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Daniela Alvarez

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

College/School: School of Integrated Science and Humanity, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Daniela Alvarez Londoño was 5 years old when her family moved to Miami from Colombia in search of a better life. The sacrifices her parents made crafted a path to success for Daniela. Their vision for her — a college education.

Daniela shared in that vision early on. While in high school, she took an AP psychology class and applied what she learned there at home with her brother and sister, then just 3 and 5 years old. If she could help them grow up with a stronger sense of self-esteem and do well in school, she wanted to make sure other children had the same opportunity. She was determined to pursue a degree in developmental psychology.

At FIU Daniela focused her research on understanding why there is a gender gap in the STEM disciplines. With the guidance of psychology professor Shannon Pruden, Daniela found that sex differences in mental rotation ability – how we mentally manipulate, retain and retrieve information about dynamic 3D objects – are explained by spatial anxiety, such as anxiety about navigating about the world or following a diagram. This suggests the gender gap in STEM may be a product of something that’s treatable and manageable.

The Honors College student credits the National Institutes of Health’s MARC U*STAR program for providing the financial support to conduct her research and travel for conference presentations.

After graduation, Daniela is heading to the University of California Irvine to pursue a Ph.D. in education.

By Ayleen Barbel-Fattal
Account Manager, College of Arts, Sciences & Education