SWOSU's Dr. Andrea Holgado Honored with National Award


Dr. Andrea Holgado
SWOSU Assistant Professor Dr. Andrea Holgado (center) of Weatherford received national recognition winning the Sidney A. McNairy, Jr. Mentoring Award at the recent Institutional Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Symposium in Washington, D. C. Congratulating Holgado are (left) Dr. Sydney McNairy, NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and (right) Oklahoma INBRE Program Director Darrin Akins.

SWOSU Assistant Professor Dr. Andrea Holgado of Weatherford has received national recognition winning the Sidney A. McNairy, Jr. Mentoring Award.

Holgado, a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences, was selected for the award by the Institutional Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program for her accomplishments in mentoring students, research productivity and recognition by the community of scientists via research publications, presentations and community service.   

Scientists and students from 23 states and Puerto Rico participated in the selection of Holgado for the prestigious award.  She recently received the award at the Washington D.C. Biennial INBRE Symposium.

Holgado has received pilot project funding from the Oklahoma INBRE program in past years and has been able to leverage the modest funding for major national grant awards.  In the last four years, she secured $1 million in extramural funding for her undergraduate research and mentoring endeavors at SWOSU.  She recently acquired a major Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) funding award from the National Science Foundation. 

Since she accepted her appointment at SWOSU in 2008, Holgado has mentored 33 undergraduate students, many of which were awarded intramural and extramural scholarships, including NSF-REU, OK-INBRE, NASA, and Tri Beta awards.  The majority of her graduating students have continued their education at graduate and professional programs around the country.

The focus of Holgado’s research is synaptic function and structure, one major topic affecting the growing number of aging citizens in the United States.  Holgado and her colleagues have characterized key neuronal players and deciphered their role in synaptic vesicle recycling and synaptic transmission.  Recently, using a novel nematode mutant model system, Holgado and her research group revealed that mutations in the vsm-1 gene (v-SNARE master protein 1) dramatically alter the formation of synaptic connections.  The changes in neuronal connectivity are thought to play a role in learning and recalling new memories.  Therefore, the major current focus of her laboratory is to identify the molecular and connectivity bases of enhanced synaptic function in health and disease. 

In the past four years, her group has presented over 60 oral scientific papers.  She has taken students to several national meetings, including Neuroscience 2011 at Washington D.C., Neuroscience 2010 at San Diego, Biennial National IDeA Symposium of Biomedical Research at Washington D.C., and American Cell Biology meeting at San Diego.  Recently, she attended the Tri Beta National Convention in Puerto Rico where her students won first place in the national oral and poster presentation in the molecular biology section.  Additionally, she just received a research assistantship for high school students from NSF that allow her to provide mentoring for students at the high school level.

“Dr. Holgado and the OK-INBRE program have raised the bar for future award recipients,” Dr. Sydney McNairy said after presenting Holgado with the 2012 Sydney McNairy Jr. Mentoring Award.

For more information on opportunities for research in neuroscience at SWOSU, contact Holgado at andrea.holgado@swosu.edu.