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!).