ONIF Student Spotlight
September 30, 2022
Name: Halley Dante
Graduation Date: May 2023
Fellowship Award: DAAD RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering). A funded summer internship that provides an opportunity for students in STEM to participate in research and cultural exchange in Germany.
What are your current or future career plans? I hope to continue my studies through a PhD program in Computational Neuroscience. With this degree, I hope to either lead a lab of my own that aims to understand the circuitry of the brain or apply this knowledge to building technologies that are useful in the medical field.
What have you enjoyed most about the program? I enjoyed the independence I had in the program - my advisor allowed me to construct my own project under the umbrella of the lab's specialty which was the neural basis of decision-making in zebrafish. Because of the independence I had, I was able to experience the challenges of research including designing an experiment, executing it, analyzing it, and interpreting the results. In addition, I was also able to travel around Europe during the summer and experience new countries and cultures. This expanded my global perspective and introduced me to ways of thinking and seeing the world that I wasn't exposed to before.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the program? The most difficult part of this program, at least for my project, was the analysis. Since I started LMU as a Biology major, a lot of the research I had done prior to this was done on a different scale. Since imaging was the main means of data collection in my lab at LMU and imaging data is challenging to obtain, I was only exposed to the analysis of smaller datasets. However, data collection in my program was automated so I had to perform analysis of thousands of rows of data. Thus, I had to teach myself coding while conducting research which was definitely a challenge.
How has Covid-19 impacted your experience? Since COVID-19 restrictions are slowly being lifted, it hasn't impacted my experience this past summer that much. If anything, I think I would have applied for this program a year earlier if it weren't for COVID-19.
What advice do you have for future applicants? Although I learned so much about neuroscience and programming while conducting research during my internship, there was so much I gained outside the lab too. I made new friendships, experienced new cultures, and tried new things that I would never have. Although the intention of the internship is academic growth, there is also potential for growth in many other ways. So my advice would be to seek out these opportunities to grow as a person while participating in these types of academic programs.