When it came time for Hope Nyarady to decide on which graduate school she would like to attend, the COVID-19 pandemic intervened.
The Trumbull, Connecticut, native was frustrated by being unable to visit any of the prospective schools.
That’s when Fraser J. Sim, PhD, director of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ neuroscience program, reached out to Nyarady and inquired if she would like to meet via a Zoom videoconference to discuss the neuroscience master’s program.
“After learning about the program, what really attracted me to UB was the big emphasis on research — starting from just making sure you find a laboratory that fits you — but also the drive for mentorship while independently completing your thesis project,” Nyarady says.
“The Jacobs School neuroscience program really has a perfect balance of research and a group of faculty within the program that will support you, drive you and encourage your research,” she adds.
Nyarady traces the foundation of her passion for science to her childhood fascination with solving puzzles.
“The brain is a big complex network of various circuits. There are so many different pathways that you can study, and sometimes you need to explore those different pathways to solve your overall study question,” she says. “Just like when you’re doing a puzzle, you have to look at different pieces and put those together to solve and create the overall picture.”
Nyarady also points out there are always emerging research studies and discoveries about the brain — it is one big never-ending puzzle that never gets completely solved.
“The creative and innovative research involving the brain never stops. When one component or possible new discovery about the brain gets solved, you still need to further investigate it and take more pieces of the brain that could be involved in the creation of the final picture,” she notes.
Nyarady’s thesis project involves studying how the severity of post-concussion symptoms such as headaches, difficulties remembering, and fatigue in someone who was recently diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion, affects their overall cognition through the analysis of their test performance scores.
She says her mentor, Thomas J. Covey, PhD, assistant professor of neurology, “has created that perfect balance of providing constant feedback and guidance with freedom of allowing me to have a strong voice and influence on my research project in regards to what I want to study, how I want to answer my research questions, and how I want to approach the overall project.”
Nyarady says Covey has done a great job as a mentor in understanding the importance of performing well in the classroom along with making progress in research projects.
“He never asks any questions when you need to take a slight step back from research to focus on an exam or term paper for a class,” she says. “Overall, he has created the perfect balanced environment for a graduate student.”
Nyarady says her ultimate goal is to pursue a career in academia, specifically in the area of becoming a college professor while continuing doing research in the field of cognitive neuroscience.
“The Jacobs School has prepared me for this career by emphasizing making your own pathways in the research field through the creation of your thesis projects,” she says.
Nyarady notes the Jacobs School has also given her several opportunities to present her project at its different progression stages during the required courses and through other presentation formats such as journal club discussions.
“It has provided me the opportunity to converse with other students in the program and keep updated in regards to current research occurring in various different subfields of the neuroscience research world,” she says.