From 2005-06, I was a Senior Fellow of the Denison University Biology Department. The statement I wrote below, originally published on the Denison University website (http://denison.edu/academics/departments/biology/05_06_senior_fellows.html), was meant to inspire younger students to pursue careers and resarch in Biology, as well as to convey my interests and background in the field.
How lucky are we biologists to study such phenomena as embryo development, island ecology, and medical therapeutics? We strive to understand how the living world works as an ordered and self-perpetuating system by means of countless techniques, methods of analysis, and experimental designs. I am particularly fascinated by Neuroscience and issues pertaining to neural plasticity and regeneration. My interests arose at a young age from exposure to serious neurological issues when my little sister was born. She was diagnosed with hydrocephalus in utero and to this day is challenged by more medical struggles than physicians can make sense of. Her pediatrician expressed an idea which has stayed with me since Ashley’s birth that has fostered an intense appreciation of the natural development and function of the living body. In trying to figure out what has gone wrong, “it’s a miracle that so many things have gone right.”
In choosing research as a career goal, I have been fortunate to have had numerous research lab experiences, mostly as a student intern, but lately as a student researcher, to help in deciding which aspect of Neuroscience I wish to pursue. After five years, seven research labs, and six institutions, including UCSD, Stanford, the Cleveland Clinic, and Denison, I have gained an immense respect for neuroscientists as well as their diverse approaches to research. Neuroscience is an intricately-layered discipline, composed of the molecular and cellular to behavior, systems, and cognition. Each perspective is equally important to understanding the brain. What is most exciting are recent endeavors that cross traditional boundaries between the various fields to further understand the synergistic accomplishments of the brain and nervous system. I feel lucky, then, to be entering a field that is so rich with potential to change modern medicine and therapeutics. It is my hope that everyone can discover and pursue that field of study which most fascinates them, for it is that sincere motivation, I believe, that will make the most significant difference in scientific and intellectual progress.