Researcher Profile – Ayla Sanchez


Last year Dr. Bruce Jackson, esteemed researcher and professor, paid a visit to the UW-Whitewater campus. Dr. Jackson is the head of multiple programs at the Massachusetts Bay Community College. Since his visit, Dr. Jackson has promoted UWW’s Undergraduate Research Program, and has even encouraged his students to look into Whitewater’s research program and the opportunities provided.

Ayla Sanchez is one of Dr. Jackson’s students, working towards a degree in Biotechnology and Forensic DNA Science at Massachusetts Bay. Under Dr. Jackson’s supportive lead, Ayla has found success and connectivity.

“Working with Dr. Jackson has been a revolutionary journey for me. I’ve blossomed from being an introvert to the Chief Mentor of the Forensics DNA Science Program under Dr. Jackson’s program.”

After suggestion from Dr. Jackson, Ayla recently visited UW-Whitewater to check out URP and conduct research, spending 10 weeks on campus. During her stay in Whitewater, Ayla spent time in labs, giving her a chance to gain skills in cell cultures (a requirement for her major), communication, and networking.

“My time at Whitewater has incorporated new habits and confidence in me, such as networking more comfortably, being willing to travel more, and the overall confidence to try things that I may not have otherwise.”

Ayla took full advantage of the services offered here at UWW, as well as getting to enjoy the city of Whitewater.

“I relished the free yoga classes that the university provided on Mondays and Wednesdays at noon.”

Miguel Aranda, UW-Whitewater’s Undergraduate Research Program Associate, worked with Ayla in order to help her have the best experience possible, including providing access to necessary labs/academic buildings, as well as providing insider information on the best places to eat, shop, and hang out in Whitewater.

“I found myself enjoying everything; from the students who already graduated, students still attending, the staff, and the city of Whitewater itself.”

Ayla is currently working on a personal research project in the field of forensics. The goal of the project is to provide a DNA analysis of her mother and her grandfather.

“My mom’s father passed about 15 years ago, leaving behind a house in Puerto Rico. On her birth certificate, her father’s name is NOT there, and she needs to prove that she is, biologically, his daughter.”

She hopes to prove that her grandfather is indeed her mother’s biological parent. She will be conducting her research on hair and teeth samples, using her skills developed from her studies as well as her time here at UWW.

Ayla’s future looks bright. She hopes to someday receive a doctorate in molecular biology or a related field. She plans to work towards a career in forensic genetics and undertake both anthropological and criminal casework. Ayla is currently planning to finish up her degree and graduate from Mass Bay. She then hopes to continue her education in biology at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater.

Ayla is a promising young researcher who will bring pride to the University of Wisconsin Whitewater’s Undergraduate Research Program. She is a great example of an undergraduate student committed to her research goals.

“The advice I would give other students is to be meticulous in their research because even the most minuscule mistakes can ruin the end results of a project.”

If you or anyone you know is interested in Undergraduate Research at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, please visit our website at or stop in our office in Andersen Library during office hours.

“Going home was bittersweet, as I was not ready to leave Whitewater.”





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