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NIH Postbaccalaureate Student at Mayo Clinic

Dallece Elena Curley

Dallece Elena Curley

  • Job Title/Company or Program/School: NIH Postbaccalaureate Student at Mayo Clinic
  • (Undergraduate) Graduation Year: Spring 2018
  • Neuroscience Major: Clinical Neuroscience

What is your role currently? What do your day-to-day tasks look like?

I received an NIH post baccalaureate fellowship to take courses towards my PhD through the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in addition to conducting research. I am a research assistant in Dr. Anthony Windebank's Regenerative Neurobiology lab, with my research project focusing on the use of biomaterial scaffolds in combination with electrical stimulation after spinal cord injury. A typical day consists of attending class (currently "Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience" and "What Researchers Need to know About Eliminating Health Disparities") and various lab work, including analyzing spinal cord tissue and reading literature.

How did your education within the School of Neuroscience prepare you for your current role?

The Neuroscience courses and labs at Virginia Tech provided me a strong foundation and understanding of the scientific process, which helped me to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary for research. Having the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research in Dr. Stefanie Robel's lab best prepared me for my current role and career goals as I was able to apply the information gained from courses to cutting edge research, in addition to gaining experiential learning with many lab skills and standard protocols necessary for post undergraduate research positions.

What are your ultimate career goals?  When you first started college, was this your first career choice?

When I first started college I wanted to pursue a career in medicine and perhaps become a neurosurgeon, however I fell in love with research during my 3 years as an undergraduate. 

I recently have been accepted into the Neuroscience PhD program at Brown University, starting Fall 2019. My long-term career goal after attaining a PhD is to continue researching traumatic brain injury or neurodegenerative diseases, and I am open to exploring a career in academia or industry.

What recommendations would you give to current or prospective students?

I would highly recommend prospective students to consider studying Neuroscience at Virginia Tech as the department has recruited top-notch faculty who genuinely care about your understanding and success beyond their own courses ad even after you graduate, and there are near endless opportunities to gain research experience. For current students, I would advise not forgetting that gaining a quality education is more than just passing an exam or a class. Learn as much as you can, and take classes that will provide you with skills and an in depth understanding related to your future career so that you don't have to try to relearn the material after graduation.