Bard College, Memory Dynamics Lab, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY
I spent this past summer in the Memory Dynamics Lab under the supervision of Dr. Justin Hulbert who specializes in cognitive science and the science of forgetting. During the eight weeks I spent working for Dr. Hulbert, I joined the existing research team of four Bard College students to work on several ongoing projects. I was assigned to the DREEM Rr study which explores how sounds played during sleep affects one’s ability to intentionally suppress unwanted memories. I took on the role of personnel manager for this and all other studies conducted over the summer. As personnel manager for DREEM, I was responsible for finding ways to recruit subjects who were willing to participate in the study. Bard is in a rural area, and the school itself is small with few STEM majors, so recruitment is a critical concern. We designed promotional posters and placed them all over campus and in high-traffic areas in towns nearby. Over the summer, we had a good amount of success with getting new participants. I also became very familiar with the experimental procedure for DREEM and at times was responsible for conducting cognitive testing and preparation of electrodes.
Another of Dr. Hulbert’s ongoing projects is Heartspace, a 30-day intensive study that explores how listening to meditative audio affects heart-rate variability and memory suppression capability. As personnel manager I was responsible for finding, scheduling and, at times, reminding subjects to listen to their daily audio requirements.
The most exciting aspect of my work this summer was assisting in the design of a novel paradigm to drive a completely new study. By the end of July, we had nearly finalized this paradigm and had made progress toward the poster that will be presented at Bard in the fall. The most valuable aspect of my internship was developing a personal relationship with Dr. Hulbert—a professor who truly enjoys working with undergraduates and who treated us as future colleagues. I was most impressed with Dr. Hulbert’s enthusiasm for the subject matter, study design, and capacity to gain funding for projects and publications.
This internship was critical for my understanding of where I hope to take my career. First, the exposure to the world of psychology reaffirmed my decision to make it my major. I also learned a great deal about research in a graduate and professional setting and decided that I am more drawn to clinical work. My work this summer helped me confidently make the decision to begin the pre-medical track at Williams. With Dr. Hulbert’s guidance, I have already begun securing further research and volunteer opportunities to help progress my career, and I will continue to work in some capacity with the Memory Dynamics Lab.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and to the Class of 1974 for this opportunity. Working in an academic setting, learning about research and finding confirmation of my major and career choice as well as ongoing mentorship all came from this summer experience.