Tatiana Barriga

Degree: B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Biological Sciences

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

Tatiana Barriga has a passion for learning and is committed to helping others. Her dedication to serve was evident in the four medical missions to the Dominican Republic she’s been a part of through the Knights of Malta — providing free medical care to those who cannot afford it. These unique experiences have inspired Tatiana to pursue a career in the medical field and give back by providing care.

Her journey to that medical degree starts with the completion of her B.A. in developmental psychology and her B.S. in biological sciences at FIU. As a freshman, Tatiana had the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of psychologist Shannon Pruden Dick by studying the effect of teachers’ use of spatial language in the classroom — words such as big, tall, circle, curvy — and how that relates to the way children learn math and science concepts.

Tatiana also worked with physicist Angela Laird to map the regions in the brain that are active during mental rotation tasks — a spatial ability skill critical to, and predictive of success in STEM disciplines. The goal is to learn what exactly happens in the brain as a person mentally rotates a perceived object. Research consistently shows significant sex differences in mental rotation, with males outperforming females. The work Tatiana has been able to be a part of alongside Pruden and Laird, may someday help explain those differences and help to address the underrepresentation of women in STEM.

Tatiana hopes to one day be a physician.