The Mind’s Mysteries

Posted On August 13, 2012 by Jeremy Craig

Georgia State senior Terrell Jenrette was drawn to neuroscience partly out of curiosity, and partly out of his family’s experiences.

With a sister living with bipolar disorder and a grandmother who died from an aneurism, he’s also interested in the mind’s mysteries – how brain injuries alter a person’s personality or the brain’s ability to change, or “neuroplasticity.”

“I just love the fact that your brain controls so much, and how everything you do somehow relates back to the nervous system,” the Tampa, Fla. native said.

Jenrette, who wants to become a neurologist, has garnered a prestigious fellowship from the Society for Neuroscience, one of the premier organizations in the field. Fewer than 20 students nationwide were accepted into the Neuroscience Scholars Program, a three-year fellowship.

He was a student in the Behavioral Research Advancements in Neuroscience (BRAIN) undergraduate research program of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN). The CBN, a consortium of Atlanta universities engaged in neuroscience research, is based at GSU.

“The BRAIN program was really essential to what I’m doing now,” Jenrette said.

He went under the tutelage of Georgia State assistant professor Sarah Brosnan’s laboratory, where he became involved in research where Brosnan and her graduate students study how environmental factors and personal relationships between capuchin monkeys affect decisions.

Beyond the research itself, he learned valuable skills that will take him far as he climbs the academic ladder, from performing background research to coding experimental results.

“They really helped me with reading papers,” he said. “They taught me how to pay attention to particular areas, such as graphs. I also learned how to make a CV [curriculum vitae, the academic equivalent of a resume]. The BRAIN program basically put most of the things currently on my resume on there.”

This past summer, he also ventured to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., where he studied glaucoma and its neurodegenerative mechanisms. Jenrette said he’s still working to figure out his exact research path.

Although he applied for numerous colleges and universities in high school, and was accepted to all of them, Jenrette said he chose GSU partly for its independent culture.

“I like the competitive atmosphere,” he said. “I never wanted one of those ‘family schools.’ I like the fact that GSU is more business and you have to make your own path.”

Aug. 13, 2012