Blog Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

From curiosity to contribution: A summer of discovery in aging and neurological sciences

Written by Jack Jones, BS candidate, Drury University and participant in the 2023 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program

Jack Jones, front right, and fellow cohort members enjoy dinner after a day of work with the Aging & Neurological Diseases track.

What began as a summer quest to determine if research was a career path I would be interested in pursuing, quickly became a summer filled with real world experience, knowledge and friendship. From day one of the Summer Research Program – Aging and Neurological Diseases track, I knew that I would be learning information crucial to the development of my career path. I have spent Monday through Friday, roughly 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Clinical Geropsychology Lab helping Brian Carpenter, PhD, with his research on how people are affected by the loss of a loved one during the pandemic of COVID-19. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the hours of 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. are dedicated to seminars in which I have listened to lectures on discussing research, to stroke, to Alzheimer’s Disease.

In the geropsychology lab, I have spent my days transcribing past interviews that have been conducted by fellow members of the project. Listening to these interviews has not only given me a better understanding of how people deal with their grief in general, but also how a pandemic like COVID-19 can affect people in ways that I would never have thought of. I hope that soon I will be able to conduct interviews on my own, so that I can better understand how people deal with their grief. Along with this project, we have just begun another that looks at how older adults use the internet to find supplementation for their brain health. These two projects are not only extremely interesting, but give me valuable insight into how research is conducted. The insight that I’m gaining from the Summer Research Program and these projects, will give me a better understanding of research as a possible future career.

As I mentioned above, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I attend seminars along with the rest of the students in the same program. During these seminars, I have learned about neurological diseases, and will continue to learn throughout the summer. Out of the seminars I have listened to so far, I have enjoyed an introduction to stroke by Jordan Amar, MD, and an introduction to Alzheimer’s Disease by Justin Long, MD, PhD. Each of these topics have piqued my interest into the neurology field even more than it was when I applied for this program. The brain absolutely fascinates me and to be able to participate in this program, as well as listen to each of these doctors talk about what they love, has truly been an honor.