How has the Center influenced your work?
I started with the Center for BrainHealth in 2009 as an intern my senior year at The University of Texas at Dallas. I am now a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. From the beginning, I have been able to work with two of my mentors, Dr. Kyle Womack and Dr. John Hart. They have introduced me to a wealth of knowledge and innovative technologies, such as Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), which illustrates how two brain regions communicate.
What do you do at the Center for BrainHealth?
My work focuses on employing DTI, which provides a way to analyze levels of white matter impairment, to illuminate how connections in the brain get disrupted, especially in regards to dementia and traumatic brain injury. This noninvasive technology equips my research to be applicable to a wide range of neurological issues.
What will your research tell us?
I am proposing a study that will analyze the density of white matter hyperintensities, or areas of disruption, as a more extensive measure in differentiating between dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and mild cognitive impairment. In this study, DTI will be the main tool employed to assess the level of disruption in pathways linking various brain regions. Currently, DTI is not widely utilized in the medical realm, but is essential in furthering future medical breakthroughs. The results of my research will hopefully illustrate the importance of DTI as a clinically relevant tool that can predict future impairments from present injuries or stages of cognitive decline.
What is the best or most interesting thing about your job?
The people I work with at the Center for BrainHealth make it exciting to come to work every day. I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with scientists whose goals, such as meaningfully contributing to the scientific community and society as a whole, are similar to mine. My co-workers are not only positive influences in my life, but also mentors who constantly encourage me to reach my potential.