Native Clara Vila-Castelar Conducts Alzheimer’s Disease Research -
NY, February 27, 2014—Receiving a fellowship to pursue graduate studies is
rewarding recognition for any student. Having the chance to receive the award
from royalty is an unusual honor; it’s one that Queens College clinical
psychology PhD student Clara Vila-Castelar will enjoy this summer when she
returns to her native Spain.
a ceremony in Madrid, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia will present
Vila-Castelar with a prestigious grant from the La Caixa Foundation, a leading
private foundation in Spain that supports education and other social causes.
graduate fellowship from the La Caixa Foundation-USA Program—awarded to only 48
students out of 800 applicants—will support Vila-Castelar as she pursues her
studies in the field of aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Beginning in the fall of
2014, Vila-Castelar will receive two full years of paid tuition, as well as a
monthly stipend to cover living expenses. She will also receive ongoing
personal and professional support as a member of a distinctive international
network that helps advance award recipients’ professional careers.
native of Tarragona, a small city in northeast Spain, Vila-Castelar initially
began her undergraduate studies at the University of Barcelona. She transferred
to the University of Missouri in St. Louis on a golf scholarship, where she
received a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
a specialist in the field of neuropsychology, Vila-Castelar was eager to pursue
her PhD work in the laboratory of Queens College psychology professor Nancy S.
Foldi, PhD. As a noted researcher and director of the college’s Neuropsychology
Laboratory of Aging and Dementia, Foldi has received funding from the Alzheimer’s
Foundation. “Professor Foldi is doing very interesting research on attention in
aging and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Vila-Castelar. “Unfortunately, there’s not
a great treatment or cure at this point.”
research has a personal resonance for Vila-Castelar, whose late grandmother
suffered from Alzheimer’s. “That opened my eyes,” she says. Her pursuit of
neuropsychology alsoappeals on an intellectual level. “I absolutely love the
subject,” she declares.
who currently lives within walking distance of the Queens College campus in
Flushing, arrived at QC in the fall of 2012 when she began her PhD studies. Her
current project with Professor Foldi investigates ways to measure efficacy of
the drug Aricept, one of the treatments currently available for patients with
Alzheimer’s disease. Besides conducting
research, Vila-Castelar also teaches introductory statistics to Queens College
receiving her PhD, Vila-Castelar may pursue her career the United States or in
Spain. In the meantime, she is looking forward to the awards ceremony. “It’s
very exciting,” she says.
Queens College of the City
University of New York enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and
sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate
degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the
college helps its over 20,000 students realize their potential in countless
ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful,
80-acre campus in Flushing, the college was cited this year in the Princeton
Review as one of the nation’s 150 “Best Value” colleges, thanks to its
outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low
costs. In 2013, Washington Monthly ranked QC #1 among “Master’s
Universities” as a Best-Bang-for-the-Buck college and #2 nationwide among only
349 colleges that do the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain
marketable degrees at affordable prices.