Anibal Tornes Blanco

PIBS Student Outreach Representatives

Program: Biological Chemistry

Lab: Scott Pletcher Lab

Email: [email protected]

Research Focus: Defining circuits and metabolically associated neuromodulation of social interactions


I graduated from The University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras (UPR-RP) in 2019 with a B.Sc. in Integrative Biology. My time as an undergrad was filled with research experiences across three summers with my first research opportunity being at the University of Minnesota (UMN) working with addiction in mice. My second work at UMN was related to vaccine development, and my third research program at the University of Pittsburgh was related to making electronic medical records extract and highlight valuable information for predictive models to support physicians as they diagnose. Moreover, I was a Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE-UPR) scholar and was able to do research at my institution related to bacterial transmission vector models as well as work with a group to launch a micrometeorite collector to space with a NASA collaboration! With this amount of research, I applied to 10 graduate programs and did not get interviews for any, so I applied for a Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). During this one-year research experience, I significantly grew even more as a scientist and overcame many of the insecurities that I gained after being rejected from graduate school. This journey concluded with my second round of applications for graduate school in which I was accepted to the 10 graduate schools I had been rejected the previous year and chose the University of Michigan (UM) for my Ph.D. work. The Latine community at UM was remarkable and everyone I met had a genuine interest in my success, which were the main reasons I chose UM and have grown tremendously from there. I worked my first year and a half on developing synthetic scaffolds that could bind to epigenetic modifications in DNA and tether them. However, I changed labs coming into my second year and joined Dr.Scott Pletcher’s group focusing on aging-related diseases and how the brain controls the aging process. In this group, I have taken all the interdisciplinary knowledge I have acquired through the years to pool it together as I am constantly exposed to new techniques that I and others in my group develop to achieve my work defining circuits and metabolically associated neuromodulation of social interactions in D.melanogaster.