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Student Spotlight

Class of 2017
Hometown: San Jose, California
Current research: In Dr. Staci Bilbo’s developmental neuroimmunology lab, I am currently working on a project that investigates the underlying mechanism of how maternal stressors can permanently alter the trajectory of fetal brain development. I have been looking at TLR4 inflammatory signaling pathway and placental metabolite production in various mouse models of maternal stressors, including maternal obesity, prenatal pollution exposure, and resource deprivation.
My thoughts on neuroscience education: I always knew that I wanted to major in a science in college, but it wasn’t until taking Neuroscience 101 that I had that rush of dopamine and knew that I was hooked on the subject. What captured my interest in neuroscience was the fact that it attempts to explain what we as humans are and why we act the way we do from different scientific perspectives—from the most basic neurobiological underpinnings to an overarching behavioral context. Duke offers so many great neuroscience classes that I wish I had more time in college to take them all!
What I love about the neuroscience major at Duke is that there are seemingly endless research possibilities and opportunities to contribute to this cutting-edge field as an undergraduate. As an editor for Neurogenesis, Duke’s undergraduate journal of neuroscience, I’ve had the unique opportunity to help provide a platform for undergraduate researchers to have their work published. It’s been easy to see from the manuscripts submitted how interdisciplinary the field is. The research that undergraduates get to do is incredible, and I am so happy to be a part of it.
What jump-starts my brain:  Discovering that neuroscientists from all over the world can attack the same problem using a completely different set of tools and research methods has really "jump-started" my brain. 
Nothing lights up my brain quite like optogenetics—a neuroscience research method that literally uses light to control neuronal activity! During my first research experience at Duke, I worked in an optogenetics lab, which was an awesome experience because I got to work with mouse models and watch mouse neurosurgery to learn more about the relation between the basal ganglia and hypothalamus. One of the most interesting neuroscience research methods classes I took was the fMRI class because we got to design and implement an experiment using an fMRI machine in Duke Hospital.
In my current lab I have been learning a plethora of neuroscience research techniques like high-performance liquid chromatography, immunoassays, PCR, and 3D data visualization. Learning about new neuroscience research techniques has really captivated my interest.