• Area of Study Neurobiology

Where are you from?

Cambridge, Massachusetts

What is your major and how did you choose it?

I am a Biology major with a Specialization in Neurobiology (NB). My initial interests in the biological sciences emerged when a family member was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder. Doing research into the diagnosis and breaking down complex terms to explain the course, prognosis, and treatment plans — ignited a flame in me. I somehow ended up reading about Oliver Sacks and decided to read his books. From those books, I became fascinated with the neurological sciences and cellular pathways of different pathologies. Bio with a specialization in Neuro was the perfect balance for obtaining cellular/molecular knowledge while also honing in on specific neurological diseases and disorders. This major also gave me enough space to explore other disciplines.

What is your favorite Biology course?

BI 203: Cell Biology with Professor Beffert was my favorite course. This class, although introductory material, the way it was designed and how reasonings behind each of the cell’s mechanisms were taught, allowed me to appreciate the beauty of the cellular level processes. Professor Beffert did a great job in breaking down and explaining the intimidating cellular processes for the cell cycle, apoptosis, cancer, and beyond. The studying skills that I learned in that class were really helpful for my other biology courses as well.

What kind of research do you do?

I currently am a research assistant in the David Ginty lab, a Neurobiology lab at Harvard Medical School. I work on projects that relate to neuronal pathway development for somatosensation. I have learned many techniques and procedures like dorsal column injections in mice, skin injections, spinal cord dissections, quantification of neuron cell bodies, immunohistochemistry staining, and more!

Nusrat presenting her research on the Quantitative Analysis or Mechanosensory Neuron Peripheral Innvervation Density at a conference.

How did you get your research position?

During my freshman year I looked at research position postings on Work Day, based on the ones that were interesting, I submitted applications.

How has your research tied into your classroom learning?

At my research lab I work on the anatomy aspect of our somatosensation projects, in which there is a focus on neurotransmitters, neuronal pathways, neuron morphologies. All of this complements what I learn in my neuro courses. I also do many procedures/techniques that I read about in the textbook of my courses– so it’s really fun to be able to apply what I learn in lecture in real life and see neurobiology play out first hand.

What extracurricular activities are you involved with?

Volunteer at Boston Children’s Hospital, High school Mentor, Intramural Volleyball, Unicef UNITE Community Engagement, BU Premedical Club, AED, BU Sisters United, and being a PCA.

What is your favorite dining spot on or around campus?

The GSU is a great place with many dining options, whether it’s a grilled sandwich, to a burrito bowl, to some Asian food. It was also a great place (before COVID) to see your friends and get work done over food.

What is the best place to study or relax?

I love to study on the floors above Marciano Commons, there is just enough sunlight, it’s pretty quiet, and the glass windows allow for a great view of the city or Fenway while working.

I enjoy relaxing along the Charles River, a little more beyond the BU beach. It’s a great place for long walks where you can observe the beauty of the city skyline in the back. The path also leads to many places like the MIT bridge, Symphony area, Harvard Square, and more!

What’s one BU tip you wish you knew sooner?

BU has several dual-degree programs as well as accelerated programs! These are great options for students who have a good idea of what they want to do. It is important to know about these programs from early on (Freshman or Sophomore year) so that you can start preparing to apply to them when the time comes — especially in terms of securing recommendation letters!

What are your post-graduation plans?

After graduation I want to take time to work with grass-root organizations in the Greater Boston Area in the fields of community health and achievement gap in schools. Afterwards, I hope to attend medical school.

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