Alumni and Careers

Alumni Profile of Warsameh Bulhan, Class of 2022

Warsameh Bulhan ’22

Major: Neuroscience

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Most memorable neuroscience class: Molecular Neurobiology with Hadley Horch

"Although I had no idea I would be a neuroscience major coming to Bowdoin it ended up being the path that was right for me and I absolutely fell in love with learning about the body and the brain and how form impacts function."

Read about Warsameh's Senior Honors Project here

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

I am preparing to be a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Why neuroscience?

I decided to try out neuroscience and as I took classes I absolutely fell in love with the neuroscience program at Bowdoin and in love with neuro research. Also, the professors have been incredible my whole Bowdoin career not just as teachers, but as people. Although I had no idea I would be a neuroscience major coming to Bowdoin, it ended up being the path that was right for me—I absolutely fell in love with learning about the body and the brain and how form impacts function. Thus, I am pursuing a career treating patients by going to medical school and becoming a doctor, and a lot of that has to do with the inspiration and all that I’ve learned in the neuroscience program at Bowdoin.
Alumni profile of Anthony Yanez, Class of 2022

Anthony Yanez ’22

Major: Neuroscience

Location: Washington, D.C.

Most memorable neuroscience class: Neurophysiology with Patsy Dickinson

I’m currently working as an Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) postbaccalaureate fellow at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Read about Anthony Yanez's Senior Honors Project here.

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

At the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), I’m working in the cellular neurophysiology unit to study dopamine neurons and the pathophysiology underlying Parkinson’s disease. After my time at NINDS, I’ll apply to graduate school to earn a PhD in neuroscience.

Alumni profile of Emily Oleisky, Class of 2020

Emily Oleisky ’20

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Anthropology

Location: Stanford, California

Most memorable neuroscience class: Topics in Neuroscience with Patsy Dickinson

"Major in neuroscience at Bowdoin for the amazing professors, hands-on research experiences, amazing mentorship, and chance to do research with lobsters. Can it get more Maine than that?"

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

In the fall of 2020, I worked as an enologist (essentially a wine chemist!) at a winery in Sonoma County, California, for a harvest season. Then, I worked in a pediatric cardiology research lab at Stanford for a year until this January, when I departed for my Watson Fellowship. I have now been traveling for over five months and working on my project about health and well-being and how people come to understand their own health as a function of culture, religion, geography, politics, and economy. I am really interested in learning more about health-seeking behaviors and health habits that shape the care we seek as patients and the care practitioners provide.

Why neuroscience?

Neuroscience broadly because it is such an interesting and interdisciplinary field! Major in neuroscience at Bowdoin for the amazing professors, hands-on research experiences, amazing mentorship, and chance to do research with lobsters! Can it get more Maine than that?
Alumni profile of Sam Brill-Weil, Class of 2020

Sam Brill-Weil ’20

Major: Neuroscience

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Most memorable neuroscience class: Topics in Neuroscience with Patsy Dickinson

"At Bowdoin specifically, I discovered my love for electrophysiology and circuit neuroscience because it allows me to work with my hands and ask questions that genuinely excite me."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

In the fall of 2022, I’ll be starting my PhD at Harvard University in the Program in Neuroscience. For the first two years after graduating from Bowdoin, I worked at the National Institutes of Health in the Khaliq Lab studying mammalian basal ganglia circuitry in health and disease. 

Why Neuroscience?

Neuroscience fascinates me because of how it spans the “levels” of science—from the movement of individual ions across a membrane to entire neuronal ensembles working together to encode behaviors. At Bowdoin specifically, I discovered my love for electrophysiology and circuit neuroscience because it allows me to work with my hands and ask questions that genuinely excite me. As I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve been able to apply these same skills and interests to topics within neuroscience that are helping us understand enigmatic neurological and neurodegenerative diseases and could one day lead to improvements in quality of life for patients, and even treatments.

 

Alumni profile of Donald Détchou, Class of 2019

Donald Détchou ’19

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Francophone studies

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Most memorable neuroscience class: Cell Biology of the Neuron

"I aspire to a career in neurosurgery, and a neuroscience major provided me with the cellular, cognitive, molecular, and physiologic foundation."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

I matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Read about Detchou's medical school research.

Why neuroscience?

I aspire to a career in neurosurgery, and a neuroscience major provided me with the cellular, cognitive, molecular, and physiologic foundation.

Alumni profile of Shannon Knight, Class of 2018

Shannon Knight ’18

Major(s): Neuroscience

Minor: English

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Most memorable neuroscience course: Molecular Neurobiology with Hadley Torch

"I had always been interested in science, but to actually hold a human brain, this person's entire self, took my breath away."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

My focus actually took a brief pivot immediately after college! I loved Neuroscience but was also curious about Genetics and how the two combined - for this reason I took a position as a Research Technician in the Perrimon Lab at Harvard Medical School. I completely threw myself into the world of Genetics and learned a ton, and got to work directly with CRISPR/Cas9 in Drosophila which was super exciting! After 2 years, I had missed Neuroscience and wanted to continue my education, and I am now in my 2nd year at MIT in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences PhD program. Here, I am in Guoping Feng's lab studying the potential of utilizing CRISPR activation as a gene therapy treatment for the severe developmental disorder known as Phelan-McDermid Syndrome - it's amazing work.

Why neuroscience?

When I was in high school, I had the remarkable opportunity to hold a human brain at the local university's Medical Day. I had always been interested in science, but to actually hold a human brain, this person's entire self, took my breath away. I had wanted to learn everything I could about it since! At Bowdoin, I was fortunate enough to fall under the tutelage of Professor Hadley Horch, where my excitement and passion for Neuroscience research really grew. I've loved doing research ever since, and I am thrilled that I get to apply my skills and knowledge to pursuing neurogenetic therapies!

Alumni profile of Meredith Stanhope, Class of 2018

Meredith Stanhope ’18

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Sociology

Location: Medford, Massachusetts

Most memorable neuroscience course: Neurophysiology with Patsy Dickinson

"The opportunities provided by Bowdoin's neuroscience department to collaborate with scientists in many different specialties and locations, learn from experts on campus and across the globe, and build such a strong foundation as a learner and scientist was truly the highlight of my Bowdoin career."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

I worked for two years as the lab manager and a research assistant in the Zon Lab in the Department of Stem Cell & Regenerative Biology at Harvard University studying gene expression in melanoma using a zebrafish model. I am currently back in Maine in my third year of medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Maine Track Program. 

Why neuroscience?

Growing up, I had always been fascinated by animal and human behavior. The idea that one could begin to explain behavior by understanding the complexity of the nervous system was fascinating to me and I was so excited to be a part of it. After having the amazing opportunity to study neural circuits and how movement can be generated in the Dickinson lab at Bowdoin, I was definitely hooked on neuroscience. Over the course of my studies, I grew to love the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience and how I incorporated knowledge from my psychiatry, biology, chemistry, physics, genetics, and even humanities classes to deepen my understanding of the mechanics and role of the nervous system. In addition, it was invigorating to continue to do research in the Dickinson lab throughout my time at Bowdoin and have the opportunity to let my curiosity run wild, asking questions and conducting my own thesis research. I loved being supported by passionate professors and peers who were equally excited to be working with new, innovative ideas in the ever growing neuroscience field. The opportunities provided by Bowdoin's neuroscience department to collaborate with scientists in many different specialties and locations, learn from experts on campus and across the globe, and build such a strong foundation as a learner and scientist was truly the highlight of my Bowdoin career. 

Alumni profile of Michael Amano, Class of 2017

Michael Amano ’17

Major: Neuroscience

Major: Asian Studies

Location: Claremont, California

Most memorable neuroscience class: Neurophysiology with Patsy Dickinson

"I appreciated the opportunities that neuroscience offered to explore biological questions from the cellular to the systems level, as well as questions on being, reality, and behavior."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

After Bowdoin, I pursued a Fulbright fellowship to contribute to genetics and epidemiology research on survivors of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima, Japan. I subsequently moved to Tokyo to teach middle/high school science and work in educational consulting. After five years in Japan, I returned to the US to pursue medical school and am currently enrolled in the postbaccalaureate premedical program at Scripps College.

Why neuroscience?

As a student curious about multiple different fields, I was initially drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience. I appreciated the opportunities that it offered to explore biological questions from the cellular to the systems level, as well as questions on being, reality, and behavior. What solidified my decision to study neuroscience at Bowdoin, however, was the incredible support I received from the department's professors. In particular, Hadley Horch and Patsy Dickinson went above and beyond to offer mentorship, welcome me into their labs, and teach me to think like a scientist. Their guidance equipped me with the skills to pursue research and to teach science effectively, and I anticipate that many of these same skills will serve me well as I pursue a career in medicine.

Alumni Profile on Harris Fisher, Class of 2017

Harris Fisher ’17

Major(s): Neuroscience

Minor: Mathematics

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Most memorable neuroscience class: Molecular Neurobiology with Hadley Horch

"I came into college really thinking that I was going to go to medical school, but my first-year writing seminar actually ended up being a course with Hadley Horch, and it was just an exposure to some really interesting things about neurosceince."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

After graduating, I worked at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging (part of Massachusetts General Hospital) in the Napadow Lab. We study alternative and complementary therapies for chronic pain conditions (acupuncture, electrical stimulation, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc.) with functional brain imaging. Specifically, I used functional connectivity analyses on fMRI data of a few different datasets to look at the effects of a treatment, or differences between patient and control populations. I was fortunate to be involved in several publications, including a first-author paper on brain change associated with acupuncture treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, and another co-first author paper that was just published on links between gastric kinematics and brain connectivity in functional dyspepsia patients. Fall 2021 I started my PhD in biomedical engineering at Boston University. I just passed my qualifying exams and have joined the Lewis Lab, where I will continue using functional brain imaging (fMRI, EEG, PET) to explore aspects of brain physiology and dynamics relevant to sleep. 

Why neuroscience?

I came into college really thinking that I was going to go to medical school, but my first-year writing seminar actually ended up being a course with Hadley Horch, and it was just an exposure to some really interesting things about neurosceince. It was amazing to begin understanding how the brain works and how complex the brain really is. It got me interested. I started taking other really hard, but rewarding neuroscience classes, and I just continued to get really interested in the brain. Nothing else processes as much information as the human brain does—as quickly and as well. I was just so interested in the plasticity and the studying of the brain. I think that neuroscience is such an interesting thing to study and research.

Alumni profile of Monique Lillis, Class of 2017

Monique Lillis ’17

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Italian

Location: San Francisco, California

Most memorable neuroscience course : Neurophysiology with Patsy Dickinson

"I appreciate the broad nature of neuroscience that enables me to study various topics and interact with individuals from seemingly disparate fields."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

I wanted to explore a career in research after graduating and found a job as a research assistant in Max Heiman's lab at Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard University. I worked with tiny translucent worms (C. elegans) that are great for live imaging. I analyzed the signals a protein uses to localize to different parts of a cell. In 2019, after two years of working in Boston, I started graduate school in the neuroscience program at University of California San Francisco. Now, I am a fourth year student in Jonah Chan’s lab. I research how Schwann cells, the myelinating glia of the peripheral nervous system, incorporate signals from neurons and their environment to wrap axons appropriately during development.

Why neurosceince?

I think neuroscience is exciting because it is connected to a variety of other fields! Within biology one can study how neuroscience relates to immunology, genetics, gut biome, vasculature, etc. In a broader sense, neuroscience can also connect to fields like psychology, philosophy, education, and communication. The brain/nervous system is the interface for most of the human experience and neuroscience can explore any of these aspects. So, I appreciate the broad nature of neuroscience that enables me to study various topics and interact with individuals from seemingly disparate fields.

Cielle Collins

Cielle Collins

Class of: 2015

Location: Duke University

Major(s): Neuroscience

I would have never discovered my love for the technical side of science without getting to work with Dr. Nyhus in EEG, and learn about MRI and other medical imaging technology. Cielle is currently studying Medical Physics in the Radiation Therapy track at Duke University. She works in a 3D Dosimetry lab under Dr. Mark Oldham where she is helping to develop and characterize an exciting new radiation therapy treatment tool, which is a new radiochromic bolus that changes color when it is irradiated. This bolus can be scanned to reveal exactly where the radiation therapy dose was delivered. She hope to pursue a career in Clinical Medical Physics where she will be a link between the radiologist and radiation therapists and dosimetrists and will be in charge of the physics and technical aspects of diagnosis and treatment planning in the cancer treatment process. She is excited by the creativity that she will be able to use in her career to solve the diverse physical problems that arise in this area of medicine.

How did your Neuroscience education influence your career trajectory?

I am so thankful to have been a part of the Bowdoin Neuroscience department because of the different areas of the field that I was exposed to. I loved all of my courses focusing on the pure biology side of neuroscience and use that foundation daily, but I would have never discovered my love for the technical side of science without getting to work with Dr. Nyhus in EEG, and learn about MRI and other medical imaging technology.

Ketura Berry

Ketura Berry

Class of: 2013

Location: San Francisco, CA

Major(s): Neuroscience

As a student in Patsy Dickinson’s Neurophysiology course, I began to learn that problem solving was a more important skill than memorization. After graduating from Bowdoin in 2013, Kacey spent two years living abroad—first in Germany as a Fulbright grantee, investigating the neural circuitry of fruit fly factory behavior, and then teaching Biology in Italy. She then worked for two years as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Stanford’s Stroke Center, studying delayed cognitive impairment in stroke patients and correlated immune changes. Kacey began medical school at UCSF in 2017.

How did your Neuroscience degree from Bowdoin prepare you for your current career?

An important turning point in every young scientist’s development is the transition away from consuming science as a collection of dogmatic principles. As a student in Patsy Dickinson’s Neurophysiology course, I began to learn that problem solving was a more important skill than memorization. Discussing the merits of scientific articles in seminars further reinforced this point—that scientific discovery is a deeply nuanced collection of results and their interpretations. Thanks to Hadley Horch’s incredible mentorship inside and outside the lab, I soon gained the tools and confidence to design and interpret my own scientific experiments. As a woman who started college feeling like a scientific outsider—with no one in my family in the field or in medicine—these experiences were especially empowering.

Presently, I am transitioning from academic research to my first year of medical school. Medical knowledge, too, is a messy compilation of facts derived from old and new studies, anecdote, and sometimes tradition. I hope to become a physician-scientist who critically evaluates current medical practices to understand how we know what we think we know, and then to design studies to improve, strengthen and deepen that knowledge.

What advice would you give to current or future Neuroscience majors?

I would tell other Neuroscience majors to take risks: Apply for summer research, graduate programs, and scholarships—even those that feel out of your grasp. I assure you, they are not! Even if individual applications do not work out as you hope, the process is among the best ways to practice refining and communicating your ideas and aspirations.

But also: remember to do what you love outside the classroom, too! Some of my proudest moments may seem far removed from neuroscience—like performing as a member of Bowdoin’s Improvabilities, living abroad for two years, or working as a running tour guide—but in roundabout ways ultimately fueled my interest in particular topics in neuroscience and led me to medicine (and are things that I got asked all about on the interview trail for medical school, too!).

Isabel Low

Isabel Low

Class of: 2013

Location: Stanford University

Major(s): Neuroscience

My time in the Neuroscience major taught me to read critically, rigorously question scientific dogma, and communicate my science to others. I use these skills almost every day. Isabel Low is currently a second year PhD student in Stanford's Neuroscience Graduate Program, studying how our brain helps us navigate through space. Before that, she worked as a research technician and lab manager at Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital. Isabel graduated from Bowdoin with a double major in Neuroscience and Creative Writing.

How did your Neuroscience degree from Bowdoin prepare you for your current career?

My Neuroscience degree from Bowdoin was the best preparation I could have had for my current trajectory. In studying at Bowdoin, I developed a love for research science and learned basic laboratory techniques. Even more importantly, my time in the Neuroscience major taught me to read critically, rigorously question scientific dogma, and communicate my science to others. I use these skills almost every day.

Alex Williams

Alex Williams

Class of: 2012

Location: Stanford University

Major(s): Neuroscience

My time at Bowdoin taught me to be very detail-oriented and critical of my own ideas. This granted me a lot of independence and confidence to develop my own research projects later on. Alex is currently pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at Stanford University. His research and graduate coursework have been largely interdisciplinary, in particular with the Engineering and Computer Science departments. Alex's current projects aim to develop statistical methods for understanding large-scale biological neural circuits as well as artificial neural networks used in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Before coming to Stanford, he worked at the Salk Institute, UC San Diego, and Brandeis University on smaller-scale computational models of single neurons and small circuits.

How did your Neuroscience degree from Bowdoin prepare you for your current career? How did your Neuroscience education influence your career trajectory?

My time at Bowdoin taught me to be very detail-oriented and critical of my own ideas. This granted me a lot of independence and confidence to develop my own research projects later on.

Patsy Dickinson introduced me to Eve Marder as an undergraduate, and this directly led to my first job after graduating (in Eve's lab at Brandeis). Working with Eve turned out to be the perfect next step to prepare me for a PhD. I think all students interested in applying to grad school should seriously consider working for a couple years first.

What are your future plans?

I am going to keep researching topics in computational neuroscience and machine learning. I may do in this in academia as a postdoc/professor, or as a researcher in industry.

What advice would you give to current or future Neuroscience majors?

Do at least one summer of research at Bowdoin. Do at least one summer internship/research position outside of Bowdoin.

Claire Williams

Claire Williams

Class of: 2010

Location: University of Washington

Major(s): Neuroscience

Minor(s): Hispanic Studies

Claire is currently a PhD candidate in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program at the University of Washington, where she studies the patterning and development of the nervous system, using genetic and bioinformatic approaches. After graduating from Bowdoin with a major in neuroscience and a minor in Spanish, Claire spent five months teaching English at a small high school in Chile. She then returned to the lab and worked as a research assistant studying neuronal morphology at Harvard Medical School.

How did your neuroscience education at Bowdoin influence your career trajectory?

I first became interested in neuroscience when I took an introductory neuroscience course my sophomore year at Bowdoin, in particular as I learned about some of the clever early studies used to understand the developmental principles driving the assembly of the brain. The following summer, my advisor at Bowdoin encouraged me to undertake a supervised research project of my own, and I later was able to present this research at international scientific meetings, getting wide exposure to current neuroscience research. This early experience in academic research led me to continue pursuing new opportunities to explore cutting-edge research in neuroscience, to my current graduate student position and my future interests.