Posted: 4/21/22

Award-winning TAMIU Alum and Scientist Focuses Efforts on Community Outreach


Dr. Raul Ramos
Dr. Raul Ramos  

Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) alumnus Dr. Raul A. Ramos is committed to making a difference in his community and motivating future scientists. 

Dr. Ramos, who received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from TAMIU in 2014, completed the Neurobiology Course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in 2018 and recently obtained a Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience at Brandeis University. 

He will continue his research endeavors as a Miller Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley through a program that encourages early-career scientists of outstanding talent to pursue research.

While his journey has proven difficult at times, he has diligently worked to overcome obstacles, most notably due to the positive impact of role models in his own life.

“When I was a child, I fell through the cracks. I was expelled from school and then briefly incarcerated as a juvenile offender. I had successfully entered the school-to-prison pipeline, and the currents were swift. I couldn't save myself, but people from my community who saw and believed in me pulled me out. They were my lifeline. This experience instilled within me a deep appreciation for the value of community,” said Ramos. 

For Ramos, the opportunity to share his story and participate in outreach events is a chance for him to "pay it forward" and offer the support that was given to him throughout his youth. 

During his most recent visit to Laredo, Ramos made it a point to engage with TAMIU students, meeting with the students of a Biology Seminar class, as well as with student members of TAMIU’s  Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society and American Medical Student Association to talk about careers in science.

“When it comes to students, this outreach is crucial for two reasons. First, it allows me to give them important information and advice about pursuing a career in science. Second, because it allows me to be a role model for them,” said Ramos. 

To date, Ramos has spoken to over 500 individuals that range from university students, incarcerated youth, English-language learners, high school students and teachers. 

“It’s been an amazing experience that has inspired me to continue my work as a scientist. When things get challenging in the lab, I’m often motivated to persevere by the desire to be there for my community,” Ramos asserted. 

For his community engagement efforts, Ramos was awarded the Kathryn A. Day Award by the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science. This Award is granted to Miller Research Fellows who have demonstrated efforts towards community building and outreach in the support of science.

Ramos, whose first research experience at TAMIU came while working alongside former  University faculty member Dr. Christopher Ferguson, noted the impact of this opportunity and its value.  

“This experience was vital for my development as a researcher because working with Dr. Ferguson taught me what a career in science could look like. Additionally, it was a very positive experience overall, as it helped me have more optimistic expectations about my career,” Ramos emphasized. 

Ramos’ current research interests will examine the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs, including their potential to treat disorders of the nervous system.

“I am specifically interested in understanding how drugs like MDMA (also known as ecstasy) impact the somatic senses of our body. These include sensations like touch, itch, and pain. I’m hoping these drugs can be leveraged to treat sensory processing disorders, like tactile hypersensitivity, where gentle touch is perceived to be overwhelming,” said Ramos.  

Ramos has served as a Research Facilitator at the Marine Biological Laboratory and a Course Professor at Brandeis University, where he was awarded the Brandeis University Instructorship Prize. 

He has also been a recipient of the National Institute of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for his work on homeostatic synaptic scaling in associative learning and memory. 

His work has been published in various academic publications, including “Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience,” “Current Biology,” “Psychology of Popular Media Culture,” and others.

For individuals interested in pursuing a career in science, TAMIU currently offers several undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biology and Chemistry. Additional information on these degrees is available online at https://www.tamiu.edu/coas/biochem/programs.shtml.

Registration for Maymester, Summer and Fall 2022 is currently underway. For more information on TAMIU’s registration process, visit www.tamiu.edu/reghub. Prospective and transfer students can visit a dedicated webpage at www.tamiu.edu/prospect