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Jillyn Turunen

5815

Bold Points

1x

Nominee

2x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

I am an aspiring neurosurgeon-scientist with a focus on neuro-oncology, specifically glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and leptomeningeal disease (LMD). I graduated from University of Chicago in March 2023 with a bachelors degree in neuroscience. Beginning in June 2023, I will attend Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's MSTP (MD-PhD program), where my research focus will be neuro-oncology and my clinical focus will be neurosurgery. I am a research consultant for City of Hope National Medical Center's Legacy Project for leptomeningeal disease and have previously worked in neuro-oncology labs at the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California. I have presented my research at national and international neurosurgery conferences including the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies XVII World Congress of Neurosurgery and the Southern Neurosurgical Society 2022 Annual Scientific Meeting. In my free time, I paint and practice aerial circus.

Education

Northwestern University

Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)
2023 - 2031
  • Majors:
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Other
    • Medicine

University of Chicago

Bachelor's degree program
2019 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Neurobiology and Neurosciences

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Neurobiology and Neurosciences
  • Planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Hospital & Health Care

    • Dream career goals:

      neurosurgeon-scientist with focus on tumors

    • Commissioned Artist

      2021 – Present3 years
    • Peer Mentor; Advisory Board Member

      University of Chicago Office of College Programming and Orientation
      2020 – 20222 years
    • Personal Assistant

      Office of Dr. Hannah Frisch PhD
      2020 – 2020

    Sports

    Cheerleading

    Club
    2019 – 20234 years

    Research

    • Human Biology

      City of Hope — Research Consultant
      2021 – Present
    • Neurobiology and Neurosciences

      University of Southern California Brain Tumor Center — Research Assistant
      2022 – 2022
    • Neuroscience

      City of Hope, Washington University St. Louis — Research Assistant
      2020 – Present
    • Neuroscience

      University of Chicago Medicine — Research Assistant
      2020 – 2022

    Arts

    • The Circus Studio

      Performance Art
      Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Artwalk showcases
      2018 – 2020
    • Womack and Bowman

      Performance Art
      Rebelle
      2022 – 2022
    • University of Chicago Le Vorris and Vox Circus

      Performance Art
      Grimm, quarterly showcases, Etteilla
      2019 – Present

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Frank Lloyd Wright Trust — volunteer tour guide/interpreter
      2019 – 2021
    • Volunteering

      CoachArt — Yoga teacher
      2021 – 2021
    • Volunteering

      Foothill Presbyterian Hospital — STAR volunteer, newsletter chair on Junior Auxiliary Board
      2016 – 2019
    Mind, Body, & Soul Scholarship
    During the summer before my senior year of high school, I joined a local circus studio and fell in love with circus. Now that I am in college, I am part of my school’s circus club, where I practice contortion, hand balancing, aerial silks, and trapeze. Circus has changed my life for the better by making me feel empowered, introducing me to an amazing community of people, and giving me a coping mechanism for my OCD. To do any act associated with circus, one must possess a combination of strength, flexibility, balance, and gracefulness. I didn’t have many of these qualities when I started circus, but with practice, I have made strides toward that goal. More than anything, becoming fit through practicing circus has been empowering. I feel more confident both inside the circus studio and out of it, and I have learned to appreciate and care for my body in a way I never did before. This includes aspects of my life beyond just working out; I feel more motivated to maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and improve my mental health. Circus has also introduced me to an incredible community of people at my college studio. I love to unwind after a stressful day by practicing at the studio with friends. I have found circus to be full of interesting and creative people who are brought together by a common appreciation for a unique art form. The support and acceptance that we celebrate in the circus community pushes everyone harder in their quest to learn new skills and become better at their acts, and the social support I have received has helped me improve my mental health during difficult periods. Throughout my life, I have struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Thankfully, circus has provided an outlet for me to cope with this disorder. When I am high in the air on silks or balanced precariously on handstand canes, I must give my full attention to that activity. For once, I am unable to think about intrusive thoughts or anxieties, and I feel at peace. Circus can’t make my OCD go away, but it can make living with the disorder much more bearable. Though my obsessive brain finds it difficult to focus fully on something, I have developed an intensely focused mindset through practicing difficult circus skills, and now I can apply that mindset to other areas of my life. This has enhanced my concentration in the classroom and while studying, improving my academics and bringing me closer to my ultimate goal of one day becoming a neurosurgeon. In summary, becoming fit through practicing circus has certainly improved my college experience. It has made me feel empowered, given me a supportive community, and helped me deal with my OCD. I plan to continue practicing circus after college in order to maintain the healthy habits and fulfilling relationships it has allowed me to cultivate over the past four years.
    Your Health Journey Scholarship
    During the summer before my senior year of high school, I joined a local circus studio and fell in love with circus. Now that I am in college, I am part of my school’s circus club, where I practice contortion, hand balancing, aerial silks, and trapeze. Circus has changed my life for the better by making me feel empowered, introducing me to an amazing community of people, and giving me a coping mechanism for my OCD. To do any act associated with circus, one must possess a combination of strength, flexibility, balance, and gracefulness. I didn’t have many of these qualities when I started circus, but with practice, I have made strides toward that goal. More than anything, becoming fit through practicing circus has been empowering. I feel more confident both inside the circus studio and out of it, and I have learned to appreciate and care for my body in a way I never did before. This includes aspects of my life beyond just working out; I feel more motivated to maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and improve my mental health. Circus has also introduced me to an incredible community of people at my college studio. I love to unwind after a stressful day by practicing at the studio with friends. I have found circus to be full of interesting and creative people who are brought together by a common appreciation for a unique art form. The support and acceptance that we celebrate in the circus community pushes everyone harder in their quest to learn new skills and become better at their acts, and the social support I have received has helped me improve my mental health during difficult periods. Throughout my life, I have struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Thankfully, circus has provided an outlet for me to cope with this disorder. When I am high in the air on silks or balanced precariously on handstand canes, I must give my full attention to that activity. For once, I am unable to think about intrusive thoughts or anxieties, and I feel at peace. Circus can’t make my OCD go away, but it can make living with the disorder much more bearable. Though my obsessive brain finds it difficult to focus fully on something, I have developed an intensely focused mindset through practicing difficult circus skills, and now I can apply that mindset to other areas of my life. This has enhanced my concentration in the classroom and while studying, improving my academics and bringing me closer to my ultimate goal of one day becoming a neurosurgeon. In summary, becoming fit through practicing circus has certainly improved my college experience. It has made me feel empowered, given me a supportive community, and helped me deal with my OCD. I plan to continue practicing circus after college in order to maintain the healthy habits and fulfilling relationships it has allowed me to cultivate over the past four years.
    Wellness Warriors Scholarship
    During the summer before my senior year of high school, I joined a local circus studio and fell in love with circus. Now that I am in college, I am part of my school’s circus club, where I practice contortion, hand balancing, aerial silks, and trapeze. Circus has changed my life for the better by making me feel empowered, introducing me to an amazing community of people, and giving me a coping mechanism for my OCD. To do any act associated with circus, one must possess a combination of strength, flexibility, balance, and gracefulness. I didn’t have many of these qualities when I started circus, but with practice, I have made strides toward that goal. More than anything, becoming fit through practicing circus has been empowering. I feel more confident both inside the circus studio and out of it, and I have learned to appreciate and care for my body in a way I never did before. This includes aspects of my life beyond just working out; I feel more motivated to maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and improve my mental health. Circus has also introduced me to an incredible community of people at my college studio. I love to unwind after a stressful day by practicing at the studio with friends. I have found circus to be full of interesting and creative people who are brought together by a common appreciation for a unique art form. The support and acceptance that we celebrate in the circus community pushes everyone harder in their quest to learn new skills and become better at their acts, and the social support I have received has helped me improve my mental health during difficult periods. Throughout my life, I have struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Thankfully, circus has provided an outlet for me to cope with this disorder. When I am high in the air on silks or balanced precariously on handstand canes, I must give my full attention to that activity. For once, I am unable to think about intrusive thoughts or anxieties, and I feel at peace. Circus can’t make my OCD go away, but it can make living with the disorder much more bearable. Though my obsessive brain finds it difficult to focus fully on something, I have developed an intensely focused mindset through practicing difficult circus skills, and now I can apply that mindset to other areas of my life. This has enhanced my concentration in the classroom and while studying, improving my academics and bringing me closer to my ultimate goal of one day becoming a neurosurgeon. In summary, becoming fit through practicing circus has certainly improved my college experience. It has made me feel empowered, given me a supportive community, and helped me deal with my OCD. I plan to continue practicing circus after college in order to maintain the healthy habits and fulfilling relationships it has allowed me to cultivate over the past four years.
    Coleman for Patriots Scholarship
    In March, I graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience. In June, I will enter the MSTP (combined MD-PhD program) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. My clinical focus will be neurosurgery, with the goal of entering neurosurgery residency. My PhD will focus either on novel treatments for glioblastoma (GBM), or on creating an in vivo model of leptomeningeal disease (LMD). With each step I take toward my eventual career as a neurosurgeon-scientist specializing in GBM and/or LMD, I aspire to make an impact on the lives of GBM/LMD patients and their families. Shadowing in a GBM clinic cemented my desire to practice medicine. As a physician, I want to provide healing in multiple forms, and to be trusted as both a leader and a friend along patients’ health journeys. Despite the challenges of the position, I am incredibly motivated because I have seen the immense rewards that come from making tangible differences in the lives of patients in difficult health situations. Since GBM and LMD have such a poor prognosis, however, I acknowledge that my role as a neurosurgeon will mainly create short-term impacts on the lives of patients and their families. If I want to make a long-term impact on the field, I must also devote my career to research. I aim to oversee an independent, NIH-funded lab which focuses on basic science research for GBM and/or LMD - their development and/or recurrence, their subtypes and heterogeneity, or their response to treatment. Based on this basic science work, I plan to translate our findings into treatments and oversee clinical trials for GBM and/or LMD patients. Therefore, the impact I strive to make on the field of neuro-oncology is two-fold: to care for patients personally as a neurosurgeon and to advance treatment options as a scientist. I acknowledge, however, that there will be challenges beyond those which normally come with a career in medicine and research. Less than 10% of practicing US neurosurgeons are women, and although this number is expected to increase in the near future, there will still be a large gender gap when I enter the field. The gender gap has many causes: the many years of training and long hours at every stage of training, which makes having children difficult; the mentality of some male neurosurgeons toward their female counterparts, which can create an unwelcoming environment; and so on. My goal as a female neurosurgeon will extend beyond medicine and science: I want to advocate for myself and other women so that more women are encouraged to enter the field, and we can one day close the gender gap in neurosurgery.
    Career Search Scholarship
    In March, I graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience. In June, I will enter the MSTP (combined MD-PhD program) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. My clinical focus will be neurosurgery, with the goal of entering neurosurgery residency. My PhD will focus either on novel treatments for glioblastoma (GBM), or on creating an in vivo model of leptomeningeal disease (LMD). With each step I take toward my eventual career as a neurosurgeon-scientist specializing in GBM and/or LMD, I aspire to make an impact on the lives of GBM/LMD patients and their families. Shadowing in a GBM clinic cemented my desire to practice medicine. As a physician, I want to provide healing in multiple forms, and to be trusted as both a leader and a friend along patients’ health journeys. Despite the challenges of the position, I am incredibly motivated because I have seen the immense rewards that come from making tangible differences in the lives of patients in difficult health situations. Since GBM and LMD have such a poor prognosis, however, I acknowledge that my role as a neurosurgeon will mainly create short-term impacts on the lives of patients and their families. If I want to make a long-term impact on the field, I must also devote my career to research. I aim to oversee an independent, NIH-funded lab which focuses on basic science research for GBM and/or LMD - their development and/or recurrence, their subtypes and heterogeneity, or their response to treatment. Based on this basic science work, I plan to translate our findings into treatments and oversee clinical trials for GBM and/or LMD patients. Therefore, the impact I strive to make on the field of neuro-oncology is two-fold: to care for patients personally as a neurosurgeon and to advance treatment options as a scientist. I acknowledge, however, that there will be challenges beyond those which normally come with a career in medicine and research. Less than 10% of practicing US neurosurgeons are women, and although this number is expected to increase in the near future, there will still be a large gender gap when I enter the field. The gender gap has many causes: the many years of training and long hours at every stage of training, which makes having children difficult; the mentality of some male neurosurgeons toward their female counterparts, which can create an unwelcoming environment; and so on. My goal as a female neurosurgeon will extend beyond medicine and science: I want to advocate for myself and other women so that more women are encouraged to enter the field, and we can one day close the gender gap in neurosurgery.
    William Griggs Memorial Scholarship for Science and Math
    In March, I graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience. In June, I will enter the MSTP (combined MD-PhD program) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. My clinical focus will be neurosurgery, with the goal of entering neurosurgery residency. My PhD will focus either on novel treatments for glioblastoma (GBM), or on creating an in vivo model of leptomeningeal disease (LMD). With each step I take toward my eventual career as a neurosurgeon-scientist specializing in GBM and/or LMD, I aspire to make an impact on the lives of GBM/LMD patients and their families. Shadowing in a GBM clinic cemented my desire to practice medicine. As a physician, I want to provide healing in multiple forms, and to be trusted as both a leader and a friend along patients’ health journeys. Despite the challenges of the position, I am incredibly motivated because I have seen the immense rewards that come from making tangible differences in the lives of patients in difficult health situations. Since GBM and LMD have such a poor prognosis, however, I acknowledge that my role as a neurosurgeon will mainly create short-term impacts on the lives of patients and their families. If I want to make a long-term impact on the field, I must also devote my career to research. I aim to oversee an independent, NIH-funded lab which focuses on basic science research for GBM and/or LMD - their development and/or recurrence, their subtypes and heterogeneity, or their response to treatment. Based on this basic science work, I plan to translate our findings into treatments and oversee clinical trials for GBM and/or LMD patients. Therefore, the impact I strive to make on the field of neuro-oncology is two-fold: to care for patients personally as a neurosurgeon and to advance treatment options as a scientist. I acknowledge, however, that there will be challenges beyond those which normally come with a career in medicine and research. Less than 10% of practicing US neurosurgeons are women, and although this number is expected to increase in the near future, there will still be a large gender gap when I enter the field. The gender gap has many causes: the many years of training and long hours at every stage of training, which makes having children difficult; the mentality of some male neurosurgeons toward their female counterparts, which can create an unwelcoming environment; and so on. My goal as a female neurosurgeon will extend beyond medicine and science: I want to advocate for myself and other women so that more women are encouraged to enter the field, and we can one day close the gender gap in neurosurgery.
    Maxwell Tuan Nguyen Memorial Scholarship
    Winner
    In March, I graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience. In June, I will enter the MSTP (combined MD-PhD program) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. My clinical focus will be neurosurgery, with the goal of entering neurosurgery residency. My PhD will focus either on novel treatments for glioblastoma (GBM), or on creating an in vivo model of leptomeningeal disease (LMD). With each step I take toward my eventual career as a neurosurgeon-scientist specializing in GBM and/or LMD, I aspire to make an impact on the lives of GBM/LMD patients and their families. Shadowing in a GBM clinic cemented my desire to practice medicine. As a physician, I want to provide healing in multiple forms, and to be trusted as both a leader and a friend along patients’ health journeys. Despite the challenges of the position, I am incredibly motivated because I have seen the immense rewards that come from making tangible differences in the lives of patients in difficult health situations. Since GBM and LMD have such a poor prognosis, however, I acknowledge that my role as a neurosurgeon will mainly create short-term impacts on the lives of patients and their families. If I want to make a long-term impact on the field, I must also devote my career to research. I aim to oversee an independent, NIH-funded lab which focuses on basic science research for GBM and/or LMD - their development and/or recurrence, their subtypes and heterogeneity, or their response to treatment. Based on this basic science work, I plan to translate our findings into treatments and oversee clinical trials for GBM and/or LMD patients. Therefore, the impact I strive to make on the field of neuro-oncology is two-fold: to care for patients personally as a neurosurgeon and to advance treatment options as a scientist. I acknowledge, however, that there will be challenges beyond those which normally come with a career in medicine and research. Less than 10% of practicing US neurosurgeons are women, and although this number is expected to increase in the near future, there will still be a large gender gap when I enter the field. The gender gap has many causes: the many years of training and long hours at every stage of training, which makes having children difficult; the mentality of some male neurosurgeons toward their female counterparts, which can create an unwelcoming environment; and so on. My goal as a female neurosurgeon will extend beyond medicine and science: I want to advocate for myself and other women so that more women are encouraged to enter the field, and we can one day close the gender gap in neurosurgery.
    Connie Konatsotis Scholarship
    In March, I graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience. In June, I will enter the MSTP (combined MD-PhD program) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. My clinical focus will be neurosurgery, with the goal of entering neurosurgery residency. My PhD will focus either on novel treatments for glioblastoma (GBM), or on creating an in vivo model of leptomeningeal disease (LMD). With each step I take toward my eventual career as a neurosurgeon-scientist specializing in GBM and/or LMD, I aspire to make an impact on the lives of GBM/LMD patients and their families. Shadowing in a GBM clinic cemented my desire to practice medicine. As a physician, I want to provide healing in multiple forms, and to be trusted as both a leader and a friend along patients’ health journeys. Despite the challenges of the position, I am incredibly motivated because I have seen the immense rewards that come from making tangible differences in the lives of patients in difficult health situations. Since GBM and LMD have such a poor prognosis, however, I acknowledge that my role as a neurosurgeon will mainly create short-term impacts on the lives of patients and their families. If I want to make a long-term impact on the field, I must also devote my career to research. I aim to oversee an independent, NIH-funded lab which focuses on basic science research for GBM and/or LMD - their development and/or recurrence, their subtypes and heterogeneity, or their response to treatment. Based on this basic science work, I plan to translate our findings into treatments and oversee clinical trials for GBM and/or LMD patients. Therefore, the impact I strive to make on the field of neuro-oncology is two-fold: to care for patients personally as a neurosurgeon and to advance treatment options as a scientist. I acknowledge, however, that there will be challenges beyond those which normally come with a career in medicine and research. Less than 10% of practicing US neurosurgeons are women, and although this number is expected to increase in the near future, there will still be a large gender gap when I enter the field. The gender gap has many causes: the many years of training and long hours at every stage of training, which makes having children difficult; the mentality of some male neurosurgeons toward their female counterparts, which can create an unwelcoming environment; and so on. My goal as a female neurosurgeon will extend beyond medicine and science: I want to advocate for myself and other women so that more women are encouraged to enter the field, and we can one day close the gender gap in neurosurgery.
    Manuela Calles Scholarship for Women
    Saswati Gupta Cancer Research Scholarship
    I will graduate in March with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience; then, in July, I will begin an MD-PhD program. My clinical focus will be neurosurgery, with the goal of entering neurosurgery residency. My PhD will focus on novel treatments for glioblastoma (GBM), and I hope to translate my work into a clinical trial which I can continue to lead throughout my remaining medical education and residency. With each step I take toward my eventual career as a neurosurgeon-scientist specializing in GBM, I aspire to make an impact on the lives of GBM patients and their families. Shadowing in a GBM clinic cemented my desire to practice medicine. As a physician, I want to provide healing in multiple forms, and to be trusted as both a leader and a friend along patients’ health journeys. Despite the challenges of the position, I am incredibly motivated because I have seen the immense rewards that come from making tangible differences in the lives of patients in difficult health situations. Since glioblastoma has such a poor prognosis, however, I acknowledge that my role as a neurosurgeon will mainly create short-term impacts on the lives of patients and their families. If I want to make a long-term impact on the field, I must also devote my career to research. I aim to oversee an independent, NIH-funded lab which focuses on basic science research for GBM - its development and recurrence, its subtypes and heterogeneity, or its response to treatment. Based on this basic science work, I plan to translate our findings into treatments and oversee clinical trials for GBM patients. Therefore, the impact I strive to make on the field of GBM treatment is two-fold: to care for patients personally as a neurosurgeon and to advance treatment options as a scientist.
    Athletics Scholarship
    During the summer before my senior year of high school, I joined a local circus studio and fell in love with circus. Now that I am in college, I am part of my school’s circus club, where I practice contortion, hand balancing, aerial silks, and trapeze. Circus has changed my life for the better by making me feel empowered, introducing me to an amazing community of people, and giving me a coping mechanism for my OCD. To do any act associated with circus, one must possess a combination of strength, flexibility, balance, and gracefulness. I didn’t have many of these qualities when I started circus, but with practice, I have made strides toward that goal. More than anything, becoming fit through practicing circus has been empowering. I feel more confident both inside the circus studio and out of it, and I have learned to appreciate and care for my body in a way I never did before. This includes aspects of my life beyond just working out; I feel more motivated to maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and improve my mental health. Circus has also introduced me to an incredible community of people at my college studio. I love to unwind after a stressful day by practicing at the studio with friends. I have found circus to be full of interesting and creative people who are brought together by a common appreciation for a unique art form. The support and acceptance that we celebrate in the circus community pushes everyone harder in their quest to learn new skills and become better at their acts, and the social support I have received has helped me improve my mental health during difficult periods. Throughout my life, I have struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Thankfully, circus has provided an outlet for me to cope with this disorder. When I am high in the air on silks or balanced precariously on handstand canes, I must give my full attention to that activity. For once, I am unable to think about intrusive thoughts or anxieties, and I feel at peace. Circus can’t make my OCD go away, but it can make living with the disorder much more bearable. Though my obsessive brain finds it difficult to focus fully on something, I have developed an intensely focused mindset through practicing difficult circus skills, and now I can apply that mindset to other areas of my life. This has enhanced my concentration in the classroom and while studying, improving my academics and bringing me closer to my ultimate goal of one day becoming a neurosurgeon. In summary, becoming fit through practicing circus has certainly improved my college experience. It has made me feel empowered, given me a supportive community, and helped me deal with my OCD. I plan to continue practicing circus after college in order to maintain the healthy habits and fulfilling relationships it has allowed me to cultivate over the past four years.
    Holt Scholarship
    In November 2021, I presented my machine learning algorithm for automatic segmentation of cerebral radiation necrosis in MR images at the virtual Midstates Consortium for Math and Science Undergraduate Research Symposium. Afterward, I received a message from a respected biology professor at UChicago: his family member’s MRI showed an abnormal finding in the brain, and it took the neuro-oncologist a year to determine that it was necrosis rather than recurrent tumor; he hoped that this time of uncertainty could be reduced thanks to research like mine. I was honored to hear that my research impacted this professor, and it deepened my commitment to performing research which can directly improve the lives of patients and their families. I wish to explore this necessary connection between bench and bedside through a career as a neurosurgeon-scientist specializing in aggressive brain tumors. As a neurosurgery research intern at City of Hope National Medical Center, I realized that translating basic science research into clinical treatments requires an understanding of both the disease process and the individual patient. In the clinic, I observed that chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for glioblastoma (GBM), which was so successful in preclinical studies, showed varying degrees of effectiveness in patients. In the lab, I studied possible reasons for this, focusing on GBM cells’ extracellular vesicle release in the hypoxic tumor microenvironment. I realized that bench science research fills a necessary gap between the theory and application of a treatment. At the same time, my clinical research experience demonstrated that treatments developed in the lab must account for variation in individual patients’ health histories and environments. For example, I assisted with a retrospective analysis of ten cellular therapy clinical trials to determine which patients carry a higher risk of infection, which can inform monitoring and prevention. This internship proved to me that the lab and the clinic must be intimately connected in my mission to improve treatments for aggressive brain tumors. This connection doesn’t just improve treatment outcomes; I also believe that clinical and basic science perspectives inform each other. While shadowing in the clinic, I saw firsthand the suffering that GBM causes; the empathy I felt for the patients I met motivated my research in a way that would not have been possible without those interactions. Likewise, the analytical mindset I developed through benchwork has proven essential when analyzing patient data for the Legacy Project for leptomeningeal disease, another clinical research project I am involved in at City of Hope. The combination of basic science and clinical work presents a greater opportunity to help patients than either field does separately; therefore, I am convinced that a career as a neurosurgeon-scientist will allow me to make the greatest impact in the field of aggressive brain tumor research. I will graduate in March with a bachelors degree in neuroscience; then, in July, I will begin an MD-PhD program. My clinical focus will be neurosurgery, with the goal of entering neurosurgery residency. My PhD will focus on novel treatments for GBM, and I hope to translate my work into a clinical trial which I can continue to lead throughout my remaining medical education and residency. With each step I take toward my eventual career, I aspire to make an impact on the lives of brain tumor patients and their families.
    Analtha Parr Pell Memorial Scholarship
    In November 2021, I presented my machine learning algorithm for automatic segmentation of cerebral radiation necrosis in MR images at the virtual Midstates Consortium for Math and Science Undergraduate Research Symposium. Afterward, I received a message from a respected biology professor at UChicago: his family member’s MRI showed an abnormal finding in the brain, and it took the neuro-oncologist a year to determine that it was necrosis rather than recurrent tumor; he hoped that this time of uncertainty could be reduced thanks to research like mine. I was honored to hear that my research impacted this professor, and it deepened my commitment to performing research which can directly improve the lives of patients and their families. I wish to explore this necessary connection between bench and bedside through a career as a neurosurgeon-scientist specializing in aggressive brain tumors. As a neurosurgery summer research intern at City of Hope National Medical Center, I realized that translating basic science research into clinical treatments requires an understanding of both the disease process and the individual patient. In the clinic, I observed that chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for glioblastoma (GBM), which was so successful in preclinical studies, showed varying degrees of effectiveness in patients. In the lab, I studied possible reasons for this, focusing on GBM cells’ extracellular vesicle release in the hypoxic tumor microenvironment. I realized that bench science research fills a necessary gap between the theory and application of a treatment. At the same time, my clinical research experience demonstrated that treatments developed in the lab must account for variation in individual patients’ health histories and environments. For example, I assisted with a retrospective analysis of ten cellular therapy clinical trials to determine which patients carry a higher risk of infection, which can inform monitoring and prevention. This summer internship proved to me that the lab and the clinic must be intimately connected in my mission to improve treatments for patients suffering from aggressive brain tumors. This connection doesn’t just improve treatment outcomes; I also believe that clinical and basic science perspectives inform each other. While shadowing in the clinic, I saw firsthand the suffering that GBM causes; the empathy I felt for the patients I met motivated my research in a way that would not have been possible without those interactions. Likewise, the analytical mindset I developed through benchwork has proven essential when analyzing patient data for the Legacy Project for leptomeningeal disease, another clinical research project I am involved in at City of Hope. The combination of basic science and clinical work presents a greater opportunity to help patients than either field does separately; therefore, I am convinced that a career as a neurosurgeon-scientist will allow me to make the greatest impact in the field of aggressive brain tumor research.
    Holistic Health Scholarship
    During the summer before my senior year of high school, I joined a local circus studio and fell in love with circus. Now that I am in college, I am part of my school’s circus club, where I practice contortion, hand balancing, aerial silks, and trapeze. Circus has changed my life for the better by making me feel empowered, introducing me to an amazing community of people, and giving me a coping mechanism for my OCD. To do any act associated with circus, one must possess a combination of strength, flexibility, balance, and gracefulness. I didn’t have many of these qualities when I started circus, but with practice, I have made strides toward that goal. More than anything, becoming fit through practicing circus has been empowering. I feel more confident both inside the circus studio and out of it, and I have learned to appreciate and care for my body in a way I never did before. This includes aspects of my life beyond just working out; I feel more motivated to maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and improve my mental health. Circus has also introduced me to an incredible community of people at my college studio. I love to unwind after a stressful day by practicing at the studio with friends. I have found circus to be full of interesting and creative people who are brought together by a common appreciation for a unique art form. The support and acceptance that we celebrate in the circus community pushes everyone harder in their quest to learn new skills and become better at their acts, and the social support I have received has helped me improve my mental health during difficult periods. Throughout my life, I have struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Thankfully, circus has provided an outlet for me to cope with this disorder. When I am high in the air on silks or balanced precariously on handstand canes, I must give my full attention to that activity. For once, I am unable to think about intrusive thoughts or anxieties, and I feel at peace. Circus can’t make my OCD go away, but it can make living with the disorder much more bearable. Though my obsessive brain finds it difficult to focus fully on something, I have developed an intensely focused mindset through practicing difficult circus skills, and now I can apply that mindset to other areas of my life. This has enhanced my concentration in the classroom and while studying, improving my academics and bringing me closer to my ultimate goal of one day becoming a neurosurgeon. In summary, becoming fit through practicing circus has certainly improved my college experience. It has made me feel empowered, given me a supportive community, and helped me deal with my OCD. I plan to continue practicing circus after college in order to maintain the healthy habits and fulfilling relationships it has allowed me to cultivate over the past four years.
    Rosemarie STEM Scholarship
    As a sophomore at the University of Chicago, I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and a double minor in biology and chemistry, and I am on a pre-medical track. I am passionate about these subjects because I love learning about how the human body and brain function, and how that knowledge can be utilized to create treatments to improve human lives. I believe that my current and future studies will give me the knowledge and skills necessary to be a successful brain and spinal tumor neurosurgeon and neuro-oncologist. I have wanted to be a neurosurgeon since childhood, as I have always been fascinated by the brain. Such a small organ is responsible for every human word, action, and idea, so it holds great power; at the same time, the brain is so fragile that it can be damaged through physical injury, foreign pathogens, and even cell signaling gone awry. The idea that I could treat an unhealthy brain with my own two hands, and in doing so improve someone’s life so directly, intrigues and excites me. At the same time, I am aware that many brain conditions cannot be treated through surgery alone. Many neurological cancers, for example, require a combination of surgery and immunotherapy or molecular therapy for the most effective treatment, and even then, many of them can’t be cured. That’s why I want to do more than surgery; I want to do research as well so that I can help design therapies to be used in conjunction with neurosurgery. In doing so, I will hopefully be able to give my patients the most innovative and effective treatments available so that they have the best chances of survival. I want to do surgery and research within the field of neuro-oncology because brain and spinal tumors are some of the most difficult to treat, but the future of the field holds exciting possibilities. Much of the current research in the field of neuro-oncology is focused on glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, which is a fast-growing and aggressive neurological tumor. Treatment of this tumor is not very effective at present because GBM is a heterogeneous tumor, meaning that it contains regions of different cellular components within the same tumor. Additionally, GBM is controlled by a complex network of transcription factors and associated molecules which are far from being well-understood. The typical treatment plan for GBM begins with maximal surgical removal, though full surgical removal is usually not possible due to the tumor’s diffuse edges which overlap with healthy brain regions that can’t be removed. After this comes radiation therapy, which can actually increase resistance to therapy in tumor cells which survive, leading to GBM recurrence. This is then followed by chemotherapy with drugs such as temozolomide (TMZ), though certain signaling molecules can adapt to be resistant to these drugs as well. Thus, the outlook for patients with GBM is usually poor. Despite the difficult nature and poor outlook of GBM, there is currently extensive research being done on GBM cell signaling pathways, which has led to the possibility of exciting new treatment options. An important regulator of GBM growth is NF-kB, a family of proteins which modulate cell proliferation, migration, survival, therapy resistance, and propensity for differentiation, as well as angiogenesis (blood vessel formation) and inflammation. Several pathways for activation or inhibition of NF-kB are known, which has led to the development of targeted therapies designed to regulate the tumor-promoting effects of NF-kB. The field of immunotherapy has also created possible treatments for GBM, including CAR-T cell (chimeric antigen receptor T cell) therapy. This is a treatment in which the patient’s own T cells are re-engineered to recognize GBM cells, allowing the patient’s immune system to fight GBM through the natural immune response. While none of these therapies has been proven to be completely effective against GBM, the future of fighting this disease looks promising. I have always felt drawn to neuro-oncology because I want to be a part of discovering new treatments for diseases like GBM. I am part of a neuro-oncology lab at UChicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, in which we study NF-kB signaling and develop possible therapies for GBM based on that research. I am fascinated by the research I have contributed to thus far, and I want to continue in this field because I want to improve the lives of patients diagnosed with GBM. I truly believe that a successful therapy for GBM is possible, but it will take the devoted efforts of scientists all over the world to develop it. I want to be a part of this mission, and I am excited to see how the field of neuro-oncology will flourish in the future. After completing my undergraduate degree, I hope to enter an MD/PhD program, with the PhD portion focused on neuro-oncology. I then hope to enter a neurosurgery residency in a program focused on cancer neurosurgery. After all of this education and training is complete, my ultimate goal is to be a brain and spinal tumor neurosurgeon and to lead a neuro-oncology research lab, so that I can combine research and surgery to create cutting-edge treatments for the most difficult types of malignant central nervous system (CNS) tumors. I want to make a positive impact on the lives of patients who have been diagnosed with CNS tumors by providing them with hope for a cancer-free life. This career will come with many challenges, but I truly couldn’t imagine devoting my life to anything else.
    Prime Mailboxes Women in STEM Scholarship
    I am passionate about STEM because I love learning about how the human body and brain function, and how that knowledge can be utilized to create treatments to improve human lives. I believe that my current and future STEM studies will give me the knowledge and skills necessary to be a successful brain and spinal tumor neurosurgeon and neuro-oncologist. As a pre-med neuroscience major and biology/chemistry double minor, I have taken a wide range of STEM courses in college. I am fascinated by each of them, as each contributes its own special area of knowledge that builds on the others to contribute to our understanding of the functioning of the human body. On a basic level is organic chemistry, whose fundamental molecular structures can be built up like Legos to create the molecules and reactions that allow life to exist. In physiology, those molecules and reactions interact to maintain homeostasis in healthy organisms. And in neuroscience, many of these molecules and physiological processes are responsible for every human thought, word, and action. I feel grateful to have taken the classes I have mentioned, and many others, because they allow me to study the science behind my own body and mind, which is an incredible gift. Another thing I love about studying STEM is that the knowledge I gain in my classes can be utilized to create treatments for human diseases. I am part of several research labs outside of class because I enjoy applying what I have learned to medical research, specifically neuro-oncology. First, I am a remote research assistant through City of Hope Cancer Center. In this position, I segment MRI images and use machine learning and coding to analyze segmentation data. The goal of the project is to find a treatment for radiation necrosis, a disease caused by some neurosurgeries. This research allows me to apply the neuroanatomy I learned in my neuroscience class and the biological processes I encountered in physiology, and the treatments tested can be analyzed using knowledge of organic chemistry. Thus, I am fascinated by this research because of its applicability to my studies and its importance in treating a deadly disease. Additionally, I am a research assistant in a neuro-oncology lab at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. In this position, I do similar MRI segmentations and data analysis for a project studying the effects of irradiation treatment on the permeability of neural vasculature. Once again, this position allows me to apply my neuroscience and physiology studies to a medical problem which affects human lives. I am also part of a neuro-oncology lab at University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. In this lab, I do basic science research to study signaling pathways of NF-kB, which regulates inflammatory pathways and affects brain tumor growth. This research combines material from my neuroscience, biology, and genetics classes and once again tackles a problem of great medical importance. Thus, I am passionate about STEM research because it allows me to apply what I learn in the classroom to problems which affect human lives. My ultimate career goal is to be a brain and spinal tumor neurosurgeon and to lead a neuro-oncology research lab, so that I can combine research and surgery to create cutting-edge treatments for the most difficult types of malignant central nervous system tumors. I believe that my STEM studies will provide me with the essential knowledge and skills to achieve this goal. I am focusing on neuroscience, biology, and chemistry studies as an undergraduate, as well as getting involved in neuro-oncology research, so that I will have a solid foundation of scientific knowledge and research experience by the end of college. After this, I plan to enter an MD/PhD program, with the PhD portion focused on neuro-oncology. I believe that this will give me the clinical skills and further research experience necessary to be a successful physician-scientist. After that, since I want to do neurosurgery specifically, I plan to enter a neurosurgery residency in a program that focuses on cancer neurosurgery. My hope is that my current and future STEM studies will prepare me clinically and scientifically for a career which combines neurosurgery and neuro-oncology research. In summary, I am passionate about STEM because I am fascinated by how the human body and brain function, and I enjoy learning how that knowledge can be used to create innovative medical treatments. I believe that my current and future STEM studies are essential for a successful career as a neurosurgeon and neuro-oncologist.
    Justricia Scholarship for Education
    My life’s goal is to be a brain and spinal tumor neurosurgeon and to lead a neuro-oncology research lab, so that I can combine research and surgery to create cutting-edge treatments for the most stubborn types of malignant CNS (central nervous system) tumors. I believe that education, including my current undergraduate studies and the education I plan to undergo after, is the key to achieving this goal. As an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, I value my education in all of the various forms in which it presents itself, especially traditional classroom studies and research opportunities. I am pursuing a major in neuroscience and a double minor in biology and chemistry, and I am on a pre-medical track. The many STEM classes that I have taken thus far have given me a strong base of knowledge for the neuro-oncology research I hope to someday conduct, and the material I learn never ceases to amaze me. I have been fascinated especially by my organic chemistry class (the molecules we study seem like tiny Legos to me, and they can be built up to create incredibly useful compounds!) and my neuroscience class (I feel truly lucky to be able to study the organ responsible for every human thought and action). To supplement these classes, I am also involved in research. As a remote research assistant through City of Hope Cancer Center, I segment MRI images and use machine learning and coding to analyze segmentation data. The goal of this research is to find a treatment for radiation necrosis, a disease caused by some neurosurgeries. Additionally, I am a research assistant in a neuro-oncology lab at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. In this position, I do similar MRI segmentations and data analysis for a project studying the effects of irradiation treatment on the permeability of neural vasculature. I am also a research assistant in a lab at University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, in which we do basic science research to study signaling pathways of NF-kB (a protein complex which regulates inflammatory pathways and affects brain tumor growth). These research positions, along with my studies, have deepened my passion for neuro-oncology research and have given me a strong foundation of knowledge and skills for the work I hope to do someday in my own lab. After college, I plan to further my education in order to reach my goals. I hope to enter an MD/PhD program, which will give me the training and further research experience I need to be a successful physician-scientist. Since I want to focus on brain and spinal tumor neurosurgery, I plan to complete neurosurgery residency after this, in a program which focuses on cancer neurosurgery. In summary, I see education as the key to achieving my goals of neurosurgery and neuro-oncology research. I am grateful for my undergraduate education, with its fascinating classes and ample research opportunities, and I look forward to furthering my education in both clinical and scientific areas.
    Najal Judd Women in STEM Scholarship
    The most important lesson I have learned thus far in my STEM studies is that my own hard work is the biggest determinant of my success, no matter how successful others are. When I began my freshman year at the University of Chicago, I met many incredibly accomplished students. One of my classmates had won international research awards in high school; another was a veritable math prodigy. Compared to them, I felt like I had accomplished little in my life, and I started to wonder why I was even there. On top of this, my STEM classes were more difficult than any I had taken previously, and my chemistry and math grades were far below where I wanted them to be. I was faced with a decision: give up and accept that I didn’t deserve to be at UChicago, or work harder than ever before until I felt that I belonged there. I chose the second option. I discovered the learning styles that work best for me and spent hours each day putting them into practice. While many people were sleeping or socializing, I was reading textbooks and perfecting my labs and problem sets. At the end of the first quarter, these sacrifices paid off. My grades improved until they were at a level I was happy with. Even better, I experienced the kind of self-confidence that comes not from being “better” than others, but rather from knowing that I had put my full efforts into a goal until I achieved it. I continue to be impressed by my classmates and friends at UChicago, many of whom have accomplished things that I still only dream of. But now I know that I belong there too, because I can accomplish my own goals through hard work and determination. Video link: https://youtu.be/xEaGyjn7NHk
    Amplify Women in STEM Scholarship
    My role model is my mentor, neurosurgeon and neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Anne Feldman. As a female aspiring neurosurgeon and neuroscientist myself, I look up to Lisa for her motivation and passion for her field. She demonstrates this through her enthusiasm about her research and operations, rather than focusing on the difficulties that such a career undoubtedly brings. Because of her passion for her work, Lisa has had some incredible opportunities, such as living in New Zealand for a year to conduct neurosurgery-related research, and leading a pioneering clinical trial for a promising new brain cancer treatment. Whenever I feel discouraged in my education, Lisa’s motivation in her career inspires me to keep trying. I also admire Lisa for her perseverance as a female in an extremely male-dominated career. She has told me how she has been asked inappropriate questions in interviews which weren’t asked of male candidates; how she was treated differently in her residency because she was the only woman; and how she has had to make sacrifices in order to prove that her gender does not define her commitment as a neurosurgeon. Rather than feeling intimidated by these challenges, however, Lisa has allowed them to motivate her. This is inspiring to me, a female aspiring neurosurgeon-neuroscientist, because I have also felt the effects of gender-based stereotypes in my education. But Lisa has helped me to understand that this shouldn’t deter me from my goals, because what matters most is the confidence I have in myself, regardless of other people’s opinions. But more than anything, I admire Lisa for her humility, which she shows not only through her compassion for her patients but also through her commitment to mentor students like me, despite her demanding schedule. Unlike many neurosurgeons, Lisa takes every opportunity to meet patients and interact with them directly, rather than through assistants. She truly cares about her patients and sees them as people, not just as problems that need solving. Lisa has taught me what it means to be a good doctor outside of the operating room and laboratory: to keep patients and their families as the main focus of my work, and to keep learning and growing even after my training is complete. She is also dedicated to helping aspiring female surgeon-scientists accomplish their dreams. Through her kindness, I have learned to never forget where I came from and never think I am too busy or too important to help someone else achieve their goals. In short, Lisa has directly shown me how to be a good neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, and she has indirectly shown me how to be a person of great character. I hope to apply the lessons I have learned from her to my own career as a neurosurgeon-neuroscientist one day. I want to specialize in brain and spinal tumor neurosurgery, and to also lead a neuro-oncology research lab, so that I can combine research and surgery to create cutting-edge treatments for the most stubborn types of malignant brain tumors.
    John J. DiPietro COME OUT STRONG Scholarship
    My role model is my mentor, neurosurgeon and neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Anne Feldman. Since meeting her about a year ago, I have worked with her on a neuro-oncology research project and picked her brain endlessly regarding her career and the path that led to it. As a female aspiring neurosurgeon and neuroscientist myself, I of course look up to Lisa for her motivation and passion for her field, and for her perseverance as a female in an extremely male-dominated career. But more than anything, I admire her for her humility, which she shows not only through her compassion for her patients but also through her commitment to mentor students like me, despite her demanding schedule. Lisa has directly shown me how to be a good neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, and she has indirectly shown me how to be a person of great character. There are some doctors, including some neurosurgeons, who choose their career mainly for the financial benefits, but for Lisa, this could not be further from the truth. Her passion for her career, and the motivation that has led her to her current position, are self-evident. The education and training for neurosurgeon-neuroscientists is long and demanding: four years of undergrad, four years of medical school, four to six years of PhD work, seven years of residency, and possibly fellowships after that. It would be easy to complain about the sacrifices this path requires; yet Lisa has never been anything but positive about it, speaking highly of the people she met and the amazing opportunities she had, rather than focusing on the difficulties. I had always been apprehensive about the challenges of this path, especially medical school and residency, but talking to Lisa has completely changed my mindset. She has helped me to realize that the road to neurosurgery will be difficult, but it is an experience I am lucky to have, and in the end, the impact I will make on patients’ lives will be incredibly rewarding. I believe that this mindset of gratefulness and service will benefit me throughout my education and training. Lisa’s passion for her career has given her some incredible experiences, including the chance to live in New Zealand for a year while conducting neurosurgery-related research. Her experiences motivate me when I feel like giving up, and her story inspires me to always keep striving toward my goals of neurosurgery and neuroscience. Only about 6% of neurosurgeons in America are female, and of that percentage, even less are female neurosurgeon-neuroscientists. Because of this, Lisa has had to combat sexism and stereotypes to succeed in such a male-dominated field. She has told me how she has been asked inappropriate questions in interviews which weren’t asked of male candidates; how she was treated differently in her residency because she was the only woman; and how she has had to make sacrifices in order to prove that her gender does not define her commitment as a neurosurgeon. Rather than feeling intimidated by these challenges, however, Lisa has allowed them to motivate her. This is inspiring to me, a female aspiring neurosurgeon-neuroscientist. Though I haven’t experienced overt sexism so far in my education, I have certainly had to combat gender-based stereotypes. Talking to Lisa has helped me to understand that any sexism or stereotypes I experience now or in the future shouldn’t deter me from my goals, because what matters most is the confidence I have in myself, regardless of other people’s opinions. Furthermore, she has taught me how to stand up for myself and value my femininity, rather than see it as an obstacle to my success. Above all, the main reason that Lisa is my role model is because of her humility. Her compassion for her patients, and her willingness to help students like me, have taught me valuable lessons about character, which is just as important for a doctor as knowledge and technical skill. Lisa is a brain and spinal tumor neurosurgeon, and her research focuses on glioblastoma, which is a common type of malignant brain cancer. Because of her focus on cancer, she has the opportunity to form emotional connections to her patients, as she often sees them multiple times over long time periods and gets to know them and their families. Many neurosurgeons delegate these opportunities to nurses and PAs, preferring to meet their patients only when it is time for an operation. However, Lisa takes every opportunity to meet patients and interact with them directly, rather than through assistants. She truly cares about her patients and sees them as people, not just as problems that need solving. And when a patient dies, which is unfortunately common in her specific field of neurosurgery, she takes the time to sit with the family and help them to understand what happened, rather than simply presenting a set of emotionless facts and moving on--which, she has mentioned, would be a lot less painful for her. Though the emotional parts of medicine are often less discussed than the scientific aspects, Lisa has taught me what it means to be a good doctor outside of the operating room and laboratory: to keep patients and their families as the main focus of my work, and to keep learning and growing even after my training is complete. Furthermore, she shows her humility by taking time out of her busy schedule to help students like me. She has helped me join research labs at my university, given me advice on topics with little relation to neurosurgery, and gotten to know me as a person, which I really appreciate. Through her kindness, I have learned to never forget where I came from and never think I am too busy or too important to help someone else achieve their goals. In conclusion, my role model is my mentor, Dr. Lisa Anne Feldman. Her passion and motivation for her work, position as a woman in a male-dominated field, and humility have shown me what it means to be a good doctor and a great person.
    Scholarcash Role Model Scholarship
    My role model is my mentor, neurosurgeon and neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Anne Feldman. Since meeting her about a year ago, I have worked with her on a neuro-oncology research project and picked her brain endlessly regarding her career and the path that led to it. As a female aspiring neurosurgeon and neuroscientist myself, I of course look up to Lisa for her motivation and passion for her field, and for her perseverance as a female in an extremely male-dominated career. But more than anything, I admire her for her humility, which she shows not only through her compassion for her patients but also through her commitment to mentor students like me, despite her demanding schedule. Lisa has directly shown me how to be a good neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, and she has indirectly shown me how to be a person of great character. There are some doctors, including some neurosurgeons, who choose their career mainly for the financial benefits, but for Lisa, this could not be further from the truth. Her passion for her career, and the motivation that has led her to her current position, are self-evident. The education and training for neurosurgeon-neuroscientists is long and demanding: four years of undergrad, four years of medical school, four to six years of PhD work, seven years of residency, and possibly fellowships after that. It would be easy to complain about the sacrifices this path requires; yet Lisa has never been anything but positive about it, speaking highly of the people she met and the amazing opportunities she had, rather than focusing on the difficulties. I had always been apprehensive about the challenges of this path, especially medical school and residency, but talking to Lisa has completely changed my mindset. She has helped me to realize that the road to neurosurgery will be difficult, but it is an experience I am lucky to have, and in the end, the impact I will make on patients’ lives will be incredibly rewarding. I believe that this mindset of gratefulness and service will benefit me throughout my education and training. Lisa’s passion for her career has given her some incredible experiences, including the chance to live in New Zealand for a year while conducting neurosurgery-related research. Her experiences motivate me when I feel like giving up, and her story inspires me to always keep striving toward my goals of neurosurgery and neuroscience. Only about 6% of neurosurgeons in America are female, and of that percentage, even less are female neurosurgeon-neuroscientists. Because of this, Lisa has had to combat sexism and stereotypes to succeed in such a male-dominated field. She has told me how she has been asked inappropriate questions in interviews which weren’t asked of male candidates; how she was treated differently in her residency because she was the only woman; and how she has had to make sacrifices in order to prove that her gender does not define her commitment as a neurosurgeon. Rather than feeling intimidated by these challenges, however, Lisa has allowed them to motivate her. This is inspiring to me, a female aspiring neurosurgeon-neuroscientist. Though I haven’t experienced overt sexism so far in my education, I have certainly had to combat gender-based stereotypes. Talking to Lisa has helped me to understand that any sexism or stereotypes I experience now or in the future shouldn’t deter me from my goals, because what matters most is the confidence I have in myself, regardless of other people’s opinions. Furthermore, she has taught me how to stand up for myself and value my femininity, rather than see it as an obstacle to my success. Above all, the main reason that Lisa is my role model is because of her humility. Her compassion for her patients, and her willingness to help students like me, have taught me valuable lessons about character, which is just as important for a doctor as knowledge and technical skill. Lisa is a brain and spinal tumor neurosurgeon, and her research focuses on glioblastoma, which is a common type of malignant brain cancer. Because of her focus on cancer, she has the opportunity to form emotional connections to her patients, as she often sees them multiple times over long time periods and gets to know them and their families. Many neurosurgeons delegate these opportunities to nurses and PAs, preferring to meet their patients only when it is time for an operation. However, Lisa takes every opportunity to meet patients and interact with them directly, rather than through assistants. She truly cares about her patients and sees them as people, not just as problems that need solving. And when a patient dies, which is unfortunately common in her specific field of neurosurgery, she takes the time to sit with the family and help them to understand what happened, rather than simply presenting a set of emotionless facts and moving on--which, she has mentioned, would be a lot less painful for her. Though the emotional parts of medicine are often less discussed than the scientific aspects, Lisa has taught me what it means to be a good doctor outside of the operating room and laboratory: to keep patients and their families as the main focus of my work, and to keep learning and growing even after my training is complete. Furthermore, she shows her humility by taking time out of her busy schedule to help students like me. She has helped me join research labs at my university, given me advice on topics with little relation to neurosurgery, and gotten to know me as a person, which I really appreciate. Through her kindness, I have learned to never forget where I came from and never think I am too busy or too important to help someone else achieve their goals. In conclusion, my role model is my mentor, Dr. Lisa Anne Feldman. Her passion and motivation for her work, position as a woman in a male-dominated field, and humility have shown me what it means to be a good doctor and a great person.