Summer Research Abroad: Stephanie Shields

by Marcus Stewart on November 22, 2016

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Stephanie Shields, ’17, is Psychology major and German minor with a concentration in Neuroscience. Over the summer she was able to travel abroad to Hamburg, Germany through an internship program called the German Academic Exchange Service Research Internship in Science and Engineering. She worked with Ph.D. student Signe Luisa Schneider to complete her project on electroencephalography (EEG), learning, and memory.

“She’s using electrophysiological and behavioral methods to examine differences in EEG patterns and memory between elderly subjects and a young comparison group. She’s also using a brain-computer interface to attempt to train elderly participants to alter their brain activity in the hopes of increasing the activity in certain frequency bands, which have been found to be associated with subsequent memory in prior studies. I helped to set up for, run, and clean up after EEG sessions. I also helped Signe preprocess EEG data, and after gaining more experience with the MATLAB computing environment and reading literature related to the methodology and research questions, I helped with data processing and analysis. I also conducted a literature search, which will hopefully help Signe as she completes the project and writes up the results for publication.”

Stephanie’s favorite moment was when she suggested an idea that would improve the quality of the data.

“I sat down with Signe to talk to her about our preprocessing script and was able to suggest an idea to her that improved the quality of data we ended up with after preprocessing it to remove artifacts. That step is essential in obtaining valid results, so being able to work with my supervisor on that problem and make a meaningful contribution to its solution was both exciting and rewarding.”

For anyone considering doing research, Stephanie recommends giving it a shot.

“Even if you think something may be a long shot and even if you’re worried that you don’t have all the skills or abilities you’ll need, go for it and see what happens. Do your best, and take every experience you have as an opportunity to learn and grow.”

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