Joseph Nunez was a member of the Campuswide Honors Program’s founding group of students in 1988, a self-confessed member of the “guinea pig” group that experienced a newly-formed CHP. At that time, UCI had 15,000 students, in contrast to today’s count of 24,000.
Joseph fondly remembers a dorm room with a view of the Back Bay, Saturday morning runs around campus, Coffee Hour, and cultural events. He also participated in the CHP’s first summer program. He writes: “The summer honors program is my favorite memory. The five weeks the 11 of us (or something like that) spent on campus – having one-on-one meetings with faculty, taking small classes, goofing off and getting lost while trying to navigate the always under construction campus of UCI was great.”
Joseph majored in Biological Sciences at UCI, and credits the research he did as an undergraduate with confirming his career choice. “The CHP helped a great deal by pushing me to pursue independent lab research at a young age. (I began performing research in the McGaugh lab as a sophomore.) This was invaluable in knowing if this career was right for me.” After graduating from UCI, he attended the University of Illinois, where he received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2000, and then did postdoctoral research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he met his future wife, Jennifer. They were married in 2004, the same year that Joseph landed his first choice job at Michigan State University. He is an Assistant Professor in the Neuroscience Program and the Department of Psychology, where he is researching the effects of deleterious events on fetal development, from the relatively minor effects of caffeine consumption to major events like lack of oxygen/diminished blood flow to the fetus.
Joseph and Jennifer live in Lansing, Michigan. They are expecting a baby boy in June. He enjoys soccer, working out and traveling in his spare time, but particularly enjoys being a professor: “Being a professor at a university such as MSU is great. Not only do I get to do what I love every day of the week, I can also make a real difference with the research I pursue. I hope that as a professor I can stimulate the next generations to use biological science to both enrich our understanding and attenuate dysfunctions resulting from traumatic events that impinge upon the developing fetus.”