Story & Photos By Chinwe Onuoha
The Center For Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience (CMBN) and the FASN Honors College co-sponsored a “Brain Awareness Week” on campus as well as an open house for undergraduate students, held at the Aidekman Research Center on March 12.
Several representatives from the CMBN and the FASN Honors College informed students about the research opportunities that were available at the Aidekman Research Center. Students showcased the research projects that they conducted in the labs and those who attended the event were also informed about the FASN Honors College.
“By highlighting all of the opportunities that this world class brain research center offers, we hope that students will become more aware of the brain research that’s being conducted at Rutgers University in Newark,” said Dr. Mark A. Gluck.
Gluck, the co-director of the Rutgers Memory Disorders Project at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, helped coordinate the event along with the Director of Rutgers-Newark’s Honors College, Dr. Kinna Perry.
“We want to encourage more students to be a part of neuroscience research by informing them about what the Aidekman Research Center offers Rutgers students and one of the ways in which we plan to do this effectively is by showcasing the research projects of students who are in the Honors College and in the graduate program at Rutgers-Newark,” Perry said.
At the open house, PhD students 29-year-old Maria del Mar, 23-year-old Yinghua Liu, and 28-year-old Kohitij Kar presented the research titled “Visual Illusions.”
“I work on recurrent connections in the brain and how populations of neurons can code for features,” said del Mar.
“My project is to understand how trans-cranial electrical stimulation changes our brain and behavior. That method has been used to treat depression, chronic pain, epilepsy, and stroke recovery,” said Kar, “But, I wanted to understand how it works in the pursuit of optimizing advanced methods.”
“I’m excited to showcase what we’ve been working on in the Krekelberg lab and it’ll be a great opportunity to inform undergraduates about what we do and the opportunities that are available here,” Liu said.
According to 20-year-old Honors College student Iqra Baig, she has been working with Dr. Jessie Simon on the Healthy Aging project, which focuses on understanding how aging affects memory by administering cognitive neuro-psych tests on healthy young, middle aged, and elderly people.
Baig also believes that there is a great deal of advantages of being an intern at the Aidekman Research Center.
“I feel like people should do research at the Aidekman Research Center because it makes you grow not only as a student, but as a researcher. It allows you to investigate topics that you didn’t know much about before and it also allows you to be in the forefront of research,” Baig said.
In addition, Baig believes that the research that she has conducted has opened an avenue for her to engage in several community outreach programs.
“The studies that we do in lab can be applied to the general population, especially here in Newark because we work with churches and we organize events to help promote brain health,” Baig said.
With all of the advantages and opportunities that are available at the Aidekman Research Center, students who are interested in a career in research or medicine will have the chance to balance collaborative and individual work with their peers, gain exposure to various areas of research, while forming a professional relationship with an advisor that will help guide them through various research processes.
“The whole point of research for me is to make an impact on society. It’s really a rewarding experience to be able to use what you’ve learned to not only enhance your intellectual capacity or to gain a comprehensive understanding, but to work a long side your peers to help create positive advancements in peoples lives,” Baig said.