Hey there. My name is Douglas Terry. I am a senior Biology and Psychology double major with a general fascination with the mind. I have spent my college summers doing research in a behavioral neuroscience lab, I am on the executive board for the Carolina Neuroscience Club, and based on experiences – I am an advocate for speaking up against the stigma surrounding mental illness. One highlight of my time at Carolina has been getting to hold an actual human brain in anatomy lab! The more I get involved in neuroscience, the more I see what a vast, interdisciplinary field it is, and my internship at NIRAL with Dr. Styner and Dr. Short is no exception. I am working on a longitudinal neuroimaging project which is looking at the relationship between gray matter surface area and working memory in children. This project simply could not be done with only a ‘neuroscientist’.
Sure, a neuroscientist proposed and designed the study, will analyze the data, and interpret the results. In between these steps though, a variety of other disciplines needed to come together to see the project through. A neuroscientist, for example, does not necessarily know all the gritty details behind the physics of building a neuroimaging machine, but someone must. Furthermore, converting the MRI data into relevant data is no trivial task. We are using a MRI analysis software called FreeSurfer, and the data processing of just one step of transforming MRI data into an inflated 3-D model requires over 20 hours of processing on a UNC medical school server. Better yet, FreeSurfer is a LINUX software as opposed to a Mac or Windows, and using the command line and its jargon to instruct the computer is not something you learn in a neuroscience class!
Working at NIRAL started off a bit overwhelming at the start because of the integration of disciplines which I personally am not as knowledgeable about. However, the experience has highlighted for me that neuroscience research, and most science research, is a multi-disciplinary act. As I get more familiar with the project’s work flow, it is less overwhelming, and more exciting. Being at the intersection of computer science, modern imaging techniques, and neuroscience has been a great learning experience which I could not have had without the support for the Gil Internship program.
#Gil #iLoveNeuroscience #SeniorYear #UNCGiller #confessionsofagiller #UNCPsych #spring2016