Sarah Kavianpour walked into the lab of Dr Mark Gabiele in the second week of her freshman year and has been doing research with him ever since. In that time, she has gone from being a novice to being a leader in the lab, training the newer students and actively participating in the planning and design of experiments.

Her research focuses on neural circuit formation in the auditory midbrain of neonatal rats and mice. The neural patterns in the brain that allow us to separate important sounds from background noise, locate a sound and detect different frequencies, develop very early – before the onset of hearing, in fact. This means that much of the development of the auditory center of the brain takes place without any auditory stimulus. Sarah, and the rest of Dr Gabriele’s lab, are trying to work out what signaling proteins are important in establishing the specific axonal patterns during normal development in order to better understand and treat developmental hearing disorders in humans.

Sarah says that she likes everything about research. Four years in the lab has brought her closer to her interest in neuroscience, given her a lot of practice with problem solving and dealing with uncertain outcomes, and even changed her career path. She also really values the relationship she has developed with Dr Gabriele, and suspects that she would not be where she is now, academically or personally, without his support and guidance throughout her undergraduate degree.

After graduating in 2010, Sarah is joining the masters program in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, where she will continue to do research.

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