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AkbarSaima - photoMy favorite part of the Gil Internship is probably the dual working-learning approach. I am currently working on a research project at UNC’s Neuro Image and Research Analysis Labs (NIRAL) and learning under the direct guidance of Dr. Sarah Short and Dr. Martin Styner. As an undergrad, my experience with research has been valuable, but pretty simple. As a Gil intern, however, I am working on a research project involving years of data collection and real-world significance. It’s pretty intimidating. Fortunately, by working under Dr. Styner and Dr. Short, I can see how researchers outline a data analysis plan to get from a pile of numbers, to the answer to a question and then actually get to do it.


Using brain imaging data from kids at neonate, 1 years old, and 2 years old, our project aims to identify some markers for predicting an increased risk for ADHD. In the weeks since I have started my internship, I have done a lot of background research on different ways to measure the brain, different clinical assessments used to predict/diagnose ADHD in children, neuroanatomy related to ADHD, and different statistical methods to work with the specific data we have. Next, I have been cleaning the data and creating an inventory to help determine what analyses are possible and of those what are the best routes to reach our goal.


I was impressed by the interdisciplinary nature of NIRAL. While studied separately, computer science, clinical psychology, neuroscience, and statistics come together seamlessly in research. Working within NIRAL gives me insight on how so many people from different fields work together to accomplish one goal.

#UNCGiller #confessionsofagiller #UNCPsych #fall2015

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