As a child, I always dreamed of pursuing a career that would combine my interests in science, engineering, business and the arts. After reading the book, Gifted Hands, by Dr. Ben Carson, a Johns Hopkins, neurosurgeon, I knew that medicine would fulfill my interests and allow me to make a lasting impact on my community. Driven to one-day be a physician, I went on to continue my education at Hope College, in Holland, MI; obtaining a B.S. in chemistry. During my time as an undergraduate, I conducted biophysics research in the laboratory of Dr. Brent P. Kreuger at Hope College and was awarded a Cyberinfrastructure Experiences for Graduate Students (NIH-CIEG) Fellowship to study under Dr. Ross Walker at the San Diego Supercomputer Center – University of California, San Diego.
In 2010, I was accepted into the MD program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. During my first two years of medical school I became increasingly fascinated with the human brain; wanting to know more about it’s function after injury. This prompted a summer research project within the Departments of Neurosurgery, and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester; where we used anatomical and functional magnetic resonance imagining to characterize the trajectory of visual recovery and cortical plasticity after surgical tumor resection in patients with pituitary tumors that compress the optic nerves. My background in computational methods and biophysics research prepared me to analyze complex neuroimaging data under the supervision of Drs. Bradford Mahon, PhD and G. Edward Vates, MD PhD.
After spending a summer in Dr. Mahon’s lab and shadowing Dr. Vates, a URMC neurosurgeon, my eyes were opened to the plethora of questions that remain unanswered concerning vision loss in pituitary tumor patients. Funding from the CTSI and support from the Academic Research Track Fellowship, in conjunction with the Academic Honors Program in Medical Neurobiology, provided me with an opportunity to answer these question through a dedicated 2-year research fellowship. This spring I will graduate with a masters in Neurobiology and Anatomy and begin the clinical years of my medical education. I am truly grateful to the CTSI for their support of my dreams.