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I Am a Researcher

Alexandra Garcia

Alex at McNair conferenceMajor: Psychology

College: Muir

UC San Diego graduation year: 2024

URH Programs: McNair Scholars Program 2023

Why and how did you decide to get involved in undergraduate research?

Knowing I was interested in learning more about the brain and getting hands-on experience, I decided to look for programs that supported students with no or limited research experience. I was awarded the opportunity to become a CoB-KIBM Scholar in 2022. After spending the summer doing research, I realized that it was something I wanted to continue to pursue, so I applied to the McNair Scholars Program, which I was also selected for.

What have you been researching?

I am currently in the Tye Lab at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Being a systems neuroscience lab, the projects I am a part of investigate the effects of social isolation and social rank manipulations on behavior and neural circuits.

What has been the most exciting/interesting thing you've discovered through this research?

My research experience has opened my mind to the possibilities of neuroscience research; in courses, we learn the fundamentals of different fields, but the lab provides hands-on experience for applying techniques to experiments that have real-time impact on informing public health.

What advice would you give to students starting research?

For those starting research, I would advise to make sure you join a lab that cares about mentorship. Having great mentors in the lab who support my research, educational, and personal goals has been a huge factor in my accomplishments.

What are your future goals?

I plan to continue pursuing an academic career and apply to PhD programs in neuroscience.