory for the duration of the PREP internship, and studied the onset of maternal care at the behavioral, physiological, neuroanamatomical and cellular levels.
“I was able to refine skills that I already had as a social scientist that are transferable across disciplines, such as critical thinking, time management, and communication skills,” Velez-Perez explained.
In addition, she said that the PREP program gave her a chance to experience the graduate school environment before applying. “[It] provided me with the laboratory experience I was looking for to become a more competitive applicant for graduate school…and the opportunity to become acquainted with translation of basic science to clinical applications.”
Now in her second year as a Ph.D. student at UMass, Velez-Perez is trying to understand the role that genito-sensory information and ovarian hormones play in the onset of maternal behaviors in prairie voles. She hopes her research may help protect new mothers from postpartum depression.
Amarylis’s advice to prospective PREP students: “Challenge yourself by stretching out of your 'academic' comfort zone and come to UMass!”