Dr. Raquel Castellanos was born in the Bronx, NY as the eldest of five to immigrant parents from Puebla, Mexico. Her parents were the first from their town to journey to the United States in the hopes of having a better future for their family. Dr. Castellanos was raised with a love for her culture and people and was taught that the key to a better life is through education. She did well in school and became the first in her family to go to college. Dr. Castellanos decided to attend St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY and oblivious to the vast career opportunities in science, she studied science with the idea of becoming a doctor. During her second year in college, her organic chemistry professor urged her to apply to a summer research program, which opened Dr. Castellanos’ eyes to more that she could do in science.
Upon graduation, Dr. Castellanos took a year off to be with family as her sister was ill. After taking a year off, Dr. Castellanos did a two-year post-bac in Columbia University in the same lab she had been in for her summer research. She then did her PhD in Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she worked studying DiGeorge syndrome in Dr. Berenice Morrow’s lab. Following her PhD, Dr. Castellanos did a post doc studying neuroblastoma in a new lab at Albert Einstein. During this time Dr. Castellanos developed a passion for mentoring students and creating programs that would provide opportunities to minority communities. She is inspired and proud of all the students she has mentored and strives to provide support for students to grow and flourish. She wants students to know that they deserve and earned their right to be where they are, and they need not be ashamed of where they come from but rather find strength in it. Dr. Castellanos now works as Assistant Director for the Office of Research and Diversity Training at Penn where she supports undergrad, post-bac, grad, and postdoc students.