Fifteen undergraduates from out of state were joined by six resident
University of Delaware students. Their majors ranged from biochemistry
and biological systems engineering to the more typical psychology and
neuroscience. Three of the students remained at UD after the workshop to
complete full 10-week summer research internships with a faculty
“We received about 500 applications from all over the country for the workshop,” said Jared Medina, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and principal investigator on the grant supporting the workshop.
“Selecting just 15 participants from such a large pool was hard,
but we were especially looking for students with a lot of curiosity. We
were interested in introducing bright and diverse students from a broad
range of backgrounds to cognitive neuroscience and convincing them that
they are capable of doing this type of research themselves.”
The students were exposed to plenty of high-tech research tools as
well. On their first day, they were introduced to functional magnetic
resonance imaging (fMRI) at UD’s Center for Biomedical and Brain Imaging.
Each student was offered the opportunity to have their brain scanned.
At a later session, they received the resulting digital images of their
brains and learned how to identify and map various regions of their own
brain. They quickly saw how each individual’s brain follows a common
pattern but is uniquely folded and furrowed.
It was an apt metaphor for their joint explorations throughout the
workshop. As the students brought their individual experiences,
interests, goals and perspectives to bear on their shared activities,
both in and out of the classroom, they began to form a tight-knit group.
A number of students said the relationships they formed were highlights of the experience.
“I felt like a sponge over the two weeks, just absorbing
everything,” said Kathleen Becker, a senior cognitive science major at
UD who would like to become a speech therapist. “I got to dip my toes in
so many different subjects that I wouldn’t have had the chance to
otherwise. Something I’ll definitely take away is the importance of
collaboration and teamwork in science and the way people from different
disciplines come together to try and find answers to these questions
that we all have. Being in a room full of people who are devoted to
learning about something is such a great catalyst to make you want to
learn even more.”
“That’s the power of an immersive experience like this,” Medina said.
“We want that experience of a community exploring and learning together
to stick with these students for a long time.”