What was your favorite experience while concentrating in the UM Psychology Department?
I loved the freedom to choose from many different exciting courses when it came time to register, and the opportunity to do hands-on research in your various research interests. I participated in numerous BBCS/Neuroscience laboratories when I was an undergraduate, which still helps me in my work today - I owe it to the Psychology Department for giving me such a great opportunity outside of the classroom.
Favorite Psychology class & why
Current Topics in Cognition in Perception: Meaning and Mechanisms in Mind-Body Medicine
This course provided the overall framework of how brain and behavior are related with regards to medicine and pharmacology. It was a seminar course, and I grew to the know the professor well personally. I felt that my coursework was not only limited to classroom discussions - I learned a great deal in talking with the professor. The experience provided me with the motivation to further pursue psychology in the future.
What was your first step after undergraduate graduation & how did it impact your career path?
My first job after graduation was serving as a summer Student Orientation Leader for UM's Office of New Student Programs. While the position was not directly related to my BBCS concentration, it provided me with an opportunity to pass on advice to incoming freshman about what it takes to succeed at Michigan. I was able to provide additional support for students who were considering concentrating in Psychology, BBCS, or Neuroscience. Most importantly, I realized that I considerably enjoyed working with students, acting as a resource and mentor, and 'teaching' them about UM and life in Ann Arbor. This further confirmed my future aspiration of being admitted into a doctoral program with the goal of becoming a scientist/professor.
What are you doing today?
I am currently a research assistant at the University of Michigan Depression Center's Sleep and Chronophysiology Laboratory, a research facility that investigates sleep and biological rhythms across the lifespan, using primarily electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure brain activity.
The laboratory has a focus on the determining biological markers for depression and alcoholism, in addition to how major depressive disorder and sleep are linked.
As a technician and assistant, I assist with study recruitment, electrode application and other data collection procedures (including working overnight), EEG monitoring, and data scoring/management.
What inspired you to enter that field/job/profession?
I have always had a strong interest in Psychiatry and depression research, as evidenced by the kind of undergraduate research that I participated in (particularly UROP work through Psychiatry/Neuropsychology and Depression/PTSD research at the VA Hospital). I also found sleep research to be interesting but it was an area that I was lacking research experience in. I have worked in the Sleep and Chronophysiology Lab for over a year now, and it has provided me with exceptional insight as to how sleep, psychological disorders, and overall mental health are interrelated. I find this type of work fascinating.
How do you use your psychology undergraduate experience in your work?
I now have the opportunity to utilize my BBCS course work in every day working life in countless ways. For example, doing recruitment for depressed participants requires an understanding of depressive symptoms, etiology, and psychopharmacology. Understanding the basic premise and science behind the studies we are running all tap into the knowledge gained from undergraduate psychology coursework.
What excites you most about the future of your profession?
Sleep is a universal behavior that is continuously providing scientists with more and more knowledge about the brain. I see so much potential in this growing field, and I am excited to be a part of it, and to pursue it in graduate school.
What advice do you have for students getting a Degree in the UM Psychology Department or considering your profession?
Like I told the freshmen I oriented, I would tell Psychology students to take initiative now -- pursue a topic you love, make good use of your resources, and ask your professors a lot of questions!
If you're a BBCS student and love studying hormones and behavior, for example, do more than just good grades--make it a point to go to office hours and get to really know your professors (they love this--trust me!), and perhaps explore the topic with further reading beyond your given coursework. Show your commitment and get involved in research. This will yield many rewards after graduation.