Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Katrina Furth
Occupation: Graduate Student in Neuroscience
Education (UR and additional): BCS Major at the University of Rochester and PhD Candidate at Boston University
Current city/state/country of residence: Washington, DC
Current Community activities: Team Leader at Northwest Community Church, Avid cyclist
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
The University of Rochester had the best brain and cognitive science program in the area. I was also excited about participating in research opportunities available through the school. The University also appealed to me in that everyone was very different but also very motivated. I could find a niche of people who shared similar interests with me, while being exposed to people with different passions and hobbies, too.
When and how did you choose your major(s)?
I knew that I wanted to study the brain because a close friend and a close relative of mine have experienced serious mental illness. I wanted to get involved in research in order to better understand the problems underlying mental illness and how to fix them.
Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?
While I was at the University of Rochester, I worked with an excellent faculty member, Dr. Florian Jaeger, who taught me how to think critically, develop research questions and analyze data. This was invaluable. He invested a lot of time and resources into my projects, and met with me regularly one-on-one for three out of my four years at the school. We are still in touch, but mostly as friends, because my research has shifted focus.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
The greatest reason to become a brain and cognitive science major rather than a neuroscience major is that BCS majors must learn computer programming and statistics. No matter what field of work you encounter, knowing how to process data will always give you a competitive edge. Programming can make you more efficient in almost any line of work, and statistics can be applied in thousands of different situations. The key is understanding what you are comparing. The statistics classes that are part of the major, and the programming course have proven very useful in graduate school.
What is your fondest memory of the University?
I actually transferred to the University of Rochester after one semester at another local school. I remember looking around the flag lounge and seeing so many different groups of students studying, eating together, and intently focused on different discussions, and feeling like I was finally in the “right place.” I felt like I fit right in.