Last summer, Matthew Anderson ’22 took part in a neuroscience research program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In addition to offering research experience, the program created a “pipeline for opportunity.” In the fall, he will return to UCLA to begin his Ph.D. in neuroscience.
Anderson has considered a career in neuroscience research for almost as long as he has been a neuroscience major. After taking a variety of classes his first and sophomore years, his neuroscience class stood out as both challenging and enjoyable. Through his lab coursework, Anderson got a taste for research work; however, due to the pandemic, the UCLA summer program was his first in-person research experience. There, he realized he wanted to pursue neuroscience research through a Ph.D.
“That summer really exposed me to what a Ph.D. program is like, what opportunities you get, and what types of things you do in the process of getting a Ph.D.,” Anderson said. “I felt like it fit with my career goals and life interests, so I decided to apply.”
During the UCLA summer program, Anderson studied the cell mechanisms of a drug treatment for depression. He became familiar with using fruit flies in neuroscience research — something he has continued to explore through his senior thesis project. Cellularly, fruit flies are very similar to humans, which allows Anderson to look at a protein in fruit flies to learn things about us. It is this cellular side to neuroscience (neurobiology) that interests Anderson the most.
“I’ve always understood science best from the perspective of biology,” Anderson said. “It’s just sort of the way that my brain works. But I don’t particularly enjoy biology exclusively. So, I fell into neurobiology the same way I fell into neuroscience: I found it the most interesting.”
Matthew Anderson ’22
Hometown: San Diego, Calif.
High School: Canyon Crest Academy
Activities: Men’s lacrosse
At UCLA, Anderson intends to research neurobiology, specifically in relation to diseases. As the Ph.D. program will take five or six years to complete, he does not yet know what he wants to pursue afterward.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity to still engage with neuroscience,” Anderson said. “I know that’s something a lot of neuroscience majors don’t often get to do following graduation unless they’re pursuing exclusively a research position. So, I think it’s cool that I’m going to get paid to keep working with what I enjoy most.”