Why Neuroscience?

I first became interested in neuroscience when I worked as a home health aide in outpatient pediatric psychiatry – I was fascinated with how human brains work, especially those of individuals with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and mental health conditions. I had always known that although I struggled with science, I possessed a love for biology and wanted to know more specifically about the brain! I googled “brain sciences”, discovered neuroscience, discovered that the University of Washington possessed a neuroscience program, and transferred here from Everett Community College in 2020. From there, I joined the program in 2021 and my love for the field bloomed. I began with a strong interest in mental health conditions and now possess a primary interest in chronic pain, neuroendocrinology, and the intersections between the nervous system and immune system. The neuroscience program has allowed me to grow and expand upon my interests and leave my undergraduate career with skills to further explore and specialize. I never saw myself doing research before joining this program – now, I don’t think I can live without it! I graduate in the spring of 2023 and hope to take a gap year to engage in research related to neuroscience, and then apply and matriculate into an MD/PhD pathway somewhere in the States – hopefully UCLA or Boston!

– Kyra Shelton, Class of 2023 (kshelt@uw.edu)

I felt like I wanted to spend my time at university exploring something that had yet to be explored thoroughly, and to me, that meant going into the study of the ocean or the study of the brain. I took a few marine biology courses and went to Friday Harbor to test the waters, but I discovered that it wasn’t something I wanted to do with the rest of my 4 years at UW. I naturally shifted my interests over to neuroscience after that, and it took only a few run-ins with the Neurobiology Club and some neuro seminars to completely fall in love with the field. Apart from the slightly painful but nonetheless necessary rigorous training the coursework and major has put me through in terms of comprehending and creating scientific literature and the fascinating knowledge of the brain’s workings that I’ve built from the bottom up, one of the most valuable gifts this major has given me is access to a close-knit community of people with similar goals and values as me. I was initially worried because I hadn’t found my “crowd” well into late Junior year, but now (finally, during my last year here) I have met some of my closest friends and study buddies through the major. Neuroscience at UW taught me that it’s healthy to go through the process of struggling to understand a difficult concept and that it’s much more fun to “suffer” together with friends who are all rooting for each other, even through the curved classes and particularly hard exams. I feel like I’ve made connections that will surely last even after graduation, well into my middle years. That’s a pretty cool feeling!

– Jeesoo Yoon, Class of 2023 (jsyoon0820@gmail.com)

Up to date, I have had 5 concussions. As a result, I have experienced firsthand how the progression of neuroscience research could impact lives. In just 2 years time, they revised how to treat one of the worst organs you can injure: your brain. Neuroscience is constantly bettering its own research and perspectives. I wanted to learn from a field that is still actively improving their own techniques and understandings from the fantastic professors who lead this movement. I also wanted to be immersed in a collaborative environment where students are as passionate about the ever-changing field of neuroscience as I am.

– Katrina Wong, Class of 2023 (klcmwong@uw.edu)

I think neuroscience is important because it ties well with my interests in English since language is how we understand the world, it only make sense I study the organ that perceives and comprehends language. Also, neuroscience makes me question and think deeply about my human experience. Our brain is what allows me to sing, feel pain, and do what I love, so I consider it a duty for me to know my body and what literally makes me who I am. Outside of that, I am looking to become a doctor in the future but even if you aren’t, I think neuro is valuable because it teaches us a lot about the processes and anatomy of the brain which we take for granted every day. I think neuro has pushed me to work harder and try new things (especially in the 301 and 302 labs!) that I would never have imagined. It’s also the first time in my life I felt like a scientist while I was working in the labs. Neuro is really fun!

– Anonymous, Class of 2023