During the fall semester of my senior year at UNC, I had the fortunate privilege of being part of the inaugural group of Gil Interns. As a Gil Intern I worked at RTI International, helping to build a computational model of behavior in cocaine addicted rats. My research as a Gil Intern complemented the work I did in my honors thesis in the lab of Charlotte Boettiger, studying the effect of alcohol on the structure of major white matter bundles. After graduating from UNC, I started a PhD in neuroscience at Washington University in St Louis. I joined the lab of Sheng-Kwei Song, a small-animal Magnetic Resonance Imaging lab that studies the structure of nerves and brains in healthy and diseased mice, focusing on developing new methods to better understand and elucidate that structure. Working in these various institutions has taught me one major lesson about research: science = troubleshooting. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong, and when the research is cutting-edge, no one knows how to fix the problem. Then… after meeting with several people, brainstorming different solutions, trying a few iterations, changing the code, rebuilding the coil or electrodes, the experiment starts to work. The results may be unexpected, but that feeling of doom and hopelessness is replaced with the triumph of having solved the problem yourself.
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