For Carlos Rico ’10, studying science at Hamilton College was “pure bliss.” “The professors were just so enthusiastic and loving of science, and it was very contagious,” says Rico, who was a chemical physics major and is pursuing a doctorate in the Tri-Institutional Training Program in Chemical Biology through The Rockefeller University.
Rico is studying G-protein coupled receptors, which are proteins located in the plasma membrane of cells and are important for cell-to-cell communication.
“We are interested in working with a subset of receptors, known as chemokine receptors, because they are involved in many roles, such as inflammation, cell trafficking, organ development, viral infection and cancer,” Rico explains.
In 2012, he won a prestigious National Science Foundation graduate fellowship that supports his research and, he says, “gives me the scientific freedom to pursue ideas of my own with support from my advisor.” When Rico finishes his doctorate, he wants to land a post-doctoral fellowship and then apply for academic positions.
“I would love to one day contribute to scientific knowledge by being able to answer a very difficult problem no one has ever been able to,” he says.