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Research Technician/Washington University in St. Louis

Katie Pereira

Katie Pereira

  • Job Title/Company or Program/School: Research Technician/Washington University in St. Louis
  • (Undergraduate) Graduation Year: 2018
  • Neuroscience Major: Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and Experimental Neuroscience

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

My role as a research technician is to help run ongoing projects in the lab. I am currently working on a project that uses cognitive and behavioral tasks, questionnaires, ecological momentary assessment, and neuroimaging to better understand effort-based decision-making and motivation in individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression. Day-to-day, I assist in recruitment and scheduling of participants, running the study sessions, collecting and analyzing data, managing undergraduate research assistants, and collecting neuroimaging data.

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

The School of Neuroscience program gave me an important basis of knowledge to allow a deeper understanding of the field to occur in my current position. I gained important skills through both my classes and my undergraduate research experience that made the transition from school to work much easier, including gaining a background in research ethics, scientific writing and presenting, and an understanding of relevant neurological pathways and psychological phenomena.

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

I am planning on holding this current position for two years and then I will pursue a PhD in Neuroscience. I have not yet decided what my ultimate career goal will be after my PhD, but I am looking into many options, including public policy or nonprofit work. When I started college, I definitely did not think I would be on my current path. I was actually planning on being a psychology and marketing double major and doing something in I/O psychology or consumer behavior. I liked marketing in high school and ironically had never been super interested in science. Then, when I started college, the neuroscience degree opened, I decided to try it out, and I ended up loving it way more than I would have ever expected.

What recommendations would you give to current or prospective students?

My best advice to students would be to keep your mind open and to constantly reflect on what you want, not what you think you should do or what others think you should do. The field of neuroscience can be applied to pretty much any other field of study out there, so do not feel stuck between thinking the only options within the field are medical school or research (unless that is what you want to do). Utilize your professors, advisors, and all other faculty/staff members while you are in the university bubble. They all have been where you are and can become your best recourses and wonderful colleagues if you put in the effort to foster those connections. My last piece of advice would be to slow down every once in a while, and take in your college experience. The degree is tough but I found success through a balance between work and play. Find the balance that works for you and soak it in!