Week Five: U.S. Conference of Mayors–Washington, D.C.

July 1st, 2015

Sarah Bertschy ’16, Price Fellow in Urban Policy Development

This was the week we’d all been waiting for.

No, really, this is the week that the fifty employees of the Conference plan for the entire year. I will start out by stating that there will be a severe lack of photographs because on one fateful night of the conference I broke my phone… tears… alas, I do have one AWESOME photo that I will post later on.

Thursday myself, my boss and his wife, Jillian, along with the rest of the Conference employees flew out to San Francisco to prep for the conference. When I arrived at the hotel, Mayor Ed Lee had decked out the baggage claims with numerous signs welcoming the mayors and the Conference to San Francisco for the 83rd annual U.S. Conference of Mayors summer conference. It was an impressive sight to see. After grabbing my bag, the other employees and I took a shuttle to our hotel, the Hilton in Union Square. It was a beautiful hotel, and HUGE! It had ballrooms as big as the entirety of the new Hilltop Café at Cornell. That Thursday evening, all of us worked to unload hundreds of boxes that we had FedEx-ed to the hotel, full of pamphlets and spreadsheets and printouts for different meetings that would take place throughout the Friday-Monday conference. We didn’t finish these activities until around 9 p.m., which doesn’t sound too late, but keep in mind that San Francisco is three hours behind D.C., so we didn’t finish until what felt like midnight!

Friday morning, this was it! Before we left for the Conference my boss, Dave, had informed me that, in light of a few famous politicians coming to the Conference, the press room may need my help. Dave wasn’t joking. I worked from 7 a.m. until noon just with the press office, directing press as to where to go so that they could get the best shots of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, our speakers that day. After that, I helped Dave out with setting up one of our meetings for the Council on the New American City. Then, we went to lunch. Lunch was a three-course meal of a wedge salad, a filet minion, and a chocolate mousse. After that, we listened to what the politicians had to say. Both Pelosi and Obama spoke about healthcare, but the dominating topic of all conversation was the overwhelming absence of beloved Mayor Joe Reilly, Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, and the reason for his absence. Two days before the conference began, Joe Reilly was tasked with healing his city after the tragic loss of life there. The issue of gun violence, and the solutions to it never left the conversation of our 4-day conference.

On a happier note…

Friday evening was without a doubt the best evening event of the conference. We all dressed to the nines and went to San Francisco’s City Hall for the 100th anniversary of its existence and the kick-off of our conference. I wish I had a picture, because words will not do this event justice. As we walked in, I saw a red carpet–yes, a red carpet–lining the stairs of city hall’s entrance. Continuing into the grand-hall of the building the red carpet went-on leading to a 40-man band of white-suited trumpeters playing jazz. Drinks and food were everywhere.  There was a raw bar, and in the center of it, a man in a white suit playing a beautiful black baby-grand piano. It was an experience I will never forget and an experience nearly no one my age gets to have. That night my boss looked at me and said “Sarah, go have fun, meet whoever you want”, and that’s exactly what I did. I met too many mayors to count, and had wonderful conversations about what they were doing in their cities. There are too many to list here, but if you like to know more, talk to me about it, I’d LOVE to tell you everything I saw/heard. The highlight of this evening was meeting and speaking to Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representative Nancy Pelosi. Below is a picture of this great moment, the only picture I was able to salvage from my phone.


The entire weekend was filled with memories like those I made on Friday–memories I will never forget. Saturday, we heard from Hillary Clinton and Sunday from Martin O’Malley; both were incredible to listen to. This conference made all of the hard work that I have been doing for the last month all worth it. I will never forget my time in San Francisco, and I will never forget who made it possible. Thank you, Cornell College!

Week Seven: Barbershop Harmony Society–Nashville, TN

July 1st, 2015

Dan Rohovit ’16, DeVaughan Fellow in Non-Profit Education

This week at the Barbershop Harmony Society, everyone was on the countdown for International Barbershop Convention in Pittsburgh. I was hard at work finishing up the All Staff Packet with loads of information that is vital to the staff for all of the events in Pittsburgh and navigating all over Pittsburgh. As I mentioned last week in my blog, this was really cool to prepare, because as a teacher, I will have to prepare similar packets during contests, tours, or just general choir trips. It was a very valuable experience to figure out how to cover the basics in one simple format.

This week, I also helped several people in the office. I helped Eddie Holt, the webmaster for BHS, set up a few schedules to be published on the website, I helped Amy Rose and Jeremy Gover, Social Media and Audio Visual Managers respectively, but helping organize what classes would be recorded this coming up week at HU Pittsburgh. Donny and I had several emails coming in from just about anyone with questions about HU Belmont as well as HU Pittsburgh.

A big portion of my work in the latter half of the week was focused on finishing the dorm assignments for Belmont. Throughout this process, I’ve learned the importance of double and triple checking your work. I found a few mistakes I made each time and made the draft better each step of the way. Like most projects, the pure size of this task made it feel like a major accomplishment when I finished. I’ve learned so much already and I’m having an absolute blast.

This up coming week, I’m in Pittsburgh, PA for the International Convention. My responsibilities here are managing meetings in the Westin, being a contact for meetings outside of the Westin, and doing everything I can to keep the event as organized as possible. I’ll also be competing on Friday with the Music City Chorus and I could not be more excited. I am positive when I look back on this internship, this week will stand out as one of the best.

Weeks Five and Six: Teacher Created Materials–Huntington Beach, CA

July 1st, 2015

Tom Dang ’17, Norton Fellow in Accounting

I have continued to work with Vanessa in A/R during these two weeks. It’s getting easier and I’m getting faster in solving things. However, with greater power comes greater responsibility:

–          While before I was just mailing the invoices out, now I’m responsible for sorting the invoices and emailing them as well, since some clients want to get them via email instead. It would be really fast and efficient if we had a program or machine that automatically recorded the data based on the scanned version of the invoices, so that we didn’t have to manually enter the data ourselves. I and Sheila in A/P still do a lot of manual works, which is really time-consuming.

–          While before I was just keying in the checks into the database, now I’m responsible for sorting them, since some checks might be sent to the wrong address, some checks don’t have a signature, some are duplicated, or some are wrongfully paid for an invoice that is already paid before. I’m also depositing the checks into the bank, a task that requires carefulness and exact numbers.

I also make more calls to clients that owe TCM a bigger amount of money. These situations are more complicated with more possibilities: needing a voucher signature, damaged items, incomplete shipping, needing credit memo, etc. It’s been tough sometimes, but certainly it’s wonderful to hear “Oh I thought I paid that invoice. I will include it in today’s check run”.

Another project that I’m working on during these weeks is to update a daily Excel file for the Chief Operating Officer. It’s for keeping track of daily sales – whether the orders are entered to the system, are waiting for supply, are ready to be shipped, are on the desk and not entered, etc. It’s a simple file, yet a really essential one to keep track of all orders, not to lose any and lead to miscommunication between the departments and between businesses.

After two weeks working with Vanessa and Sheila, I feel that the Accounts Payable clerk has more work to do than the Accounts Receivable clerk. For Accounts Receivable, who owes us money? People who buy our products, of course! Now I’m only talking about TCM, a small-sized company, so our clients are mostly people, companies or schools who buy our books. Yet, for Accounts Payable, we owe money to a lot of types of companies or people. We owe money to companies that print books, to office supplies companies, to maintenance, to consultants, to gas stations, to airways, and so on. And thus there are many differences..

Some fun time with ducks and geese in the nearby park! Huntington Beach has a lot of parks, both big and small.

Some fun time with ducks and geese in the nearby park! Huntington Beach has a lot of parks, both big and small.

Going to the beach in the weekend...perfect time spent!

Going to the beach in the weekend…perfect time spent!

Week Three: Creede Repertory Theatre–Creede, CO

July 1st, 2015

Sara Cooper ’16, Slater Fellow in Theatrical Development

What a fantastic week. Just when I begin to think that living and working in this place couldn’t be better, Creede proves me wrong. This week was big in fun and in adventure, so brace yourself for a long blog post! There were a few major events this week- The Lake City Friends Party, the opening of “Ghost Light”- a play commissioned especially for CRT’s 50th season, and the first read-through of “Our Town”, the next play to open in less than two weeks.The Lake City Friends Party is hosted by CRT Friends, Board Members and supporters in Lake City, CO, which is a breathtaking drive an hour away from Creede. I helped run the donation table, and we raised over $7,500 in donations within a few hours, which was fantastic. There was a potluck and performances by CRT company members, and I got to meet so many wonderful supporters of CRT. I’m beginning to think that Creede has a magical reach, enhancing the lives of the people who touch it for eternity.

I still can't believe I actually live here.

I still can’t believe I actually live here.

The opening of ‘Ghost Light’ was fantastic. It’s a story about Creede, about it’s famous ghosts and offers an alternate reality of what may have happened during the founding of CRT in 1966. I have the pleasure of helping to host the pre-show talk backs for this show and for ‘Our Town’. For this particular production, we have a member of Creede’s historical society and one of our original founders discussing the history of Creede and CRT. It’s been so great to meet many of the founding members, and to have a show that really pays homage to their history. Something absolutely beautiful happened during the opening of this show- it just so happened to open on the exact day of the opening of CRT’s first show, ‘Mister Roberts’ in 1966. Exactly 50 years to the day. Just another example of CRT magic.

A picture from "Ghost Light" featuring Soapy Smith, Poker Alice and Bob Ford, the man who shot Jessie James. All actually lived in Creede together!

A picture from “Ghost Light” featuring Soapy Smith, Poker Alice and Bob Ford, the man who shot Jessie James. All actually lived in Creede together in the 1890’s!

Outside of major events, I had the large task of making and sending invitations to over 100 of our current and past Board Members this week, for a party during our alumni week. Mailing is a constant, important need in Development- but one that I find very fun and rewarding. The biggest challenge by far this week was load in- changing the set from Ghost Light into Guys and Dolls. It takes everything out of me, and has made me realize that my technical skills are severely lacking in ways that I didn’t know. It’ been a trial by fire situation, but the skills that I’m learning will for sure pay off back at Cornell and the professional world.


That backdrop is deceivingly huge and difficult to take down.

Don’t get me wrong- it definitely isn’t all work here at CRT. As a company, we are very close- working here has been compared to adult theatre camp. After every show opening, all of the company celebrates the work we’ve done and share a drink at a party called “Shop Shots”- it’s a little like having New Year’s Eve every two weeks. We even drop a celebratory ball. Another celebration this week was one of our company member’s 30th Birthday celebration, for which the entire company dressed up like Old West characters and celebrated in style. Yesterday, we also had CRT’s first Pride Fest, in celebration of Marriage Equality. There was a lot of happiness and celebration for us this week.

Millicent, our boss Maggie, and I. All proud Cornellians/ Old Westerners.

Millicent, our boss Maggie, and I. All proud Cornellians/ Old Westerners.

Lastly, this morning our company had the first read-through for ‘Our Town’, the first show that CRT has ever done in the round. I had the pleasure to sit in on the reading, and I can honestly say that it was the most beautiful read-through I’ve ever seen. There were a lot of tears coming from everyone. Our Town, while not being a universal piece, is one of my favorites. It’s about life, and the time we take breezing through it, not stopping to appreciate those around us or where we are. In other words, we’re just living until we die, and not living to live. I’ve spent a lot of my life breezing through, just working towards the next show or the next class. Until Creede. This place makes you breathe, it makes you think. Working professionally has given me another view entirely on my work. It IS significant what we do as artists. It does make a difference. This town was literally saved through theatre. Working here is reaffirming everything that I want to do and is making me feel like the person I’ve always wanted to become. Who could ask for more?

One of our founders, BJ Myers, at a pre-show talk.

One of our founders, BJ Myers, at a pre-show talk.

Week Four: Baylor College of Medicine SMART Program–Houston, TX

July 1st, 2015

Kyra Koehler ’16, Lunt Fellow in Childhood Nutrition and Obesity Prevention

This week has been exciting and rough. To start I got a pretty rough cold Monday morning. So I have been trying to fight that all week. Work consisted of a lot of research and meetings for me. I had 6 faculty interviews this week, all of which were amazing. My favorite one was with a pediatric clinical geneticist who also does research. I have been exploring Child Life as a career path, and we talked about it. He raved about the value of Child Life in a hospital setting, which made me very excited to look into it more. I set up a meeting with one of the Child Life Specialists who works at Texas Children’s Hospital (which is connected to the building I work in) for next week. So that was why this week was so exciting. The research part of the week was for my intervention that I am working on and for my literature review. Both of those should start taking off in the next couple of weeks.


My Saturday morning

Outside of work, it was pretty laid back this week because I was sick. I really just tried to get extra sleep this week. This was the first time since college started that I hit the “I’m sick and want to be at home” point. I’ve had colds, but this one was worse than most. Additionally, I started getting serious about studying for the GRE, and I reserved my seat for my test day. So there has been a lot of sleep and GRE prep. Friday night, Wesley, Olivia, and I made pizza and watched the Rangers game on TV. It was a great laid back night. Saturday morning consisted of laundry and GRE prep. My roommate has some of the Kaplan vocabulary flashcards, so I’m making my own notecards off of those.


My view on our back patio Saturday morning.

Saturday night, Wesley and I bought pints of ice cream and watched Despicable Me.Partway through Despicable Me, it started storming so we went outside to watch it. At that point, it was just a gorgeous lighting show. I tried to upload a neat video of it, but is was too big. A couple of other SMART students joined us to watch the storm come in. It did eventually start raining and chase us inside.


Sunday morning, we did breakfast. Olivia had been told to try out the House of Pies, so we decided to go there. It was a great restaurant. Sadly, we were all full after breakfast, so we didn’t even try the pie. We have agreed to go back sometime just for pie. 

Week Four: Teacher Created Materials–Huntington Beach, CA

July 1st, 2015

Christina Rueth ’16, Henderson Fellow in Marketing Communications

This last week was really busy at Teacher Created Materials! With that being said, I was not physically able to get all of my “desk job” work done.

The beginning of last week I had been given another fun, extended project by Kerry. I was given a Shell Education catalog with 15 of our most popular products and their content marked. With this I was to create playful, clever paragraph descriptions of each of the products so they can 1) go onto the website hopefully as is for the description of each product and 2) used to pull out phrases, sentences, etc. to serve as future email campaigns for promoting these products and bringing our customers to a product landing page. So far I have done my research of each product, including looking through our office’s “library” and studying the actual products and learning more about their content, lessons, activities and objectives. I then had some time to write 15 standard descriptions with the necessary information and facts. Now I just need to make them teacher, student, and parent-friendly and entertaining which will be the harder job!

I also helped Jessica out again a lot of product data into a new database TCM is using to have all products and product information stored in one place instead of having a large file of individual spreadsheets for each product. This included data beyond the product title, price, quantity, etc. but other components such as product descriptions, grade levels offered, what TCM program created the product and what TCM sites they should be found on. What was really great though was that there were a few of the products I worked with and wrote descriptions for that found their way into the database (which would later find their way onto the site!). It actually was a very long and exhausting process, not to mention there were some glitches we needed to fix and work through. Other than this, I spent a couple afternoons with our freelance web designer, helping to brainstorm ideas for the subject banner images that will go alongside the copy I wrote for the subject banners. It really blows my mind seeing how skillful she is with design and everything she can do so quickly and seamlessly on the computer, and as a result I’m actually learning quite a bit about it!

Although this seems like enough to keep me busy for a week, this was only a span of Tuesday to the beginning of Thursday. Thursday late morning, the entire company was given word that we recently had the biggest purchase in TCM history–75,000 products. However, due to the Texas districts’ last minute, final selection of what products they wanted, we were extremely far behind on packaging and shipping the products and they were needed in Texas by the end of the week. Both of our buildings immediately stopped what they were doing and invested the rest of Thursday and all of Friday helping to package these products since there were still over 27,000 products that had yet to be packaged. We formed huge assembly lines in our giant “classroom” and packaged the products that still had to be assembled into their “6-pack” since each product  needed to have 1 lesson plan, 6 content-specific books and a CD. It was hectic and crazy, and even when a lot had been accomplished, there was still so much more to be done. Many TCM employees even offered to work overtime Friday and Saturday to help finally finish.

I’m proud to say we got it all done!

My hardworking, enthusiastic assembly line on Thursday morning! There were about 8 stations in total working at once.

My hardworking, enthusiastic assembly line on Thursday morning! There were about 8 stations in total working at once.

It was just so incredible seeing how team-oriented Teacher Created Materials is. The fact that everyone dropped what they were doing to help, wanted to put in the extra hours and became really invested in this project, it made my decision to volunteer my Friday night and work alongside Kerry and many others so much easier. Not to mention, I got to meet a lot of great, new people in the process.

Needless to say, my experience thus far at Teacher Created Materials has been extremely well-rounded, and never boring!

Week Three: Mayo Clinic–Rochester, MN

July 1st, 2015

Thao Luu ’16, Becker Fellow in Neurology

This week was more about mastering the scoring technique and getting validated to score individually.

Scoring muscle activity on the hypnogram was not hard; however, since studies are scored by different people, the lab needs to make sure to have consistent scoring standards for all researchers.  These standards were created by three neurologists in the department and are called the Gold Standard.  To be certified to score the sleep studies individually, everyone in the lab needs to go through the validation process that ensures their scoring adhered to the Gold Standard.

Before we went through the validation process, Dr. St Louis sat down to review one study that we had scored together previously.  This was very helpful to point out where we over-scored and where we tended to under-scored muscle activity.  Dr. St Louis also took the time to explain why sometimes had to count certain mini-epochs as artifactual judging from their breathing pattern and their eye movement.

On Wednesday, we had our first “Journal Club” meeting discussing some REM sleep behavior disorders (RBD) articles.  It turned out that we had more questions than expected and it was great that Dr. St Louis was able to explain them thoroughly.  There were questions about probable RBD, association between antidepressants and RBD, treatments for RBD coupled with other neurodegenerative diseases, etc.  I would say this week was a nice week to understand more about our studies in terms of literature and methodology.

On Friday, I took the validation “test.”  Rather than having a cut-off score for passing and failing, validation was more of a process of getting everyone customized to the same standards of scoring.  Therefore, we were given feedback after the first attempt to go back and review our study to make respective changes.  I was very happy to be officially validated to score on my own!!

As usual, I went to a lot of talks every week.  One highlight of this week was the talk sponsored by the Center for Innovation: “Getting to the Heart of Innovation with Human-centered Thinking,” given by Clockwork CEO Nancy Lyons.  She was a very interesting speaker.  In her talk, she briefly mentioned the history of technology, and how technology was then applied in pretty much everything in our lives now including healthcare, retailers, etc.  Her philosophy as a leader is that human-centered approach to technology is the key to achieving results.  Through a short NBC news clip about her company Clockwork where everyone said it was the best place to work at with flexible vacation days, babies at work and beer on tap, she emphasized that employees did not come to the company just because of all those perks; Clockwork attracted people because of their culture, their philosophy of putting people first as well as creating a trusting and efficient workplace.  “There’s no work/life balance.  It’s all LIFE!,” Lyons said.

Nancy Lyons Talk Poster

Nancy Lyons Talk Poster

This week was also Rochesterfest.  The festival was a week long, and had different events spread out the entire week.  It was held mainly at the Soldiers Field Park.  They had a lot of food vendors throughout the week.  In addition to the delicious (and unhealthy) cheese curds and deep fried food, there were special events every day: hot air balloon race, kids’ day, Farmer’s breakfast, Treasure hunt, several concerts, etc.  Such a fun outlet after long work days.  I was also glad that the weather cooperated most of the days.

I think I am loving Mayo and Rochester more.

Week Five: Iowa ADHD and Development Lab–Iowa City, IA

July 1st, 2015

Andrew Crow ’16, Carhart Fellow in Clinical Psychology

This past week I divided my time between data collection, data scoring, and data entry. Since we are somewhat behind on data scoring and data entry of past visits, I spent most of my time focusing on that.

As I have come to do more and more data entry, I’ve come to notice a trend that many of our participants seem to be generally intelligent individuals, at least thus far. This is quite typical, and shouldn’t raise too much alarm at this stage of the project. This may be due to the fact many of our participants have received word about the study through the University’s listservs. Moreover, other participants have been involved in other studies that the Iowa ADHD Lab has conducted, so this may simply be the result of practice effects related to being administered similar measures garnering the same neuropsychological constructs. Regardless, intelligence tests probably are not some ADHD folks are unfamiliar with. Here’s to hoping this doesn’t severely bias our study.

Figure 1. Graphical summar of group differences in cognitive control, response inhibition, working memory, and memory span. Credit: Nikolas & Nigg (2014).

Figure 1. Graphical summary of group differences in cognitive control, response inhibition, working memory, and memory span. Credit: Nikolas & Nigg (2014).

During our weekly meeting on Tuesday, Dr. Nikolas and I discussed three research articles. Molly had me read her recently published article titled, Moderators of Neuropsychological Mechanism in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (2014). She and her colleague Joel Nigg at the Oregon Health and Science University examined groups of youth with ADHD and their unaffected siblings to identify potential endophenotypes of ADHD as to further explore the underlying genetic contribution to ADHD psychopathology. Figure 1 describes their findings graphically. They found that unaffected siblings were statistically different from both controls and their ADHD siblings on measures of cognitive control, response inhibition, response variability, and temporal processing. ADHD-positive youth and their unaffected siblings shared ADHD symptoms, particularly in regard to deficits in executive dysfunction, response inhibition, working memory, and temporal processing. This indicates there must be a genetic contribution to the development of ADHD psychopathology.

Figure 2. Neuropsychological heterogeneity in a sample of ADHD youth. Credit: Sonuga-Barke, Bitzakou, & Thompson (2010).

Figure 2. Neuropsychological heterogeneity in a sample of ADHD youth. Credit: Sonuga-Barke, Bitzakou, & Thompson (2010).

Other articles we discussed were Sonuga-Barke, Bitsakou, and Thompson (2010), in which Sonuga-Barke introduced the seminal Dual-Pathway Model of ADHD, and Bush (2010), where the attention networks in ADHD were reviewed.

Sonuga-Barke’s Dual Pathway Model intends to explain the neuropsychological heterogeneity (i.e. differences in functioning) of ADHD, namely dorsal frontostriatal dysfunction within the prefrontal cortex lead to deficits in executive functioning and ventral frontostriatal dysfunction leading to hypoactive patterns of signaling resulting in deficits in reward circuitry. A third pathway, which involves the basal ganglia and cerebellum, attempts to explain deficits in temporal processing. In their study Sonuga-Barke, Bitsakou, and Thompson demonstrate that neuropsychological deficits in ADHD are heterogeneous, affecting some individuals to greater or lesser degrees within different domains of impairment. Figure 2 describes quite well what they found in their study of ADHD youth.




Figure 3. Diagram of implicated brain regions in ADHD. Credit: Bush (2010).

Figure 3. Diagram of implicated brain regions in ADHD. Credit: Bush (2010).

Bush (2010) discussed in his review the neurocognitive theories of ADHD and the corresponding brain regions that have been implicated in the neuropsychological deficits in ADHD, particularly as they relate to attention. Figure 3 diagrams these regions that have been believed to be involved in attention deficits in ADHD, namely the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex, striatum, and the reticular activating system (i.e. thalamus and brain stem). The dorsolateral PFC and the ventrolateral PFC have been implicated in vigilance (i.e. sustained attention and alertness), attention, planning, executive control, and working memory. The parietal cortex is involved in attention regulation and houses sensory convergence areas. The striatum is implicated in reward processing and decision-making. The reticular activating system mediates attentional processes and suppresses irrelevant stimuli. These regions are thought to be involved in ADHD as these regions collectively foster the host of executive functions that are clinically relevant to ADHD, including deficits in cognitive control, attentional regulation, response inhibition, working memory, and decision-making to name only a handful.

More on the science of ADHD next week!

G. Bush (2010). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and attention networks. Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(1), 278-300. doi: 10.1038/npp.2009.120

Nikolas, M. A. & Nigg, J. T. Moderators of neuropsychological mechanism in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43(2), 271-81. doi: 10.1007/s10802-014-9904-7

Sonuga-Barke, E., Bitsakou, P., & Thompson, M. (2010). Beyond the dual pathway model: Evidence for the dissociation of timing, inhibitory, and delay-related impairments in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(4), 345-355. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2009.12.018

Week Four: Baruch Marine Field Laboratory–Hobcaw Barony, S.C.

July 1st, 2015

April Richards ’16, Rogers Fellow in Environmental Studies

Monday I started reading Belle Baruch’s biography, and later this week Dr. Allen took us on a tour of the site and told us some more of the history. It was really interesting to actually be able to see the places that are mentioned in the biography and hear Dr. Allen. For example, in the Baroness of Hobcaw, the author talks about the Friendfield Village and the church and school that Bernard Baruch built for the black workers on the property. I was able to take a picture of the church next to one of the reconstructed homes. An interesting perspective I read from the book was from one of the young girl who lived in the village who talked about how Belle’s childhood dollhouse was almost as big as these homes that housed entire families.

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We also visited parts of the wildlife refuge that I had never been to including the Tar Kiln Swamp.  0624151500a 0624151501c


For most of the week I worked on my  project for critical swim speeds, but Friday I worked on a really interesting project for a graduate student where I fixed up a 3D model of a lionfish. The model will be used to test how estuary fish respond to this invasive species. This is an important project because this invasive species has no natural predators because of its venomous spiky fin rays, and it has made its way into estuaries in Florida.

Week Six: Fiedorowicz Lab, University of Iowa

July 1st, 2015

Norean Bailey ’17, McKean Fellow in Psychiatry

This week has been a work week for me. I’ve spent a lot of time working on my draft of my paper about white matter degradation and anxiety. This Friday  I am turning in my second draft to get edited so I have had plenty of revisions to do. My paper examines emotional, cognitive, and  behavioral response patterns underlying temperament and personality dimensions. Previous literature had indicated they are established early and remain stable from childhood. Findings have shown that anxiety-related personality traits are associated with and represent important predisposing factors for depression and anxiety-related disorders. In addition, emotional processing relies on the integrity and function of distributed neuronal brain circuits, including corticolimbic pathways. Therefore, my hypothesis is that high scores on anxiety-related personality traits are caused by disruptions of such large-scale neuronal networks.

081012 IOTW

The image above is an example of diffusion tensor imaging which tracks the movement of water molecules along nerve cell connections revealing the brain’s pathways. The image shows fiber tracts in the adult human brain.

From my previous shadowing of the MRI clinic I have learned that recent advances in neuroimaging methods have made it possible to map the organization and strength of brain wiring in vivo. Diffusion tensor imaging is sensitive to the direction and degree of water displacement in biological tissues. Diffusion in brain parenchyma is restricted by cytoskeletal axonal elements such as the plasma membrane, microtubules, and myelin sheaths. Because water diffuses more rapidly along than across the axon, DTI enables detailed depiction and quantification of the local organization of white matter bundles wiring the cerebral neuronal circuitry.

Fascinatingly enough I have found out that, the multidimensional and cumulative nature of personality traits suggests that the integrity of white matter pathways may be of particular importance. It was recently shown that pathways connecting the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex are related to variability in trait anxiety in healthy young adults. Therefore, white matter structural integrity may represent a promising biomarker in risk detection and ultimately facilitate targeted pharmacological and psychological interventions in prevention and treatment of psychiatric disease. However, existing evidence relating brain structure to personality and emotional processing is based on small samples, and large-scale studies with more power are needed. I am still currently accumulating evidence and reading past literature, however so far this hypothesis seems to be robust. I am excited to see the final draft of this paper!


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