Student Spotlight: Courtney Burton ʼ12

July 09, 2012
“My nontraditional story began when I transferred to Washington College during my freshman year, drawn by the small enrollment and the behavioral neuroscience concentration within the psychology major.”

I experienced the benefits of a small school immediately, moving from classes of 400 students to one class of just four! This course, psychopharmacology, opened doors for me, allowing me to work with animals for the first time and with my current advisor early on.

Once I got my foot in the door, things took off. I took several classes in which I was required to conduct independent projects in small groups, and three of those collaborations have led to poster presentations at the annual conference of the Eastern Psychological Association. To further my clinical and laboratory experiences outside of the classroom, I also completed an internship with a psychiatric nurse at a clinic here in Chestertown and another at the University of Massachusetts Medical School one summer.

It was this work with visual phototransduction that eventually led to my thesis topic: the effects of blue light on circadian rhythms and of subsequent circadian disturbances on depression in a mouse model. Even though it has entailed buying all kinds of equipment and delving into an area that no one here has explored in depth, this work has been exciting, as I have been allowed to develop my own interests. The project has brought a fair amount of challenges, but I believe that conceptualizing and running my own study with the help of Dr. Kerchner has made me a stronger scientist and a more competitive candidate for lab positions and graduate school.

I hope to go to graduate school in order to study circadian rhythms in humans and also to develop skills in neuroimaging. No matter where the next few years take me, the progress that I’ve made since I first walked onto campus is undeniable. I have not only developed a solid knowledge base but have also been sure to have some fun outside of the classroom, playing alto saxophone in community and college ensembles and even helping to build two homes with Habitat for Humanity! I would not have seen such academic and personal growth without the coursework, internships and mentoring provided to me at Washington College through the Psychology Department. Transferring here was a golden opportunity; I have experienced not just preparation for a career but true beginnings of one.



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Last modified on Aug. 15th, 2013 at 4:08pm by .