• Area of Study Behavioral Biology

Where are you from?

Hawthorne, New Jersey!

What extra-curricular activities are you involved in?

I’ve done a little of everything (including research) but I especially love teaching. I have taught both English and Spanish in my four years here. Currently I am a tutor for the Intergenerational Literacy Program, where I support families in Chelsea in learning English. I also taught English to children while studying abroad in Spain. As for Biology, I taught in the Biology department (BI107 and 108) for 2 years as part of the Learning Assistant Program. I was a Learning Assistant in the lab, as well as an S2S (Student-to-Student) tutor. Lastly, I am President of the student organization Actively Moving Forward (AMF). AMF at BU is one chapter of a national support network for college students who are grieving. As someone who is service-oriented, this is very important to me. As President, I host biweekly support groups and organize events serving the Boston area; beyond that, I use my platform to promote mental wellness in the community. In many ways, it is also very educational.

What interested you in specializing in Behavioral Biology?

I actually entered BU wanting to specialize in Neurobiology. It was during the Behavioral Biology unit of BI107 that I realized behavior was what I was actually interested in. I like behavior because it is the output of biological processes, and studying it is learning about why we do what we do.

What was your experience like studying abroad in Madrid?

Unique for sure. In the Madrid Science Program, we learned science coursework at a non-American university (the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid), and studied alongside locals. The professors there had completely different teaching styles and a different, often more direct way of speaking. I had to learn to adapt to a new way of just about everything, but that kind of skill is invaluable. Although the science classes were taught in English, I learned a lot of Spanish because the program includes a home-stay with a host family, and combined our coursework with language/culture classes taught in Spanish.

What’s been your favorite Biology course & why?

My favorite Biology course was BI 225, Introduction to Behavioral Biology.
For one, it confirmed my love zuckerberg_allison 2for the SBB specialization, and secondly, the class allowed me to meet peers in SBB and develop a relationship with Dr. Traniello. Dr. Traniello is my advisor, but he has also been a mentor to me. The best thing in the course was our final project, where we got to research and present on a topic of our choice. For me, that was the evolution of self-control mechanisms. Following the course, it drove me to apply to work in the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics at the BU School of Medicine.  I served on a team using a mouse model of addiction to investigate the genetic and neurobiological mechanisms underlying susceptibility to addiction behavior. I’d worked in addiction treatment, but for the first time I had the opportunity to explore motivation and reward as an academic interest.

What are your post-graduation plans?

After graduation, I plan to apply to medical school after at least one year of relevant work and volunteer experience. I will be working at Concentric Health Experience in NYC starting in May. Concentric is in the medical marketing and media industry, building brands in healthcare. Basically, writing the stuff you find in the doctor’s office. I want to use my background in science to inform the public about evidence-based treatment options, and ultimately improve health outcomes.

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