Neuroscience student Erin Cantwell spent her summer starting a new chapter of her research journey by Investigating the Potential Long-Term Neuroanatomical Consequences of Chronic High-CBD Cannabis Use. Erin spent the last year working on dendritic spine analysis and behavioural scoring of rats to examine how their behaviour and brains changed before, during and after long-term exposure to high-CBD Cannabis. Erin gets to take her research further in the Gibb Lab, drawing pyramidal neurons from the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus and using them to analyze dendritic complexity and length changes.

What attracted you to this research?

Brains are so cool! I've always wanted practical lab experience. This project allows me to get into the lab and experience neuroscience from a hands-on perspective rather than strictly the theoretical side, like in a typical class setting. This research is also very relevant to current issues. With the recent legalization of cannabis, its use has boomed. There is still much more to learn about cannabis, and this project will contribute to the growing collection of cannabis research.

Has this experience been valuable to your education and/or degree?

Yes! This opportunity has provided me with the chance to expand my theoretical knowledge of neuroscience and experience with the scientific method, continue to foster my leadership skills and provide me with the opportunity to build upon my laboratory skills. I have expanded my knowledge within the field, particularly regarding recovery from traumatic brain injury and investigating CBD's effects on the nervous system. I have built upon my current laboratory skillset. This project also allows me to network and expand my professional skills in the field.

What do you enjoy most about conducting research at ULethbridge?

It is such a fun environment! I genuinely love getting up and going to work every single day because I'm so excited about what I do and the people I work with. My peers and supervisors are incredible. Research at ULethbridge is the perfect opportunity for personal and professional growth.

What skills and/or experiences will you be taking from your research project into the future?

The laboratory skills I have collected throughout this summer research term will be very helpful in future research endeavours, including future independent studies and graduate schools. Practice in scientific writing will be of great use in the future. Networking opportunities that come alongside this research grant also open many doors for me as well.

This fantastic research will have a lasting impact, not just on Erin but also on how high-CBD cannabis is understood in the wider community. Erin's journey in her degree at ULethbridge started with volunteering with the Gibb Lab and has led to her to amazing paid research opportunities.

Talk to your professors! Get to know them and ask if they have any research opportunities for you. . . All you have to do is ask! Once you have started, many more research opportunities will follow.

Erin will continue her work in this field, making great strides in neuroscience. Please join us in celebrating Erin's achievements and wishing her the best in her future endeavours. We all cannot wait to see what amazing things she will accomplish.

You can gain hands-on research experience too!

Apply for an Undergraduate Student Research Award
Deadline: Jan 31, 2023 at 4 p.m.
Apply now!