You Don't Have to be Perfect - Just Prepared: Working in a Neuroanatomy and Behavior Lab



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This past summer, I interned at the Lab of Neuroanatomy and Behavior at Northeastern University under the mentorship of Dr. Rebecca Shansky. I was excited to work in Boston at a large university, but felt apprehensive about starting my first internship. Dr. Shansky’s research focuses on the behavioral responses of rats to fear and stress, sex differences between these responses, and how hormones such as estrogen can influence this neuronal pathway in rat models. Her lab combines data from behavioral assays with analysis of neuronal dendrites to bridge the connection between behavior and neurobiology. Though some of my expectations were met, I encountered more surprises than I anticipated. I spent most of my time designing and running experiments as well as analyzing video data using special computer software, a skill I had learned during my time in Professor Schwartzer’s lab at MHC. However, I also enjoyed learning about new techniques such as perfusions. This internship taught me as much about myself as it did about rat behavior and neurobiology. It was rewarding and reassuring to learn that I could handle a lot of independent work, learn quickly in a new environment, and work through problems or learn from mistakes along the way. This drove home the idea that you don’t have to be perfect - just prepared.