Azmi Yasmin is a rising third-year majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Data Science. She currently works in a lab doing research on schizophrenia.

Tell me about your SURG research.

Yasmin: What my lab is trying to do is we’re trying to find ways to understand the neural circuits that are related to schizophrenia. They’ve used this drug called amphetamine previously and found that using amphetamine increased dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter, and this increased level of dopamine leads to hallucination-like symptoms, which is a prominent symptom in schizophrenia. The problem with amphetamine is that it releases dopamine brain-wide, so it doesn’t really help us with figuring out what specific areas lead to schizophrenia. Previous research has shown that when you express the sodium channel – it’s called the knack back channel – when you express that you allow for sodium to come into the cell, that allows for increased neural firing. I’m going to be increasing dopamine release over a chronic period of time. I’m going to be basically collecting data and see how the mice's behavior is affected from this chronic level of neural firing.

How do you think this research will help you long term?

Yasmin: I never saw myself getting into research specifically working with mice. That’s just something I could not imagine. But I gave it a chance. I think what really made me more interested is knowing that what I’m doing right now has a larger implication with the medical field and patients. I wouldn’t know as much in this field and the field of schizophrenia and what it is if I wasn’t in this, but now that I know more, with knowing how to read research papers, I can move on and I’ve gained skills to read them and understand what they’re saying. There’s a lot of skills that I’ve learned. I feel like no matter where I go and what field I even choose, these are skills that are going to be helpful.

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