Monday, October 24, 2016

URSP Student Megan Harbour Studies the Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury and Social Isolation in Mice to Determine Effects on Neurodegeneration

I’ve always had an interest in psychology, chemistry, and problem solving. I joined Dr. Jane Flinn’s lab in the fall semester of 2015 shortly after I had declared my major as Neuroscience- which has given me an interdisciplinary experience and outlook on different subjects and lab projects. Within the Flinn lab, I have been helping to study the effects of heavy metal on cognitive decline and neurodegeneration due to disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. I have been both a research assistant and lead tester within the lab, independently running Novel Object Recognition (NOR) testing last semester for my OSCAR project. This semester we will be studying the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (similar to sports injuries) and Social Isolation in adolescent mice to determine the effects on neurodegeneration in the brain. Much like last semester, I will be helping with general lab work such as handling to socialize the mice, and leading the behavioral test known as Burrowing for OSCAR.

As last semester’s OSCAR project wraps up and this semester’s begins, it’s been busy in the lab. Generally, I have been gathering data from NOR which will be analyzed using statistical software and presented at the SfN conference with the rest of the Flinn lab data in San Diego this November. I have also been working behind the scenes learning how to create slides using the Cryostat for immunohistochemical staining. We are currently waiting for our IACUC, and our mice will reach 8 weeks of age (adolescence) later this month. At this point I will be running burrowing and helping out with socialization. I am incredibly interested in medicine, and my work in Dr. Flinn’s lab has allowed me to get hands on experience with the research side of this.