Dallece Curley, class of 2018 graduate, is headed for a year fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  When the Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience first launched four years ago, incoming first-year student Dallece Curley was one of the first students to jump at the chance to be part of the new, one-of-a-kind program within the College of Science.

Three years later (yes, only three), the Chesapeake, Virginia, resident is ready to graduate. Curley will leave with a degree in clinical neuroscience and hundreds of hours of lab research experience behind her. In front of her: A year-long fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, as part of the National Institutes of Health Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). After that, graduate school.

“I was honestly thrilled to be part of the first school of neuroscience in the United States,” Curley said. “The faculty and advisors I met during orientation conveyed what incredible opportunities would be offered in terms of advanced courses, research, and opportunities after graduation. As the school is still so new, class sizes are small, which allows individualized attention, as faculty members really take the time to get to know students and work with them throughout their development in the major.”

Curley’s initially intended to major in biology, but found neuroscience to be more intriguing. “Neuroscience was not really touched upon in my education before college, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn about an area of science that seemed to be evolving constantly and on the forefront of innovation,” Curley said. “The human brain is the most important organ in our bodies, so I find it crazy that we know so little about how the brain works. I love how we are able to answer some of these questions through research, translational studies in particular.”

Curley was able to finish her degree in three years by having a semester’s worth of AP/Dual Enrollment credits as an entering first-year student and by taking classes every winter short-semester.

Along the way, she has worked prodigiously in neuroscience research labs and programs at Virginia Tech and elsewhere. At the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Curley worked in the lab of Stefanie Robel, an assistant professor with the Virginia Tech Research Institute and the School of Neuroscience.

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