From Rutgers: “His Research Mission: Solving the Mysteries of Mental Illness”

Rutgers University
Rutgers University

John Chadwick


Andres Villegas grew up in Elizabeth, the son of a single mom who had emigrated from Ecuador.
He was uncertain about his future, and undecided about college.

“I felt lost in high school,” Villegas says. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life.”

But at Rutgers he found his calling in the research labs of scientists breaking new ground in the study and treatment of mental illness. Villegas emerged as a top student in the competitive field of neuroscience, leaving a lasting impression on his professors.

“Andres is among the brightest undergraduate students that I have encountered in 30 years at Rutgers,” says Sidney Auerbach, a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, who advised Villegas.

Villegas graduates May 14 from the School of Arts and Sciences, and has been accepted into a prestigious Ph.D program in neurobiology and behavior at Columbia University. He’s committed to working on research aimed at finding new treatments for psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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