Go Hard this Summer

I’m settled in! I’ve been living in San Diego for a month now, currently doing a rotation in Bradley Voytek’s lab. The Competitive Edge program funding my summer has been key in my acquaintance with the school. I think they are doing diversity research programs right, and I’m sure a lot of it has to do with their leadership. For instance, the first day involved the cohort getting to know each other through an exercise acknowledging identity and privileges. You might feel like rolling your eyes at this, but trust me, it did wonders in breaking down comfort barriers right from the get go. By quickly establishing an open-minded environment, the ambience felt comfortable and vocal.
Maribel and I ended up choosing to live in the Rita Atkinson graduate housing apartments. They’re pretty sweet, although we had been warned by other students that it can be socially dead. Well, nothing can beat how socially dead our place was in Philadelphia. The fact that we already have friends that live a walk away already beats that. Living here means we are both a 15-minute walk from lab, and a 15-minute walk the opposite way for groceries. In addition, since we applied as a couple, we have an extra room! Pet time?
The research I’m involved in is about looking at Alpha power during a visuospatial attention task. The EEG data collected during this task is what I’m working with, with the hopes of looking at Alpha power bursts, rather than just alpha power itself, to see whether that feature leads to better performance in an inverted encoding model that determines spatial foci of attention. I’ve been using MATLAB, which I’m thankful for since I get to transfer what I learned in the Litt Lab right away. Voytek is a great dude, not just because I like the direction he wants to take the lab’s research to, but also because he is vocal about diversity issues in academia. I like people who are in positions of power that nonetheless speak their mind.
For the Fall, I’m thinking of rotating with Christina Gremel, the PI Maribel is currently rotating with. According to Maribel and Voytek, she is an awesome individual from a personality standpoint. I’m interested in her research because it’ll give me a chance to get myself reacquainted with animal models, as well as to get exposed to molecular approaches to studying cognition. From what I see in her publications, she’s worked on CB1 receptors, so that’s another plus for me.
I think the plan for this year is to rotate with Christina in the Fall quarter, Voytek again in the Winter quarter, and someone whose research is completely new to me during the Spring quarter. This would be a good way to not only be productive research-wise, but also allow myself appropriate time to kick ass in my courses. I’m eyeing the Computational Neuroscience concentration, and if all goes well, I can combine Voytek’s approaches with those of Christina or the other rotation PI to come up with my thesis project. I’m definitely getting ahead of myself though, and like Achebe’s book, “Things Fall Apart”.
On the fun side, I’ve gone to the beach more in the past month than probably my entire life. Who knew I’d like the sun. I went to a rave recently with Pilam brothers and one of my best friends from High School, and the vibes during the night-time sets were amazing. I’m having fun man, my mood has improved a lot compared to the last two years, and I’m still smiling every time I step out of lab into the sunlight. Good Times Ahead.

About Christian

Neuroscientist at UC San Diego

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