Personal Statement, Emma Morley, August 2014

When I was in junior high, my older brother began experiencing idiopathic epileptic seizures. Specialists that examined his case could not figure out the reason for these seizures, but medication seemed to solve the problem, although not without side effects. While unfortunate for him, my brother’s neural mysteries intrigued me and brought to my attention just how much we do not know about our own brains. I found it ironic that the very organ I use to think, problem-solve, emote, and control the rest of my body is the organ that seems the most complex and beyond my comprehension. Like a dog chasing its own tail, I became passionate about solving the mysteries of my own brain and the diverse brains of others’ like that of my brother.

As a freshman at BYU, choosing a major was easy: neuroscience. I stuck with this major until I graduated in April 2014. My favorite classes I found to be those that were hands on and visual, such as anatomy, in which we memorized the human body from real cadavers, and neuroanatomy, in which we poured over images of brain slices and dissected sheep brains. I also became involved in SNARE protein research with Dr. Dixon Woodbury and behavioral neuroscience research using medicinal leeches with Dr. Karen Mesce. Through these experiences I learned how to perform a variety of lab procedures from gel eletrophoresis to histological experiments. But again, the hands-on visual work captivated me most—the days in Dr. Mesce’s lab that I could perform surgeries or dissections on leeches were easily my favorite.

The great thing about neuroscience in this day is the fact that it will not get figured out in entirety within my lifetime. There will always be a mystery to solve. As adventure and exploration are driving passions in my life, I would be thrilled to be a contributing scientific ‘explorer’ in the pursuit of neuroscience discoveries. Maybe one of those discoveries will solve the mystery of my brother’s seizures.Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 1.55.08 PM

Stained ganglion of a Manduca caterpillar under a dissection microscope.