Celebrating our seniors: Nathalie Vieux-Gresham '23

Nathalie Vieux-GrishamPhoto/Mike Lovett

Nathalie Vieux-Gresham '23 in her happy place, the lab.

Nathalie Vieux-Gresham ’23, a neuroscience major from Harlem, New York City, keeps busy with all things Brandeis. The Posse Scholar is a Roosevelt Fellow, one of three Neuroscience Undergraduate Department Representatives, a Community Advisor, and a Bridge to Wellness Peer Health Educator. She was also selected for this year's Linda Heller Kamm '61 Prize due to her dedication to social justice in her community.

In addition to taking some time to rest and relax this summer, Vieux-Gresham is pursuing another one of her biggest passions, neuroscience, by undergoing research on campus. She took some time to talk about her Brandeis experience and what she is looking forward to in the future.

What are you working on this summer?

I’m participating in Susan Birren’s neuroscience lab, researching how satellite glial cells affect synaptic plasticity in neurons in the peripheral nervous system. I’m working alongside a PhD student, Josh Harrison, at Brandeis as well.

I can usually be found in the lab multiple times a week, during the academic year and in the summer. Most days include running experiments, updating and optimizing protocols, imaging neurons or glial cells, and reporting our progress to Professor Birren.

It’s been so cool discovering new things about the peripheral nervous system. I knew I wanted to explore different interests and ideas in the field of neuroscience, but now I know this could be a major focus point for me in the future.

Will you continue this research in the fall?

I selected this project for my senior thesis, so I will continue researching this topic through next spring. After discovering that I also could complete my master’s in the combined 4-year BS/MS neuroscience program by taking graduate courses and defending my thesis, I knew it wasn’t an opportunity I could pass up! I will also be presenting my research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS 2022) national event, held in Anaheim this fall. This will be my second time presenting at ABRCMS, the first time being the fall of 2021, where I presented immunology research about COVID-19 and its impact on natural killer cells that I conducted at Weill Cornell Medicine under the Gateways Program. This is going to be an exciting year for sure!

Why does Brandeis fit you?

A value that Brandeis really emphasizes is community. As a community-oriented person, this is such an important thing to me. During my experience at Brandeis, I met many of my closest friends through the communities I became a part of. I’ve grown alongside them, laughed with them, and I am grateful to have them in my corner to help me navigate this thing called life.

Because of my experiences at Brandeis and the community that I have here, Brandeis has become a second home to me.

Who is the professor who has had the biggest impact on you?

Kristen Mascall was the one of the first faculty members that I encountered at Brandeis, and was subsequently one of the most impactful individuals during my Brandeis career.

I took her organic chemistry class my first semester on campus. She let me know that while science isn’t easy, she would be there to support me and encourage me along the way. She also showed me that wellness comes first, supporting me as a whole during our chats outside of the classroom during office hours. She left Brandeis the semester after, but her impact remains prominent for all who knew her.

Science isn’t a field where you commonly find Black women or women of color in general, so I found her presence in the department to be inspiring. I often sought out the representation of Black women in STEM, and subsequently this inspired me to become that representation. I’m going to be a prominent Black woman in neuroscience!

How has being a Posse scholar affected your time at Brandeis?

The quote that became the kickstarter of Posse was “I never would’ve dropped out of college if I had my posse with me.” College is fun, but it is also challenging in many ways. Being able to lean on my Posse, 'BSP12,' for support is why my college experience was meaningful before I even arrived on campus. Because I had my Posse, I was able to thrive and become a leader, community builder, and generally an individual I am very proud of. I have taken and will take each step of my college journey with unwavering confidence because they stand by my side unconditionally. Beyond BSP12, I derive so much inspiration from older Posse scholars, such as the members of 'BSP11.' They have been by my side and my Posse’s side since day 1, and I am eternally grateful. On the flipside, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a friend and resource to the younger Posse scholars as well. It’s so exciting seeing the next generation of leaders up close and personal!

The community that Posse fosters on campus is truly unique. We all look out for each other and support one another to the best of our abilities. Whether it is in class, at work, or at the Posse retreat, coming together is always a fulfilling and powerful experience. I hope that the meaningful bonds and connections that I have with many scholars will last a very long time. That’s the Posse love.

Special thank you to Vice Provost Kim Godsoe and Judy Salvucci for always ensuring that us scholars could feel and perform at our best, and for always helping us put our best foot forward with care.

What are you looking forward to most during your senior year?

I’m ready to have a great time this year. Aside from focusing on my research, I can’t wait for the exciting things I will be doing with my campus communities. Being a senior Posse scholar, a returning Roosevelt Fellow, working with the Bridge to Wellness and Neuroscience Undergraduate Department Representative teams and continuing to collaborate on fun projects is something that I’m looking forward to.

As seniors, my friends and I have reached a point that we feel like the most fulfilled versions of ourselves, so we’re going to make the most of our senior year experience! We’re going to accomplish a lot along the way, but we’re also planning to prioritize fun. This is an essential time for me - I have to party a bit this year! I also hope to sharpen up my guitar playing so that I may potentially work on music with friends as well.

How will Brandeis impact your future beyond the campus?

I think Brandeis and the Posse Foundation helped me to become someone I have always wanted to be. I fostered a sense of self and belonging in my communities here, as a leader, STEM student, mentor, peer, resource, and friend. Because of my Brandeis experience, I am confident that I will make a meaningful impact wherever I go, which is awesome.

Categories: General, Science and Technology, Student Life

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