This year, I want to focus on doing well with my coursework and also get involved with research on campus. I want to study something related to neuroscience in graduate school, and I would like to make a plan for the future that can help me get closer to that goal.
Last year, I was sucessful in getting involved in a lab on compus. Now I plan on starting my own research project. I aim to present a poster on both this project and the project that I worked on last spring at Synapse in March. I also want to continue to prepare both of these projects for publication so that I can already be published before I apply to graduate school. In order to better my chances for getting into graduate school, I want to continue doing well in my classes, to pursue more neuro-related opportunities outside of Roanoke College, and to take on more leadership roles on campus. I also wish to focus more this year on volunteer and becoming an active citizen. For me, a large part of achieving that goal is traveling, which I was able to do last year. I also want to continue learning German in the hopes that I can spend time researching or studying in Germany and potentially even move there someday.
This year I want to get the two manuscripts I am working on published, and I want to present a poster at Society for Neuroscience in the fall. Over winter break, I plan to apply for a summer internship that will expand my current experience with research. In the spring, I want to develop a plan for an independent study that I can complete next fall. I additionally want to begin applying for a Fulbright research grant to complete a neuroscience research project in Germany after I graduate. Through that process, I will aim to narrow down my research interests and discover what topics I would be most interested in studying in the future, keeping in mind that my research focus will likely not stay the same throughout my entire career. I still plan to apply for masters programs at German universities in addition to PhD programs in the United States. My German has improved greatly just in the past year, and I aim to improve it even more this year. Ultimately, I want to have a career in neuroscience research, and throughout the course of that career, I would like to travel as much as possible in order to foster understanding and gain potential insights by making cross-cultural connections.
This year I will be applying for a Fulbright Study/Research grant to study vocal communication in the pale spear-nosed bat (Phyllostomus discolor) in Munich, Germany with Dr. Lutz Wiegrebe, and I will be applying to neuroscience PhD programs.
I still plan to pursue a career as a researcher in academia and would like to work as a professor at a university. I am primarily interested in researching auditory perception, vocal communication, and language, topics which all feed into one another. I could see myself researching vocal communication and vocal learning using non-human animal models, especially songbirds or bats, or researching neural processing of sounds or language in humans through EEG or fMRI. I look forward to exploring these and other avenues in graduate school.
I will be exploring computational modeling this year through the completion of my Honors Project, which will involve the modification of a computational model of interocular supression and the analysis of both experimental and computational data. During the next two semesters, I also aim to publish the two manuscripts I have been working on and to present the results covered in the manuscript I have published at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in San Diego.
Looking back on my four years at Roanoke College, I can begin to see how much I have grown as a student, researcher, leader, and conscientious community member. I pursued diverse opportunities to advance my education, varying my background in the spirit of the liberal arts so that I will be a better scholar and scientist moving forward in my career. As a student in the psychology department, I vastly deepened my knowledge and understanding of the discipline, and I deepened my understanding of neuroscience through my pursuit of the neuroscience concentration, through extra neuroscience-related cousework that I did, and through my research experiences. Reflecting on my work from freshman year, I can additionally easily see how my ability to think scientifically and critically has improved. Furthermore, my ability to write scientific papers, research proposals, grant applications, and motivation statements has significantly improved, and I find myself much more prepared for a career of writing such work. Upon successful completion of my oral thesis defense, I also realized that my ability to speak confidently about my work and communicate effectively during a presentation has improved. The contrast between my recent experiences presenting my work and my first few poster presentations is notable, and I can see how the numerous presentations I have done and the poster sessions I have presented in have advanced my oral communication skills.
As I embark upon my next adventure in Munich as a Fulbright Study/Research grantee in the Wiegrebe working group, I still aim to earn a PhD in neuroscience and become a researcher in academia, hopefully as a professor at a university. My interactions with professors at Roanoke initially inspired me to set my sights on a career as a professor, and my desire to pursue that path only increased the more involved I became in the college via my leadership positions in clubs, my position on both the Academic Integrity Council and Student Conduct Council, and my work with department assessment through my job as Senior Portfolio Fellow. I found discussing curriculum, college and department policy, and fine details of research with my professors highly enjoyable, convincing me further that working toward a career as a teacher-scholar at a university was the right thing for me.
My research interests still lie with audition, communication, and language, and as I spend the next chapter of my career studying the properties of vocalizations and the potential meanings and significance of different types of vocalizations in the bat P. discolor, I aim to gain foundational knowledge and skills in preparation for my future study of the perception of vocal communication.