Veteran Scholars – Aztec Proud

The San Diego State University IMSD Program is proud to serve students who are veterans and welcome them in our program. Please read brief bios about our most recent veteran graduates!

Robert Vasquez: SDSU Graduate 2016
Undergrad Major: Chemistry
Current Position: 1st year PhD student at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor



In mid-2006, Robert enlisted in the United States Air Force (USAF) under the category of “general mechanic” and was assigned to the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 18th APG Crew Chief Section at Eielson AFB, Alaska. His squadron’s mission was to conduct realistic aerial war games to train pilots and make them combat ready, and Robert’s job was to maintain, repair, and launch or recover F-16 fighter aircraft that were the “aggressors.”  Robert shares, “My work on the flight line brought me in close contact with foreign military personnel as well as airmen from all corners of the United States. The USAF is an organization that dedicates itself to diversity because institutionalizing diversity is necessary to mission success. Similarly, IMSD is another organization that thrives due to its inclusive nature. My military career and training under IMSD has prepared me to work with students and professors of all creeds and nationalities. I understand the importance of diversity and how it can make decision making more agile, innovative, and effective as I collaborate in my research career.”

Katrina Cable: SDSU Graduate 2015
Undergrad Major: Biology
Current Position: 2nd year PhD student at the University of Colorado at Anschutz Medical

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Having served 10 years in the U.S. Navy Katrina was able to advance successfully to First Class Petty Officer. She worked several years in multiple hospitals, working as an EMT, primary care medical technician, and as a medical liaison for deployed service members. Additionally she helped commission the brand new USS New Orleans, where she created and implemented medical programs and treated patients in the clinic. Katrina shares: “Although I have gained enumerable skills from these experiences, the development of my perseverance, public speaking ability, and self-confidence have shown brightest during my academic pursuits and enabled me to excel in the IMSD NIH Scholarship program at SDSU. The IMSD program continued my development by providing every opportunity to become competitive including funding my attendance to national conferences and research/graduate school workshops. The list is much longer, but the each of these resources was critical to my ability to get into my Ph.D. program, obtain the NSF as a graduate student, and transition smoothly into graduate school.”

Priscila Rodriguez, Current SDSU IMSD Scholar
Undergrad Major: Biology
Class of 2018


Priscila recently transferred from Southwestern Community College and was admitted to the IMSD program in the summer of 2016. She spent her first year in Dr. Ricardo Zayas’ stem cell lab, but has recently joined Dr. Joy Phillips’ lab, where she hopes to focus her study on the effects of long term use antibiotics on the immune system. Not only is Priscila an Army Veteran, she is an outstanding student and a mother of two teen boys. She will receive her Bachelors of Science in biology next spring and is gearing up to apply to PhD Programs in Immunology during the Fall of 2017.


The SDSU IMSD Program proudly serves our veterans who have served our country. If you or someone you know is a veteran and is interested in pursuing their PhD in the STEM fields, please send them to GMCS 322C to visit our program manager, Brittnie Bloom.

For other services on campus for veterans, please visit