Undergraduate Neuroscience Current Students

Imani Alexander, Sophomore at UAB 

"Ever since my 7th grade Biology course at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, I have been fascinated with science, the human body, in particular. I was always interested in how the body worked and how it responded to different situations, especially sickness and diseases. During 8th and 9th grade, multiple of my relatives and family had died of various cancers. It was at that point that I decided to devote my life to studying science, oncology in particular. It wasn't until my junior year of high school that I became intrigued with Neuroscience, when I was taking AP Psychology and IB Anatomy. Learning about the complex anatomy of the brain while also being exposed to the world of Psychology, sparked my interest in Neuroscience, and since then I have been yearning to know more. For the future, I would like to enroll in an MD/PhD program. I still plan on pursuing a career in oncology, however, of the numerous types of cancers to study, I have decided to focus on brain tumors because of their vast complexity and low survival rate."

Emilee Anders, Sophomore at UAB 

"During my first semester of my high school career, I experienced my first  encounter with what led to my interest in Neuroscience. This is when I  took my first psychology course. I loved it. I actually enjoyed going to  this class everyday and taking notes and endlessly reading the textbook.  But there was one minor flaw that existed. It actually wasn't so minor at  all. The problem I had with psychology was . . . the theories were never enough  for me. I wanted to know more than just what someone "thought"  was happening. Anytime we even remotely came anywhere near to the  physiological side, my interest rose even more. It became more of a  euphoria. Throughout my senior year, I looked for the right major and the  right college. I knew that eventually I wanted to go to medical school  and then on to become a pediatrician. Another interest of mine id  individuals with special needs. While being a pediatrician, I want to  specialize with individuals with mental and physical disabilities. I know  that one can go to medical school with virtually any major, but I wanted  a major I would genuinely not only be interested in, but love, as well as  one that would provide an alternate route if medical school does not work  out. Currently, my back up plan if I do not attend medical school, is to  go to graduate school and maybe be some sort of scientist or conduct  research of my own. After detailed research of other Neuroscience  programs all over the country, I found UAB's to be the one that most  intrigued me. The Neuroscience program at UAB is so unique and  fascinating because it is so selective. It REQUIRES undergraduate  research, has some of the most qualified mentors one could ask for, and  is sponsored by the School of Medicine. On top of all of this, everyone  in the program, including the directors, are all so personable and  welcoming. I am truly looking forward to the meaningful research ahead of  me and I am honored to be a part of UAB's Undergraduate Neuroscience  Program."

Ellen Apple, Freshman at UAB

"My interest in Neuroscience stems from all of the amazing things that the brain allows us to do. It is responsible for our perception of the world and how we respond to the things we perceive. Yet, there is much about the brain that we do not know, and the field of Neuroscience offers ample opportunities for research. I want to contribute to the growing amount of information that is being gathered about the brain. I also want to help people that have experienced traumatic brain injuries and people with other diseases that affect the brain. My uncle suffered a traumatic brain injury when he fell backwards at the top of the steps leading up to the door in the garage. Although he has managed to recover a lot since then, he has never been completely the same. It would be amazing if I could contribute by finding ways to help people like my uncle. I am excited to be a part of the Neuroscience program at UAB."


Kara Arps, Senior at UAB 

"Although I was diagnosed with minor scoliosis at 7, it rarely impacted me until my 13-year-old annual x-ray showed increased severity in my upper back curve and a compensatory curve in my lower back. Preventing my scoliosis from worsening to the point of needing surgery, an unsympathetic orthotist put me in a full-torso, painfully restricting hard plastic brace that obstructed my movement 20 hours a day. My compassionate physical therapist, however, helped me physically and mentally endure the agony by maintaining realistic expectations of the process and providing exercises that focused on maintaining my strength and flexibility. The combination of my growing fascination with anatomy and physiology and my physical therapist's passion for helping me keep a normal daily routine while enduring an intrusive brace led to my aspiration of attaining a doctorate in physical therapy. Additionally, several volunteer opportunities with special needs children, especially my experience at The Bell Center, an early intervention program for children with developmental delays, inspired me to specialize in pediatrics to empower special needs children to become more independent by improving their gross motor skills, coordination, and sensory processing. By studying neuroscience, I will understand the brain's function as the body's control center and will discover how special needs children process life differently. Pursuing degrees in exercise science and neuroscience, conducting research, and volunteering, I will be equipped to apply my knowledge on how the brain triggers the body to work to analyze and successfully treat each individual patient."

Anooshah Ata, Junior at UAB

"My interest in neuroscience began in junior year of high school in my human
anatomy and physiology course. I was amazed by the fact that the brain controls
most of human function yet at the same time we know the least information about
the brain compared to any other organ in the body. This fascination with the
brain led me to enter the neuroscience program at UAB that blends together my
interests in not only biology but also psychology.  Currently, I am working in
Dr. Clinton's lab. Dr. Clinton?s lab examines the effects of early-life
antidepressant exposure on brain development. Specifically, in utero exposures
to these medications have shown negative effects on emotional behavior. 
Histological experiments on the brain of offspring exposed are being used to
help determine the mechanisms that underlie behavioral changes."

Cooper Bailey, Sophomore at UAB 

Throughout my life, I have been fascinated with the concept of crime. It is that fascination that led me to the field of neuroscience. I realize it might seem a bit strange that I chose to study neuroscience instead of some of the striking fields that come to mind when you hear the word "crime," such as criminal justice or even forensics. I must ensure you that there is a method to my madness. One can think of crime as a type of pollution; it permeates most every society, it is extremely detrimental to society, most everyone in the society is aware of its existence, yet no one has found a way to completely eliminate it. It still runs amok through our streets, tears apart families, and destroys lives on a daily basis. There have been many attempts to control crime, like harsher, or softer, prison sentences; a focus on rehabilitation instead of incarceration; and even plans put into place by politicians running for office. However, the United States continues to be the world's leader of the number of incarcerated people. Our prisons are overcrowded, the conditions are getting worse by the minute, and a prison industrial complex is rearing its ugly head with the intent of capitalizing on those deemed criminals by our society. I want to study neuroscience because I believe that in order for us to gain even the smallest hold on crime in our country, we must look to the epicenter: the human brain. The brain is the control mechanism for our actions, and therefore it is also the birthplace of the criminal act. This should make the brain our prime focus when we try to deter crime. We must look beyond the "how" and "why" of crime, and seek out the "what"- the very basic function that started the flow of actions that became crime. It is for this reason that I chose neuroscience as my major here at UAB, and I am honored to be a part of this great program.


Ameen Barghi, Senior at UAB 

"Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (commonly known as CI Therapy) is a very efficacious branch of physical therapy developed by Edward Taub, Ph.D.  It plays off the idea that animals, specifically monkeys, and even people can have 'learned non use.' Though the affected limb is not actually paralyzed, the stroke leaves the patient with an apparently permanent loss of function of the arm. The basic idea behind CI Therapy is that preventing animals (or humans) from trying to use their affected limb during a period of recovery can break this learned non use that the subjects had developed. I am currently working on various measures such as Brain Parenchymal Fraction, Corpus Callosum index, Voxel Based Morphometry, and Diffusion Tensor Imaging Tractography. I use various software packages such as MRIcron, FSLview, Matlab, and the various SPM statistical packages. Neuroimaging offers a lot of variety for any curious mind willing to spend time discovering and correlating the infinite permutations that are possible. Programs and software used in conjunction with analytical reasoning and experience furnish the ultimate recipe for knowledge."   


Hriday Bhambhvani, Sophomore at UAB

"Neuroscience has always been a topic of fascination for me simply because so little is known about it. For example, the mechanism(s) by which neurodegenerative diseases arise remain, for the most part, a mystery to researchers. Also, the fact that a roughly three-pound mass of neural tissue regulates all of our body's function is pretty neat, right? This past summer I worked under Dr. Meador-Woodruff on a variety of projects, all revolving around schizophrenia. In particular, much of my time was devoted to looking at the various levels of expression of certain metalloprotein transcripts, via qPCR analysis, in the brains of schizophrenic vs. control group subjects. UAB's undergraduate neuroscience program is unique in that it is the only college program, to the best of my knowledge, to work directly in conjunction with the school of medicine in educating undergraduate students. As such, I have high hopes for the quality of education I will receive over the next four years, and I don't think I'll be disappointed."

Jamie Bice, Sophomore at UAB 

"As a fifth grader, I was diagnosed with diabetes. From then on my life was changed by frequent visits to the doctor. As my diabetes got progressively worse, I began to be in and out of the doctor more often which has showed me that what they do is exactly what I want to do -- help people. Although at first I wasn't sure which direction I would take with this but I was soon introduced to the Special Needs students in my school through a leadership class I took. Once I did some research, I found UAB offered a Neuroscience program which, upon reading, I realized was exactly what I wanted to do. So now, sparked by my interactions with those wonderful children and this increasingly popular field of study, I plan on researching methods of coping with and hopefully someday curing Autism."

Ben Boros, Freshman at UAB 

"When I considered what career I wanted to pursue, I decided that I didn’t want to choose arbitrarily to become a doctor or a physicist or a chemist. I decided that I would choose to learn and to discover. The brain has always been elusive. There have been sciences devoted to understanding anything that we could possibly want to understand. If I wanted to study the molecular structure of water, I can do that and only be hungry for more. If I wanted to study about the composition of the universe billions of years ago, I can do that and have a
bang. But if I wanted to study about all the ways that we study everything, I would be trying to understand how our brain interprets the universe around us: neuroscience. For a field of study that seems so important to our own perception of the universe, it is mind-boggling that we currently understand so little. But since neuroscience incorporates an understanding of numerous sciences, it provides a broad range of examination, allowing us to consider even the more immaterial components, such as behavior and thought. Neuroscience provides so many avenues to innumerable subjects. Following the neuroscience program would enable me to pursue these various avenues, while having the opportunity to discover the vast potential of our minds."

Piyush Borse, Sophomore at UAB 

"Losing loved ones is always heartbreaking -- this is an unquestionable trait of socially accepted human nature. Ordinarily, I imagined the only way we could ever lose our cherished was through death. Though, around fourth grade I realized there was a fate, which seemed to be even more painful than physical mortality. My best friend Paul's grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's that year. Paul's grandmother was the second most important woman in his life. By the sixth grade her Alzheimer's had worsened severely: She no longer knew who Paul was; Paul had lost his grandmother. As his friend, not only was I disheartened -- I was shocked. This emotional territory was totally unfamiliar to me. Instinctively, I was fascinated, drawn rather, to every component of this unfortunate experience: Paul's close relationship with his grandmother; her loss of memory; the emotional frustration of becoming a stranger to someone so important; and finally the helplessness of the situation. Why did these relationships exist and was there a biological component to this familial love? Why was it possible to lose a memory? What is memory or a memory in the first place?What damage does our mind take in response to such trauma? And, why didn't we know how to fix this?  Why?

So, this was my fascination, driven by intense curiosity. The Neuroscience Program is what I see as the opportunity through which I can begin to answer these questions. The extensive research opportunities are indicative of the potential the field presents. This fresh frontier of science not only has so much to offer, but I strongly believe that passionate people can offer much to the science itself. This knowledge would, of course, be revolutionizing in a broad spectrum of societal areas encompassing culture. I plan on using the experiential and theoretical gains of the Neuroscience Program in my pursuit through medical school. After that, I have no idea exactly where my career will go; I'm still extremely young and nothing is concrete. What I do know is that I want to make a difference so we aren't so helpless. I want to know more about the one thing that makes it possible for us to know anything: our brain."


Ashley Brock, Sophomore at UAB 

"For as long as I can remember I've been interested in both psychology and biology, and when I first learned about neuroscience as a sophomore in high school I knew I just had to pursue this exciting field. My interests have always been so varied that I worried for a long while I would never be able to find a field that wouldn't leave me bored, but there are endless possibilities with this most intriguing, interdisciplinary science. The opportunity for new discoveries is endless. I came to UAB for the neuroscience, because as soon as I heard about the unique opportunities available to me with this program I could think of nothing else. I am so thrilled to be here and a part of this incredible program. After graduation, I intend to continue my study of neuroscience in graduate school, maybe even here at UAB."

Lauren Cabaniss, Junior at UAB  

"I am interested in the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience, and by extension, the varied curriculum and research opportunities of UAB's Undergraduate Neuroscience Program. Not only am I encouraged to take classes relating how various social and scientific disciplines contribute to how the nervous system works, but my knowledge of neuroscience is enriched daily through my research in UAB's Department of Dermatology, where it has become clear to me how interwoven all of the human body's systems are. I am a research assistant in Dr. Nabiha Yusuf's dermatological laboratory. The laboratory's focus on innate immunity applies to the nervous system by way of neurohormones, neurotransmitters, and neuropeptides. These neuroendocrine elements of the immune system regulate local homeostasis through corresponding receptors expressed on skin or nerve endings, allowing neural regulation or trasmission to the brain. Proenkephalins (PENK) are endogenous opioid polypeptide neurohormones that coordinate the skin's response to UVB radiation's suppression of the immune system. Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4) agonists stimulate proenkephalin gene expression in melanocytes and keratinocytes in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Studies from Dr. Yusuf’s laboratory have indicated that TLR4 inhibits the repair of UVB induced DNA damage and promote inflammation in skin. There is no information on the role of PENK in regulation of UVB induced DNA damage and its effect on inflammation. It is therefore vital to study the interactions between these neuropeptides and environmental insults like UVB to understand the underlying mechanisms. Thus, the findings from my research will highlight the role of neuropeptides like proenkephalin in management of UVB induced cutaneous responses. "

John Chancellor, Junior at UAB

"It wasn't until my first Psychology class that I became fascinated with the brain and how it works. But now, it's the only thing that I would like to devote my undergraduate career studying. I believe that the future lies in understanding the brain, its capabilities, its limits, and its power. I think that discoveries in Neuroscience will lead to remarkable creation and innovation that will revolutionize our world. Who knows what problems we could solve or what diseases we could cure if there were more time spent studying the brain and its workings? This is my main reason for pursuing Neuroscience. I want to jump on board exploring this cutting-edge field and aid in the discoveries that will not only better our knowledge but society as a whole. In addition, I enjoy the opportunities that the Neuroscience major establishes for me. I, especially, look forward to working in the lab of an experienced mentor to produce meaningful research.

Ashton Cook, Freshman at UAB

"The brain has been an item of my fascination for many years. It is the most complex organ of the human body, and with every discovery about it, more mysteries appear. Along with the complexities of the brain alone, the diseases that affect it are just as perplexing. With my endeavors in neuroscience, I hope to become capable of researching further into the causes of these diseases, and how they may be prevented or treated.

Claire Crider, Senior at UAB  

"My interest in the neuroscience program at UAB began the very moment I heard of it. The nervous system in itself is something that is utterly unexplainable; there is a vast array of mysteries that have yet to be uncovered. The brain's mechanisms are truly limitless, continuing to defy all expectations. My interest in studying the nervous system came about when my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Many people who have MS are first diagnosed because of problems with eyesight; this problem arises because of lesions on the brain interfering with proper vision, this realization spiked my interest in Optometry, which is a professional program I am seriously considering. Most of the time, a patient is diagnosed with MS when there are only a few lesions present; however, my mother was diagnosed with an 'explosive onset' of lesions. There are over 20 lesions on her brain and over 20 lesions on her spinal cord; this diagnosis piqued my curiosity about the nervous system, how it works, and why it would attack itself so severely and suddenly.  As I have learned about my mother's disease, I have also learned about many others; through this I have found that I have a devout interest in the realm of neuroscience. I am both proud and honored to be a part of this limitless and prestigious program."

CAllison Dalberg, Freshman at UAB

"The brain. It is a small mass that is often referred to as the
"thing between your ears" or my personal favorite, your "noodle". We perform day to day functions that we don't even think about being complex or precise. The question is, how does it all work? This control center is the initial source of every electrical impulse for pain, it controls all emotions, thought, balance, and reason. It is the part of the human body that we know the least about. I want to understand why it all works the way it does–how the intricate weaving of neurons controls your entire body and thought process. Learning about the brain is what I love. By being a part of the UAB Neuroscience program, it gives me the opportunity to pursue my desire to help others find answers to complicated questions.

Raktima Datta, Sophomore at UAB

"Neuroscience was not something that I ever considered studying until some of my older friends started majoring in it. They told me to give it a shot because it was very interesting. Since I was already planning on majoring in Biology, I figured that I could take a psychology class and see if I enjoyed it. I am so glad that I gave it a chance because of all of the classes I have ever taken, I enjoyed psychology the most. I really like that Neuroscience explains why we act how we do. Basically, I really like that I can relate what I learn in class to what I see in the real world everyday. My ultimate goal is to become a doctor, and I think a background in Neuroscience will be beneficial since behavior is so important to so many of the health problems people face. While Neuroscience is very challenging, it is definitely a challenge that I will enjoy taking."

Anisha Das, Sophomore at UAB

"I am a Neuroscience major because I'm very interested in learning about both Psychology and Science. My interest in this specific field was further fueled by my involvement in Neuroscience related research. My Junior year in high school, I investigated the synergy between two herbal compounds, Resveratrol and Piperine and evaluated it as a potential drug therapy for Alzheimer's. My Senior year in high school, I worked in the Oregon National Primate Research Center and looked at a enzyme called Hyaluronan Synthase 1 and investigated its role in Autoimmune Inflammatory Demyelinating Diseases. My career goals are to practice medicine, in addition, to conduct research possibly in the Neuroscience field. I look forward to attending your Psychology class this year!"

Sunith Donti, Sophomore at UAB  

"My family is almost entirely composed of engineers or businessmen. My family's history dictates us to be working classmen, who specialize in the fields of engineering, farming, etc. It was my dad, who first broke this long standing dogma, and came to the U.S to work as a software manager at Honda. He is the one who inspired me to follow my own dreams and hopes. It was until my visit to India, however, that truly inspired me to pursue a career in the medical field. After seeing the suffering and rampant sickness that exists in my hometown in India, I felt motivated and responsible in helping my people and community in India. The people there lack proper access to healthcare and medicine, and I believe that I can make a positive difference in this matter by becoming a doctor. I was drawn to the brain and nervous system during my biology classes in high school. Through reading neuroscience articles and research papers, I felt as if neuroscience should be the route I take to achieving my life goals. The neuroscience program here at UAB provides great insight, classes, and motivation for me in achieving this goal. The challenging curriculum and expert mentors, I believe, will provide invaluable knowledge for the future and medical school and open doors for future research and opportunities gained only through the completion of this program."

John Decker, Junior at UAB

"Neuroscience has often been called the last great frontier of science, and it is this vast and unexplored quality that first drew me to the study of brain and mind. I was amazed to think that Man, who has discovered so much about the universe around him, has just begun to understand the most basic things about his own mind -- the lens through which he sees the world, the engine that has allowed all of his advances, and that which most separates him from other life. My original areas of interest dealt with very fundamental questions, worth answering simply for their mystery, such as how thought arises from the association of many unthinking parts and how language and memories could be processed as simple electrical signals. After reading more about the subject, I also became interested in the more immediately practical answers it offers, which range from cures to physiological and psychological disorders to advances in computing and economics. Though I didn't (and surely still don't) know what direction I want to go in with neuroscience, I came to UAB knowing that it would be an excellent place to explore my interests and dive right into research."


Michael Dunbar, Sophomore at UAB  

"Neuroscience intrigues me because it allows us to learn about the most powerful organ in the entire body, the brain.  Because the brain is basically the physical source for everything about us, neuroscience also calls to my interest in human behavior and personality. It astounds me how much we don't know about what is essentially ourselves. Studying neuroscience gives the feeling of being on the new frontier. The faculty here at UAB tremendously impressed me with their dedication to the neuroscience program and really got me excited to be a part of the program. I feel that the challenging curriculum as well as the overwhelming research opportunities will also guide me to my future goal of becoming a doctor."

Haley Edwards, Freshman at UAB

"When I was in elementary school my parents bought me a book filled with optical illusions and random facts about the brain. I don't think they planned for it to spark a fascination that would become what I wanted to study in college. What started with illusions in a kid's book, turned into a yearning to understand how the brain can control every function in your body. Eventually I became interested in mental illnesses and how little is known about them. I hope to one day research and help to further the understanding of neurological diseases, and possibly help develop more effective medicines and treatments for them. When I stumbled upon UAB's neuroscience program I instantly knew that it was the perfect fit for me, and I am absolutely thrilled to become a part of this extensive and interdisciplinary major this year."


Ramsha Farrukh, Sophomore at UAB

"My first true introduction was to neuroscience was a labyrinth of red and green. Amy Nelson, a graduate student in Dr. McMahon's lab, presented work on sympathetic sprouting at a summer camp I attended after sophomore year. I was fixated on the intricate dendrites of the cholinergic cells strung together in a complex network. To me the idea that cholinergic neurons could sprout from the ganglia to compensate for the loss of neurons in other regions of the brain seemed something from a science fiction movie. I joined Dr. McMahon's lab the following year and began to work with something that as a student I was always fascinated about: memory. Specifically, my work deals the expression of O-GlcNAc, a molecule involved in the post translational modification of numerous proteins, and what could be driving the change in O-GlcNAc expression in the brain. The premise of the research is the idea that glucose metabolism may have a role in the decline of cognitive function in neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's disease, and aging.

Even as a high school student, I was given so many opportunities to attend lectures, see brain cuttings, and be close to extraordinary faculty and students. What still amazes me is the interdisciplinary nature of the field; my research alone combines incorporates biochemistry and cardiology research. Neuroscience even travels beyond medical research, and into areas as diverse as law and business. Ultimately, I want to be able to use what I learn from neuroscience as a physician. I want to be a doctor who is aware of the complexities of pain and addiction, because they are present in virtually every field. Also, we can already predict that the rapid pace of cognitive decline for aging population will put an enormous strain on the healthcare system, and the problem's root may lie beyond the brain. As future professionals, we need the tools of neuroscience to deal with the problems of tomorrow and push beyond the boundaries of science fiction."

Armand Fernandez, Freshman at UAB

"I have always been interested in psychology, biology, and chemistry, and didn't know what type of major to pursue in college. When I was allowed into the Vanderbilt pathology department and got to physically touch a human brain, I wondered how complex this vital organ is and how much we still don't know about it. It was not until I experienced a debilitating post-traumatic event towards the end of my senior year that I started thinking about why my brain is undergoing this excruciating physical and psychological pain. I hope that the undergraduate neuroscience program will not only help me to understand more about myself, but also to help others that have experienced similar events through education and research. My future plans are to attend medical school and possibly be an advocate for neurological and mental health issues in the community."

Celeste Fong, Sophomore at UAB

"Since before I can remember, I've always been fascinated by the human body. My active lifestyle prompted me to become enamored with the incredible feats humans can perform. This is when I discovered I loved science. When I was 8 years old, I went through the 'I want to be a veterinarian' phase that most kids go through. I wanted to help animals simply because they were cute and cuddly. But growing up at the time when great emphasis was being placed in science and medicine, and great discoveries that changed the ways of healthcare were being found, obviously I was introduced to the field of healthcare quite rapidly and what can I say, it grew on me. The idea of displaying incredible human feats in order to help others, revolutionize the field of healthcare, even change the way we see possibilities. This is when I decided to pursue the field of healthcare.

Then when I was a junior in high school I took my school's AP Psychology class, and that opened so many new interests for me. I was introduced to who we are as individual humans, what made each one of us different and why we couldn't physically see why. We were also introduced to the abnormalities in humans we call diseases and disorders and the rapid progress we've made in figuring out what's happening in things we can't see. And when applications for UAB came out, I saw the words neuroscience when choosing my major. I was reluctant at first, but who can turn down the chance to learn what they love while receiving so many rare opportunities as undergraduates. To this day, my career goals have changed multiple times and I am still unsure as to what I would like to pursue in the future, but regardless of what it holds I know I can be prepared thanks to the neuroscience program."

Kristin Ford, Senior at UAB

"I am working in Dr. Amy Amara's laboratory in the Department of Neurology.  We are researching the effects of DBS (deep brain stimulation) on sleep in individuals with Parkinson's Disease.  Our research is mostly done through polysomnography (sleep studies) and timed task completion, but we also use survey measures such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and a REM sleep behavior disorder questionnaire.  We will soon be adding a new aspect to our research, as we are in the process of beginning a virtual reality street-crossing task that will evaluate daytime sleepiness." 


Meghana Gaini, Sophomore at UAB

"My interest in the reason for why people say what they say, and do what they do makes neuroscience the perfect program of which to be a part. Being able to learn about the intricacies in the brain that drive daily, human behavior excites me. My curiosity about the foundation of human behavior is what began my interest in medicine. This field gives me the ability to get to personally know patients and to observe their behavior. As of now, ophthalmology, the study of the anatomy, functions, and diseases of the eye, is the specific branch of medicine in which I am most interested. My experience with CRT, hard, overnight lenses, and my experience with switching from theses lenses to normal, daytime contact lenses have influenced me to enter the field of ophthalmology, although I am still keeping my options open. Most importantly, I love every aspect of medicine, good and bad."

Rahul Gaini, Freshman at UAB

"Throughout high school, my passion for learning lied within medicine, and I pursued this passion by taking a biomedical track for four years. During my senior year, I decided to also take Psychology in order to complement my enthusiasm for medicine with another science that I would hopefully enjoy. Despite my appreciation for and fondness of Biology and Chemistry, it did not seem like I would want to pursue an undergraduate major in either. Taking Psychology was one of the best decisions I made, as Psychology turned out to be my favorite class thus far. The Neuroscience major is right down my alley, as it is a great mix between the medical aspect and psychological aspect of society. Furthermore, the research opportunities associated with the Neuroscience major will allow me to get the full knowledge and experience I need to be a successful medical student. After talking with Dr. McFarland and doing some more research about the Neuroscience track at UAB, I knew that this would be a major I would not only get the most out of, but also thoroughly enjoy. After all, what better way to spend four years of undergraduate school than studying about the control center for human behavior and thoughts, which guides every action a human being takes?"

Jordi Garcia, Junior at UAB

"The study of the sciences always appealed to me, but it wasn't until around two years ago I knew I wanted go into medicine and to specialize in Neuroscience. The brain is incredibly complex and holds so much power to our bodies, but at the same time, very little is known that I wouldn't want to study anything else. There are strange neurologic behaviors like the alien hand syndrome, hemispatial neglect, or clinical lycanthropy that animate me to learn more about them and find out how these phenomenons can happen. This unfamiliar organ offers a vast sea of research opportunities, that is why I'm a part of the Science and Technology Program at UAB. I am excited to study and learn in the Sci-Tech and the Neuroscience programs and have them mold me into the perfect candidate for graduate school."

Daniel Gilliam, Junior at UAB

"To me, neuroscience is one of the most intriguing areas of science. The field is richly interdisciplinary, reaching into both the philosophical and the strictly scientific. I find the aspects of neuroscience that cross both ends of this spectrum, such as the dichotomy between the conscious mind and the physical brain, to be especially fascinating. The idea that a highly organized mass of tissue can create a consciousness that is able to question and examine itself is astounding. I cannot think of a more worthy subject to devote my college education to than the mysterious processes through which our perceived realities emerge from the inordinately complex web of neurons inside us. In addition to learning about neuroscience, I also feel compelled to take part in the ongoing generation of knowledge. The Neuroscience Undergraduate Program at UAB seems to be a perfect fit for me because it provides the opportunity to pursue a major I find extremely interesting, receive personal attention from faculty, and become engaged in meaningful, professional research. Ultimately I aspire to continue to medical school and merge my compassion for people with my passion for neuroscience by implementing the knowledge I gain in a relevant medical specialty."

Ellen Grappe, Sophomore at UAB

"My interest in neuroscience began when my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. My family has spent the last six years working as caregivers to my grandmother and great uncle, who is also afflicted with dementia. Taking care of my relatives played such a pivotal role in my life, I knew that I wanted to continue to serve others and ease the job of other caregivers in any way I could. The undergraduate neuroscience program offers me a unique opportunity; it is an excellent way to prepare for medical school, and it offers an outstanding amount of research opportunities, in which I am very excited to participate. The undergraduate neuroscience program was the deciding factor in my decision to make UAB my home for the next four years. I am most interested in Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia, due to my past experiences with both of these illnesses."

Emily Gravlee Junior at UAB

"I decided that I would like to be a part of the Neuroscience program because of the incredible potential for discovery in this particular area of biological science. Not only is the brain a newer area of interest and scientific scrutiny, but it is also extremely multifaceted in its operations, providing for a comprehensive and challenging course of study I feel that I will enjoy."

Sullivan Hanback, Sophomore at UAB

Science has always been my passion. The intriguing aspect of science is that it is an ever changing field that tries to uncover the mysteriesof life. One of the great frontiers of contemporary science is the mystery of the human brain. I had my first experience in psychology my freshman year of college in Dr. McFarland's class. The class had an amazing impact on me. I have always been interested in biology and how the body functions so, it became clear to me that neuroscience was the perfect fit for me.The neuroscience major not only offers a challenging and interesting curriculum, but also many other opportunities, such as participating in research. The neuroscience program will serve as the perfect path for me to reach my long term goal of becoming a doctor. Nelson Mandela once said, "There is no passion to be found in playing small--in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." My dream is to utilize my knowledge to change the world.

Xiola Harris, Freshman at UAB

"I first became interested in neuroscience when I was in my tenth grade anatomy class. We were watching a Mythbuster's episode about the brain, and I just couldn't keep my eyes off it. What interests me most about the brain are mental illnesses and what makes criminal minds. I would like to do research studying the causes of mental disorders."

Katrina Hatch, Sophomore at UAB

"When I was in high school, the brain always intimidated me. I took several science and anatomy classes that always touched on the subject of the brain but I always shied away from the material like it was the plague. The idea that the three pound mass in my head controls everything about me is absolutely incredible. The more I learned about it, the more intimidating it became. My love for the brain began during my freshman year here at UAB when I began hearing of all the amazing things that my peers were learning and researching about the brain and all of its components and complexities. I realized that, along with my intimidation, my interest grew. I stopped shying away from it and began to delve in and ask questions and research things on my own. That was when I knew that something had to change for me. When I first started at UAB, I was originally majoring in Biomedical Engineering. I loved the idea of being a part of a new, innovative field in which I could still pursue my love of medicine. During my summer after freshman year, however, I came to the realization that I was not completely content. I did not simply want to be on the designing side of the ground-breaking appliances and discoveries. I wanted to understand exactly how something works so that I could work to improve a product to be used in neurosurgery. I decided to double major in Neuroscience because it allows me to not just help be a part of the designing process of these new innovations, but it allows me to look into understanding all aspects of why it works as it does. My hope with majoring in both fields is to bridge the gap between the two fields and allow each to communicate more effectively. By bridging this gap, it will be easier to make improvements in products that involve both fields. Neuroscience will allow me to understand the brain better as well as continue to fuel my curiosity in the mechanisms of brain function."

Jarrod Hicks, Junior at UAB 

"I first became interested in neuroscience when I competed in UAB's Brain Bee Competition and subsequently the National Brain Bee Competition. Since then I've maintained an active role in the field of neuroscience by working in Dr. Edward Taub's lab. During my time at the lab, I have worked on brain parenchymal fraction (a measurement of brain atrophy), voxel based morphometry (an imaging technique to examine changes in brain matter), diffusion tensor imaging (an imaging technique to map white matter tracts and analyze white matter/axonal integrity via anisotropy), and the rating of deep white matter and periventricular hyperintensities using the Fazekas scale. Currently, I am working on tracing several anatomical brain structures associated with motor functioning."

Brennan Hickson, Sophomore at UAB 

"Present-day understanding of the brain is something akin to Ptolemy's version of the solar system; both act as works in progress. The evolutionary nature of our comprehension of the nervous system suggests that what has yet to be discovered will surely place current findings more in league with covered wagons rather than space shuttles: the evolution of the universe, the unraveling of the genesis and sustainability of energy, the locus of personhood within the mind -- all branches of knowledge and understanding revolve around our discernment of this incredible three-pound mass. My own interest in exploring neuroscience developed while completing my senior creative writing thesis project -- which I wrote from the perspective of a character suffering from schizophrenia -- at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Thorough research of the disorder was crucial in crafting both the story and the protagonist realistically. Although I was limited to the Internet as a resource, the knowledge that I acquired through my research monopolized my preoccupations, leading me to view the world through a curious new prism -- which, consequently, prompted my pursuit of a career in research. Joining UAB's interactive undergraduate neuroscience program seemed the natural progression from my small-scale groundwork studies in a high school cubicle. It is easy to see that we are all still worlds of uncharted territory. But through the program, I hope to delve into the organ that underlies comprehension of us all."

Lauren Hocevar, Junior at UAB

"For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the way people behave.  I also have been fascinated with the human brain. I like to believe that I think differently than most people; and I have always been curious as to why I think in such a way. The brain is the most complex organ and although mysterious, the known aspects are truly remarkable. I have always wondered why people think they way that they do and act the way that they do. What in the human brain triggers our behavior? And why do those things happen?  While researching these topics, I came across the study of neuroscience and after researching further, I decided that that was what I wanted to study in college. I plan to do research regarding behavioral effecting brain problems during my time in this program at UAB."

Alan Howard, Senior at UAB 

"All my life, I have been fascinated with the human brain and all of its functions.  Since my youth, I have had an intense desire to learn all that I can about the human body.  It has always been clear that I wanted to practice medicine.  However, entering my senior year of high school, I faced the challenge of searching for the right major that would catch my interest and best allow me to succeed in the future.  While looking through a list of possible majors, the broadness of degrees like Biology and Chemistry just did not spark any interest. However, the specificity and uniqueness of the University Neuroscience Program did.  The opportunity to become a part of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program here at UAB is truly an honor."

Javarus Humphries, Freshman at UAB

"I chose this major Neuroscience, for I have always had a keen interest in the
brain, its functions, and furthermore the nervous system. My reason for this
interest was first piqued at a young age, when I discovered the terrible
migraines my mother and brother both suffer from. After a car accident my senior
year which left me with two fractures to my pelvis and a concussion (which in
turn made me a bearer of post concussive syndrome), my interest in neurological
matters only increased. Due to this accident, I was able to actually be in a
neurological patient’s shoes, and realize how challenging it can be for not only
the patient, but also the doctor who isn’t quite sure what treatment will work
best. For this reason I hope to do vast amounts of research pertaining to this
field and go to medical school.  Hopefully by using my research and my own
personal experience with a neurological disability, I will be of benefit in some
career in the neurological field. All in all, my hope for being in this major is
to be able to bring some relief to a world filled with pain, and to shed some
light on the mysteries of the brain."

Tamara Imam, Sophomore at UAB

"I've always been fascinated by psychology. Having encountered a plethora of different kinds of people growing up, I was, and still very much am, curious as to what causes people to have so many different personalities. At the same time, however, I have a love for the relatively objective sciences, namely biology and human anatomy. I was thrilled to learn that UAB offered neuroscience as a major, because it is a one-of-a-kind program that combines both of these subject areas. I believe that armed with an undergraduate degree in neuroscience from UAB, I will be well on my way to succeeding in medical school and becoming a psychiatrist or neurologist."

Emily Jennings, Sophomore at UAB 

"Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." Not only is this quote exponentially inspirational, it also causes one to ponder--in awe--about the roots of such an indomitable will in people: the mind, something whose workings have been mysterious to humans since the time of Parmenides. Of course, such an intriguing aspect of humanity is most typically associated with the most fascinating piece of the body: the brain. How the brain is structured and functions has captivated me since childhood, when one of my cousins was diagnosed with Landau-Kleffner Syndrome. Since then, I have encountered several other neurological disorders through my family and friends, including tumors, herniated discs, and axonotmesis. Because of those encounters with neurological disorders, my passion to learn and my fascination with the brain, I plan to attend medical school then engage in a career as a neurosurgeon, through which I will aid and potentially cure those with neurological disorders around the world. Due to the opportunities it provides one to research as an undergraduate (with top medical professionals) and learn alongside advanced, motivated students,  the UAB Neuroscience Program was the ideal next step to take towards assisting the international community. I am very excited to be part of the UAB Neuroscience Program, and look forward to the great experiences the next four years have in store!"

Aileen Jong, Sophomore at UAB

"My interest in neuroscience began during my sophomore year of high school  when I taught a class of senior citizens the basics of Mandarin Chinese  at a nursing home. While interacting with and helping the elderly, I  quickly realized just how important the brain is and how age and  neurodegenerative diseases can highly impact the quality of life and  learning. This led me to UAB's Neuroscience program, which offers  incredible opportunities to research, learn, and gain a better  understanding of the mind. I am eager to continue developing my interests  in the functions of the brain, especially those related to aging and  diseases. My career goal is to become a dentist, and I believe that  majoring in neuroscience will help me to understand and discover the many  intricacies of the human mind and how it relates to the rest of the  body."

Akriti Kaur, Junior at UAB

"I was born in India, but I went to high school at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus. However, my home is in Madison, MS. I came to UAB primarily for the Neuroscience major, and after being here for several weeks, I became very excited to be in this unique program. My career goals involve becoming a physician and hopefully attending the UAB Medical School. I have not decided on the kind of doctor I want to be, but maybe this program will help me decide.  I am also planning on volunteering at the Children's Hospital. I look forward to learning from my professors and my laboratory experiences."

Anas Khan , Senior at UAB

"My interest in neuroscience stems from my passion for medicine. The mechanics of the human body are sensational to me. Learning about them holds my attention and interest indefinitely. The fact that the nervous system is probably the most complicated system in the body is vast in that it plays a major role in all of the other systems, and the biochemistry involved in the nervous system is exciting to learn about. One of my aspirations is to become a cutting-edge neurosurgeon and resolve the dead ends that the world faces in curing and reversing neurodegenerative diseases and trauma-related paralysis. These encompass Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and motor vehicle accidents. Currently, I am working with Dr. Amara in studying the frequency of sleep apnea in Parkinson's patients. I hope to use the knowledge I gain in my time as an undergraduate studying neuroscience with the knowledge, tools, and skills I hope to acquire as a medical student to fulfill my dream in reducing the number of seemingly incurable ailments in the world."

Jordan Ladnier, Senior at UAB

"I can't recall the first time I ever heard about neuroscience, but I remember being astounded that such a field existed.  I knew instantly that I wanted to be involved in neuroscience, not because it was the study of the nervous system, but because of all of the ramifications from that one simple organ: the brain.  The brain virtually controls our entire world, yet there is still so much to learn about it.  There are an endless number of opportunities for studying and discovering the delicate intricacies of the brain and how it dictates everything we do.  I have always been fascinated by the fact that every thought comes from a chemical reaction in the brain, and how one change in brain functioning can have a drastic impact on everyday life.  I am thrilled to be a part of the UAB Neuroscience program so that I can learn more about this fascinating organ."

Oluwagbemiga Larinde, Junior at UAB

"As a child I was told a lot of stories. The most fascinating story (more of a fact) was the one my sister told me. She told me about how dynamic the the brain is, and that the brain has over 100 billion neurons. Of course I was only 11, and my sister was only 3 grades older. I wasn't sure how true the fact was because I couldn't help but wonder how 100 billion things could fit into my little head. That moment brought forth a curiosity in my life which in turn led to my interest in knowing more about the brain. We live in a modern Era where a lot of Neurological and psychological disorders are diagnosed without any precise cure. So far research in neuroscience has given the most promising answers. There is a saying "you have to work with a brain to know the brain." My interest in knowing more about the brain and finding cures for neurological disorders made me choose neuroscience. Right now I am working with Dr. Kazu in measuring the rate of gamma oscillation (linked to working memory and cognitive function) in Schizophrenia. I hope one day in the future, when we all have cures for numerous neurological disorders, we will look back at this day and laugh as to how dumb we were for not seeing things on time. ."

Samuel Mabry, Sophomore at UAB

"Growing up, I was always incredibly interested in all the different sciences, ranging from biology to chemistry. I've always thought that I wanted to go into a scientific field, but I was never entirely sure which scientific field. Heading into my junior year of highschool, I had the option to take a psychology course. Previous to this time, I had very little exposure to psychology and I was very interested in this class, just as I had been in all of my other science courses. As the class begun, though, I realized that, while I enjoyed all of my other science classes, none of them were as interesting to me as psychology. Every day I would look forward to going to this class and every day I enjoyed what I was learning, but by the end of the course I began to realize how many questions there were that still existed in this field. The sections that still seemed to have the most questions surrounding it were the chapters that involved the brain and how it worked. This is what initially sparked my interest in neuroscience. It drew me towards the idea of neuroscience because of how many opportunities there were to learn something completely new. Ever since that class, I was confident that neuroscience was the way that I wanted to go. As I looked through colleges with different programs with neuroscience, I found that UAB offered a program that fit exactly what I wanted to do. Between the research opportunities and the overall program as a whole, I knew that UAB's neuroscience program is what I wanted to do."

Harrison Mansour, Freshman at UAB

"'Just because we don't understand doesn?t mean that the explanation doesn't exist.' (Madeline L'Engle).When Dr. McFarland first asked me to share my thoughts on why I wanted to study neuroscience, I was lost for words. I had no idea what to say primarily because I didn't know exactly why it is I'm doing what I'm doing. As I read through the responses my peers have posted my worries are compounded. Why is it that I don't have one of these beautifully deep and personal reasonings for my decision that has stemmed from years of passion as so many others do? That is when it hit me. I'm here because I don't understand. None of us understand. In my mind there has always been and always will be but two ways to go; out and in. Both are infinite and, despite the fact that what is inside is so near, it is just as foreign and confusing as the reaches of the universe."

Alexander McArdle , Sophomore at UAB

"I knew leaving high school that if I had to study one thing in college it would be in the field of Neuroscience. For me, the idea of using my brain to study itself and unlock its own mysteries seemed amusing at first, then rather profound. I see boundless opportunity in exploring the mind. I believe the next great human revolution will come from the field of Neuroscience, which will rival the industrial and technological revolutions. Few other fields offer as much room for growth and development as Neuroscience. Nothing seems more appealing to me than being able to add to the wealth of human knowledge, a step catalyzed by UAB's wonderful undergraduate program. The emphasis and opportunity for research at UAB made my decision an easy one, as I plan on pursuing research for my career."

Natasha Mehra, Junior at UAB

"Emerson Pugh once said, 'If the brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn't.' This paradox expresses the complexity of the brain and the human attempt to understand the mind.  This very complexity is what captivates me.  The brain is the most fascinating organ in the human body.  From the blink of an eye to the beating of a heart, the brain controls every aspect of a human's life.  My goal during my time as an undergraduate neuroscience student is to learn as much as I can about the brain and do research on neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia, so human beings can grasp what all the mind is actually capable of.

Remy Meir, Freshman at UAB

"'The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe?' The words of Michio Kaku embody my fascination with not only the brain, but neuroscience as a whole. From working with autistic children to seeing the effects of dementia on my grandfather, I have seen first hand how problematic the brain can be. These experiences along with a high school career filled with AP biology, Psychology, and Anatomy have created an intrigue about the human brain. My interest in the brain stems from the science, the how and why it works and the reasons it fails. My fascination with this three pound object has created a passion that I hope to feed at UAB. I am thrilled to be a part of such an innovative program and cannot wait to take advantage of all the exceptional opportunities offered."

Ian Michalak, Senior at UAB

"As far back as I can remember, I have been obsessed with trying to understand the way things work. Whether trying to build the perfect block tower or to calculate the ideal angle for a header into the soccer goal, I wanted to know 'why' and to figure out how to make it better. That interest has evolved and grown stronger over the years. While I was aware of basic cognitive processing, I was recently introduced to the intricacies of the brain which, to me, is one of the miracles of the universe. I initially chose UAB for the great pre-medical opportunities and chance to balance academics with the highly regarded Blazer soccer program, but I was not entirely sure what I wanted to study. In my interdisciplinary course for the University Honors Program, several of the lectures explored psychology and the complexities of the mind. I found myself thinking about how amazing it is that we are capable of consciousness and thought, and then wondering what processes in the brain make this possible. Everything about the brain fascinates me, from the physiology of neurons to the complex relationship between the brain, the mind, and the body. I realize that I have only scratched the surface, and I look forward to extensively studying the brain and taking advantage of the incredible research opportunities that the neuroscience program presents me. "

Ally Middleton, Freshman at UAB

"In the 4th grade, I had the incredible opportunity to dissect a sheep's brain as part of a class for gifted students. It was truly one of the most incredible experiences I've had, especially as a 4th grader. In that same gifted program, we explored topics such as memory and dreams and engaged in discussions of how the brain works. From then on, I had to learn more. Later on in my life, my high school AP Biology course confirmed my overwhelming love for science and understanding the more complex aspects of life and the human body. I never thought I could pursue neuroscience research as a career, mostly because I never knew where to begin, until I learned that UAB has its own neuroscience program for undergraduates. Since this isn't a program you can find just anywhere, I knew UAB was the perfect fit for me. I truly believe that a career in neuroscience research would allow me to make a difference in the world, specifically by working to cure diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's and dementia. We know so little about this organ that controls so much, and for that reason, I can't imagine anything more fascinating to study."

Briana Miller, Junior at UAB

"The brain is an endless enigma; a frontier of possibilities. Neuroscience links psychology and biology in a way that invites seemingly infinite discoveries about the human experience. I am excited to join such a rapidly expanding field in UAB's neuroscience program because the ample, unique research opportunities and high quality, challenging courses will do more than prepare me for medical school and the rest of my career."


Emily Milligan, Sophomore at UAB

"I was born right here at UAB hospital at 29 weeks (11 weeks premature). After an extended stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I have grown up without any major disabilities. I knew I didn’t want the gift of my life to be a waste and my experience instilled in me a passion to help give other babies the same fighting chance at life. Later, in high school, a close friend of mine’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Witnessing the slow and devastating progression of this illness, I realized that my passion to preserve quality of life did not have to be limited to babies. With this passion in mind, I discovered Dr. John Shacka’s neuropathology lab where I began researching ways to identify causes of and treatments to prevent the progressive neurodegeneration characteristic of several devastating illnesses including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. This work sparked my interest in the amazing complexity of the human brain and led me to change my major to Neuroscience. I know this program will help me gain the knowledge and skills I need in order to move toward earning an MD/PhD degree so that I can realize my dream of preserving the quality of life for others that I was so blessed to have."

Mugdha Mokashi, Freshman at UAB

"It might be interesting to note that I performed my first surgery at the age of nine. A very unorthodox procedure involving sewing needles, embroidering thread, and a stuffed animal was conducted with expert precision and ultimately, she survived the procedure. However, at the same time, I had created a monster- myself. I snatched every opportunity to get closer to the medical world, and as I got older, they became more real. Science was always my favorite subject throughout school, and the dissections that others were squeamish around fascinated me. Several unusual allergies and health conditions had me in and out of clinics throughout the years, and hospitals became commonplace to me. However, it was only through shadowing in the hospital that I found the true connection between the biological sciences and the human experience. This is best explained by studying psychology and physiology hand in hand­a field of knowledge encompassed by neuroscience. As today’s modern medical world shifts to placing an emphasis on neurobiology, biochemistry, and the human psyche, the field of neuroscience becomes all the more essential. This interdisciplinary approach combining the study of behavior and biology offers a more holistic approach to understanding the “why” instead of just the “what” in human medicine­setting this program apart from the rest. During my next four years in the neuroscience program at UAB, I hope to take on some of these “why” questions in modern medicine, especially those that pertain to dementia and other mental health related illnesses. The incredible undergraduate research opportunities and strong UABSOM and UAB faculty support associated with the neuroscience program are an opportunity unlike any other. I am certain it will prepare me for my future as a medical doctor."

Radha Molleti, Sophomore at UAB

"I have always been curious about what is happening in the brain when someone says or does something. I don't exactly know when my interest in neuroscience or psychology sparked but I know I love everything about it and I want to nurture my interest in the subject. Before coming to UAB I wasn't very sure what to major in, and just like any other pre-med student I was caught between the normal Biology, Chemistry and Bio-Medical Engineering major. I knew I wanted to be a part of something big at UAB and the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program was it. The biggest aspect of the Neuroscience Honor's Program that caught my eye is how selective the program is and how high the standards are. It pushes you to do your best and succeed. I really appreciate that we get to work with Dr. McFarland so closely and have him as one of our advisers. Along with the rigorous curriculum, we're required to do research. There is so much about the brain we don't know yet and it will be a privilege to be a part of the research that goes on at UAB. This major puts all the pre-med students on the right track and lays down the perfect foundation needed for medical school."

Emily Montoya, Sophomore at UAB 

"When I was in elementary school, every year we had career day and we would dress up for the career we hoped to have some day. Since kindergarten, the same girl in my grade won first place every year for dressing up as a marine biologist. She brought in huge blow up marine animals and wore a wet-suit. It was the bane of my existence to lose every year to a blow up whale. When I was in second grade I decided enough was enough and instead of dressing up as a dancer or the president I went to career day as a pediatric neurosurgeon. (I had just watched a special on TLC about twins conjoined at the head and was very inspired.) I got second place. As I think back on that experience, instead of remembering the crushing defeat I experienced as I child, I realize that it was at that point in my life that I realized I wanted to pursue medicine. Talking to my dad about pediatric neurosurgery, as he helped me bandage my dolls head, opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me. Throughout the rest of my education, as I dug deeper and deeper into advanced sciences and anatomy, my desire to pursue medicine got stronger and stronger. I don't know anymore if I want to do pediatric neurosurgery specifically, but I know whatever my dreams are in medicine, the neuroscience program can help me get there.

altMohamad Moughnyeh, Junior at UAB

"I have always been interested in science and the medical field specifically. However, I did not always know about the field of neuroscience but when I found out, I knew immediately that this was the field that I would want to pursue in university and beyond. I am fascinated by the way microscopic cells work together in such a way so that we function as we do and behind all that is a three pound organ that allows us to do these functions properly and efficiently. The brain in its complexity just amazes me and I just have to study it further to get a better understanding of how the brain works and how we can use the brain to unlock cures for some diseases that are plaguing mankind today."

Regan Murray, Freshman at UAB

"I had not heard about neuroscience until my first campus tour at UAB and from then on I knew this was what I wanted to study. Chemistry, psychology, and biology were always my favorite subjects in school and to find a major that combined all of these things thrilled me.  I am excited to study neuroscience because nothing is more complex in a human body than the brain.  With new discoveries constantly being made I know my future career, whether it be psychiatry or research, will definitely not be boring and I am so thankful to have this opportunity at UAB."

altDailey Nettles, Junior at UAB

"My first real experience with neuroscience research was through a high school research program at the Institute for Imaging and Analytical Technologies and the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine. I was able to observe canine MRI scans and help develop protocol for using MR Spectroscopy in data acquisition of canine and feline brain tumors in the clinical setting. This gave me a taste for imaging and the process of developing protocols. As a Junior, I am working in Dr. Gwendalyn King?s lab in the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute. We are studying the effects of the Klotho gene in the mouse brain. Klotho knockout mice display signs of premature aging such as hair loss, thinning skin, cardiac problems, and cognitive impairment. This gene is only expressed in a few regions of the body, especially in the kidneys. Being a neurobiology lab, our aim is to study the effects of Klotho in the brain. During my first year in the lab I have been able to collect data on various types of mice relating to hippocampal volume estimation, neuron branching analysis, and stereology of cell proliferation. My lab is incredibly hands-on and I am always learning new skills. This experience has sparked my interest in neurobiology and deepened my love of imaging technologies.

altMichelle Nguyen, Sophomore at UAB

"As an introspective person, I have always been fascinated with psychology, in discovering the ?hows? of behavior, which is rooted in the complex neural networks of the brain. As a committed pre-med student, biology was an obvious choice for helping me understand the inner workings of the human body and for preparing me for the rigorous medical school curriculum. But prior to coming to UAB, it never occurred to me that my two passions could be combined into one cohesive field of study: neuroscience. The Neuroscience department at UAB offers a unique and amazing opportunity for undergraduate students by pairing them with a highly qualified research mentor. This, along with the integrative Neuroscience curriculum, was what made me want to major in Neuroscience, and I am honored to be a part of this amazing program."

Stacey Niven, Freshman at UAB

"I decided to pursue neuroscience after taking an AP psychology class my junior year of high school. The neurobiology section of the course was
nothing short of fascinating and upon realizing how much there was to learn, my path seemed clear. I like solving puzzles and there is no greater puzzle than the human brain so I am super excited about the neuroscience program here at UAB. After grad school I want to go work in a research lab somewhere."

Grace Nix, Senior at UAB

"I cannot exactly pin point when my fascination for Neuroscience and the human brain began, but I can say that it was a compilation of different things throughout the past five years. I had a biology teacher who motivated me to find an avenue in science I was passionate about, and I had a psychology professor through the University of North Alabama that introduced me to the brain. I was fascinated by the fact something physical like tiny neurons and synaptic connections can produce the emotions we feel on a day to day basis. If my interest was sparked through academics, it was fueled when both my grandmothers were diagnosed with two different neurodegenerative diseases: Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. I am enamored with the brain and the nervous system. I have a tie with the science because of my family. And I love research. Honestly, I could not imagine being in a more perfect major."

Brian Nykanen, Junior at UAB

"Research, the foundation for acquiring knowledge, has been an important aspect of man ever since the start of society.  Scientists studying the brain have made great strides in research and they recently contributed much to the field such as a better awareness towards schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.  However, neuroscience contains a vast array of unknown components that are ready to be discovered.  Surrounded with a family familiar with brain disorders: epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, I have dedicated myself to help map the grey areas of the brain and ultimately contribute cures to many common yet crippling diseases.  I have found that the most efficient start to my path to fulfill my goals was through the Neuroscience Program at UAB."


Tyler Orem, Sophomore at UAB

"Although I have always been interested in science, it was my freshman year of high school that I became interested in neuroscience. That year, my father was diagnosed with Huntington's disease, a genetic neurological disorder. This was also when I first learned of UAB, due to the trips he made here for clinics on Huntington?s disease. Then after taking anatomy and physiology my junior year, I realized just how much more there is to be discovered about the brain and nervous system. The neuroscience program seemed like the perfect fit for me to discover these things for myself. I would be able to take advanced classes rooted in neuroscience while also having the opportunity to perform research in an area of my choosing, potentially Huntington's disease."

Lauren Osburn, Junior at UAB

"I became interested in the brain when I had my first seizure in 2009. The numerous visits to a neurologist that followed peaked my curiosity in neuroscience. I began watching psychology based tv shows, reading books about the central nervous system, and taking high school electives such as anatomy and AP psychology. I slowly realized that neuroscience was the area I wanted to specialize in. I'm so excited to see how the next four years at UAB will facilitate my passion for neuroscience!"

Aashka Patel, Sophomore at UAB

"Neuroscience first captured my interest as a junior in high school in my AP Psychology class. I was fascinated by the complexity and mysterious nature of the brain. Despite the many discoveries scientists have made, there are still so many unanswered questions. Many diseases that effect the brain still have unknown aspects such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. I believe I will enjoy exploring this unknown especially with the many opportunities for research through this program. Being a part of this undergraduate program will provide me with a greater depth of information."

Jason Patel, Freshman at UAB

"Hi, my name is Jason Patel and I am majoring in neuroscience. I am from Montgomery, Alabama and I planned to come to UAB in hopes to become academically challenged and surrounded by fellow students who are striving to reach their goals. I am interested in neuroscience because it helps reveal the many virtuosities and complexities of the brain. IT expands the view of the human body and how it may work. I addition to that, I view science and art as two sides of the same coin. Without science to compliment art, the world would not be as interesting as it is today. My hobbies include painting, tennis, videogames and oddly enough, math. I like to problem solve. For some others, a good TV show might interest them; but for me, solving a complex puzzle or figuring out something that I never knew before makes me super excited. I'm glad to be here and super excited."


Brynna Paulukaitis, Senior at UAB

"I work in Dr. David Sweatt's lab, under Dr. Iva Mathews, who is currently studying projections from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex of the brain. To do this, we are studying surgically removed mouse brains by slicing them to put on microscope slides. After the brain regions are sliced, they will be turned transluscent with a recently discovered solution. This will hopefully make for easier analysis of the connections between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Such an analysis will allow for a better understanding of how memories are transferred from the recent memory (in the hippocampus) to the remote memory (in the prefrontal cortex)."

Jake Perkins, Freshman at UAB

"In fourth grade I remember that my assigned lunch table was next to that of the 'special education' class. For weeks I didn't even notice that the kids sitting across from me were any different than I was, but when my teacher mentioned the nature of their class in passing I didn't understand why they couldn't join our class at recess. Now, of course, I understand that my friends simply required a different classroom setting to facilitate as much learning as

Realizing a desire to not only understand neurological and physiological disabilities but to do my part to make a difference in the scientific community regarding these areas, I sought out UAB's neuroscience program to give me the necessary skills to make such a difference."

Tate Pollock, Freshman at UAB

"The reason that I decided to become a Neuroscience major is because of a problem that I have developed that really interests me. Well two problems. The first is that ever since the hurricane Katrina hit my home in New Orleans, i have lost many memories of my childhood. On top of that, my memories made after that event have had a hard time 'sticking', to the extent of me hardly being able to call them memories. I know this is because traumatic events usually are repressed, but i don't just want to know that I have repressed memories, i want to chemically learn why. I find the biological and chemical aspects of the brain fascinating on a level that only being a Psychiatrist or Psychologist would not be enough. I want to do research on memories, and try to discover how memories are lost and what to do to stop that from happening. The other reason I decided Neuroscience as my major is a very cheesy one. I think the fact that we know so little about the brain is amazing. How one year we can think we know a lot about a certain function, but then the next year all that knowledge is added upon or disproved. It is literally mind-boggling and I love it. I'm blessed to be in the Neuroscience program and cannot wait to see what college has in store for me."

Ranjani Ponnazhangan, Junior at UAB

"I was attracted to the neuroscience program because it not only provides several research opportunities, but allows me to indulge in my fascination of the nervous system while pursuing a major that will prepare me for my later years as a medical student.  In a field that is rapidly growing and expanding, the neuroscience program offers tools to shape the way I experience the medical field in a different aspect through psychology, as well as biology, while gaining the experience necessary to expand my knowledge in the field of neuro-related medicine."

Josh Purvis, Freshman at UAB

"I became fascinated with the brain when I was waiting for someone in a bookstore. I picked up a copy of ?Incognito? about the subconscious brain, was quickly hooked, and bought it. The more I learn about the brain, its complexity, and how little we really know about it I?m even more excited about majoring in Neuroscience. I?m thrilled to be a part of this program and to get involved in actual research. Figuring out how our brains learn, give us our personality, or
fail us in some cases is why I want to become a neuroscientist. My future plans are undecided right now."

Syed Rashid, Freshman at UAB

"The development of my interest in neuroscience stems from a fascination with my
father's occupation as a psychiatrist, an experience taking a neuroscience
course at Emory University during the summer following my sophomore year in high
school, and a natural curiosity towards the workings and complexities of the
human brain. Exposure to the psychiatric side of the medical field allowed me to
gain a great appreciation for the way the human mind works early on in my life.
Both my appreciation and fascination with the science developed further while
taking a class in case studies in neuroscience. While taking the class, I
realized that I was more interested in neuroscience than the other science
classes I had taken in high school. My natural curiosity with the human brain is
something I have had from a very early age, which makes neuroscience an ideal
major for me. Being a part of the UAB neuroscience program will be a great asset
in my pursuit for a career in the medical field."

Colton Remedies, Junior at UAB

"Throughout my childhood I was continually amazed at the wonders of the brain. Neuroscience is the most intritguing subject in science in my opinion, because one delves beyond the layers of conscience and finds the actual cell-cell interactions that lead to human thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. I came to UAB for the neuroscience program and for the multiple research opportunities that I hope to become involved with in the future.  My current career goals are located in the medical field, and I look forward to using the multitude of academic opportunities to give me a clear foundation for this later in life."

Arthi Reddy, Junior at UAB

"As a senior in high school, I had a difficult time choosing between the biomedical engineering major and neuroscience major at UAB, but I chose biomedical engineering because of my love for problem-solving and hands-on experiences. Although I really enjoyed biomedical engineering, something was missing for me. I realized the missing factor after listening to a lecture about cognitive bias and explanatory power in science in one of my honors lectures. The lecture discussed how the human mind is a belief engine; it naturally looks for and finds pattern in new information and infuses the patterns with meaning. Every aspect of human life is consciously or subconsciously affected by the brain. Even the scientists in the lecture who strived to be as objective as possible were victim to the power of confirmation bias. This makes me wonder how the brain has the ability to make humans perceive things in contrast to reality. The Neuroscience Major opens the doors to interdisciplinary thinking by incorporating several sciences, maths, psychology, anatomy, and even reasoning. In addition, there are a plethora of research opportunities, and I have found the program to be very personal and accommodating to students' individual interests. I even appreciate the correlation between neuroscience and biomedical engineering because neuroscience relies on complex instrumentation for imaging of the brain, medical simulations, data modeling and many other tasks. Neuroscience is a rapidly growing area of study than is connected to almost all aspects of life, and I am honored to be able to take part in this unique field of study. "

Sara Robicheaux, Senior at UAB

"The first time I was exposed to the vast world of the brain, I was in my junior anatomy class in high school. I thought it was so interesting that one organ controls everything an organism could do. How could something that controls all emotion, thought, and functions as important as homeostasis be so small? My fascination with the brain grew further when I was diagnosed with migraines -- how could something I recalled as so small cause so much debilitating pain? When I applied to UAB, I was fascinated with the idea that a program existed that would allow an undergraduate to study the brain, an organ that has fascinated many people before me, while also promoting further research into its interesting and complex world. I hope during my four years at UAB to further unlock the mysteries of the brain, knowing that while many discoveries have been made, there are an even greater number waiting to be discovered. While my future plans are being decided, I know that my fascination with the brain will continue with whatever career path I choose."

Courtney Rogers, Sophomore at UAB

"The brain is such a complex and fascinating part of the human anatomy. Without it, we are nothing. It is something we constantly overlook, yet it is what drives every action, emotion, and thought that we experience. How can something so vital be so overlooked in our everyday lives? There are two things I've known I always wanted to involve in my career: children and the human mind. Initially, I thought I wanted to pursue a career in Developmental Psychology. Once I starting thinking about it, I realized that there was something deeper that intrigued me - not just what and how we think and feel, but the biological science behind it, the answer to "why?" Through neuroscience, I hope to one day work with children that have mental disorders and explore the solutions of science?s unanswered questions in this area of research."

Erin Ross, Freshman at UAB

"Ever since I was quite young, I have wanted to know how people “work”: what makes the human race tick, what comprises individuals’ identities, what drives the forces that drive the world. Multiple members of my family hold positions in the mental health profession, and my interest in the science of thought was piqued by their careers. In high school, while taking Anatomy and Psychology courses simultaneously, I realized I wanted to enter a field in which I could mesh these areas. I sought a discipline that peered and probed into specific brain processes, something much more concentrated than the general overview of anatomy. After further research, I felt the best way to accomplish said meshing was through Neuroscience. I am particularly interested in the ways the chemistry of the brain affects thought and behavior, such as in mental disorders and degenerative diseases. I am excited about this emerging field, the sheer magnitude of discoveries and insights waiting to be made about the brain, and the ways neurological patients can be impacted by those discoveries. I am eager to begin undergraduate research and anticipate the great opportunity of working with mentors from the Neuroscience department and medical school faculty. My future plans, as of now, are to attend medical school and become a Neurologist. I am very honored to be a part of UAB’s prestigious program, and I look forward to the next four years!"

Aaron Salisbury, Freshman at UAB

"The brain is a true riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The more we try to unravel the secrets behind this organ the more mysterious it becomes. Ever since I was little I enjoyed completing puzzles whether it be sliding box puzzles, puzzle boxes, or tangrams. As I got older I wanted to solve more difficult problems, and that is where my interest in the brain stems. It is the organ we know the least about yet is the most important to out existence, since it controls the functions of all the other organs. That is why I joined the neuroscience program at UAB. I want to learn all I can about the brain and apply it to my future career. I want to figure out exactly how to counteract neurodegenerative disorders like ALS, Parkinson's Disease, and Alzheimer's Disease. After Medical school I plan to do clinical research in a teaching hospital."

Alan Schumann, Senior at UAB

"My interest in the brain began at a young age after reading Flowers for Algernon. This book entails a medical procedure which transformed a mentally handicapped man into a genius. While I'm not so much interested in creating a superhuman, I am interested in how to better a child's emotional and intellectual growth through advanced rearing techniques and early intervention. Then I would like to discover the relationship with parenting and its effects on the child's synaptic pruning. I am also happy to be exposed to other areas of neuroscience and refine my interests. I was also drawn by the low student to teacher ratio so I would receive a more personalized learning experience."


Rhiana Simon, Sophomore at UAB

"Truth be told, I've always been a sucker for biology. To me, it's such a charming subject that grapples the concept of life so methodologically, so artistically. When I originally chose to major in biology, though, I couldn't help but feel something was missing. You see, in high school, I also took psychology and rapidly became infatuated. It was pretty charming too. But to major in psychology was a pipedream, because what was I to do with the degree? I didn't want to be a psychologist per se. So, one day, I, having completed the book Wisdom by Steven Hall, was sitting in my room. I was thinking -- thinking about how the author was explaining the idea of wisdom through an interdisciplinary approach, integrating examples everywhere from philosophy to neuroscience...

"And enter the Eureka moment; that's what I wanted. That's what I needed, ­majoring in neuroscience. The bridge between biology and psychology that allows some pinning down the idea of wisdom, an elusive idea for centuries; a bridge that allows close studies of the brain. You know -- the brain? The progenitor of all the man-made structures surrounding us, the representation of our current technologies' and knowledge's limitations, and the next threshold we, as humans, must study and cross? The brain is pretty cool. But it is also very important, which is the reason why I want to pursue research in neuroscience as a career. Most scientific studies should transcend time, but studies on the brain will be relevant so long as we all have one. So studying the brain won't be going out of style anytime soon, nor should it."


Cynthia Smith, Sophomore at UAB

"As a high school senior, I took AP Psychology. I had an incredibly engaging teacher with a knack for motivating students to not only learn the material, but take an interest as well. I enjoyed the class overall, but the information I learned about the human brain was the single most fascinating topic I encountered over the course of my high school career. I had not heard of neuroscience as an undergraduate program of study, however, until I toured UAB; my tour was led by a senior neuroscience student who talked to me at length about the research she was participating in as well as the opportunities she had experienced through the neuroscience program. Needless to say, I was hooked! My interest in the human brain, though already strong, was further piqued by a tragic event that occurred the summer before I left for college. One of my dear high school teachers, a young woman with incredible talent and charisma, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. When I heard about her diagnosis, I knew then that I wanted to work in research surrounding glioblastomas, the type of tumor that my former teacher was diagnosed with. This is why I chose to come to UAB and major in neuroscience. I believe that this is a field in which even an undergraduate can contribute to groundbreaking research that will make a difference to people such as my wonderful teacher."

Jared Smith, Senior at UAB

"When I came to UAB for the Science and Technology Honors Program, I decided to major in Biology. I had loved the subject in high school, and I knew it would be a great fit for me. When I started looking at research labs to get involved in, I was surprised to find that almost all of the ones I was intrigued by were neuroscience labs. I had heard many people talking about the Neuroscience Program, so I began looking into it. The brain has always been fascinating to me and the more I learned about the program, the more I realized how much it would allow me to delve into the complexities and mysteries of what makes us how we are. Also, because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, I could still follow my passion for Biology and double-major. I know this program is going to allow me to have excellent experiences and opportunities, and I am very excited about how it will prepare me not only for medical school, but also give me a new way to view the world around me."

Kristen Smith, Senior at UAB

"I am currently working in the lab of Drs. Perez-Costas and Melendez-Ferro, where we are interested the non-cortical areas of the brain in schizophrenia. In schizophrenia, there has been shown to be a decrease in protein expression of tyrosine hydroxylase in the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area (SN/VTA) in the brain. As tyrosine hydroxylase is the rate limiting enzyme for dopamine and the SN/VTA sends projections throughout the brain, this lowered expression has led to a decrease of vital dopamine in many parts of the brain. Metabolic activity in the mitochondria is mostly responsible for producing the ATP necessary for these enzymes to be made and we are interested in pinpointing the specific faulty metabolic process. I am looking at Cytochrome C Oxidase, a component in the electron transport chain, to see if it has decreased activity in schizophrenic SN/VTA samples as compared to control samples. I will be measuring this complex's activity using a histochemical assay and a quantification method to directly relate the activity of the protein to the amount of protein in the tissue. If decreased protein is discovered, we will be able to apply this finding to possible medications to help treat schizophrenia."

Emma Spann, Freshman at UAB

"When I was five years old, I decided to be a pediatrician. Then a forensic scientist. Then a psychologist. Finally, in my junior year of high school, a friend suggested neuroscience. I had no idea what that even was until that night. I immediately began doing some research to see if it was the right choice for me. I then had to find out as to how to go about following this dream. I was extremely pleased to see the college that I had always dreamed of going to had the only Undergraduate Neuroscience Program in Alabama. Since then, my excitement has grown exponentially for my future plans. I am interested in both neuroscience and biology, specifically genetics. I hope to one day combine those two passions in order to not only understand many of the diseases that can take hold of a person’s mind in every generation of a family, but also be a part of the process in finding a cure. The brain is the most complex and least explored organ of the body. Something new is learned about it every day. There will never be a time when there is not something new.  I will be able to never stop learning and I will never be bored."

Amy Stewart, Junior at UAB

"Until I took an AP Psychology class my junior year in high school, I had never heard of neuroscience.  When we started learning about the different branches of psychology, the biological perspective immediately attracted my attention.  I absorbed the knowledge of neurons, synapses, and action potentials.  I was intrigued by the different parts of the brain and their corresponding functions.  Perhaps the brain is so intriguing because it is unknown territory. The opportunity to discover more about the object that controls both physical and psychological aspects is an opportunity that I do not want to pass up.  I want to be part of this exploration; therefore, I will be pursuing a career in research."

Lakshmi Subramani, Freshman at UAB

"My love affair with the human brain started the summer before my sophomore year
of high school, when I volunteered in the radiology and imaging center of my
local hospital. Most of that summer was spent doing usual volunteer grunt work
like picking up coffee for staff, but the occasional chances of getting to watch
MRIs and EEGs performed and analyzed made it all the worthwhile. I’ll never
forget one patient- a little boy no older than 6 or 7 coming in to have a brain
MRI  to help diagnose what was causing his repetitive seizures. He bravely got
into the open MRI machine and stayed as still as possible for the entire
procedure. As the radiologist came in the next day to examine the MRI, I
remember expecting to see something big and wrong, after all this poor little
boy had been having these seizures- however there was nothing majorly wrong with
the MRI. In fact, the radiologist said it looked pretty much normal- he didn’t
know why this little boy was getting these seizures. I think it was then when
the idea of how little we actually know about the brain came clear to me. This
was my light bulb neuroscience moment. I knew early on that I wanted to come to
UAB and seeing many of my older friends join and love the neuroscience program,
made me want to come to UAB even more. The icing on an already great cake was
meeting and talking to Dr. MacFarland- seeing how much passion he has for the
subject and its placement at the forefront of medical sciences made me one
hundred percent certain that UAB’s neuroscience program was my new home. I
intend to earn my neuroscience degree and apply what I learn in this great
undergraduate program in medical school and eventually become a pediatric
physician- so I can help more kids just like that little boy."

Katie Swint, Junior at UAB

"My interest in Neuroscience began when I was in the third grade, a few years after my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Since then I have become deeply fascinated by the workings of the human brain. I am amazed by its complexities and the mysteries science has yet to solve. My ultimate goal is to be a neurosurgeon, so I can use my passion for neuroscience to help relieve the suffering of those struggling with brain injuries and illnesses. Being a part of the Neuroscience program is truly a dream come true, and I am excited about the opportunities my future holds."


Sarah Terry, Senior at UAB

"To me, the complexities of the brain are part of the last frontier of human discovery. There is so much left to research and learn about the mind. Our brains control every aspect of our being, which makes for an intriguing subject. Not only is it interesting, but also growing up in a home ridden with psychiatric disease, I formed a passion to help other people facing similar issues. I have seen the suffering mental illness can cause and want to save other families from that. UAB's neuroscience program is one of the best of its kind and I cannot wait to be a part of it. The personal attention each student receives is incredible compared to other schools. It is reassuring to know there are brilliant professors and other participates in the program around me who are devoted to the success of their students and peers."


Samantha Thompson, Freshman at UAB

"I have always been fascinated by sciences in general throughout high school, and when we studied Biology I was assigned the Nervous System in a project. Learning just how vital it is in our everyday life sparked my interests even further. It allows us to communicate with one another, and feel both physically and emotionally. It keeps us alive but it also allows us to live.  Also no two peoples brains work exactly the same. This is why we can find different ways to solve problems or look at the same piece of artwork and see different reasons behind it. This is what keeps me so enthralled with Neuroscience, that the
possibilities of what the brain is capable of has no limit. In 2012 my father was also diagnosed with dementia, and this veers me towards wanting to research
the causes and prevention of nervous system diseases. There is so little known
about the brain and its inner-workings. This is the reason I personally believe
that the field of Neuroscience will grow exponentially over the next decade,
creating a demand for people with a passion and knowledge of Neuroscience.
Knowing that I am in a field with the opportunity to make first discoveries and
change others' lives is the fuel that drives me."

Ashleigh Tomkovitch, Senior at UAB

"My interest in neuroscience began during my junior year of high school.  A friend of mine told me about how she lives with neurocardiogenic syncope which causes her to faint upon standing up too suddenly.  She explained that her brain and blood vessels fail to communicate properly which leads to a lack of blood supply to her upper body and causes the fainting.  I found it fascinating that there could be a kind of miscommunication between the brain and the rest of the body as seemingly simple as this one.  I am interested in the biological aspect of how the brain works with the rest of the body and how one would go about correcting a 'miscommunication' found in things like neurocardiogenic syncope.  The Neuroscience Program at UAB attracts me because of the research opportunities it gives undergraduate students and the exclusiveness of the program.  I would eventually like to go to medical school and become a hematologist."

Richard Trieu, Sophomore at UAB

"Even as a child, I have always been fascinated by science and medicine. In high school, I took a plethora of science classes to find which field of science would be right for me. Surprisingly, I found my answer 10th grade in a Social Science class, AP Psychology. I remember being enthralled by the third chapter, neuroanatomy and neuroscience. Although the chapter merely skimmed the surface of neuroscience, it was perfect. I had found my match. Neuroscience was where two subjects that I enjoyed became connected. My fascination of biology had finally found its compliment in psychology. In class, I enjoyed learning what I could about the nervous system, but my main focus was the brain. To think a mere 3-lb. organ controlled everything from our perspective and ideology to our movement and heartbeat both frightened me and fascinated me. Through this class and participating in UAB's Brain Bee, I learned about UAB's neuroscience program and have ever since been driven to be a part of it to continue learning about the brain."


Daniel Unger, Sophomore at UAB

"I have known for my entire life that I would work in the field of medicine, but I did not learn until my senior year of high school exactly how I wanted to do that. The Undergraduate Neuroscience Program at UAB provides precisely what I want from both my education as well as my future career: in the program I will have unparalleled opportunities for lab work and study of the caliber available to only medical and graduate students. I feel that by completing this program I will become uniquely qualified to enter my future in medical school, confident in my knowledge of neuroscience and psychology."

Akash Vakharia, Sophomore at UAB

"Since the last decade, the field of neuroscience and psychology has grown at a rapid rate. We have made unimaginable breakthroughs in discovering some of the key functions of the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Even with the amazing breakthroughs as well as the sheer number of them, we still relatively do not know anything about the brain because it is such as complex organ. This is what originally captivated me to the field of neuroscience: the brain, unarguably the most important organ in our body, is almost completely unsolved. This fascination then drew me UAB, and I was extremely pleased that the prestigious neuroscience program here was strongly based on undergraduate neuroscience research. My aspirations are to become a neurosurgeon one day, while still doing research as well."

Varshini Venkatesan, Sophomore at UAB

"During the past two decades, research in neuroscience has grown exponentially; but we still know very little about the brain. This is because our brain is the most complicated yet intriguing part of our body (there is always more to learn or explore about it). I have always been fascinated by the intricacy of the neural network. As a senior in high school, I took college level psychology, which helped spark my interest in this field even more. When I heard about the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program at UAB, I was determined to join it because not many schools honor an undergraduate's interest in neuroscience. The various research opportunities that this program offers caught my attention from the very beginning. Having worked at a neuroscience lab at the University of South Alabama, I know that research offers the best way to pursue my interest in this field. My ultimate goal is to become a neurosurgeon and I have no doubt that the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program will play a big part in helping me reach it."

Andrew Viegas, Junior at UAB

"I have always been interested in the thought processes and behavior of humans. Neuroscience is a very unique program that allows me to study the impact of the brain and the nervous system on the human body and what makes each human unique. What makes neuroscience a great study is that it combines psychological and biological elements. After four years of undergraduate study, I plan to enroll in medical school, and neuroscience gives me plenty of exposure to the medical field before enrolling. Neuroscience will also introduce me to many different fields that I can study after graduating in case I do not enroll in medical school such as psychology, biology, and/or chemistry." 

Courtney Walker, Sophomore at UAB

"Throughout my high school years, I became increasingly fascinated with the human body, how it functions, and how it is affected by other organisms and conditions. Early on, I decided that I wanted to become a medical doctor so that I can help people feel better, while observing how their bodies handle the stresses of illness, fatigue, and numerous other conditions. Many aspects of the neuroscience program appealed to me when I first began thinking about college. I liked the variety of sciences that students are required to take. I also liked the small number of students allowed in the program; I felt that this would encourage students to form close bonds and educate each other. Another great benefit of the program is the opportunity to do research as an undergraduate student. Furthermore, the research will be mostly related to the nervous system, which is definitely a fascinating area. Finally, the faculty in the neuroscience program are wonderful. After meeting with Dr. McFarland, I knew that there was nowhere I'd rather be than UAB, studying with and learning from the best."

Shannon Walker, Freshman at UAB

"Nothing both frustrates me and fascinates me as much as the human brain, which led me to choose neuroscience as my undergraduate course of study. We learn more about the brain every year, and there is nothing more exciting to me than having the opportunity to experience lifelong learning. With the knowledge and experience I will gain over the next four years, I plan to attend medical school and then complete a surgical residency in neurosurgery."

Clara Wan Freshman at UAB

"My first real introduction to the intricacies of the mind was in AP Psychology my Junior year. That paired with AP Biology really piqued my interest in the Neuroscience major. I knew I wanted to pursue the Neuroscience major when I realized how many diverse opportunities would be open to me. I am very glad to be in this program and look forward to being exposed to the innovative research being conducted in this ever expanding field."

Julia Whetsel, Junior at UAB 

"Through the neuroscience program, I have received the great opportunity to work under Dr. Meador-Woodruff in the department of psychiatry on schizophrenia research. More specifically, my research includes studying several posttranslational modifications, which have been found to be dysregulated in schizophrenia. When these posttranslational modifications are not functioning properly, they can affect the trafficking and insertion of proteins into the cell membrane. The posttranslational modification I have been devoting most of my time to is prenylation. Prenylation is a class of lipid modification involving covalent addition of either farnesyl or geranylgeranyl to proteins. This promotes membrane interactions of proteins due to the hydrophobicity of the lipids involved, playing a role in protein-protein interactions. Being involved in research as an undergraduate is a tremendous privilege. The experience I have gained and the knowledge I have been exposed to has made me a more capable student. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I am planning on attending medical school and I am certain that the neuroscience curriculum and being involved with research will prepare me for this challenge. Working under Dr. Meador-Woodruff has provided me with the tools necessary for medical school and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. "

Mary-Elizabeth Winslett, Sophomore at UAB 

"My whole life I have struggled to understand the motives behind the actions of others. A skill which did not come as easily to me as it did my peers. Everything I know about judging the behaviors of others had to be taught to me, but now that I am grown and know my way around day to day social interactions, I still have questions. My questions still focus mainly on the social aspects of life, but they fall in a category beyond what can be interpreted through observation alone. Due to my particular social struggles, which I have learned are autistic tendencies, I am particularly intrigued by how social processes in the brains of people with autism differ from those of 'neuro-typical' individuals. Investigating those differences is important to me because it can potentially help me better understand myself, and I hope it will help individuals with autism be better understood by others. Once I’ve learned all I can about brain functioning and autism, I intend to conduct research with the goal of expanding what is known about differences in social processes within the brain."