March 28, 2013

Research Opportunities Shape Hillsburg's '13 Emmanuel Experience

For Dylan, being right in the heart of the Longwood Medical Area is an unbeatable perk of being an Emmanuel student.

A psychology major with a concentration in neuroscience, Dylan currently spends close to 20 hours a week conducting research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in its transcranial magnetic stimulation lab.

"Essentially we're working with a coil that you can put over someone's head and it will activate that brain region," he said. "So, for example, you can put it over your motor cortex and it will make your hand or other muscles twitch. Mainly it's used to treat depression, and we're investigating its uses for treating Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease as well."

Dylan has done research since the summer after his freshman year, and it certainly keeps him busy. In addition to the Beth Israel lab, he works with Emmanuel's Associate Professor of Psychology Michael Jarvinen to examine the effects of vision loss on certain parts of the brain.

"I'm doing research every day in some way or another," he said.

Dylan has been able to share his findings not only with the Emmanuel community, but also with neuroscience enthusiasts around the country. He recently presented research at a conference in New Orleans, La., and has coauthored a manuscript that was published in a medical journal. He credits his accomplishments to the educational foundation he has received at Emmanuel.        

"I learned research skills here - how to be critical, how to look at methodology - and it really helped me move forward with my research," he said.

Dylan also had the chance to branch out and explore other realms of science - most notably, as a participant in Emmanuel's "Marine Microbiology" travel course that took him to Australia's Great Barrier Reef last summer.

"Marine microbiology was something that I had never studied and I wanted to see what it was like, just to make sure I was in the right field of science doing what I'm doing now," he said. "Some of the protocols and techniques were similar to what I've done for neuroscience, so there was definitely some overlap. And being able to go to Australia was a huge draw, too."

Dylan is currently writing his senior thesis on different mechanisms of memory and is hoping to continue his study of human memory by pursuing a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience in the near future.