Written by Sophia Tu, BS candidate at Saint Louis University; participant in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program- Aging and Neurological Diseases Track
I was sitting in front of my computer screen with the volume turned up, listening intently as the words coming through the speakers gave me goosebumps. Some nights I would catch myself unable to sleep because my mind kept replaying what I heard again and again like a catchy song. Only, it wasn’t a beautiful ballad I was remembering, or the newest hit single on the radio. It was a lecture on “Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Related Dementias” by Matthew Wynn, a graduate student-researcher at WashU.
Time and time again, I felt hit by a “Eureka!” moment every time a speaker presented a new and interesting facet of a certain topic. Matthew’s lecture was a prime example of that. His explanations of dementia and causes of temporary dementia connected so well to the experiences I’ve had in my own life and with the elderly adults I volunteer with. His explanation on how a small percentage of people who are diagnosed with Alzheimers do not suffer the effects of dementia left me curious and itching to know more. I felt my interest in the subject grow exponentially. By the end of his lecture, I was inspired to look for more opportunities to learn and research dementia outside of this summer program.
Overall, every speaker who has presented their topic during my summer experience has played an extensive part in filling the gaps of knowledge I had had about aging, research, and neurological diseases. My mind was racing to weave spider webs that connected ideas between one lecture to another, and building a clearer picture of what goes into the study of gerontology. The passion I saw each speaker has for their research inspired me to pursue my own passions within the field of aging and neurological diseases.
Finally, I cannot thank the program director and coordinators enough for working so hard to bring this virtual experience to life, and give us the experience we almost lost. I am honored to have had the opportunity to participate in such an engaging program and hope to be reunited next summer with all of my fellow cohorts.