Maria Olubunmi Ogunyankin Marquez is an International Fulbright Science & Technology Fellow from Guatemala. She is pursuing a Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis in Biotechnology. With her advisor, Dr. Longo, Maria works with biomembranes, which serve as models of real biological membranes. She is engaged in an investigation of the effect of the curvature and crosslinking the lipid phase behavior in order to determine the effect that a high curvature has in the organization of the lipids of the cell membrane, which would improve understanding of different processes of the cell and/or specific membranes like the HIV virus in order to determine if there is some way to ‘slow down’ HIV replication by disrupting the phase behavior. With the crosslinking method, Maria is trying to understand how T cells behave. She is also designing drug delivery vehicles utilizing Microbubbles and utilizing different combinations of lipopolymers which can be a good delivery system for HIV therapy. It also could be applied to other diseases.
In Guatemala, Maria received a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Industrial Engineering from the Rafael Landivar University in Guatemala City. Her engineering thesis was recognized with the Laudatorian Award. While taking undergraduate courses, Maria worked at a pharmaceutical company. She also served on the faculty of the Engineering School at Rafael Landivar University. Maria believes that the combination of science and business is very important and received Master’s degrees in Administrative Engineering from Rafael Landivar University and Business Administration from the Atlantic International University in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Maria is an officer in the Graduate Student Organization of Chemical Engineering as well as the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) of UC Davis in order to develop projects for and by students. She plans to be involved in the future in projects related to HIV, cancer and/or malaria. She dreams of creating a research institute focused on the eradication of terminal diseases in developing countries.