Courtney Anderson ('14, Psychology)

Photo of Alexa Sterling What do you do for your undergraduate research?

I work under Dr. Galizio’s supervision to conduct research on the effects of the NMDA antagonist, ketamine, on working memory in rodents using an olfactory span task to create an animal model of the glutamatergic hypothesis of schizophrenia. Basically I train rats over a period of time on an odor recognition task in an arena apparatus and once they reach an established stability point on the task, I determine how administering ketamine affects their performance on that task.

What made you want to pursue an undergraduate research project?

While working in Dr. Galizio’s behavioral pharmacology and neuroscience lab for a semester, it occurred to me that at the end of the semester that my work in the lab would end with my seminar course. I realized that working in the lab was really something I wanted to keep doing and at the same time, Dr. Galizio brought up the possibility of pursuing my own research project. I just knew it was something I wanted to go for.

How did you start your research project?

The fall semester of my sophomore year, in addition to working in Dr. Galizio and Dr. Bruce’s research lab, I also attended the lab meetings. I was privileged to see other students in different stages of their research projects and to thoroughly discuss research publications related to what was being studied in the lab. After discovering my interest in research pertaining to schizophrenia models, I brought the subject up as a possible research project topic to Dr. Galizio. We found there was still more to be discovered about the use of ketamine as an animal model for schizophrenia and we went from there.

Was doing your own research fun? Be Honest.

Absolutely. Sometimes I can’t believe it’s actually me that is lucky enough to work in the lab. It can be hard and it does require a substantial time commitment but I was also lucky enough to have two very supportive lab supervisors, Dr. Galizio and Dr. Bruce, who help and guide me every step of the way. I’m very thankful to them for their continued support. I don’t know any two people on this Earth that have more patience than they do.

It isn’t required to do research as an undergrad, so what advantages do you think this experience has provided you?

The advantages are extensive. I could list endlessly the advantages to doing research as an undergrad. However, probably the most important advantage is real world perspective and accountability. You get to see what it’s like to work independently as if you were in the field and you feel that pressure that your actions effect others and could even effect your entire field. I can’t think of another pursuit in college that’s comparable in that sense. For example, it is possible that other researchers in the field will continue to build on your findings so It’s important that your findings are accurate and nothing was overlooked. That realization definitely led me to mature in a sense.

What recognition and/or grants did you receive for your research?

I was awarded a UNCW Undergraduate Research Fellowship (the Georgia and Gary Miller Fellowship) for my honors work. I also applied for and received a CSURF Research Supplies Award.

What are your plans after you receive your degree from UNCW?

I plan to attend Law School to pursue my J.D.

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