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Let Your Curiosity Determine Your Path!

Melisa is a fourth-year student studying Neuroscience and Mathematics at University of Toronto. Her passion in computational neuroscience was revealed when she was given the opportunities to get involved in research in second year. As she is now aiming for a career in research, she wants everyone to follow their curiosity and passion!

How do oyster eat? Why do dogs blink but cats do not? Curiosity was the source of my questions when I was a kid although I did not know that a career in science was an option.

After returning to Canada, my family was faced with many difficulties. During this tough period, I taught myself a brand-new language in a year and started University of Toronto. Although I struggled with academic setting in first year, I fell in love with two extremely different fields: Neuroscience and Mathematics.

In my very first research project with Dr. Brad Bass, my teammate and I modelled the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the hippocampus, which yielded my very first publication. Two of my students in the coop-research program with FSST designed a drug and investigated the correlation between caffeine consumption and Alzheimer’s on my model. Meanwhile, I mentored over 200 students across different mentorship and research programs to reach out and support as many young minds as possible, and I decided to pursue science as a career.

Later, I made my first discovery on human brain at the neuroimaging lab led by Dr. Mack. I found that individual differences in certain white matter tracts predicted learning ability. Meanwhile, I became a lab manager for the same lab. I am also conducting research with Dr. Skinner at Krembil Research Institute where I am developing descriptive formulae of synaptic connectivity of hippocampus models to understand how theta rhythms are generated. In short, my curiosity about human brain determined my path in life.

As the first in my family to attend university, I was very fortunate to have such amazing mentors and advisors who did not only give me a chance to get involved in research but also helped me find my passion in computational neuroscience. While I am graduating from U of T with Honours B.Sc. Degree, I am aiming for graduate studies to continue with research and teaching.

Please, always remember that there is nothing that can stop you from going after your curiosity and passion!

Melisa Gumus

Getting a huge hug from out mascot while I was volunteering at PanAm-ParapanAm Games Toronto 2015.

Getting a huge hug from out mascot while I was volunteering at PanAm-ParapanAm Games Toronto 2015.

While I am analyzing neuroimages and using computational models to understand the interactions between the brain and the behaviours at the Mack Lab.

While I am analyzing neuroimages and using computational models to understand the interactions between the brain and the behaviours at the Mack Lab.

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