Penn State College of Medicine Students Describe Their Theses…in 20 Words or Less

Graduate School

Last week, in response to this recent post circulating social media, we asked our students:

What is the topic of your thesis, in 20 words or less?

Here are the responses!

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New students reciting the Graduate Student Oath at their white coat ceremony (2011).

I make mutant viruses and utilize drugs to study how herpes simplex virus spreads from the mouth into neurons. –Jillian Carmichael, 4th-year Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student

Patients with vascular disease in their legs also have less blood going to the heart. –Amanda Ross, 3rd-year Neuroscience Ph.D. student

I try to stop glaucoma by making cells less energetic. –Daniel Hass, 3rd-year Neuroscience Ph.D. student

This muscle protein is found in the inner ear. Necessary? Apparently, since otherwise, you go deaf. –Lina Jamis, graduate, Anatomy Master’s program

P96pXStudying poop to see how changes in bacteria can lead to disease in patients without a colon. Poop donations accepted!Katie Schieffer, 4th-year Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student

A lot of people with sleep apnea have metabolic syndrome. Which comes first? Dunno. Let’s study kids! –Jordan Gaines Lewis, 5th-year Neuroscience Ph.D. student

Figuring out which genes make the body stretchy. –Erin Sproul, graduate, Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program

What is your thesis about…in 20 words or less?

Graduate School

chemistry-dogMany of us have enjoyed this recent post called “20 PhD Students Dumb Down Their Thesis for Us,” which originated from this reddit post last month. Examples included:

When I get rid of this gene, it messes the brain up. A lot.

My experimental drug does NOT cure addiction.

You can make antimatter move in strange ways if you set your equipment up wrong.

Sure, most of these are spoken in jest and are meant to be sarcastic. But we’re all doing very diverse and interesting work at Penn State College of Medicine! And we want to know:

What is the topic of your thesis, in 20 words or less?

Submit your responses here by this Friday, September 25 and we’ll post everyone’s abbreviated thesis summaries next Monday on the blog!

(Psst…this’ll be great practice for telling your family what you do when you go home for Thanksgiving!)

C, D, E, F, G, A, Brain: Music as Therapy

Neuroscience

By: Cecilia Bove, 1st year student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program

11704-a-beautiful-girl-listening-to-music-with-headphones-pv

Petr Kratochvil (Public Domain)

You may recall from my “Meet a Scientist” interview that I grew up in a music-rich home. I like to say that I can fluently speak Italian, English and Music – because it is, in all respects, a language.

Music can make us feel without saying a single word as much as any intense situation can: being with your special someone, grieving a loss, or handling the stress of an experiment that just does not work. (This is something that every graduate student can relate to!)

But did you now that music may also be an effective medication? Music has been under the spotlight of the scientific community for long time, but now its importance is emerging more and more in neuroscience research.

Meet a Scientist: Stephen Matthews

Graduate School

This is the seventh post in our “Meet a Scientist” series. Next up is Stephen Matthews, who just began his graduate studies at Penn State College of Medicine this semester.

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Meet Stephen!

Meet Stephen:

Let’s get to know you a bit! Where are you from, what did you study in college, and what is your role at Penn State College of Medicine?

I’m originally from Honey Brook, PA and received my BS in Biology, with a minor in Chemistry, from York College of Pennsylvania in 2014. I recently just spent a year working for a private pharmaceutical company called DormaTarg Inc. out in Oklahoma. I am currently an entering student in the Biomedical Sciences program.

Why did you decide to become a scientist?

For the longest time as a child, I was interested in entomology and herpetology. I spent days outside catching insects, spiders, and snakes where I could, and reading about those I could not catch. I found AP Biology and AP Physics to be interesting in high school, but I became set on pursuing a career in science during my first biology lecture at York College.

I found the general topics to be interesting, but my professor had his degree in biochemistry and was really enthusiastic and excited over interactions and the molecular aspects of biology. His excitement passed on to me, and I have been interested ever since!

1What do you research at Penn State, and why is it important?

I am currently working through the start of my first laboratory rotation, and have only been in Hershey since July. The rotation process is held so new graduate students can work in a lab for a few weeks and see how it is before we commit to working in one particular lab. It provides us with so many possibilities and skills that we can use as we advance our careers.

In my previous research experience, I have worked on the fall webworm caterpillar and its thermotolerance, as well as on developing pharmaceuticals.

What are some of your hobbies outside the lab?

Outside of lab and classwork, I love being outside. I regularly run, and love to hike, go camping and even play some Frisbee golf with friends when it is nice out. I also paint and enjoy playing video games when I can.

Tell us three random facts about yourself!

  1. 3I have a deep enjoyment of the theater and the arts, and have been an actor in a half dozen plays, and even directed and helped as stage crew during my undergraduate studies.
  2. When I originally moved to the southwest, I never thought I would miss much about Oklahoma, but I really do miss the massive thunderstorms there.
  3. I played the trumpet, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, violin and piano in concert, jazz and marching band, as well as orchestra… But haven’t touched any of those instruments in 4+ years.

Stay tuned for a new interview next week! And if you’re a Penn State College of Medicine scientist interested in participating, e-mail Lions-Talk-Science@psu.edu for details!

Meet a Scientist: Brian Chiou

Graduate School

This is the sixth post in our “Meet a Scientist” series. Next up is Brian Chiou, who just began his graduate studies at Penn State College of Medicine this semester.

Meet Brian:

Headshot

Meet Brian!

Let’s get to know you a bit! Where are you from, what did you study in college, and what is your role at Penn State College of Medicine?

Hello! I am from Chicago, IL, but I attended college in the San Francisco Bay Area at the University of California – Berkeley (Go Bears!). I studied Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis on Biochemistry. I am a first-year graduate student whose role involves studying, choosing a lab, and passing those pesky tests!

Why did you decide to become a scientist?

I decided to become a scientist because I truly believe the pursuit of (all) knowledge is a wonderful thing. I can’t imagine another profession where one can wholeheartedly chase after a problem and see the benefits of such a pursuit in the world around them. Knowing that the efforts of today will lead to improvement of lives for patients around the world is a powerful motivator, and one that has shown me the importance of research. On a grand scale, it’s gratifying to know that the research and work being done by myself and others will have a lasting impact on future generations.

Headshot 2What do you research at Penn State, and why is it important?

As a first-year graduate student, I have yet to pick a lab, but I have always been interested in the biochemistry of the brain and the interactions that happen between neurons. These interactions manifest themselves in a number of ways that lead to a variety of effects, such as neurodegenerative diseases. I have worked previously with Alzheimer’s Disease, the leading cause of dementia in the elderly, and have become fascinated with the lack of information surrounding the root causes and, indeed, even the pathway that leads to such a disease.

What are some of your hobbies outside the lab?

I love the outdoors! If I don’t get outside at all in a day, I tend to get very restless.

HobbyMore specifically though, I play soccer and tennis pretty regularly as well as general fitness activities such as running and working out at the gym. I also love playing the guitar and singing.

Tell us three random facts about yourself!

  1. I am against the smartphone culture and thus own a flip phone (and an MP3 player)!
  2. My family is from Taiwan.
  3. I absolutely love thunderstorms and rain.

Stay tuned for a new interview next week! And if you’re a Penn State College of Medicine scientist interested in participating, e-mail Lions-Talk-Science@psu.edu for details!