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Student Spotlight: Grace Richardson

January 10, 2024 | by Mimi Jenness
Originally published by Department of Psychology and Neuroscience


We’re commencing a new academic semester with a newly declared neuroscience major: Grace Richardson. Grace is currently a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Spanish.  

Grace’s interest in neuroscience stems from personal connections to loved ones who have struggled with addiction, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson’s diseases. Her appreciation for neuroscience only deepened with the diverse neuroscience courses offered at Duke, notably through the Cognitive Neuroscience and the Law FOCUS cluster and her research projects. In one research project with Dr. Julia Lemos at the University of Minnesota, Grace examined addiction in depth by focusing on populations of CRF neurons in the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens. Additionally, at the Eroglu Lab in the Department of Cell Biology, she investigates the role of delta-catenin, a protein expressed in astrocytes and neurons in the cortex that is implicated in autism. These academic experiences have fostered her curiosity and interest in how the brain functions at a molecular and cellular level. 

Grace chose Duke University because its focus on the undergraduate experience is unmatched. Duke prioritizes building relationships between students, faculty and alumni, while still being one of the top academic excellence institutions. She truly feels supported in her development as a young scientist by the Neuroscience faculty through their deep investment in her personal and intellectual journey.  

“The moment I stepped on campus, I felt at home, and I think that is because being a Duke student feels like being part of a family.” 

Grace is as active in the community as she is in research. Serving as Student Programming Assistant at the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, she plans and aids with events, supplying resources for all members of the LGBTQ+ community at Duke. She is also part of the first cohort of George Scholars in the True North Leadership program. She is particularly excited about contributing to Vertices, Duke’s premier undergraduate research journal and online science magazine, that she just recently became a part of. 

Looking forward to the future, she hopes to pursue a Ph. D in neuroscience or neurobiology after her undergraduate journey finishes. She wants to work as a principal investigator and to start her own lab at a Research 1 university, hoping to contribute and pass on the amazing research experiences she had.