Gregory Gandarillas

Degree: Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences

College/School: College of Arts, Sciences & Education; School of Environment, Arts & Society

Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at age 3, Gregory Gandarillas understood early that he processes information differently than most people. He has spent much of his life focused on making friends and overcoming the challenges the developmental disorder presents.

Gregory’s father, an FIU alumnus in electrical engineering, encouraged him to apply to his alma mater. With an interest in understanding how the human brain functions, Gregory enrolled to pursue a degree in biological sciences.

As part of FIU’s Quantifying Biology in the Classroom — a program for undergraduates wanting a more in-depth approach to studying biology — Gregory excelled, working well independently and in groups through the active-learning approach used by many of his professors.  He worked in the lab of Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine Professor Irina Agoulnik helping identify causes and potential cures for prostate cancer. He served as a Peer Lead Team Learning leader, facilitating small-group learning in cellular biology courses. Gregory also worked in the lab of Physics Professor Angela Laird monitoring brain activity of students while they are learning physics, helping to identify best methods for teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.

Once wanting to find a cure for Asperger’s, Gregory now views his condition in a new way — not something that makes him better or worse, just different.. Gregory plans to apply to medical school. He wants to become a neurologist and dedicate his career to helping others like him.