Kasandra Diaz-Santana

Graduate Student, Iowa State University


Do not let others and societal pressures dim your light.

What do you do?

I conduct research examining peripheral inflammatory markers in persons with Parkinson’s
disease and explore whether these markers are associated with specific motor impairment. Furthermore, I serve as the diversity
graduate student assistant for the College of Human Sciences Multicultural Liaison Officer
(MLO), through which I lead two sucessful learning communities.

Why did you choose this field?

I have loved science since I was a child. However,I realized I wanted to become a neuroscientist when my older brother suffered from a stroke that damaged 35% of his left hemisphere resulting in motor deficits and diminished brain function. After seeing the confounding effects of such insult on the brain, I was compelled to pursue a career in clinical research in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

When I obtained my bachelors in Psychobiology, and successfully became a first-generation graduate student.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Beyond the challenges, I love working in STEM because it allows me to do amazing collaborative work. It is because of this, that everyday I get to explore new ways to answer complex research questions, and learn tecniques and concepts that I would never have learned on my own. Also through STEM, I have gained a deep appreciation for the importance of mentorship and that is something that I look forward to everyday.

Best advice for next generation?

My advice for the next generation of girls in STEM would be that no matter what, stay true to yourself. There may be times where you want to question and change your abilities based on what others are doing and have, but, at the end of the day, being yourself is what have gotten you this far, so do not let others and societal pressures dim your light.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"She was unstoppable. Not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued despite them". Beau Taplin

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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