Research is right where Nicola Schatz wants to be. Nicola, a fourth year Neuroscience major, is working this summer with Dr. Gerlinde Metz to research how our own brain development and aging may be impacted by the experiences of our grandparents, great-grandparents, and beyond. Metz’s research on transgenerational inheritance of stress and other factors suggests that stressors leading to impaired brain development or accelerated brain aging may not solely be caused by our own DNA; it may be tied to the experiences of our ancestors.

Through the support of a Chinook Summer Research Award, Nicola is spending her summer vacation with the Metz Lab. Nicola is working on data analysis, analyzing pathology reports on rodents for patterns between cohorts, and conducting statistical analysis to draw conclusions from the data. She notes that being part of a research project during her undergraduate years has been a valuable experience, helping her realize the potential power of her degree.

Research had been an avenue I was interested in and through a Co-op opportunity at the Agriculture & Agri-Food Research Centre I found I enjoyed being in a lab setting conducting research. Through the ability to be a part of research in my discipline during my undergraduate I feel confident that this is something that I can see myself pursuing as a career.

Nicola adds that being able to conduct research in a hands-on environment has allowed her to explore what she enjoys most about neuroscience, applying the knowledge and skills gained in her work to her courses.

Working in a lab that fosters innovation and problem-solving, Nicola says she enjoys the supportive environment that research at the U of L offers, as she is at the forefront of data generation and is able to gain a new understanding of learned concepts.

For students who are interested in becoming involved in research, Nicola suggests starting by taking courses they are interested in—particularly topics courses.

Asking your professor about their research is not only a good way to get to know the professors in your department but can lead to some amazing opportunities.