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Student Spotlight

The Medical Neuroscience Graduate Program, part of Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, at Indiana University School of Medicine offers students broad, interdisciplinary training in neuroscience with a strong foundation in core concepts, skills, methodologies and advanced comprehension of the scientific literature.

Here, we feature a few students among the more than 40 in the graduate program.

Dom Acri

Dom Acri

Admission Year: 2018

  • Learn more about Dom

    Advisor: Jungsu Kim, PhD

    Current Project: Identification of genetic modifiers of tau aggregation and propagation.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? At IU School of Medicine and the MedNeuro program, I've had the opportunity to merge my interest in computational biology and bioinformatics with the study of neuroscience. The projects and collaborators have set up a great training environment for learning new things and pursing diverse interests.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? MedNeuro professors and advisors are always open to new ideas and projects. I've learned from them how to take projects/tools that I am passionate about to create new opportunities here at Stark.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: 2019-2020 Paul and Carole Stark Medical Neuroscience Fellowship, Southern Regional Education Board: Doctoral Scholars Program

    Service and Leadership: IU School of Medicine Chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

    Hobbies: Trail running, hiking, fantasy baseball

Sam Colin

Sam Colin

Admission Year: 2018

  • Learn more about Sam

    Advisor: Adrian Oblak, PhD, and Dave McKinzie, PhD

    Current Project: The Effects of Binge and Chronic Alcohol Use Paradigms on Tauopathy and Neuroinflammation

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? I had used animal models from the MODEL-AD Consortium in my previous lab, so I had IU School of Medicine on my radar for applications. I knew I wanted to do neurodegeneration research, and when I began interviewing, I found that Stark was highly collaborative and had a really strong focus on neurodegeneration!

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? I've learned that making mistakes is expected and no one will be mad at you for messing up sometimes; it's just part of becoming a scientist.

    Service and Leadership: Medical Neuroscience Graduate Organization (MNGO) Student Development, University Teaching and Learning Community (UTLC), Preparing Future Faculty and Professionals (PFFP)

    Hobbies: I like to lift weights, play video games and explore new restaurants.

David Haggerty

David Haggerty

Admission Year: 2018

  • Learn more about David

    Advisor: Brady Atwood, PhD

    Current Project: I study how projections from the insular cortex to the dorsal striatum govern alcohol intake and action-selection.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? I am a Hoosier for life. I did my undergrad at IU, my masters at the medical school, and am going for the three-peat with my PhD in MedNeuro. The opportunities for collaborations across disciplines at IU are plenty and it is a fantastic place to train.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? Not what to think, but how to think. The professors and advisors in our program are thought leaders across many disciplines which always makes answers to knowledge questions easy to find. But, you also have a front row seat to observe how to solve problems nobody knows the answer to, design experiments that move the field forward, and do "good science." This is where I think I've learned the most during my time at IU.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: T32 awardee on the genetic mechanisms of alcoholism, Stark Fellow, IU Distinction award.

    Service and Leadership: Past president of the Medical Neuroscience Graduate Organization.

    Hobbies:  I like to run.

Wes Stansberry

Wesley Stansberry

Admission Year: 2019

  • Learn more about Wesley

    Advisor: Brian Pierchala, PhD

    Current Project: Evaluating the effects of local translation on mechanisms of axon regeneration and muscle re-innervation in nerve injury ALS models.

    Why IU School of Medicine and MedNeuro? From a young age, a high prevalence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease within my family inspired my interest in understanding the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. IU School of Medicine's MedNeuro program had several labs researching all areas of neurodegeneration as well as the best facilities and program advisor support.

    What have you learned most from your MedNeuro professors and advisors? The thing I have learned most so far is how to ask the right questions to explore my scientific interests as an independent researcher.

    Honors, Grants, Awards: 2020-2021 Paul and Carole Stark Scholar

    Service and Leadership: Graduate Student Peer Wellness Coach; Member, Indiana BioMedical Gateway Program (IBMG) Recruitment Committee; Member, IUPUI Graduate Student Library and Technology Resources Committee; Member, American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP); Member, Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) - Genetics and Bioinformatics Subdivisions.

    Hobbies:  Running outside, golfing, reading historical fiction, trying out new local breweries.