College of Liberal Arts alumnus Cory Ardekani

What is your current position like?

As a graduate student, I am currently taking classes and getting my feet wet in my lab research. Currently, I am investigating differences in rodent maternal behavior and pup development between standard and semi-natural housing conditions. What I like about this research project is that I get to apply what I have learned from my previous lab experience at Temple University to what I am doing right now at the University of California, Davis. I find this project specifically interesting as these studies are done outside of a typical lab setting which gives you a glimpse of how moms and pups react/adapt to the natural environment around them.

Describe your career path.

After graduating in 2018, I worked as a research technician in Dr. Debra Bangasser's laboratory investigating sex differences in stress response. I held this position for about two years before leaving to attend graduate school. 

How did the CLA Neuroscience Program prepare you for your current position?

The CLA Neuroscience Program's coursework really prepared me as a graduate student. A lot of the topics that I am learning in my classes, research and talks are concepts that I learned from the courses I took in the CLA Neuroscience Program. From fundamentals all the way to the capstone in neuroendocrinology, I have been able to apply what I have learned in my courses as a graduate student. I will say, however, Techniques in Neuroscience was the most important course that I took in the program. This class taught me, what do these scientific techniques do/how they work and, most importantly, when would you use this technique to address a question. As I started my job as a research technician, I found that the information I learned from that class was extremely valuable in that I would apply to the work in the lab almost every day.

What advice do you have for current students in the CLA neuroscience program?

Take advantage of research opportunities, whether it be in the department or university-wide. Not only is engaging in research helpful to apply what you learn in the classroom but it also looks great on your resume/cv and is critical if you want to apply to graduate school in the future. More importantly, joining a lab can also help you learn your own interests & passions that can influence your future career decisions. 

What is something that you know now that you wish you knew as an undergraduate?

I wish I were confident when it came to approaching professors or TAs earlier on in my undergraduate career. Not only is going to office hours great for learning class material but it can also be very beneficial when you decide you want to look for labs or want to discuss future career paths with someone who has experience. Getting to know a professor or TA outside of the classroom setting can help set the stage for your future lab experience and potentially the start of your road to your desired career path.