Student Spotlight: Georgia, Neuroscience Institute, Online Experience 2020


Throughout the 2020 Summer Immersion Program – Online Experience we will be featuring different students to talk about their diverse experiences in our Institutes. Learn more about our online Institutes from the perspective of our students. 


What were your biggest takeaways?

Reflecting on my experience as a participant of the Wake Forest University Summer Immersion Program Neuroscience Institute, the information and topics that I got introduced to were perfectly balanced between being informative and interactive. It was amazing to get insight on just how complex the human brain is and how one’s mental and physical state are very much interconnected. Dr. Holleran’s presentation on Drugs of Abuse stood out to me because I learned about the mental science behind the addictive properties of commonly used drugs and alcohol. I got a deeper insight on the technicalities of withdrawal and why drug addiction can often grip someone’s life and not let go. I had never before seen a presentation that described addiction so practically and scientifically-it was very interesting and engaging. Another big takeaway from the Neuroscience Summer Immersion program that particularly engaged me is Dr. Maier’s presentation on Sensory Systems and Multisensory Integration. It was very fascinating to learn about the dependency that the human senses have on each other and how they can integrate with one another to produce something new. I absolutely loved the interactive activities that involved the correlation of sight and hearing along with smell and taste. The inclusion of interactive experiences in the program was both fun and engaging. I really enjoyed all of the presentations throughout the Neuroscience Institute and learned new information that will always stick with me! 

What is something new that you learned about yourself?

Throughout the past week of learning during Wake Forest’s Summer Immersion Program Neuroscience Institute, not only did I acquire lots of new information pertaining to the functions of the brain, I also learned more about myself both as a student and an individual. With all of the information that the guest speakers introduced throughout the program, there was plenty of room for questions regarding the recently presented material and beyond. Despite knowing that I would be stepping out of my comfort zone by asking questions out loud in front of many people, I chose to take what was a risk for me and speak up whenever there was something more that I wanted to know from any given speaker and their presentation. It was totally worth it! I gained so much more from my experience as a participant of the Neuroscience Institute by keeping a curious mind and not letting my fear of speaking up stand in my way of learning as much as I could. I will definitely keep asking questions when they arise in the future knowing how worth the effort it is for both my education and the relationships that I can form with those whose work interests me.


 How has this experience changed your mindset? 

My experience as a participant in the Summer Immersion Program Neuroscience Institute has inspired my curiosity of mental capacity and functions. I realized just how complex the human brain is and how all human functions and capabilities ultimately comply with the brain’s abilities. From the array of presentations given throughout the program, from Dr. Klorig’s introduction to Artificial Intelligence and the connection between Learning, Memory, and Sleep to Neurophysiology and the science behind addiction, I got a solid introduction to what the brain is capable of and what it controls. Now, with a better idea of just how vital the health of the human mind is for human survival and well-being, I want to further study the brain’s anatomy to learn more about the specific functions of such a vital organ and how certain functions and systems within the brain can be changed or altered to improve many lives.


What is an experience you had that really stands out to you?

If I had to choose an experience from Wake Forest’s Summer Immersion Program Neuroscience Institute that stood out to me from the rest, I would choose the project presentations on the final day of the program that were given by all participants. The reason that the presentations stood out to me is because of the interest-driven motive behind them and the research that was presented on many different topics within the broad field of Neuroscience. It was fascinating to be informed about how an individual’s brain functions differently when they have a particular mental disorder and about the new technologies and methods that are being put into place based on the neuroresearch of a corresponding disorder. As someone who wants to pursue research on the brain-gut connection and look for cures to mental diseases, all of the new information that was presented was very inspiring for me to pursue a journey to find a way to improve the quality of the brain’s functions and therefore, the mental health of so many who are in search for a cure.


Describe someone you met who impacted you.

I felt impacted and more informed by all of the different presenters in the Wake Forest Summer Immersion Program Neuroscience Institute. If I had to choose one person who stood out from the rest through their presented information along with their pursued profession in the field of neuroscience, I would choose Academic Leader, Dr. David Klorig. The reason why I would choose Dr. Klorig out of all of the presenters and influences who I met during the Neuroscience Institute to be the most impactful for me is because I found his pursuit of his profession along with his interests to be the most diverse out of all. Not only did he present information on topics pertaining to the general field of neuroscience (including neurophysiology and the connection between learning, memory, and sleep), he also led presentations about other interesting topics pertaining to brain function but not necessarily only about the direct functions of the brain. I found Dr. Klorig’s presentation on Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning to feature a cool and interesting concept that presented a possible future with more advanced technological capabilities. I also found his demonstration with the cockroaches and the “dancing leg” through the use of electric potential to be unbelievably cool. Throughout the four day course, it became apparent to me that Dr. Klorig has a great deal of technological capabilities along with his knowledge in the field of neuroscience. The combination of his skills and abilities left an impact on me and inspired me to include technology/computers in my future studies in order to discover new findings and solutions in the broad field of neuroscience.


How has this experience impacted your future?

My experience as a participant in the Summer Immersion Program Neuroscience Institute has led me to take a greater interest than ever before in the functions of the brain and how its different parts work together and impact the body. I have learned so much over the past four days of the program that has inspired me to further look into what I have been presented as a program participant. Doing so will aid me to advance my future career and make an impactful difference for people in search of a cure for an illness pertaining to their mental health. I have learned that there is so much involved in how the brain functions, so much so that there are multiple researchers in many different fields studying  different parts or aspects of the brain. Throughout college, I know that I will need to learn a great deal of information to pursue a career in the broad field of neuroscience. There is so much engaging information about the brain that I have yet to discover and the Wake Forest University Summer Immersion Program Neuroscience Institute was a great introduction that is leading me in the direction towards a successful educational and career pathway.


What was your favorite moment from this week?

There were so many fun, cool, and fascinating events that occurred this week and I felt thoroughly engaged by them all. If there was one moment that I had to pick out of the many throughout the Neuroscience Institute to be a favorite, it would be Dr. Klorig’s demonstration of electric potential using a cockroaches leg. I have never before had an idea of or have studied the electric components of a nervous system and it was so cool to be presented with a visual example of the electric element of a bug’s stimuli. Apparently, the human nervous system has a similar electric factor like other living organisms, all interconnected with our brains. The demonstration provoked my fascination in the freaky elements of the human nervous system and how scientific measures can be taken to possibly alter it in order to cure specific diseases that involve the brain and nervous system like epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.


How has this experience clarified your goals?

As I have previously mentioned, my experience as a participant in the Wake Forest Summer Immersion Program Neuroscience Institute has inspired me to look more into the wide range of topics that pertain to the specific functions of the brain, study them, and use my acquired knowledge in a future career, possibly discovering ways to cure or help illnesses that affect the brain. My experience in the program has also led me to take interest in new topics that I have never learned about or thought of before. For example, learning about a future world that involves the broad use of Artificial Intelligence had inspired me to look into the use of technology as a way to improve the lives of others or help them with their day to day. In addition to learning about AI, learning about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain and why addiction can be so powerful through Dr. Holleran’s presentation has inspired me to learn more about how to maximize mental health and avoid addiction and illness in order for people to live to their full potential.


What was the most interesting thing you did/saw/learned?

For me, the interactive demonstration that Dr. Maier led Institute participants through as a part of his presentation on Sensory systems and Multisensory Integration was the most interesting activity that took place during the duration of the program. This is because of how I was able to get a first-hand experience of how the human senses can integrate and often cannot produce what we experience without the existence of another. I now know based on first hand experience that sight and sound correlate along with smell and taste. Something else that I found to be very interesting to learn about is the concept of lucid dreams. I never knew that you could possibly control your thoughts within a dream by training your brain. The fact that Lucid dreams exist made me realize just how complex and trainable the human mind is and inspired me to further study how it can be altered for the benefit of people’s health and well-being. Besides those two topics, presented were many other fascinating topics, information, and concepts, including the ones that I have mentioned, that were very engaging and motivating for my future studies.


Why would you recommend the Summer Immersion Program?

The Summer Immersion Program Neuroscience Institute is the third program that I have participated in this summer through Wake Forest University. It is my very first year participating in the Summer Immersion Program through Wake, so I have only experienced the programs online rather than at Wake facilities. The three Summer Immersion Programs that I have participated in are the Health and Exercise Science Institute, the Health and Wellbeing Institute, and finally, the Neuroscience Institute. Despite only participating in the online experience of the Summer Immersion Program, I will say that I have absolutely loved the past three weeks and have felt fully engaged and invested in all of the information that has been introduced. The Program Ambassadors have all been incredibly friendly, attentive, and were all great sources of information and answers to any questions that Institute participants have had, especially regarding college life and experiences as a student. All of the guest presenters along with the Academic Leaders that I have seen and interacted with have all brought something new to the program and were all very engaging with the topics and information that they were presenting. Like the Program Ambassadors, they were all very open to any questions regarding their experiences and what they were invested in. It was great to be able to feel that I could ask anything about relevant information that I wanted to know and my question would always get respected and answered one way or another. Between the wide array of information that was presented during all three Institutes, the welcoming setting of the Institute’s Zoom rooms, and the new knowledge that I could acquire in just three weeks, I recommend the Summer Immersion Program through Wake Forest University as a fun and engaging experience that is both informative and interactive.