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Student Spotlight: Tina Zhao

Class of 2018
Hometown: Beijing, China
Current research: I have been interested in epilepsy and fortunately had the opportunity to work in the McNamara lab, which aims to research the molecular pathway of epileptogenesis. I collaborated with a researcher in the lab to study the morphology, specifically the dendritic and axonic branches of interneurons in CA3 of the hippocampus. We hope to identify certain types of interneurons that are relevant to the development of epilepsy. Lately, I've been working on a project that aims to elucidate the developmental aspects of epileptogenesis on a rat model using a therapeutic peptide.
My thoughts on the neuroscience major: Neuroscience is a relatively new and active field of research. In my opinion, the education of neuroscience to undergraduates serves more to the purpose of inspiring students to ask their own questions and pursue further inquiries than lecturing factual knowledge. Studying neuroscience encourages critical thinking and interdisciplinary approaches.
What jump-starts my brain: I have been very curious about how a brain that is made up of chemicals and electricity enables complex behaviors and thoughts. Throughout the neuroscience courses I have taken and the research I did, I have not only been exposed to multiple perspectives of understanding the brain, but also I’ve gained the skills and confidence in asking my own questions and searching for answers. During the Duke Neurohumanities in Paris program this past summer, I was intrigued by the interdisciplinary inquiry of arts and neuroscience.