Interview with Amanda Labuza
Written by Phallon Perry
There is often a familial connection that leads students to travel down certain paths in their education. For Amanda Labuza, her interest in neuroscience began while witnessing the effects of Parkinson's disease in her grandfather and Alzheimer’s disease in her grandmother. Knowing that she wanted to understand these ailments more, a degree in neuroscience made perfect sense to her. But when choosing the perfect school, there are many things that students consider: degree offerings, location, school ranking, etc. For Amanda, she was looking for a school that would allow for strong collaborations. Not knowing much about the Graduate School, Amanda says she was thoroughly surprised at just how supportive and enthusiastic the faculty was during her initial interview for the neuroscience program and she knew that this was a place that would provide her with many opportunities to collaborate with others.
When she began her studies here at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), she knew that her research interests would lead her into a career in academia. Now, after being in the program for a few years, Amanda admits that her feelings have shifted. When asked, Amanda says that she feels happiest when she's creating and working with data in the lab, and she would love to have an opportunity to stay in academia while continuing the research that she loves dearly. Working with the student group, Neuroscience Outreach Volunteer Association or NOVA, has also strengthened her love for public outreach and she says that she would like to continue to do public research beyond her role as the President of NOVA.
Amanda welcomes the challenges that come with pursuing a PhD, and she says that she feels lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such great professors. Joseph Kao, Jen Aumiller and Danny Winrich are just a few of the faculty and staff members that she says have helped to shape her experience here at UMB. And she does acknowledge that having the perfect home/school life balance can be difficult but also understands that it is most important for students not to compare themselves with their classmates and colleagues. Students should not be discouraged by the works or accomplishments of others because the Graduate School isn't designed for everyone to have the exact same experience. She admits that sometimes she has to remind herself that even though she is a big shark in a sea of other smart and talented researchers, she is still a big shark.