A way to a healthy heart

Name: Ariel Garcia
Major: Biology
Year: Sophomore
Hometown: Granger, Indiana
Faculty mentor: Nancy Pelaez, associate professor, Biological Sciences

Her research: The overall goal of this research is to investigate a potential benefit of progesterone on menopausal women. “It’s been suggested that menopausal women are more at risk of heart attack, possibly as a result of the hormones that their bodies are no longer producing as much of, such as progesterone."

The nitty gritty: "Currently, we have been investigating rat tail artery relaxation and contraction rates for stages of the cycle where high levels of estrogen are present versus where high levels of progesterone are present. Pilot results of these experiments suggest that progesterone causes a faster relaxation rate, but has no effect on the rate of contraction within the tail arteries when compared to rates of contraction and relaxation in tail arteries of rats at high estrogen stages of their cycle.”

The impact: Ariel hopes to gain a fuller understanding of how natural levels of progesterone affect vasoconstriction. “It would be such an honor to find out any valuable information to contribute to studies that seek to prevent heart attacks.”

Getting to the bottom of things: Ariel enjoys learning about anatomy and physiology. “Even after I graduate, I want to continue to do research. One of the best ways to combat health ailments is to get to the root of the problem and perform experiments to figure out how to prevent the issue, or at least
mediate it.”

Global citizen: As the vice president of marketing and campus relations for Raising Awareness in International Medicine, Ariel visits Nicaragua every year to aid those in need of medical care. “This is a great opportunity for me to begin living my passion to serve people internationally.”

Guided right: Ariel says her mentor, Nancy Pelaez, has been a wonderful influence. “She meets with us once a week, helps us analyze the results and gives suggestions on the next experiments. She even spent an entire Saturday to help us get good data.”

By Kinnari Sejpal

See more examples of undergraduate research at Purdue