Prospective Students

  • Graduation Year: 2017

Villegas 1Major(s) and Minor: Cell Biology and Neuroscience

 

Why did you choose CBN as your major?

I recall the awe I felt in learning neuroscience through lectures taught by Professor Auerbach. Although I was still in the process of looking for a major, being in that class hooked me on the topic. Through my upbringing, I saw the struggle displayed by those with mental illness in my family. I figured then that I would gain the foundational knowledge of neuroscience and cell biology needed to pursue research aimed at furthering our understanding of these prevalent disorders.

What did you like most about it?

I enjoyed most the rigor involved in learning about the intricacies of the brain mixed with the everlasting open-ended questions eventually faced beyond the textbook. In other words, neuroscience is never static and continues to build on itself. For example, once the intricacies of the basal ganglia are learned once can then begin to understand almost intuitively how abnormalities in these pathways may underlie diseases from Parkinson to Schizophrenia and devise strategies to research them.

What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?

I am currently a PhD student in Columbia University’s Neurobiology and Behavior program. I will soon begin my rotations in order to narrow down which lab I will settle in to pursue my full-time research. My first rotation will be with Dr. Andres Bendesky.

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

My first job at Rutgers was a position as a senior writing tutor at the Douglass Writing Center. I was able to land this position by demonstrating my potential as a writer to my Expository Writing professor Dr. Loeb. She would eventually go on to become the director of the DWC and ask me to be a tutor, which I was honored to take on.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

After my time as a tutor, I decided that I built enough of a knowledge-base in neuroscience to begin to pursue research. That summer I conducted research centered on stereological techniques in Dr. Holly Moore’s lab at Columbia University. Upon returning to Rutgers, I joined the lab of Dr. Zhiping Pang and conducted research centered on cell culture of Down syndrome cells. For my final year, in pursuit of track B of the major, I joined the lab of Dr. Ronald P. Hart. It is here where I conducted research centered on biochemical analysis to understand the effect of glutamine on Ataxia Telangiectasia cells. These laboratory experiences along with the mentors that I made along the way paved the road for my current position as a PhD student in Nueuroscience.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

The class that was most influential for me was, as mentioned, Fundamentals of Neuroscience taught by Professor Auerbach. Advanced neurobiology was, also, essential to my modern understanding of the techniques being used in Neuroscience. These classes not only contributed to my intellectual understanding of neuroscience but also would eventually be pivotal to my research pursuits. And, of course, my research experiences at Rutgers were key in helping me secure a position as a graduate in student at Columbia University.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

I would tell a current Arts and Sciences students to seek opportunity and you will find it. Figure out what you would like to pursue and look for the countless opportunities out there. Tailor these to your liking and interests. For example, once you have completed a research project seek a place to present it. Continue to strive and look for the next thing to do. Professors are always willing to help and take students as undergraduate researchers given they are dedicated and show interest.

  • Graduation Year: 2018

omarMajor(s) and Minor: Cell Biology and Neuroscience

 

How did you decide on your major?

It is widely advised to major in a field that sparks your interest. Personally, I have always found the human brain to be a fascinating subject. It is amazing to think just how little we actually know about the brain. The uncertainty underlying this field makes it all the more exciting to learn about the fundamentals in order to be equipped with the knowledge necessary to potentially lead new discoveries.

What is it about your chosen field (and the department) that appeals to you?

I found it very interesting to witness the intersection between the material taught in a CBN classroom and the work done in my research lab. I was able to apply lessons I learned in classes such as Fundamentals of Neurobiology to better interpret results of my experiments. Indeed, majoring in CBN gives you an edge in the research/laboratory field.

 Do you have a favorite class/professor within your major?

Yes! I must say that I have met only a few people in my life as supportive and caring as Dr. Shu-Chan Hsu. I was very fortunate to be in Dr. Hsu’s Fundamentals of Neurobiology class. I remember walking into Dr. Hsu’s office feeling very dispirited about my performance on the first two exams. She gave me an incredibly motivating talk about setbacks in life and instilled in me the confidence I needed to overcome this obstacle. I carried her words with me as I was preparing for the final examination and I ended up doing well in the class. Besides from being an outstanding professor and an exemplary CBN student advisor, Dr. Hsu is an amazing person who reaches out to struggling students and lifts them up with her kind and sincere words. Dr. Hsu is a tremendous asset to the CBN department and I am very glad to have met her during my time here at Rutgers.

What are your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?

I took this very interesting class called Religions of the Western World. It compared and contrasted the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It was very enlightening to learn about the faiths of other people and understand their practices and tradition. At the end of the semester, each student was expected to visit a religious institution other than his or her own and write a 10 page paper on the experience. I thought the assignment was very interesting and I really enjoyed it.

What are your other Rutgers activities?

I am involved in the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and had the opportunity last fall to be the Co-Head of its Mentorship Program. I was also on the community service team of the Pakistani Student Association (PSA) and had the chance to help organize an event in which we invited an underprivileged population of women and children from a nearby shelter to a Thanksgiving Dinner on campus.

What are your plans following graduation?

I have been accepted into New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) and will be attending August 2018.

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  • Graduation Year: 2018

yeshaMajor(s) and Minor:           

Major: Cell Biology & Neuroscience        

Minor: Health & Society

 

How did you decide on your major?

I decided to be a Cell Biology & Neuroscience major because I have always been interested in learning more about the brain and the neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders. There is so much about the brain and these disorders that remains unknown. Through this major, I have been able to further my knowledge and passion for neuroscience.

What is it about your chosen field (and the department) that appeals to you?

Neuroscience has always been appealing to me because the brain is such an enigma. Even though we have a lot of information about the brain and how it operates, there is still so much that remains unknown. Having the opportunity to study in such a developing field is very exciting.

Do you have a favorite class/professor within your major?

My favorite class is Fundamentals of Neurobiology and my favorite professor is Dr. Hsu.

What are your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?

In January 2017, I participated in an Alternative Break service trip through Rutgers University which focused on HIV/AIDS. We spent one week at Project Lazarus in New Orleans, Louisiana, where we provided physical and emotional support to residents who are HIV positive and homeless. We visited a museum, played Bingo, explored New Orleans, as well as did yoga and meditation with them. Even though this was a service trip, I consider this to also be an academic experience because I was able to learn so much about HIV/AIDS and how it affects individuals and their families and societies through the personal experiences of the residents. It was very inspiring to hear some of the residents’ stories about their life and how they contracted HIV as well as the steps they are taking in order to reintegrate within the greater New Orleans community. Seeing the residents open up to us and talk about such personal issues meant so much to me because they believed that we are amongst the few people that care about them enough to listen to their life experience and spread their story to others to educate others about the effects of living with HIV/AIDS. This experience has taught me so much about how HIV/AIDS is still stigmatized in southern areas like New Orleans and the perpetual cycle of poverty, lack of education, addiction, and HIV/AIDS. In addition, this service trip has allowed me to put faces and names to such a devastating and disease and has empowered me with the spirit to continue serving individuals who suffer from HIV/AIDS.

What are your other Rutgers activities?

I am the Lead Mentor in Residence for the Honors College where I am responsible for developing and facilitating training and teambuilding activities for the Mentors in Residence, facilitating training and teambuilding sessions for the Mentors in Residence to receive progress updates and provide feedback about Mentor responsibilities, and provide academic success mentoring to the incoming first-year Honors College students.

I volunteer at St. Peter’s University Hospital in the Cardiac Patient Cares Unit where I provide comfort care services to patients by bringing food and water as well as interacting with patients. I also transport patient belongings and medical equipment.

In January 2017, I attended the Exploring HIV/AIDS Alternative Break where I provided physical and emotional support to residents of Project Lazarus in New Orleans, LA who suffer from HIV/AIDS. I was paired up with a resident for companionship activities like reading and writing tutoring, yoga, meditation, dog therapy, and craft night.

I also work as a research assistant for clinical cancer drug trials at Regional Cancer Care Associates, LLC. I am responsible for recording, inputting, and analyzing data and conducting study close-out interviews for clinical trials that have been terminated.

I am the Co-Founder of Knight’s Table, an Honors College initiative, where I help to organize discussions about controversial topics which allow students to become more educated about differing viewpoints surrounding controversial issues and discuss these topics in a civilized manner.

I am also an Honors College Student Ambassador where I help connect and share stories and experiences of an Honors College student with prospective students and their families through information sessions and tours.

What are your plans following graduation?

I have recently been accepted into the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Joint BA/MD Program and will be attending medical school in August 2018.

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  • Graduation Year: 2018

dariusMajor(s) and Minor: Major in CBN, Minors in Spanish and Psychology

How did you decide on your major?

Biology has always been my favorite subject, but when I took AP Psychology in high school, I quickly discovered that I loved the brain and the nervous system. Since I also planned on being pre-med, I knew that CBN would be the best major for me very early on. It aligned with my academic interests and career goals.

What is it about your chosen field (and the department) that appeals to you?

I was very fascinated with how we are able to function as complex organisms due to movements of ions and conduction of electrochemical signals all happening within billionths of seconds. CBN offers classes that explores that interest. What I also appreciate about CBN is that many of my classes have also been great forms of preparation for classes I will likely take in medical school, in terms of both subject matter and difficulty. 

Do you have a favorite class/professor within your major?

Dr. Uzwiak is amazing! Fundamentals of Neurobiology with him has easily been my favorite class at Rutgers.

What are your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?

As a junior, I was the Peer Instructor (PI) for a First-year Interest Group Seminar (FIGS) on Exploring Health and Medicine. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to guide and help students acclimate to our university while discussing relevant topics in medicine. I am now a Senior Peer Instructor, and have been helping next year’s PIs prepare to teach their own courses.

I have also enjoyed working as a research assistant with Dr. Mladen-Roko Rasin at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School since my sophomore year. I will be completing my honors thesis with him next year as well.

What are your other Rutgers activities?

  • Member of Phi Delta Epsilon, International Medical Fraternity
  • School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program Student Advisory Board
  • School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program Senior Ambassador

What are your plans following graduation?

I hope to attend medical school following graduation.

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  • Graduation Year: 2018

NoahMajor(s) and Minor:

Major: Cell Biology & Neuroscience

Minor: Psychology

How did you decide on your major?

I have always been passionate about studying the sciences and learning how the world worked, but nothing ever interested me more so than to study the peculiar magnificence of life itself. Consequently, coming to Rutgers I was easily able to immediately narrow down my choices of major to Biological Sciences or Cell Biology & Neuroscience. The only reason the scale was tipped towards CBN was due to the added emphasis on neuroscience which I found to be an incredibly intriguing topic considering how it centralized on an understanding of the most enigmatic organ of the human body, the brain. So, pairing CBN with a minor in Psychology gave me the best of both worlds: an overall understanding of the foundation of life and an even more focused look into how the brain manages to carry out that life.

What is it about your chosen field (and the department) that appeals to you?

The department is full of people who are just as passionate about biology as I am. It also provides an assortment of resources and advisors which work with me in concert to achieve the goals I’ve set out for myself. I wouldn’t be here today had it not been for the organization and the support that the CBN department has provided for me.

Do you have a favorite class/professor within your major?

My favorite class would definitely be Fundamentals of Cell & Developmental Biology with Dr. Carr-Schmid. That class went over so much information that I’ve often found myself referring back to its notes and doing better in other classes like Genetics since it had already touched heavily on the subject. Not only was the subject matter interesting and extensive, Dr. Carr-Schmid made it easily digestible, and her energy and passion for the subject made the morning much more exciting. With the wrong professor, I would certainly not have the same enthusiasm for the class that I do, as it could easily become a droll lecture on cellular happenings. Even to this day, my friends and I often reference and reminisce about that class and it is nearly entirely because of Dr. Carr-Schmid.

What are your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?

Beyond CBN, I have had fantastic experiences with classes in my Psychology minor. In particular, any class taught by Dr. Mayhew has been fantastic. I’m actually taking my third class with her this upcoming semester! Similar to Dr. Carr-Schmid, she adds personality to her lectures and makes the material astoundingly interesting. Being from the Netherlands, she also adds a valuable perspective on American life and provides insight into how a foreign country functions in the form of either an aside or as a relevant example to current subject matter. Her classes and her humor have never failed to disappoint, and I am excited to be taking yet another class with her.

What are your other Rutgers activities?

Outside the classroom, I work in a pharmacy lab studying the possible anti-cancer effects of certain dietary compounds. I also participate in a Rutgers club called North American Disease Intervention (NADI, for short) where we go out to public venues and do blood pressure/pulse/BMI readings for free to provide people with a better awareness and understanding of their health. I similarly volunteer at Robert Wood Johnson hospital responding to patients’ needs and improving their hospital experience. Beyond that, I am also a consultant for OIT and work at the computer labs on cook/douglass.

What are your plans following graduation?

After graduation, I intend to pursue a medical degree and follow the long path to becoming a doctor, possibly specializing in neurology!

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