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After receiving an A.B. in psychology with a concentration in psychopathology from Harvard College in 2001, Luke Stoeckel came to UAB in 2003 to begin his graduate studies. He expects to receive his Ph.D. in Medical Psychology from UAB in 2009.

Luke said he chose UAB for his graduate studies because he was strongly impressed by the collaborative spirit of the UAB community, the wide range of clinical and research opportunities available at UAB, and the support and encouragement he received from various individuals in the UAB Medical Psychology program to pursue a variety of interests.

Since coming to UAB, Luke’s research has primarily been involved in human neuroimaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI) research investigating reward system functioning in obesity, addiction, and schizophrenia. When asked what his motivation for his research is, he replied, “It is hard not to be enamored by today’s neuroimaging technologies. Neuroimaging gives us the chance to explore the ultimate frontier, the living human brain. Ultimately, a better understanding of the brain and brain-behavior relationships will help improve the treatment of many brain disorders and diseases.”

Luke credits Dr. Rosalyn Weller as his greatest influence here at UAB. “I have been fortunate to have many exceptional advisors at UAB and have also benefited vicariously from the many stories shared by my peers of their tremendous supervisory experiences. However, Dr. Weller is peerless as an advisor due to the countless hours, boundless energy, and unceasing devotion she volunteers in order to train graduate students to be successful future research scientists. I am deeply grateful to her for pushing me to excel in science these past 5 years.”

Luke has connected with the UAB research community. He explains, “Finding a burgeoning and spirited human neuroimaging research community at UAB that welcomed me as a member and witnessing the developments and accomplishments of this talented community are two of the most rewarding experiences I have had at UAB.”

While at UAB, Luke has received several awards including the following: UAB Dean’s Outstanding Graduate Student, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2008; UAB Department of Psychology Outstanding Graduate Student, 2008; NIH Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA), Summer Fellowship, NIDCD Section on Brain Imaging and Modeling Laboratory, 2007; Merit Fellowship, UAB Medical/Clinical Psychology program, 2006-2007; 1st Place, Alabama Psychological Association Convention Student Poster Session, 2006; 1st Place, and Social and Behavioral Sciences Division, University of Alabama at Birmingham Graduate Student Research Day, 2004, 2006.

Luke has big plans for the future. He has accepted a position as a Clinical Fellow in Psychology for the Neuropsychology track at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts for 2008-2009. He adds, “After that, I either plan to apply for a postdoctoral position to continue my research in human neuroimaging or I will abandon all my worldly possessions to find truth in the ocean waves as a vagabond surfer.”

Luke’s Advice to Other Graduate Students:
I would advise other graduate students to ask a ton of questions, be skeptical, search for the truth, and risk failure.