My name is Thalia Dimopoulos am I'm a senior studying neuroscience and doing OSCAR’s fantastic program for the second consecutive semester! My mentor is Dr. Jane Flinn, the director of the Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience program here at Mason. Together, we came up with my current project, which is “The effects of A. bisporus on the Circadian Rhythms and Spatial Memory of Human Amyloid Precursor Protein (hAPP) Transgenic Mice”. Essentially, I am feeding transgenic and wildtype mice a 10% white button mushroom diet three times a week, and mice not on the diet are consuming their regular food yet in the same liquefied form as the diet of 10% mushrooms. I am performing behavioral tests on my mice at 3 and 8 months of age, which include Morris Water Maze (to test their spatial cognition) and circadian rhythm trials (to examine their sleep/wake cycles).
Since I have been working on this project since May, I have experienced a great deal of growth in this field of research. The principle aspect of research I have learned over the past few months, and will continue to learn, is plans change. I have had my sample size change, the parameters of mushroom feedings, and many more changes in pursuit for the experiment’s success. The adjustments in experimental design have been trying, though they have taught me research relies on flexibility and patience. Grit is also essential in performing research, by managing my own research I have seen myself mature intellectually. I can see this project being of great use to my future because I want to be on the forefront for helping fight Alzheimer’s. I would like to either receive an MD in geriatrics or a PhD in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (with an Alzheimer’s concentration) so I can somehow make a difference in patients’ lives; whether it’s face-to-face or behind the microscope. I love research and I am looking forward to continuing this path!