Alumni Spotlight

  • What field in Neuroscience did you study? I was fortunate enough to work in a laboratory where interesting questions were pursued no matter the field or technique needed to answer them.  While the overall field was learning, memory, and neuroplasticity, this laboratory studied it with molecular, biological, anatomically, electrophysiological, and fMRI techniques, and I am sure I left some out.  My specific focus was on the translation of mRNA at synapses in response to synaptic activity, and it happened to fortuitously overlap with a common clinical condition.  Fortuitous for me, as I was in the Medical-Scholars Program.
  • Sean M. Smith, Ph.D. is an Executive Director of Neuroscience Discovery at Merck in West Point, PA. In this role, he directs research for Neurodegenerative disease from target identification through early clinical development. He also leads efforts to identify and translate target engagement and disease progression biomarkers for neurological disorders. Prior to leading the Neurodegeneration department, Sean lead the Psychiatric Disorders department and was the chair of early clinical development teams for MK-8189 (Phase 2, schizophrenia) and MK-8719 (Phase 1, PSP). Sean did his postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the laboratory of Dr Wylie Vale and received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • What field in Neuroscience did you study? What about the research process did you enjoy? Did you prefer gathering the data, brainstorming its meaning, the writing process, defending your research, presenting your research, etc. My thesis research focused on neuroendocrine modulators of memory.  I appreciated that all aspects of the research process were important, but I most enjoyed seeing the data come together to tell a story that built on the literature and offered new insights.
  • Dr. Daeyeol Lee has been named a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins University. Lee graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1995 (MS in Biology) and 1995 (PhD in Neuroscience).