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I Am a Researcher

pansee profile picturePansée Elghayati

Major(s): Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience

College: Revelle College

UC San Diego graduation year: 2024

URH Research Programs: STARTneuro (2022-2024)

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

At that time, the world of research was a realm I had yet to fully comprehend, but my curiosity and enthusiasm for delving into the mysteries of neuroscience fueled my decision to apply. Little did I know, this step would inaugurate a transformative chapter in my undergraduate experience.

How did you decide to apply to STARTneuro?

Discovering the STARTneuro program through email marked a pivotal moment in my academic journey.

Explain the research you are/have been doing for your STARTneuro project.

I'm a research scholar/ intern at the Stowers Lab in Scripps Research. In our research, we explored the social communication behavior of female mice, particularly their scent marking responses to novel social odor cues. Surprisingly, we found that female mice exhibit scent marking behavior if exposed to these cues during adolescence, revealing the impact of early-life experiences. Our study sheds light on the complexity of sexual dimorphic behaviors, providing insights into their social communication dynamics.

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

The most interesting thing I've discovered through this research is how to come up with a hypothesis. The process of doing so is very structured and requires practice.

What did you gain from this program/experience?

I gained so much from this experience and that ranges from the opportunity to do experiments, understanding how to come up with hypothesis questions, learning to use tools with animal behavioral research to presenting my research, networking, applying what I learn in school into research.

What advice would you give to students starting research?

I would give advice to students starting research to look for a good mentor rather than a good project. You can do both however if you had to choose one, choose mentorship. You need to learn how to do research properly and use the tools needed to do so with the guidance of a good mentor that is patient with you as well as one that meets your needs as an intern. 

Pansee presenting a poster at SACNASYou recently presented at SACNAS, how was that experience?

Presenting at SACNAS was a page-turner moment. To have the opportunity to present to an audience that had different science interests and backgrounds outside of neuroscience was an exciting challenge! On top of that, SACNAS taught us how to go about presenting prior to the poster sessions which I found very valuable and will carry with me in my research career.

You also won an award? What award was it and what does it mean to you?

I applied to present at SACNAS with the intention of gaining experience with presenting my research. I was unaware like many other presenters that we were all assigned to mentor judges to evaluate our poster presentations. I won the 2023 NDiSTEM Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Presentation under the category of Cognitive Neuroscience! I poured all my time and hard work into my project and poster presentation so to get rewarded for it felt like my growth from when I started was recognized and made me even more grateful for this journey with STARTneuro and Stowers Lab given they've brought me to where I am today in my research career.

What are your future goals?

My future goals involve applying to one year-long abroad bridge programs or Postbac programs! Following that, I'd like to apply to graduate schools.