Mentor: Dr. Katherine Duncan
Memory deficits are a commonly reported non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s Disease. The exact pattern of memory impairments, however, is unclear, and drastically vary across studies. One of the greatest overarching controversies in the literature regarding both the pattern of memory impairments in PD as well as its neural underpinnings, is whether or not memory impairments stem from fronto-striatal or hippocampal decline. The SROP will involve conducting a systematic review on episodic memory in Parkinson’s Disease to determine the different cognitive profiles that exist amongst the patients and what kind of memory impairments are exhibited across such profiles. The student will learn how to conduct a systematic review following the PRISMA checklist under the guidance of a graduate student. The SROP student will ultimately gain experience in identifying and synthesizing relevant literature to provide a rigorously reviewed summary of current evidence, will be exposed to statistical software such as R to analyze the data, and will learn how to write a research report based on such findings. They will also learn about the important role of systematic reviews and meta-analyses for assessing the reproducibility of scientific findings.
My vision for this mentorship experience is to provide opportunities that promote growth, increase depth of knowledge, and inspire new perspectives. To ensure day-to-day support, one of my graduate students, Ariana Youm, hold weekly one-on-one meetings with the SROP student, daily online check-ins and regular group project meetings. Additionally, I will personally meet with the SROP student to ensure interest alignment, clarify expectations, and provide high-level support. The SROP student will also be encouraged to attend the weekly lab meetings, in which members discuss relevant and current topics. Through this mentorship experience, our mentee will gain a deeper understanding of how memory is affected in Parkinson’s Disease, methods for assessing memory, and insights into academic research culture and practices more generally. I am motivated to be a mentor in the SROP because I believe that increasing the diversity of scientists will drive a more complete understanding of the human mind.