Roberto Efraín Díaz

By UM News

Roberto Efraín Díaz

By UM News
California-bound da Vinci Scholar will pursue his Ph.D. in biochemistry.

Roberto Efrain DiazFrom Pembroke Pines, Florida, Roberto Efraín Díaz, 22, is graduating with a major in neuroscience and with minors in chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology as well as general honors and departmental honors in neuroscience. In the fall, he will move across the country to San Francisco to pursue his Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to pursue his career as a scientist. His academic interest focuses on protein folding, which relates to how proteins take shape in order to function properly within cells.

During his four years at UM, Díaz was selected as a da Vinci Scholar. The da Vinci Program (DVP) in the UM College of Arts and Sciences is inspired by the artist, humanist and scientific genius Leonardo da Vinci and offers enhanced opportunities for incoming freshmen and sophomore students to explore the interdisciplinary connections among the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. Known as a painter, anatomist, engineer, architect, musician, stage set designer, mathematician, inventor and much more, da Vinci was the original “Renaissance Man.”

“My dad always encouraged me to read, and I usually chose books about psychology. While I was taking AP Psychology in my third year of high school, I was studying neuroanatomy, neurotransmitters and learning more about the biology behind psychology, I decided to pursue neuroscience as a major,” Díaz said. And this interest in both the humanities and STEM positively influenced his selection as a da Vinci Scholar.

Díaz’s long list of accomplishments include the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded program Initiative for Maximizing Student Development, and the general honors program. “I’m proud of establishing the first Nu Rho Psi national neuroscience honor society chapter in Florida. I’m also proud of participating in summer research programs at UM, the University of Michigan, and UCSF. These summer programs helped me develop critical skills for my career as a researcher,” said Díaz.

To establish the state’s first Nu Rho Psi chapter Díaz led the effort with more than 30 members of the honor society for students majoring in neuroscience. Díaz became the chapter’s president and established an executive board of fellow UM students for assistance with managing the club. The Nu Rho Psi members collaborated with neuroscience professors for events designed to educate the public about neuroscience such as “Brain Day,” which was held on campus during the 2016 spring semester. He hopes Nu Rho Psi will provide neuroscience majors an opportunity to be recognized for their academic accomplishments.