Amanda Fortin

How I got into science

It sounds counterintuitive, but I actually discovered my interest in science after years of hating school. I struggled in all my classes, even though I was constantly asking questions. The real tipping point was when a teacher declared I would never learn to read above a fifth grader’s comprehension. Always the stubborn optimist, I disagreed, and set out to prove her wrong as soon as I could! This disagreement has pretty much been the foundation for my interest in science.

So I started with reading Nancy Drew with my mom before bed. Once I could read well enough, I spied a “neato” book in the science section of the bookstore - A User’s Guide to the Brain. This book got me hooked on all things brain.

I never realized before that people could perceive the world differently, or that for some people, focusing literally stops time for them. But the one story that has stuck with me the most is a little girl diagnosed with a mental illness, when her problem was a matter of perception. She was well into adulthood before a doctor finally asked her how she perceives the world. Her explanation was bizarre, but her doctor realized she had been diagnosed incorrectly before coming to him, and that her problem was treatable. She spent years in and out of hospitals receiving treatments for no reason. I found this horribly tragic, and this is what piqued my interest in neuroscience and research.

Getting through this book gave me a new motivation to try in school. My grades didn't change overnight, but by the time I hit high school, I could finally keep up with my classmates.

Since then, my interest in science has come from a million different places, but especially my parents. My dad has been an army nurse longer than I've been alive. He always comes home with some story, and his passion and work ethic for nursing and medicine has inspired my own. Then there’s my mother. When I couldn't read or write well, she helped me persevere. When I got a summer internship assisting a study at Johns Hopkins, she drove me 60 miles a day to the hospital! Her faith and work ethic are beyond motivational. They have jointly given me the ability to take (and excel) in difficult classes and attend Boston University.

I'm about to begin my third semester at BU, and I am very happy and excited to join the team this fall!

Non-science biography:

If you ever want to see me confused, just ask me where I am from! I grew up as the daughter of an Army Nurse, so I have lived in NY, IL, OK, MD, WA, MD (again), and now I move back and forth between Florida and Massachusetts. Where I'm from mostly depends on my mood.

In my heart, (next to science) is art and painting. Art was the first thing I ever felt good at, so I love making it as much as I love admiring it. Painting is how I clear my mind or express unique emotions. As such, I tend to appreciate all art, from Impressionism to what you can find at the Boston ICA.

Outside of art, I love traveling, and my favorite part of exploring is trying new foods! I am a wonderful dancer in my eyes only, and I love listening to new music, window shopping, and candles! As a fair warning, I love modernist writers, and if you get me started on them, I become a snowplow of unwanted Tumblr and book suggestions. I love comedy shows, and my mother has nurtured my love for Shakespeare.



This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.


(I can’t choose) My Fair Lady / Spirited Away / Up / Dr. Zhivago


The Office, Sherlock


Mood dependent. Everything from Bjork to The Weeknd.


Mexican and Italian. Yum.





Coffee, friend or foe:

Love. Of. My. Life.

One thing I’m sorry I’m not sorry about

I watch Ancient Aliens with my dad religiously. We like to sit down with cups of coffee and discuss why the theories are wrong.

What I look for in a scientist