Journey to Neuroscience

I have a pretty non-traditional journey towards working on a phd in neuroscience. I originally started undergrad in 2006, spent a few years in school, and ultimately left without completing my degree. I spent time living in various places across the country. During that time, I had the chance to meet and be influenced by a number of valued friends and new ideas, which started me on my path to thinking about health, equity, and liberation.

I returned to the University of the Virgin Islands in the Spring of 2015. I was lucky enough to meet my first mentor, Dr. Aletha Baumann, who almost immediately introduced me to the world of research in psychology. It was fascinating and invigorating. She also provided me the guidance I'd sorely needed. During my time 2.5 years finishing up my undergraduate degree at UVI, I had the opportunity to conduct research with mentors in public health and in chemistry. I also applied to and was accepted into a summer research program at the Boston University School of Medicine.

There I met Dr. Karin Schon, who became a close mentor (and my current academic mentor and advisor) that helped solidify the passion I feel for scientific inquiry. This summer was also the first time that I'd ever been exposed to neuroscience. The research conducted in the lab focused on the effect of an exercise intervention on memory function in older adults. I had the opportunity to work with participants and collect data, and I also had access to a treasure trove of already collected data. Using cross-sectional data I worked with a masters student in the lab, Andres Lopez, and was able to work on my own abstract that I submitted to a national conference. That Fall, I presented my research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students and won Best Poster Presentation in Neuroscience. Later that Fall I applied to the Graduate Program for Neuroscience at Boston University and was accepted to continue working with Dr. Schon whose research has expanded into exploring chronic stress due to racial discrimination (i.e., the action of systemic white supremacy and anti-black racism) as a potential contributor to a striking health inequity in Alzheimer's disease between Black and white Americans. Additionally, I applied for a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars grant and was awarded! As an HPR Scholar I'm currently being trained in how to apply my current research into lasting policy changes to help the communities I am a part of.

It's currently three years later and I'm entering the fourth year of my program. The journey here has been a long one. It's merged my passion for social justice; my belief that everyone should have access to health, wellness, and happiness; and my need to understand how our experiences shape us.