My name is Lynde Wangler and I am a junior from Boone, North Carolina, majoring in psychology with minors in neuroscience and biology. This semester, I have been awarded the wonderful opportunity to serve as a Gil Intern in the department of Psychology and Neuroscience at UNC. My research interests lie in investigating the neurobiological mechanisms that drive behaviors in animals and the translation of information gained from research using animal models to develop treatment protocols applicable to humans.
This semester, I have had the pleasure of working in the CIRCLE (Child Imaging Research on Cognition and Life Experiences) lab under the mentorship of Dr. Margaret Sheridan. The lab primarily investigates the effects of different life experiences on behavior and the developing brain. They partner with the UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center to produce functional magnetic resonance imaging (or fMRI) scans from patients to be able to analyze brain activity during task completion in the scanner. The lab investigates facets of cognition including memory, and emotional and cognitive control, as well as the activation patterns associated with these cognitive functions. My responsibilities this semester have included attending lab meetings, which are held weekly, and participating in discussions on literature predominantly pertaining to forms of child maltreatment and the neurocognitive and other developmental consequences types of maltreatment may have. I have also been maintaining hours in the office at Davie, offering assistance to anyone who might need it (mostly with some data entry and literature reviews). I have especially enjoyed getting to know the people in the lab and being a part of the welcoming intellectual environment the lab supports. While working in the CIRCLE lab, I have improved my ability to discern useful and reliable research articles through extensive literature searches. I have also gained knowledge in the field of child cognition and development, which is something that I previously knew very little about.
Overall, becoming a Gil Intern has been an immensely rewarding experience. I have been able to gain hands-on experience working in a research setting and to meet and network with various faculty and undergraduate and graduate students in the psychology department at UNC. As Gil Interns, we also focused on development of professionalism skills through a series of workshops at UNC career services. The knowledge I have gained through attending these workshops will help me be the best candidate I can be when applying to graduate programs in the future. For all these reasons, I am grateful to have had this amazing opportunity and would highly recommend to other driven students in the psychology department to pursue research and internship opportunities that are available at UNC.