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Student Spotlight

Malcolm McDonald picture

Class of 2018
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Current Research: I work in the Grandl lab studying kinetics of a mechanosensitive ion channel called Piezol. The project involves using repetitive stimulation at specific frequencies to test the current that flows into the cell. My independent study will examine how human mutations of the channel that cause inactivation deficiency affect the currents from frequency stimulation.
My thoughts on neuroscience education: Neuroscience at Duke is an engaging major that combines important biological and chemical concepts that I’ve been learning about in pre-health classes while studying the brain. I enjoy the freedom of electives in the major and the way they complement the core classes and prerequisites. I also appreciate how the field has plenty of potentially important scientific discoveries remaining. The climate of neuroscience is very exciting, especially given President Obama’s BRAIN initiative. I look forward to furthering my understanding of neuroscience as the field continues to develop.
What jump-starts my brain: The fact that the brain is basically a computational machine is incredible. I find it especially interesting how ion channels opening or closing and current flowing through basic chemical and electrical equilibrium cause the sensations and thoughts that we think and feel. It’s an incredible system that drives such a complicated biological organ.