What field in Neuroscience did you study?
What about the research process did you enjoy?
Really just the discovery and learning process. You get to ask questions about the most advanced organ ever created and try to solve it. Even negative results yielded information, so it was always an exciting journey.
Did you prefer gathering the data, brainstorming its meaning, the writing process, defending your research, presenting your research, etc.
Brainstorming and presenting are def the top of the list. They are just more fun in general as you get to not only critically think and go back and forth with your peers and your mentors, but get to come up with really cool ideas and get great feedback in the process. Since everyone has something unique to throw your way! Defending was certainly nice, but nerve wracking for sure. The end of that was probably the best feeling ever. Gathering data is nice, but depending on your field or the type of data, can certainly can be time consuming and monotonous at times. Keeping your eye on the end goal always helped me through this time. The writing process…you can ask anyone who knew me in the program back in the day. I hated it. It just wasn’t for me. But getting those publications out there is certainly one of the best feelings in the world and a huge achievement.
Did you choose to continue doing research? Why or why not?
I did continue doing research. For me, it is just more interesting. There’s always a question, there’s always a direction to go. You might not know the path, but there’s a direction to go. It keeps the day to day more interesting than a cube job…
Do you still conduct research or has your career taken you other places? Why is that?
Yes, I’ve been in the R&D sector the whole time.
Has your career path changed since you graduated? Why or why not?
Yes, I’ve shifted away from Neuroscience sadly. I always wanted to go back to industry, and pure Neuroscience jobs in industry are fewer than others. Luckily my toolkit I had developed over the years allowed me to be pretty flexible, so I’ve been focused more on medical devices, toxicology, and bioassay development and execution.
What are some things you’ve been involved in since you graduated from the program?
Aside from work and general personal life, not too much else. My work in the various companies has been involved with a lot of FDA submissions for various products, so that has been real fulfilling to know that I’ve been able to make a difference and hopefully improve overall health and life for people.
What is one major change that happened since graduation that you did not expect?
Surprisingly being complacent not being in Neuroscience. In the beginning I was seeking heavily to try to return to the field, or at least have a hand in Neuroscience somehow, but as time has moved on, I’ve enjoyed the work I do, and am not actively trying to return to my roots as a Neuroscientist.
How has your personal life developed since you graduated?
A lot has happened actually! I got engaged and married to a woman I met while in Champaign, and had a fantastic wedding where large portion of the people I interacted with in Champaign were able to attend and celebrate all together! We’ve also settled down in the Chicago suburbs, bought a house, and living the full suburb life!
How would you say you’ve changed since graduating?
Aside from diverting from Neuroscience, not too much else has changed. Just adjusting industry job and suburb life.
What’s a fond memory you have as a graduate student?
Beer and Wine Cheese Clubs of course, they were always a blast. Also, helping out with all the Open Houses. It was always great to see all the applicants, learn more about them and also helping to promote NSP!
As a graduate student, was there anything you did that stood out to you or that you have fond memories of doing?
I founded/started the Beer Club and Wine and Cheese Club while I was there, and it was really cool watching it evolve and become a cornerstone for the program. It also became a great way to not only keep in touch with many in the program, but a way for the older years to meet the new incoming students. I am glad the tradition has kept on all these years.
Have you been back to campus since graduation? If so, when and why? If not, then why haven’t you returned?
I’ve been back a handful of times to see friends and professors for various reasons, but as time has gone on, this has reduced. This is primarily due to there being fewer and fewer people I know there, and of course COVID.
What impact do you hope your thesis has on the field of Neuroscience? If you are currently in research, what do you hope your work has on the field? If not, then how do you feel about the impact you left on the field and its importance?
My thesis indicated new potential treatment venues for Fragile X Syndrome. While the work might not be continued currently, the new paradigms that were established from my work, combined with the idea of targeting some downstream components of the mGluR pathway have had an impact.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
Legacy as far as NSP goes would be the Beer and Wine/Cheese Club for the social aspect, and having a focus on industry jobs from the beginning of my PhD, showing other students that it is a viable option to pursue.