Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Eshin Jolly

EshinjollyName: Eshin Jolly
Occupation: Graduate Student
Education (UR and additional):
B.A. in BCS & Psychology, minor in Music, U of R;
PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience (anticipated), Dartmouth College
Current city/state/country of residence: Hanover, NH
Current Community activities: Research, Teaching, Musical performance

 Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I chose to attend U of R because it simultaneously offered a breadth of possible areas of study as well as the freedom to decide how to study them. By leaving the decision up to students on how to structure their education, U of R gave me the ability to take classes in many different areas before realizing that Brain and Cognitive Science was the major that was most captivated me. In an nutshell, U of R really let me explore until I figured out what I really enjoyed.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was pretty actively involved in music when I was at U of R. I took lessons at Eastman and performed in several groups on campus, in particular a jazz/funk/dance trio I put together with friends. Music allowed me to meet new people, release some stress from classes, travel around upstate New York and really channel some of my energy into something totally different; definitely some of my fondest memories at U of R. Plus, playing is something that I’ve been able to keep on doing since.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus?  Have you continued those relationships?

My mentors at the U of R were my awesome thesis advisors in BCS: Professors Jessica Cantlon and Brad Mahon. Their advice and training was invaluable. Working with them helped me develop the skills that ultimately allowed me to pursue my graduate education at Dartmouth. Just as rewarding was the personal relationship I developed with them, one that I continue to maintain to this day.

What did you do immediately after graduation?  How did you decide to take this path?

Completing a BCS honors thesis at U of R really whet my appetite for research, but also left me wondering whether I could see myself in research as a full time job. To figure things out I applied to be a full time research assistant and lab manager at various labs across the country. Ultimately I worked for 2 years at Harvard University, an experience that really helped me make my decision to become a “real” scientist. 

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

Right now I’m a graduate student in the department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth studying social cognitive neuroscience. Although the brain is constantly performing tons of complex computations, I think that perhaps the most complex and most interesting is enabling us to navigate our social world, full of ambiguity, uncertainty and other minds like ours. Getting involved in BCS research early on let me see that neuroscience can elucidate the study of social phenomena and specifically, that the understanding of the mind can be informed by the study of the brain.

What advice do you have for current students?

Explore. Really take the time to figure out what you like and what you don’t. Whether it be BCS, Astrophysics or Capoeira (yup I took a class and it was awesome), U of R gives you an opportunity so take advantage of it. I can’t think of anything more depressing than waking up every single day and dreading what you have to do. I know I don’t.