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Q: What were your interests and studies at Hamilton College, and how did those experiences prepareErin Bryant "21 you for your current career?
A: During my time at Hamilton, I majored in neuroscience and minored in creative writing and German studies. I was also on the pre-med track. My lab-intensive courses prepared me well for the type of work and level of precision required at my job. One of my favorite courses at Hamilton was Cognitive Neuroscience with Professor List. This class focused on reading primary literature on topics including perception, attention, and memory––the topic I currently study. Professor List was also my advisor for my neuroscience senior thesis, which was on the role of facial processing in the Uncanny Valley Effect. Through this class and my thesis, I developed a deep appreciation for the process of designing and conducting experiments. 

Q: What do you find the most challenging about your job? What do you find the most rewarding?
A: I currently work in a lab that seeks to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of long-term memory using mice. The most challenging part of my job is putting the mice down, but I feel better knowing that we use the most humane practices possible and that our research will help people suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s. The most rewarding part of my job is when I get to wrap up a project and communicate my results. My ultimate career goal is to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. degree in neuroscience. With this degree, I can help people in practical ways every day and pursue research that can produce long-term results. Specifically, I hope to work with patients who suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition to living with the pain of the conditions themselves, those with neuropsychiatric disorders also face the pain of social stigma. I believe that cultivating a deeper understanding is the first step to alleviating stigma and improving quality of life.

Q: What motivated you to seek this career path?
A: I am hoping to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. degree in the future. During college most of my experiences were in a clinical setting, so I sought to gain experience in the field of research after graduation. I chose to work at Scripps because of the institution’s reputation for innovative research. Last year a neuroscientist from Scripps, Professor Ardem Patapoutian, was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology for his research on how we sense mechanical stimuli. 

Q: What advice would you give to current Hamilton students thinking of pursuing this field of work?
A: I would advise Hamilton students to be creative when looking for opportunities. You may find amazing opportunities in areas adjacent to your field that you would have never considered if you narrowed your search. Likewise you might not find what you are looking for on LinkedIn or Indeed, so branch out to other sources.

Get more information about her research here.


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