Rising senior wins Goldwater Scholarship for work in behavioral neuroscience
Leah Fleming ’16 has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, making her the College’s fifth recipient of the prestigious award in the last six years.
The Goldwater Scholarship, authorized by the United States Congress in 1986 in honor of Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in science, mathematics or engineering. Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit to receive a one-year scholarship of up to $7,500.
A junior from New Canaan, Conn., Fleming is a behavioral neuroscience major. Early in her sophomore year, she shared her interest in graduate studies with her career adviser, Julia Browne, who encouraged her to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship.
With an eye on graduate school, Fleming has already begun participating in cutting-edge research at the College. Working with Ruth Grahn, associate professor of psychology, she is comparing the impacts of ketamine and two other pharmacological agents on brain function and cognitive behaviors.
“These drugs have potential as antidepressant agents that could really change the way certain mental disorders are treated,” says Fleming. “I have friends at other colleges studying neuroscience who cannot believe how much independence I have to design my own experiments and study what interests me. I have gained experience that most students don’t dream of until graduate school.”
Fleming says her professors have been a constant source of motivation and support, helping her develop and strengthen her passion for studying and researching neuroscience. In fact, she says her dream job would be to become a professor herself.
“Talking to the neuroscience faculty was one of the big motivators that led me to choose this school. These professors have changed my life and inspired me in so many ways,” she says.
This summer, Fleming is completing a College-funded internship, studying various markers of schizophrenia in human brain tissue at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Next fall, she plans to embark on a senior honors thesis related to her research. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience.