"My mentor, Dr. Thomas Mareci, told me that the University Scholars Program might be a great opportunity to really challenge myself in the field of research at the University of Florida. I hope to learn how to write a well-written research paper that is of good enough quality to publish as well as the techniques used and the feel of the environments in research laboratories. My goals for the academic year are to finish my research project as well as a research paper describing the results of my project."
I hope to be accepted to vet school next year so that I can become a veterinarian and eventually specialize in surgery. I became interested in research when my biochemistry professor, Dr. Thomas Mareci, first told me all about the research that was going on in his lab and how much it can help humans and all other animals. I immediately wanted to be a part of something that could help people and something that encourages the pursuit of knowledge.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Pre-Veterinary Club
- Archery Club
- La Table French Conversation Club
Recently, I have volunteered with Retirement Home for Horses, helping groom and care for elderly horses.
Hobbies and Interests
Mapping White Matter Fiber Connectivity of the Human and Rat Brains
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that involves abnormal synchronous firing of neurons resulting in chronic seizures. Of the several types of epilepsy, my lab focuses on temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), which is caused by damage in the temporal lobe of the brain. We study the connections between temporal lobe structures and how changes in these interconnections may result in epilepsy. We focus on defining regions of the brain in order to calculate white matter fiber connections between regions using higher angular resolution diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (HARDI). Looking at the brain as a network graph of interconnected nodes, my research focuses on identifying these nodes as regions of interest (ROIs) and relating changes in this network to altered functions of the brain in two different species. We have measured MRI in 10 adult humans: 7 patients with TLE and 3 age-matched controls without epilepsy. We will also study a controlled injury model using rats; 3 control without epilepsy and 7 rats in which we have induced TLE. This model is particularly useful because rats have a much shorter lifespan than humans and therefore have a shorter latency period before the onset of spontaneous seizures and an increased opportunity for observation. The differences in distribution of the regions of interest in rat brains and human brains will be addressed when translating results from rats to humans. We used a 3 Tesla clinical (MRI) machine in Shands Hospital to collect data on humans and an 11.1 Tesla MRI system in the Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy Facility for rat measurements. The data from these scans will allow us to identify ROIs in the brain, then, using methods previously discovered in our research lab, we will be able to calculate the connectivity between structures and analyze the data.