I started working as a research assistant in Dr. Jane Flinn’s lab in September of 2018 and fell in love with the subject matter. We were investigating the effect of traumatic brain injury on Alzheimer's disease using mice models and conducting tests for spatial memory and instinctual behaviors. After helping for a couple of weeks, I was approached and asked if I would like to conduct an individual assignment based off a dissertation project I was already assisting one of the graduate students with. From there, I oversaw monitoring, collecting, and analyzing the circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) data for all four cohorts, or groups, of mice and then analyzing it. I also added a new element to the project by performing an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test which will measure the melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Since coming to college, I have found that I am most interested in investigating the relationship between mental disorders and the brain. This is a specific field in psychology called neuropsychology where I plan to pursue my education. This project will be extremely helpful to my long-term goals because many times, investigating the relationship between mental disorders and the brain have to be done using mice models. Thus, becoming familiar with the tests and processes that involve conducting an experiment using mice is extremely important knowledge to obtain as I go further into my undergraduate and graduate career.
I have known since my junior year of high school that I wanted to be a psychologist but did not know exactly what field I wanted to explore. Through this project, and the experience working in Dr. Flinn’s lab, I have come to discover that I want to pursue neuropsychology and study the relationship between the brain and mental disorders. Thus, this project has been essential in helping me gain experience and becoming aware of what I want to do in the upcoming future.