What do you do?
I use rats to study how the brain changes in response to drugs of abuse and/or foods that are high in fats, sugars, and carbs.
Why did you choose this field?
I took a Drugs and Behavior course as an undergraduate from Dr. Mary Cain and fell in love with the material. I asked her if I could join her research lab and that whole experience inspired me to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience, specifically in the drug addiction field. I loved going to work in her lab with her graduate students every day. I also believe it was this positive work environment that solidified my drive to go to grad school to continue asking and answering questions regarding reward circuit plasticity.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
I am now a PhD candidate and am well trained in electrophysiology! I had no idea what electrophysiology even was as an undergrad. I also remember looking up to the graduate students I was working for at the time and thinking "wow they are so smart, there's no way I'll ever get there" - and here I am, 4 years later, getting my PhD in neuroscience.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love going into rabbit holes of papers or techniques I had never heard of to answer questions that nobody has answered. It's like a giant puzzle and my job is to try and solve it from multiple approaches! I also really enjoy mentoring the undergrads in my lab. I appreciated the time and effort graduate students put into my research experience and education and I am doing my best to pay that forward.
Best advice for next generation?
If you like something, do it! Don't be intimidated by the statistics of men in STEM fields. Women are actually starting to take over. My graduate program right now has 6 females and 1 male. To quote Beyonce - "who runs the world? Girls.”
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
"Sometimes science is a lot more art than science. A lot of people don't get that." - Rick Sanchez