Of all specialties of the Biomedical Sciences, I find Neuroscience very intriguing out of sheer fascination for the epitome of evolution – the brain. The brain directly or indirectly controls almost all functions necessary for survival, which compels me to investigate its complexity and functioning. Unexplored frontiers in Neuroscience - from the neuron to cognition, coupled with an urge to discover what makes us truly living compel me to pursue a career in Neuroscience.
When I graduated from college in India, there was a scarcity of institutions offering graduate level courses in Neuroscience, and limitation of facilities and content in teaching, syllabus and research in this field. Hence, in order to obtain graduate level training, and since degrees obtained from American universities are internationally renowned for their academic excellence; I decided to apply to universities in the United States.
While researching potential universities, what set Florida State University (FSU) apart was that besides academics, almost equal emphasis was placed on community service, leadership, and social or religious involvement. I really appreciated that students were recognized not merely for academic potential, but also for exemplary character demonstrated in selfless service rendered to the community, hospital or elders in retirement homes.
The holistic approach that FSU had to offer during a student's college life, and quality of education in terms of coursework, research, seminars, conference, and specialty guest lecture series in Basic Neurosciences that graduate students were privileged to receive inspired me to apply to this university.
My first visit to the United States was in Fall-2007 upon obtaining a scholarship from FSU to pursue graduate studies in the inter-disciplinary program of Neurosciences. Throughout my graduate years, I was enrolled in course work such as in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience, Advanced Molecular & Cell Biology, Research Techniques in Neuroscience and Biomedical Sciences among other related course work, which provided in-depth knowledge of theoretical concepts. My graduate experience at FSU deepened my interest and understanding of Neuroscience.
Excellence in academics throughout college and graduate school enabled me to be part of several research groups. This provided numerous opportunities in conducting original research. During my first laboratory rotation at FSU, I learned to appreciate how genes play a critical role for normal interaction between the central nervous system and other systems of the human body, such as the endocrine system, and how absence of a particular gene could lead to biochemical and metabolic abnormalities with profound changes in behavior.
Research conducted by Dr. Debra Ann Fadool’s team showed that gene targeted deletion of Kv1.3; a voltage-gated potassium ion channel in mice increased their sense of olfaction by a...