Student Information

Student Name

Katarina Cruz




Internship Information

Company/Organization: City College of New York

Mentor(s):Dr. Timothy Ellmore

Topic of Internship

Memory and Cognition Laboratory

Background Information

The City College of New York is one of the 26 colleges and universities of the City University of New York (CUNY), and is considered the flagship of CUNY. It is located on 160 Convent Avenue in Manhattan, New York. This College provides a diverse student body with opportunities to achieve academically, creatively, and professionally in the liberal arts and sciences and in professional fields such as engineering, education, architecture, and biomedical education. It is known for fostering the opportunity for undergraduates to conduct research and publish and present their findings. In fact, in its science, engineering and social science programs, more than 300 undergraduate students work alongside senior researchers in funded projects. Leading CUNY in funded research, CCNY has several research centers, and soon new research centers will rise on South Campus. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 12,938, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 35 acres. The CCNY Department of Psychology is very research oriented, and thus students are faced with many opportunities for research experience. These experiences can be part of fieldwork, independent study, a research assistantship, or a thesis project. This research is typically conducted under the supervision of department faculty, and students are able to interact with one another and with post-doctoral researchers, who can help further enhance the breadth of the experience. There are many different resources available for the laboratories, including an EEG laboratory, a sleep laboratory, a pregnancy and infant laboratory, and a Children's Research Unit. Therefore, there are excellent and extensive research opportunities available in this department.

Summary of Internship

I was exposed to different guest lecturers and scientific forums that promoted intellectual and daily exchanges. For example, on November 15th 2012, I was able to sit into a Departmental Research colloquium in which two current CCNY Masters students discussed their research related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Additionally, I was able to thoroughly discuss scientific publications relating to the latest methodology used to study the therapeutic area that we were to research: Parkinsonís Disease. These articles discussed how the area of the brain known as the substantia nigra is related to working memory: a type of memory that can be defined as an active system for temporarily storing and manipulating information needed to execute complex tasks. The theory was that since the substantia nigra contains dopaminergic cells that are affected by the degeneration of this area of the brain in Parkinsonís disease, one would be able to predict of the onset of Parkinsonís disease by studying the substantia nigra and looking at its degeneration. One article that discussed this theory was MRI characteristics of the substantia nigra in Parkinsonís disease: A combined quantitative T1 and DTI study (Ricarda A. Menke, Jan Schloz, Karla L. Miller, Sean Deoni, Saad Jbabdi, Paul M. Matthews). My mentor and I took this theory and began looking at various samples of patients who either had Parkinsonís, did not, or were in between having it and not. Through hard work and dedication, I am proud to say that I made second author of an abstract that was successfully submitted to the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM). The OHBM is the primary international organization dedicated to mapping the organization of the human brain. One of the primary goals of this organization is to provide an educational forum for the exchange of new research findings using different methods of brain imaging. Our abstract was reviewed favorably by experts in the field, and was accepted to be published in the conference proceedings, and where we will present our findings from our abstract titled Changes in Substantia Nigra Functional & Structural Connectivity with Motor Integrity (Timothy M. Ellmore, Katarina I. Cruz, Richard J. Castriotta and Mya C. Schiess) at the next annual meeting in Seattle, WA on June 16th, 2013. This abstract contains our research regarding the substantia nigraís degeneration and how this could be utilized as a method to determine whether or not a person has Parkinsonís disease. I was able to contribute to this abstract by going through each patientís MRI and locating the substantia nigra using neuroimaging technology.

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