Cassandra Wolsh, a second-year student in the Neuroscience discipline of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program is one of the recipients of the Neuroscience T32 award.
The T32 award is an award given by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to enable institutions to recruit individuals selected by the program leadership for advanced research training of predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in an area of neuroscience. The PI on the grant is Dr. David Morilak.
“The T32 award is a great opportunity for me to develop my research skills and academic career. This award will help me to heavily engage in cutting-edge neuroscience research,” she said. “And it will help me to share my science and develop national recognition at conferences.”
Wolsh is in the lab of Dr. Jeffery Boychuk and this research team studies motor cortex and its reorganization in the context of stroke recovery.
“Our goals are to improve current therapies for stroke recovery and provide new therapeutic targets for future preclinical testing,” Wolsh explained. Our lab is testing new brain stimulation techniques in murine models and using sophisticated video tracking systems to quantify limb movement during muscle recruitment.”
In the lab, Wolsh uses these approaches to focus experimentation on changes in complex movement representations during motor rehabilitation after stroke injury.
“We enthusiastically seek to test how functional organization of motor cortex changes during stroke recovery because the complex movement representations derived by these new brain stimulation approaches appear to better explain how this structure operates,” she said. “Circuit changes in the brain have been heavily implicated as key mechanisms for motor improvements during stroke rehabilitation. We hope to identify the precise locations and types of circuit changes that underpin motor recovery.”
In the future, Wolsh would like to apply for military research positions or positions funded by the Department of Defense and continue to study brain injury and repair.
“My brother and sister both serve in the military,” she said. “This family connection is a major driving force for me to pursue graduate brain injury research in order to help improve lives of military members such as my siblings.”
Outside of school, she enjoys exercising and weight-lifting. She also enjoys reading, playing old PlayStation games and cooking new recipes with her boyfriend.