Brian Castellano

Brian Castellano

Dean’s Scholar

College of Science


Why did you choose your major?

I started at San Jose State University as a nutrition major, but during my second semester I took a required general chemistry course. Dr. Karen Singmaster taught the course, and her enthusiasm about science was contagious. With her support and encouragement, I switched my major to chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry to explore my own potential and newfound passion. I have come to realize that science is a field where there is always something new to learn and discover.


What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

For me this award represents the perseverance and dedication needed to obtain a college degree. This is not only for myself, but for my family and friends who have supported me through all the hard work and sacrifice. I would not be in the position I am now without their help during this arduous process.


Who has been instrumental in your life and/or who has contributed to your academic success?

Apart from my family and friends, I have been very fortunate to have a number of mentors at San Jose State University. Dr. Singmaster first introduced me to science and helped me gain a love for mentoring by allowing me to facilitate academic workshops where I tutor and guide students through organic chemistry. Dr. Daryl Eggers welcomed me into his research laboratory where I have learned to do scientific research and present my science to the world through national meetings and conferences. Dr. Julio Soto recognized my potential and provided me with opportunities to pursue research outside of San Jose State University that allowed me develop further as a scientist.

Lastly, through the help of these professors I was able to conduct summer research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Here I was further mentored by Dr. Catherine Drennan, Dr. Edward Brignole, and Dr. Daniel Dowling, and through this experience I realized that I would enjoy and be successful in pursuing a doctorate degree after graduating from San Jose State University.


Did you overcome any hardships or adversities during your life, that has helped shape who you are today? And if so, could you please briefly elaborate?

My parents immigrated from the Philippines, and I am very fortunate that they have worked extremely hard to allow me to explore whatever path I chose to follow. However, with no sense of direction it was dangerous, but it has allowed me to make my own mistakes and find my own passion.


Where would you like to be in 5-10 years?

I will be pursuing a doctorate degree in biomedical and biological sciences post-graduation, so in 5 to 10 years I will most likely be completing post-doctoral research or starting as an assistant professor at a university. Apart from research, I hope I will be in a position to mentor and guide students to help them explore their own potential and passion.


A few words from his nominating professor:

Brian Castellano has pursued undergraduate research in the Eggers Laboratory at SJSU for the past three years. He has been supported by the HHMI SCRIBE Program and the NIH MARC U-STAR Program. His research project in the Eggers laboratory is focused on quantifying the role of water and desolvation on binding affinity, an important topic for cell biology and for understanding drug interactions. He is one of nine recipients nationwide for the prestigious Gilliam Fellowship sponsored by HHMI. Brian is currently deciding where he will pursue his PhD degree, having been accepted recently to programs in biological and biomedical science at UC Berkeley, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Pennsylvania.

-Associate Dean Elaine Collins