Student view:

William Yakah: Growth spurt

William Yakah is a senior majoring in neuroscience and is a College of Natural Science Dean's Research Scholar. Yakah is an international student who hails from Accra, Ghana. 

  • In 1-2 sentences, describe your research in basic terms: My research investigates how nutrition, especially dietary fatty acids, contribute to growth and cognitive development in children.
  • What is the societal impact of your research: As children grow within their critical period of life, it is important to understand the impact of nutrition in ensuring optimum growth and brain development. It’s also helpful to know what early nutritional interventions could be put in place to prevent future diseases that can be prevented by adequate nutrition.
  • How has your undergraduate experience been impacted by this experience: I've become very interested in the field of translational research—which takes science beyond the confines of the laboratory to solve real-world problems. My research experience at MSU has made me a better thinker and better reader, and I’m more inquisitive and analytical. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!
  • Person/people who have inspired you: My mother. Her unending love drives me all the way. She’s taught me to take risks, make the best of opportunities and never stop getting better.
  • Favorite food: Spicy beef fried rice.
  • Best song/group: Zach Brown Band.
  • Book I’d recommend: "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi. No book gives a greater perspective about life and meaning than Paul’s memoir.
  • Best invention: The Internet; Google. It’s the best invention in my opinion and I can’t imagine education without it.
  • Worst invention: The atomic bomb. Someone would have celebrated his/her birthday today if not for its invention.
  • Person I’d most like to meet (living or dead): Stephen Hawking. I want to ask him what kept him going every day.
  • Major research breakthrough of the next decade (not your own, but overall): I’d want to see more advancements in brain-machine interface research. It has a great potential of augmenting people with memory and neurodegenerative diseases. Also, wouldn’t it be cool if you could type directly from your brain?
  • Where do you see yourself in 25 years:  Practicing medicine as a pediatrician, doing more clinical research and also being more involved with mentoring first-generation students.
  • Importance of this scholarship to you personally and to your future career: As a Dean's Research Scholar, I have the unique opportunity to share my research experiences with fellow past, present and prospective Spartans.  Being involved in active research and interacting with people in similar or different fields will help me figure out my specific research interests and how I can contribute to science.

Read more from William in "Connecting the dots"

Reused with permission from the College of Natural Science