Dr. Salcedo earned her PhD in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University with advisor Dr. Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, focusing on insect wings, specifically in the North American Grasshopper. She designed research projects, and reared insects, continuing work at the Concord Field Station, going back and forth between the Harvard main campus. She was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She looked at insect circulation and the fluid dynamics of hemolymph in insect wings, a crucial factor in allowing full functionality of insect wings. She assisted in teaching several undergraduate courses and was recognized as an outstanding teaching assistant. During graduate school, Dr. Salcedo trained high school students in insect biomechanics, and would regularly take insects into local classrooms to talk about flight and what it means to be a scientist.
For two summers at Harvard Summer Precollege, Dr. Salcedo developed an interactive and hands-on course taught high-school students from all over the world. The course, titled Comparative Biomechanics and Physiology: Designing Insect-Inspired Gliders, blended field biology and mechanical engineering. The class was equal parts entomology (viewing museum collections) and engineering (wind tunnel testing, material testing). Dr. Salcedo is passionate about science training and encouraging students to ask questions.
Dr. Salcedo didn’t always like insects, but a biomechanics course at her undergraduate, University of Washington, Seattle, changed her scientific path forever. Dr. Salcedo dual-majored in Applied Computation Mathematics and Molecular Biology, discovering a love of insects in a neuromuscular-flight lab. During this time, Dr. Salcedo, an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Tom Daniel's neuroethology insect flight lab, collaboratively performed experiments at Argonne National Labs, looking at spacings in between muscle fibers, learning how insect flight muscles expand and contract.
Before graduate school, Dr. Salcedo moved to Cambridge, MA to work as a research technician in Dr. Stacey Combes’ lab (Harvard University) at the Concord Field Station (Bedford, MA). There she studied the kinematics and flight behavior of dragonflies catching prey. The unique aerial dives, quick maneuvers, and wing flexibility of dragonflies later inspired her thesis work and convinced Dr. Salcedo that graduate school was the next step in their science career.
Currently Dr. Salcedo works in the Socha Lab at Virginia Tech (Department of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering) as an NSF Post-doctoral Research Fellow. The lab studies snakes that can glide through the air, and how insects breathe and circulate hemolymph.
Dr. Salcedo is currently serving on the SACNAS Membership Committee, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in STEM, a national organization that promotes culture, community, and science. She is also a new member of the VT BEAM Diversity committee.
Photo: J. Socha
Dr. Salcedo at Argonne National Laboratory (2019)
Dr. Salcedo at Harvard University graduation (2019)
Dr. Salcedo taking a pic during field work (2019)