Group Independent Study Project on Music Cognition
At Brown, students can collaborate to develop a credit-bearing course--known as a Group Independent Study Project (GISP)--that takes on a subject outside the scope of Brown's typical curricular offerings. In my senior year, I teamed up with my good friend Jamie Fried, also a neuroscience student and jazz musician, to develop a GISP on music cognition which we ran in the Spring 2014 semester. Dr. Monica Linden, Lecturer in Neuroscience, kindly served as our faculty advisor; we also consulted with Jim Moses, Technical Director of the Multimedia and Electronic Music Experiments Program at Brown; Dr. Sheila Blumstein, Mead Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences at Brown; Dr. Aniruddh Patel, Professor of Psychology at Tufts; Dr. Daniel Siegel of the UCLA Mindsight Institute; and Dr. Nina Kraus, Principle Investigator at the Auditory Neuroscience Lab at Northwestern. Please find the course curriculum here.
Other Work in Neuroscience
For my Neuroscience Sc.B. thesis at Brown, I developed a new C. elegans model of the neurogenetic disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). In short, SMA is a debilitating neuromuscular disorder for which we currently have no treatment or cure, and is a leading genetic cause of infant death. Though the precipitating cause of the disease has been identified in SMA patients, the related molecular and cellular pathways are not fully understood. We humans share fundamental mechanisms governing nervous system development and function with C. elegans. Thus, with its well-characterized biology and short lifespan, C. elegans is an ideal model organism in which to study neurodegenerative diseases. Prior to this project, two C. elegans models of SMA existed—one replicating a very severe form of the disease, and another expressing a very mild form. Given their extreme natures, neither of these models is amenable to particular research techniques used to better understand disorders like SMA or to search for potential therapies. Employing molecular biology methods, I designed and genetically engineered an intermediate C. elegans SMA model that enables electrophysiological studies of SMA in C. elegans, and is also being used by members of the Hart Lab to investigate other genes that modify the presentation of SMA. Please email me if you'd like to read a copy!