The latest Science Hall of Fame inductee: Amanda Shilton '18
The junior neuroscience major recently published a paper on Lou Gehrig's disease.
As part of our Science Hall of Fame series, we're profiling Brandeis students doing amazing work in the sciences. First up: Amanda Shilton.
Major: Neuroscience and biology with a minor in chemistry
Lab: Avi Rodal, assistant professor of biology
What are you researching?
I am looking at ways to identify important players in growth factor signaling defects in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) using a Drosophila model.
Can you explain that in plain English?
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that results in muscle paralysis and eventual death. In order for muscles to develop correctly they need signals from the brain. In turn, our brain recognizes which connections are important by the amount of signal they receive back from the muscle. This back and forth communication is broken down in ALS, resulting in muscle weakness. I am trying to understand the break down in signaling.
What's the most critical thing you've learned about doing scientific research?
I've learned that failure is common in research. The important thing is to never get disheartened by your data. Even the negative results tell you something about the system you are looking at. It is also important to ask questions all the time, especially when you don’t understand something. Never be afraid to ask!
Have you been involved in any published papers? How did that come about?
I was a contributing author this year in a paper that was published in the journal “Molecular Biology of the Cell." I basically started research in my first year at Brandeis and the work which I did over the past two years was used in the paper. My experiment involved taking measurements of how fast the larvae of flies crawled when they had ALS compared to when we tried to improve their symptoms.
Any future plans?
PhD in molecular and cell biology.