Searching at the synapse

Name: Peter “Joel” Mercado-Reyes
Major: Biochemistry
Year: Freshman
Hometown: Born in Apopka, Fla., but grew up in Indianapolis

Bound for greatness: Peter participated in the Science Bound program, which works with students in the Indianapolis Public School system to encourage them to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers. “Science Bound was a wonderful experience, a life-changing experience. It really has shaped my life,” he says. That drew him to campus most summers, as well as in between.

Years of research — already: The Science Bound program allowed him to connect with Purdue researchers such as Clark Gedney, a professor of biological sciences. “He is a man I truly revere in every sense of the word.” Peter has also worked in a lab at Eli Lilly.

Beachfront inspiration: Peter became interested in science at a very young age. “Growing up in Florida, I went to Sea World a lot as a kid. At that age, other kids wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer or police officer, but I wanted to be a marine biologist.”

Community connection: He’s ready for the increased freedom he’ll experience on campus and the diversity. He’s looking forward to “finally being able to have a community of people who are interested in the same things I’m interested in.”

Mysteries of the mind: Peter is enthralled by the biochemistry of the mind. He hopes to research how cognitive faculties like memory and creativity work at the molecular level. “It’s a surreal thought, but a simple chemical can not only change our perception of the world but who we are.”

No slacking here: Peter spent the summer at an internship at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis. His ultimate goal? “I want to be a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.”

By Kim Delker