Students' experiences in Neurociense
I am a senior working towards a dual degree in electrical engineering and neuroscience. For the past two years, I have been assisting in research in neuroeconomics at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) in Dr. Brooks King-Casas and Dr. Pearl Chui’s lab. Neuroeconomics combines psychology and economics with different types of brain imaging to identify the neural correlates of certain behaviors. This past summer, I worked in Dr. John Gabrieli’s lab at MIT doing research in ADHD in adults, and looking for neural biomarkers of risk factors for mood disorders. This fall I am working in Dr. Xiaoting Jia’s lab researching the development of multi-material multifunctional fibers that can be used to directly stimulate and record specific neurons. I am also continuing my research at VTCRI. After graduating, I plan on attending graduate school and obtaining a Ph.D. in neuroscience, and I hope to work in the research and development of biomechanical aids, specifically those that interface the human nervous system.
Senior double majoring in Experimental Neuroscience and Psychology, University Honors, Virginia Tech.
My name is Franklin Edwards and I am a Senior studying Experimental Neuroscience and Psychology. I plan to graduate in the Spring of 2018 and will obtain a Dual Degree in my areas of study (B.S. in Neuroscience and B.S. of Science). I began my undergraduate research experience in Dr. Mike Bowers’ Lab at Virginia Tech in the Fall of 2016. His research focuses on autism, a communication disorder that affects millions. The two main questions we are trying to answer in this lab are, how do genes and sex hormones contribute to the development of the neural circuits responsible for higher cognitive functions such as language, and what drives the sex difference in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism? These questions are addressed in the laboratory by implementing several techniques including rodent behavioral assays, cell culturing, and molecular biology. I have fortunately, been trained in all areas of this lab within just a year. I will be working this year on several projects that will involve immunohistochemistry, confocal imaging, quantitative PCR, and protein analysis.
I was fortunate enough to broaden my scope of research over the Summer of 2017 by taking part in the neuroSURF Fellowship program. I worked in Dr. Stefanie Robel's lab at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. Her research seeks to determine the role of astrocytes after repeated mild traumatic brain injury. To study the role of astrocytes in CNS pathology after repeated mild TBI, we use state-of-the-art models of TBI in transgenic mice in combination with confocal imaging. Within my research project over the summer I established an understanding of what was happening to neurons within regions of astrocytic dysfunction through techniques of applying the mTBI, profusions, immunohistochemistry, and confocal imaging. I am an author on a publication in her lab, for the work I could contribute/put into a figure, that is currently under review for the journal Glia.
Aside from my busy schedule of academia I spend my time coordinating events as the Vice President External of Phi Sigma Pi, which is a Gender-Inclusive National Honor Fraternity. I have been a Brother for three years now. My time is also spent serving as a third year STEP UP Leader for VT Engage leading Get-On-The-Bus Trips to the Women's Resource Center in Radford, VA and leading Alternative Spring Break Trips.
I am a junior from Gainesville, Virginia, and entered the university as an engineer studying to eventually become a chemical engineer. However, after taking my first biology course my sophomore year I quickly changed directions and began to search for a major that I would actually be passionate about. I feel as though I am fortunate to have found that in Neuroscience. Now a year later, I am a Neuroscience major as well as minoring in Chemistry. I am an active member of the Neuroscience club, a co-captain of my intramural team, and also involved in BSA in addition to ASA. Before I graduate and pursue a Master’s degree in Business Administration and receive an M.D. at medical school, I hope to have experienced some degree of undergraduate research, completed more volunteer work, and participated in shadowing in local hospitals around Virginia Tech. I ultimately look forward to participating in projects and outreach programs that will help the Neuroscience major grow even more here at Virginia Tech.
I am a Junior PSI scholar from Virginia Beach, VA, majoring in Neuroscience. Originally, I came to Virginia Tech majoring in Physics, however, I soon realized that my passion and gift lied in Neuroscience. I now work in the Dr. Gregorio Valdez's Lab at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke, Virginia. In Dr. Valdez’s lab, I work as Co-Investigator on experiments that investigates the stability of cholinergic synapses within the development of ALS. Along with that, I serve as the Web officer for the Neuroscience club, and work at the School of Neuroscience as a receptionist. In the future I would like to go to either Medical School to become a neurosurgeon or Graduate School to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. However, I am not quite sure which career I would prefer. I will begin to foreshadow a neurosurgeon in residency at Carilion in Roanoke in order to assist in making this decision. Currently, I am working on an initiative to get the first Chapter of Nu Rho Psi, the National Honors Fraternity in Neuroscience, approved at Virginia Tech. Hopefully this is something I can complete and build a foundation for before I graduate.