I've always been curious, and science is a great way to foster and encourage that!

Fifth-year neuroscience and psychology student Cayley Fleischman was drawn to scientific research after hearing a guest lecture in one of her first neuroscience classes. She knew from that moment on that she wanted to "be part of that energy."

What excites you about science?

So many things excite me, so it's hard to name just a few! I think what excites me the most, though, is the opportunity to learn something new. I've always been curious, and science is a great way to foster and encourage that!

I started working in Dr. Robbin Gibb's lab after having her guest lecture in my NEUR 2600 course in the first semester of my first year. I remember how passionate Dr. Gibb was when she spoke about her work, and I remember thinking, "wow, I want to be a part of that energy." I started working in her lab the following summer, and I've been there ever since! Seeing someone so enthusiastic about their work inspired me to start looking for things in science that I'm passionate about. That led me to jump around various disciplines and broaden my horizons. One semester I worked in Dr. Andrew Iwaniuk's lab, learning about stereology and virtual microscopy in neuroscience. Currently, I'm working in Dr. Scott Rathwell's lab in the Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education, studying social support and return to play following concussion!

Tell us about the first time you felt really excited about what you were learning?

I think every time I learn something new, I usually feel really excited! The very first time I felt that wave of enthusiasm, though, was working with rats and maternal preconception alcohol exposure during my first summer in Dr. Gibb's lab. My friends and family must've been so sick of me by the end of the summer because every time I saw them, all I would talk about was the research I was helping with!

What surprised you about participating in scientific research at ULethbridge?

What surprised me most was the personal and professional relationships I formed with the people I worked with, including my supervisors. I've been fortunate to have a lot of one-on-one mentoring from the professors I've worked with, and I appreciate how committed they are to helping their students learn. On a more personal note, I've met some of my closest friends through research, and sometimes your lab can really feel like a little family!

What words of inspiration would you like to share with the next generation of women and girls in science?

I feel like a lot can be said, but the biggest thing is to be resilient and keep putting yourself out there! It can be daunting to do that, especially in a traditionally male-dominated environment, but that courage is key to success. Sometimes you may face adversity, and sometimes it feels like more doors are closing than opening, but remembering why you do what you do and holding onto the passion that motivates you can really help with those feelings!

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