"At the summit, I learned about work that was being done related to childhood adversity," he says. "Seeing all this research devoted to addressing the kind of inequities I saw growing up inspired me. I always thought certain issues were just an inevitable part of the environment I was in. I never thought people were doing practical research to address these obstacles. I've found something I was passionate about that I didn't even know I was passionate about."
Helping students fulfill their potential
Marquez made the switch from West Coast to East Coast for two reasons: the opportunity to conduct health disparities research with Brown faculty and the financial assistance he receives to support his studies.
"I was offered a research assistantship and a graduate fellowship," he says. "Without that, I might not have been able to choose Brown."
Through the BrownTogether campaign, Brown has put a particular emphasis on raising funding for graduate fellowships. For many, graduate school is an expensive proposition, and too often students decide against it due to financial concerns.
With his focus trained on his studies and not on financial demands thanks to his assistantship and fellowship, Marquez has been able to conduct research with Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences Patricia Risica, who collaborates with colleagues Audry Tyrka M.D., Ph.D. and Karen Jennings Ph.D., RN to examine the effects of childhood trauma and maltreatment on adult diet and obesity risk. This work includes analysis of a large data set to identify potentially important causal relationships.
"Francisco has been an excellent team member," says Dr. Risica. "He has outstanding research abilities, independence, creativity, and a passionate approach towards his work. The collaborative work between Francisco and [our] study has been tremendously beneficial for both groups. The research has been significantly furthered, while also providing him with an opportunity to immerse himself in a topic and clinical content area that may result in an important career path choice."
Marquez's personal thesis is based on this work, as well. In it, he investigates the associations between early-life trauma and adult dietary habits.
"Being exposed to such brilliant faculty here at Brown has been a great experience," he says. "I appreciate the opportunity to learn how to conduct research with them. It's exciting to take part in their research and have them take part in mine."
Gaining real-world experience
The School of Public Health supports students like Marquez in pursuing meaningful engagement beyond Brown, contributing to the positive impact the University has on the surrounding community.
Marquez has chosen to spend time volunteering at Clínica Esperanza, a clinic for the uninsured in Providence.