Sylvia Jimenez’19

I came to the Horch lab with very little experience under my belt, to learn about the phenomenon of compensatory plasticity in the adult cricket central nervous system (CNS). I started as a volunteer during my sophomore year, and have since undertaken a project of my own. I am currently studying the total messenger RNA contents of a single cell in the cricket CNS to find molecular players involved in the compensatory growth response after injury. Along the way I learned a range of techniques and protocols used in molecular neurobiology (from RNA purification to backfilling to confocal microscopy), and acquired skills that will be very instrumental in my career. I have also collaborated in a project that is currently in the review process for publication. From here, I hope to go on to pursue graduate studies in Neuroscience and possibly lead my own lab in the future.

I am looking to pursue an opportunity at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC) in Coimbra, Portugal to further my research experiences and supplement my coursework. My time will be divided in 3 labs. Dr. Carlos Duarte’s lab investigates molecular players involved in the guidance of axons, the part of the nerve that conducts electrical signals. Through my studies of molecular neurobiology in the Horch lab, I will be able to contribute in a meaningful way to Dr. Duarte’s work. Dr. Ana Carvalho’s lab looks at molecular contents at the junction between two nerve cells, otherwise known as the synapse. Having taken ​Neurobiology of the synapse​, a senior seminar course, I have gained a thorough understanding of synaptic biology through careful scientific literature analysis. Her lab will provide me with the opportunity to get on-the-ground exposure and couple my academic knowledge with wet-lab experience. I will also be working in a third lab that deals with neuronal circuits and behavior, which are topics that I am excited to dive into and learn more about, since I have had little exposure to them in the past.

​By participating in projects in these labs at CNC, I aim to expose myself to a range of experiences, including the feel of each lab, the skill set required and types of techniques used, and their respective approaches to tackling a research question. The particular labs that I will be working deal with topics that are very closely linked to research done in the Horch lab as well as some techniques used in my ​Neurophysiology ​course lab. With my base knowledge acquired at Bowdoin, I’m positive that I will be able to engage deeply in the work being done at CDC. Lastly, this international experience will show me how research may be influenced by cultural differences, and overall broaden my scope of the world of neuroscience and the scientific community. Because I am at a critical stage in my college experience in which I am assessing career and graduate school prospects, I think this experience will not only supplement my degree at Bowdoin but also inform my future decisions.