Student view:

Audrianna St. Germain: A lust for learning

Sept. 27, 2017

Audrianna St. Germain, from Brighton, Michigan, is a senior majoring in neuroscience and physiology. She is a Beckman Scholar and was a 2016-17 College of Natural Science Deans Research Scholar.

I have always had a lust for learning, and research is a compelling, unique and unparalleled opportunity that Michigan State provides to its undergraduates. During my freshman year in Lyman Briggs, MSU’s scientific residential college, I had heard of the vast number of research positions one could hold at MSU and I was determined to get involved from the get-go.

My first semester, I was granted the opportunity to join Brian Gulbransen’s research team. The lab focuses on the interactions of the enteric nervous system. During the time I spent with Gulbransen, I devised a project, learned invaluable laboratory skills, and further developed my understanding of gut function. I was awarded the Larry D. Fowler Endowment Undergraduate Research Stipend to continue my research over that summer.

I then worked in Devin McCauley’s psychology lab studying timing, attention and perception to better understand and treat disorders such as stuttering and non-physiological hearing loss.

My time in both of those labs, as well as my classes, helped encourage me to pursue more of my scientific interests; and this exploration ultimately led to a change in my major from neuroscience to physiology.

My coursework at Michigan State has been critical to my development as a student. Teamwork skills central to almost all of my classes have helped me learn to work in teams in my research and to communicate professionally with leaders in the field. I have learned to be patient, to have perseverance, to think critically and to discuss problems and results with students and professors.

My classes and labs have helped to shape my independent research skills and my critical analysis of diseases and biological pathways.

The spring of my sophomore year, I began to seek out more of the many unique research opportunities that MSU offers. I was awarded the prestigious Beckman Scholarship, which allowed me to pick a research faculty member to continue research under until I graduate; I chose to work with A.J. Robison of the Department of Physiology.

This scholarship has been invaluable to me as I have not only been funded to participate in what I love, but it has provided me the ability to travel to conferences across the United States, presenting my research and making important connections. In Dr. Robison’s lab, I am studying the physiological changes of neurons in the hippocampus in diseases such as addiction and depression.

The academic staff supporting me during my research and through scholarships have advocated for my scientific enrichment and educational success. Not only have I obtained more research skills than I ever thought I would as an incoming freshman, but I have had more individualized attention from and personal interactions with professors, which I believe has given me a more diverse and stimulating experience as an undergraduate student.  Also, as a future clinician and researcher, the skills obtained will provide me with important tools I can utilize to be more effective in my future career.