Jose Renteria


Jose Smiling

KAUST Red Sea Workshop

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, with a minor in Forensics
College: Natural and Social Sciences
Class of 2021

Research experience name, location (city/state/country), and a brief overview of your role:

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Red Sea Workshop in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. For the three weeks of the workshop, I was part of the microbiology group that was assigned to collect microorganisms at different depths of the Red Sea, filter out excess water using sophisticated techniques. Then, we used flow cytometry to observe the abundance of bacteria in the seawater. Lastly, DNA extraction, PCR, and gel electrophoresis were used for bacterial identification by using the 16S rRNA gene sequence. This opportunity was fully funded by the KAUST Red Sea Program through their research scholarship program.

What are your future career goals?

As of now, I plan to change my major from biology to microbiology. In addition, I want to declare a forensics major because I still have a passion for this field, even though I am putting all of my focus for microbiology. After I get my bachelor's degree in microbiology, I plan to earn my master’s in environmental microbiology.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

As of now, I have a position at the University Tutoring Center to help students that need extra help in Chemistry 1100. In addition, I will continue to become a private freelance tutor for Chemistry 1100 and Chemistry 1110 in Fall 2019. Furthermore, I plan to become a member of the LSAMP council to plan activities and mentor other students.

What did you learn the most during this experience?

What I learned during this experience is the significance of 16S rRNA gene sequence, flow cytometry and its implications, and to further improve my laboratory skills.

What has been your greatest challenge during this experience?

The greatest challenge of this experience was leaving home and living in Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea. I have never traveled anywhere else outside of California. Throughout the workshop, I felt homesick and wondered what was happening at home, but I told myself to make my family proud by putting my attention towards this workshop.

What tips can you give other students in your major?

One tip I can provide for those interested in this workshop, and other programs, is to always ask questions and never be afraid to do so. I had trouble with my visa stamp at first, but I asked Jessica Rodriguez, my coordinator Ms. Mary Ann Valle, and the Saudi Arabia Embassy for assistance and all were happy to do help and the issue was resolved.

How has this experience affected your career goal and ambitions?

This workshop helped me with my "career crisis". To further clarify, I went to this workshop for one reason: to find a suitable career path I wanted, and I did. I began to develop an interest in microbiology to a point where I want to change my major. The reason microbiology was so interesting to me was its application to the environment, like cleaning harmful pollutants.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I want people to know that I am a strong, independent, Mexican-American who grew up in a disadvantaged neighborhood and that I will make a name for myself. I sacrificed so much to be where I am today, and I never regretted it. In addition, I put myself on the line to attend this workshop because I want to put myself in an unfamiliar area to become someone that I can be proud of; opportunities like these are rare for people like me and I wanted to take advantage of this moment.

KAUST Red Sea Program: