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Undergraduate Research Center

Michaela Harrison

  • SOAR Position: Member; Research Ambassador, Peer Mentor (2024-2025)
  • Major: Biology and Neuroscience
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Jamie Burriss

Current Focus: MT Cognitive Aging Neuroscience Lab

Project Description

In my experimental psychology research lab our team of both undergraduate and graduate students explore the way that the brain processes information during the aging process. The purpose is to determine how the brain functions and achieves performance. We also study the biological processes that underlie human cognition, especially in regards to the relation between brain structures, activity, and cognitive functions. Our research projects are conducted in the areas of attention, perception, visual word recognition, and working memory. The majority of our work comprises the assessment of performance in manual and computerized tasks. Along with behavioral measures of performance, we also incorporate measures of neurophysiological activity in our electroencephalogram suite. The EEG is useful for precise measures of underlying functional activity of the brain during engagement in cognitive tasks. The MT Cognitive Aging Laboratory I am able to help support the advancement in neuropsychology and neuroscience research as well as foster a positive work-place relationship between my peers and and colleagues.

What are your professional aspirations?

I am actively pursuing my Bachelors of Science in Biology and Neuroscience. I am taking the time during my undergraduate college experience here at MTSU to serve as a student mentor and research ambassador to my peers. Doing so allows me to support other STEM Professionals in their academic development and career growth. I am representing a field of students, scientists, and professionals at my university at a small scale but I intend on carrying this onto a much larger scale by continuing to further my education by applying to various Graduate Programs and expressing my interest in working as a Teachers Assistant and Student Mentor during my studies. Serving as a Student Mentor is very personal and significant to me because I understand that many students, specifically women, worry about their ability to successfully face the challenges that they are presented with in predominantly male STEM professions. I seek to encourage diversity that reinforces messages of equality in these professions. I will translate discussions and theories into viable solutions that positively contribute to the progress that other Women in Stem have made and further expand the horizons and opportunities. I am confident in my ability to reach these aspirations because I can utilize the valuable insight and knowledge that I have gained during my time here at MTSU.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

Undergraduate research is useful because it increases the active engagement of students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. It provides rich and valuable insight and experience about what it is like for you to work inside of a research lab, conduct clinical studies, analyze crucial clinical data as well as various other tasks that will be assigned to you. The first thing I recommend when seeking out opportunities is to begin looking for professors that have active research studies going on and are actively seeking to recruit a team of students to work with them. Start by briefly reading the previous projects and studies that the professor has conducted and learn all of the details that you can about their lab. Once you have chosen a few professors, reach out and express your interest in meeting with them to discuss their research. During the initial meeting, you can begin to make personal connections to your academic studies and their lab while also understanding the details about their lab. By discovering the personal connection between yourself and the research field that interests you the most you will begin to truly value the enrichment that the opportunity will provide you in your academic developments and professional career.

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Thursday, September 5th, 4:30pm

Learn more about URECA

Contact us

Jamie Burriss, Ph.D., Director
(615) 494-7669 
Jamie.Burriss@mtsu.edu

Casey Penston, Coordinator
(615) 809-4588 
Casey.Penston@mtsu.edu

Learn more about the URC