Biology and Health Sciences

Faculty & Staff

Dr. Maria E. Velez

Associate Professor

 Curriculum vitae Jan 2017 for tenure

TAMUK Biology Faculty/Staff Webpage Guide

Name: Maria E. Velez, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor

Education:  Bachelors in Science: University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez Campus

        PhD in Physiology: University of Puerto Rico- Medical Sciences Campus

                  Post- doctoral studies: State University of New York- Downstate Medical Center


Teaching Specialties:

·         Neurosciences

·         Human Physiology - Service Learning course, Physiology Understanding (PhUn) week.

·         General Biology

·         Health Sciences immersion in Puerto Rico- Study Abroad

Research Interests:  Learning, Memory and Drug addiction

Memory storage in the brain is a critical unanswered question in science. Our laboratory is currently studying the role of atypical protein kinase M Zeta in the molecular mechanism of memory. We use the courtship behavior of the fruit fly to further understand how memories are acquired and stored in the brain.  

Professional articles

·         Vaquer-Alicea, Ana; Vázquez-Torres, Rafael; Devarie-Hornedo, Marcos; Santos-Vera, Bermary; María-Ríos, Cristina; Montiel-Ramos, Alan; Vélez-Hernández, Maria E. Sacktor, Todd and Jiménez-Rivera, Carlos A. LTP in the VTA participates in the neuroadaptive signal necessary to induce NAc synaptic plasticity after cocaine administration. Submitted to Brain Structure and Function. December 2016

·         M. E. Vélez-Hernández, E. Padilla, F. Gonzalez-Lima, C.A. Jiménez-Rivera, Cocaine reduces cytochrome oxidase activity in the prefrontal cortex and modifies its functional connectivity with brainstem nuclei.  Brain Research. January 2014


·         M. E. Vélez-Hernández, Rafael Vázquez-Torres, Maria C. Velasquez-Martinez, Lincoln Jiménez, Frankie Báez, Todd C. Sacktor and Carlos A. Jiménez-Rivera: Inhibition of Protein kinase Mzeta (PKMζ) in the mesolimbic system alters cocaine sensitization in rats. Journal of Drug and Alcohol Research. July 2013.

·         Bermary Santos-Vera, Rafael Vázquez-Torres, Hermes G. García-Marrero, Juan M. Ramos-Acevedo, Francisco Arencibia-Albite, María E. Vélez-Hernandez, Jorge D. Miranda and Carlos A. Jiménez-Rivera. Cocaine sensitization increases Ih current channel subunit 2 (HCN2) protein expression in structures of the Mesocorticolimbic System. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience. October 2012.


·         Carlos A. Jiménez-Rivera, Johnny Figueroa, Rafael Vázquez, María E. Vélez-Hernandez, David Schwarz, Francisco Arencibia and María C. Velázquez. Presynaptic Inhibition of Glutamate Transmission by Alpha-2 Receptors in the VTA. European Journal of Neurosciences, January 2012.


  • Mikhail Inyushin, Francisco Arencibia-Albite, Rafael Vazquez- Torres, María E. Vélez- Hernández, Carlos A. Jimenez-Rivera. Alpha-2 noradrenergic receptor activation inhibits the hyperpolarization-activated cation current (Ih) in neurons of the ventral tegmental area. Neuroscience. January 2010.


·         “Student organization advisor of the year 2014-2015”-University of Houston-Victoria

·         MBRS-RISE Pre-doctoral Fellow, 2006-2011 University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine

·         Award for Investigation Excellence, Physiology Department, 2009. University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine.

·         Leadership Award, Physiology Department, 2009. University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine

Professional Associations

·         Society for Neuroscience

·         American Physiological Society

Funded Grants:

·         Understanding Human Physiology

                       Source of Support: Texas A & M University-Kingsville Service Learning Grant

Principal Investigator: Dr. Maria E. Velez

                       Budget: $7,000

                       Time period: 1 year (Sep 2016-July 2017)

·         Role of PKM on Drosophila melanogaster courtship behavior 

Source of Support: Texas Council Undergraduate Research Grant

Principal Investigator: Dr. Maria E. Velez

Budget: $5,000

Time Period: 7 months (Jan 2016- August 2016)

Contact Information


MSC 158 Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Kingsville, Texas 78363-8202
voice: 361-593-3181

Dr. Maria E. Velez