Neuroscience and psychology student Cayley Fleischman is very familiar with the University of Lethbridge. A third-generation student, Cayley knows all the fantastic things ULethbridge has to offer its students.
Cayley has spent her summer in a lab with Dr. Robbin Gibb and her peer, Rayn Perry, working on an exciting new initiative in coordination with Building Brains Together (BBT). This program enhances executive function in adolescents using intentional play and aims to build adult capabilities to improve brain development and executive function in children through research and education. Cayley, along with Rayn, got to explore the dynamics of teen brain development through designing executive function by designing a curriculum for various youth programs in Lethbridge. With the hopes of extending this curriculum into the local schools this upcoming year, this fantastic program is something to get excited about.
What attracted you to this research?
Most of my research experience has been with rats, which has been incredibly valuable and fun. However, I wanted to try working with human participants and not rodents! I also find the neuroscience and psychology behind executive function quite interesting. I completed a literature review on the topic last fall and realized that it was something I was passionate about!
Has this experience been valuable to your education and/or degree?
It has been incredibly valuable, to say the least! Not only have I developed my skills in academic writing, data analysis and experimental design, but I’ve also gained much experience working on things outside my comfort zone that I’ve never done before. It has been great to broaden my horizons and learn new skills! I’ve also learned more about what topics I’m passionate about and my education and career goals.
What do you enjoy most about conducting research at ULethbridge?
Honestly, I would have to say how personal it is and that there are so many opportunities for undergraduates to gain research experience! With bigger schools, you do not always have the opportunity to develop relationships with your supervisors. However, at ULethbridge, you often get to chat with your professor and learn from them directly! Also, the people are awesome, and it can be a fun workplace. You get to hear all the other amazing things being worked on and be around other people who are just as passionate and excited about their work as you are!
What skills and/or experiences will you be taking from your research project into the future?
Obviously, I will be taking those technical skills like experimental design, data analysis, academic writing, presenting, etc., but I think learning how to work as part of a team, learning how to work with human participants (and not rodents) and learning how to manage my time and practice self-discipline are important skills too. I’ve also had to learn to work outside my comfort zone and try new things, which has been an awesome challenge!
This project was an enormous undertaking in which Cayley excelled in creating a unique curriculum to help Lethbridge teens enhance their executive function through fun and engaging ways. She says by putting herself out there and connecting with professors, she was able to gain valuable insight and skills related to neuroscience research, and she encourages other students to do the same.
If you are interested in working with one of your professors, then send them an email and ask them what opportunities they may have. The worst they can say is no, and if that happens, then you take it in stride and keep looking! Work hard, put yourself out there, be passionate about what you do, have confidence in yourself, and ask for help when needed!
Cayley will continue her work in this field, making great strides in studying the executive function of the brain and many other notable areas of brain development. Please join us in celebrating Cayley’s achievements and wishing her the best in her future endeavours. We all cannot wait to see what amazing things she will accomplish.
Apply for an Undergraduate Student Research Award
Deadline: Jan 31, 2023 at 4 p.m.