W&J senior studies developmental disabilities with University of Cambridge

Created: July 10, 2020
Last Updated: July 10, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (July 10, 2020)—The COVID-19 pandemic may have put travel plans on hold, but Marcy Saldivar ’21 is still finding a way to do research with an international internship.

The Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) neuroscience and gender and women’s studies double major secured a summer research internship with Dr. Shahid Zaman and the Cambridge Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Group early in 2020 to study the neural similarities between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. Marcy planned to travel to the UK to assist with conducting clinical research and writing a literature review for the study.

Unfortunately, COVID-19’s impact on international travel made it impossible for Marcy to join the other researchers in the UK. However, hope was not lost.

“Dr. Zaman worked with me to adapt my internship so it could be completed remotely,” Marcy said. “Now, I am writing the research review with virtual help from faculty at Cambridge.”

Marcy chose W&J for its reputation of providing funded research opportunities through programs like the Magellan Project, Maxwell Student Internship Endowment, and Merck Award for Excellence in Science. Knowing this funding is available has allowed Marcy to search for internships all over the world, leading her to Dr. Zaman’s lab.

The experience is in line with Marcy’s goal to be a clinical neuropsychologist, a path she was inspired to follow by her younger sister who has Down syndrome.

“She has been my motivation through everything,” Marcy said. “Getting to research Down syndrome this summer has been extremely important to me and one day, when I am a clinical neuropsychologist, I would like to be able to give back to and help the Down syndrome community.”

The hands-on education Marcy has received through a combination of her W&J courses and her W&J-funded research is helping her reach her goal. Through both her position with the University of Cambridge and a previous W&J-sponsored internship at the University of Sydney researching Alzheimer’s disease, she has honed her scientific writing skills and learned more about these complex diseases, which she plans to continue studying.

Though the remote internship has presented difficulties—like a five-hour time difference between Cambridge and Pittsburgh, where Marcy resides—she’s taken on the challenges with grace and enjoyed the opportunity to adapt and grow as a researcher.

Following graduation, Marcy plans to pursue a Fulbright grant to continue with her goal of global research before entering a five-year clinical neuropsychology program.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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