"I applied to the Scholars program because I wanted to have an opportunity to present My work and to represent undergraduate research at our university. I was also intrigued that the Scholars program incorporated essentially all of the colleges at the university and provided the chance for students to witness fields of study other than their own. I first began research at UF while attending the Student Science Training Program before my senior year of high school and immediately continued upon arriving to college. I ultimately look forward to converting practice to presentation. My goals for this academic year for the Scholars program are becoming more independent and individual in my research. I am looking forward to completing a professional poster and research paper."
My long term academic interests are to enter Medical School. My research interests for this year are threefold to past years. First I am looking forward to presenting a poster and representing my Neuroscience lab at the 2011 Neuroscience Convention in Washington, DC this November. I also intend on completing my research thesis to graduate summa cum laude with my BS in Biology. Finally I intend on submitting a paper to the Journal of Undergraduate Research and presenting my research at the University Scholars Symposium. I am most looking forward to seeing my current research come to conclusion and enjoying the product of hours put in the lab.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Florida Bright Futures (2008-Current)
- Charles Vincent and Heidi Cole McLaughlin Scholarship (2011)
- Massey Services Scholarship (2011)
- UF Anderson Scholar
- AMSA (2008-2009)
- Alpha Epsilon Delta (2010-Present)
- National Society of Collegiate Scholars
In the past I have volunteered a year in ER at Shands, at Helping Hands Clinic and at Camp Boggy Creek for children with serious illness. I have volunteered at various local community locations such as Ronald McDonald House, St.Francis House, Boys and Girls Club, etc., through Alpha Epsilon Delta. I currently volunteering at Girls Place, Inc. by helping children after school with homework, playing games and just being a role model. I am blessed to have found this place before I graduated. One of my most memorable volunteer experiences was a medical mission trip to Cuzco, Peru where we volunteered for two weeks at orphanages and the local community clinic.
Hobbies and Interests
- Outdoor activities, fitness and exercise, biking, running, yoga, traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends..
Orbitofrontal Sulcal Structure, Executive Functioning, and Prenatal Cocaine Exposure
The orbitofrontal cortex is a principal area in executive functioning with inputs from a variety of sensory systems and also substantial anatomical variability. My research project focuses on the various formations of sulci in the orbitofrontal cortex in the human brain. Classification of the orbitofrontal sulci was first presented by Chiavaras and Petridis (2000) with modifications in subsequent studies. The three main orbitofrontal sulci are the lateral, transverse and medial. One of four typologies may be applied to each brain based on the connectivity and arrangement of the sulci. Methodology for this project exploits these typologies as a foundation for creating my own rules on classification. Participants of interest in this study were prenatally exposed to cocaine and compared to demographically similar controls. Adolescents prenatally exposed to cocaine were of concern because of their lower white matter integrity and the possible anatomical consequences on their orbitofrontal cortices. This subset was also chosen as a possible marker for decreased executive functioning in a population of lower socioeconomic status. It was originally thought typology of disconnected sulci (Types 1, 3 and 4) would be more prevalent in those prenatally exposed to cocaine. This majority would be a result of lower integrity, decreased grey matter, and therefore more shallow sulci with sulcal disconnections. This hypothesis was not supported (Schmutz et al., 2011). No results of statistical significance were obtained on the influence of prenatal cocaine exposure on sulcal typology or executive functioning. Additional analyses and quantitative methods are currently underway. I am creating masks of all lateral sulci to obtain volumetric grey matter volumes. Volumes are meant to assist in defining presence or absence of sulci. This is an effort not yet made in this area of study and will be used to verify current classifications and enhance rater reliability.