Kaitlyn Dorst

How I got into science

I was "that kid" that was super into watching "Bill Nye the Science Guy" when there was a substitute teacher--not just because it involved not doing schoolwork, but because I really liked learning about SCIENCE! My particular interest in biology was cultured when I took Mrs. Thorvaldsen's biology class in 8th grade. I was ridiculously into the labs and I was also "that kid" that was eager to use the microscope to look at tissue samples while the other kids were squeamish in a corner. Mrs. Thorvaldsen was thoroughly impressive with all of my coursework and she encouraged me to keep pursuing my love of science. I always had that innate curiosity about how life around us works. I loved asking questions (and I still do!).

When I was a rising senior in high school, I took on an internship under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Del Negro in the Systems Neuroscience Lab at the College of William & Mary. The work of this particular lab examines the neural undermining of breathing behavior. This was my first experience in a collegiate lab that was dedicated to research. I was paired to work in tandem with a graduate student, but my tasks were simple while I also had the opportunity to observe their work. Although the internship laster for a summer, it put my ideas for my career in perspective. At that point in time, I was considering pursuing a pre-medicine track, but I was getting to like the idea of medical research a lot more.

So when I decided to matriculate to William & Mary as an undergraduate, I did not hesitate to contact Dr. Del Negro about continuing my work in the lab. He was more than excited to take me back on as a student. Over the subsequent four years, I developed many crucial skills to be a more mature neuroscientist while maintaining lasting friendships with my colleagues. I'll always thank Dr. Del Negro for his persistence and guidance. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Now at BU, I'm more than thrilled to take on graduate studies. I've always had an interest in studying cellular and molecular mechanisms of memory. Different neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases all have intersections in memory dysfunction. Our memories tell our stories. They comprise our essence, shape our personality and experiences, make us feel emotions, and allow us to recognize our loved ones. Hearing stories of people not recognizing their loved ones due to something like Alzheimer's breaks my heart. It's as if a person is losing their definition of who they are. I understand that we may be a ways away from a total cue to something like AD, but it is equally important to understand the basic science surrounding memory dysfunction. This is one of my biggest goals while I'm here at BU.

Non-science biography
I was born and raised out on Long Island, New York (which I don't really mention if the context of a conversation is sports). My family and I moved to Williamsburg, Virginia when I was an angsty 13-year old. I hated the idea of change. Jokes on me that over the next 8 years, I met my closest friends and I now embrace change.

Outside of lab, you can probably find me at the BU FitRec or just wandering around Boston. One thing I really enjoy about Boston is that there is always something to do! I'm still in the process of making my "BUcket List" of things I want to do before I finish my degree.

Book: Ugh, do I really need to pick one...? Well I really enjoyed a lot of the Dan Brown books.
Movie: 90's Disney anything
Show: Game of Thrones, Rick and Morty
Food: Sushi, Buffalo wings, Mozz sticks
Drink: Green Tea, Guinness, Sangria
Activity: Reading, Spontaneous Target Adventures
Coffee, friend or foe: BFFLs

One thing I'm #sorrynotsorry about
I am ~obsessed~ with corgis. Will probably burst into tears if I see/pet one.

What I look for in a scientist
Someone who is willing to put their ego aside for the sake of science. The ultimate goal is to increase our knowledge of the brain and I firmly believe that collaboration is the way to go. We should not be selfish in our endeavors and help one another as needed in order to achieve our ultimate goal.

Another thing I appreciate is a good teacher. Explaining concepts and ideas to those outside their expertise is such an important skill to have. Not only does it help educate other scientists, it also helps us communicate with the general public.