Students present research at NASA workshop

Created: February 27, 2020
Last Updated: February 27, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA, (Feb. 27, 2020) –Two Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students presented research at the NASA 2020 Human Research Program Investigator’s Workshop in Galveston, Texas.

Brach Herzig ’20 and Julia Schaffer ’21 did research internships during summer 2019 with alumna Catherine Davis-Takacs ’04, Ph.D., at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. They studied effects of radiation exposure on the behavior, cognition, and neurochemistry of rats as a model for long-term human space flight.

Presenting alongside leaders in the field was a big opportunity for the pair from W&J.

“Julia and I were pretty much the only undergraduate students at the workshop who were presenting research,” Brach said, noting that they were presenting next to a professor from Harvard Medical School. “It was intimidating at first, but once I had a few people come up to me and ask about my research, it became easier.”

Being able to attend and present at a workshop like this was made possible by a W&J education that prepares students for the rigor of lab work, and the close-knit alumni community that provides opportunity for students in a host of fields.

“This experience has enhanced my education significantly. Specifically, it helped me to understand the full experience of what the job of a researcher is like,” Brach said. “I was able to understand the amount of work that it takes for researches to publish and present their research, and I was able to learn from the various conferences that I attended during the time I was [in the lab at Johns Hopkins.]”

Julia and Brach received funding for their trip from the W&J Psychology Department, the W&J Neuroscience program, and the W&J PrezProject fund contributed by alumni to support students presenting biology-related research at conferences.

Read more about the lab here.

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