Lewis & Clark is the reason I have my job.
What three words would you use to describe Lewis & Clark?
Encouraging, curiosity, thought-provoking
Did you have the opportunity to do research with a professor? If so, describe that project and experience.
Unfortunately, I was not able to do research with a professor at Lewis & Clark. However, I did do research at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in the Developmental Brain Imaging Lab during the summer after my sophomore year. The study I worked on was looking at the neurotoxic effects of alcohol in adolescents with and without a family history of substance use.
Why did you choose Lewis & Clark?
Aside from the enticingly beautiful campus, I chose Lewis & Clark for three reasons. First, I loved the prospect of being able to continue with athletics, while still having my primary focus be on academics. Second, I was very attracted to the small class sizes and the ability to have personal relationships with professors. In fact, I still have lunch every so often with several of my professors! Finally, I was impressed with Lewis & Clark’s global focus. Studying abroad was highly recommended, and even required for some majors. My study abroad experience in France provided me with new perspectives, confidence in the unknown, and a greater sense of self.
Describe your job.
I work in the Developmental Brain Imaging Lab at OHSU, and am a research assistant on the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. The ABCD study is funded by the National Institutes of Health, taking place at 22 other sites across the country. As a consortium, we plan to enroll 12,000 nine and ten year olds by September 2018, and follow them for ten years. The purpose of the ABCD study is to examine how the brain changes as children become teenagers and young adults, and how these changes relate to certain behaviors. I administer neuropsychological tests and interviews, as well as operate MRI scans.
What do you like best about your job?
I love showing our young participants how fun science and research can be. The kids have so many great questions, and are always so interested in what we’re doing. I also love that I am part of something much bigger than my daily work schedule. In 10 years, this study will have likely changed the way in which we view and approach adolescent brain development.
How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your job?
Lewis & Clark is the reason I have my job. As a sophomore, I received the Miller Award that allowed me to take the OHSU internship, and I was able to continue in the lab during the academic year doing an independent study under my advisor. I was offered my current position upon graduation. My success in the lab as an intern, and now as a full time research assistant, can also be credited to Lewis & Clark. My professors, classes, and peers taught me to think critically, question everything, and really think outside the box when solving problems. The classes I took for my psychology degree taught me how to read, digest, and also write research papers, which is a skill I utilize almost every day in my job. Over the four years I spent at L&C, I developed a passion for learning and a strong desire to continue my education.
What are your career goals?
I would like to gain more clinical experience, and eventually apply to medical school. I am very interested in health policy, and bridging the gap between behavioral health care and primary health care in vulnerable populations suffering from mental illness. Ultimately, I would like to go into psychiatry and work towards implementing a more comprehensive health care system for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.