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Name: YAEL KAHN

Role: Research assistant

Education: PSYCHOLOGY, B.A. FROM BARNARD COLLEGE

Hometown: BROOKLINE, MA 

1.    What are you working on in the lab?

I am excited to join the Dunn Lab and learn more about biomarkers for stress and mental health exposure. As a student pursuing a medical career, I am particularly interested in how the body is affected by early life experiences, especially traumatic ones. I have prior psychiatric research experience, but I look forward to learning how to conduct wet-lab research on primary teeth to explore their function as biomarkers. This particular research combines my interests in biology, developmental psychology, and social psychology, and I am eager to get started!

 

2.     What are 3 big questions you are interested in answering?

  • How does our environment play a role in the development of our mental health throughout the lifespan?

  • What strategies can we foster early in life to form resilience against negative exposures? 

  • How does our body physically internalize stressful and traumatic experiences?

 

3.     Of your most recent accomplishments, which one are you most proud of?

I am proud of my academic success, not only in my undergraduate career but in my postbacc program as well. Right now, I’m in my last year of the Post-baccalaureate Premedical Program at the Harvard Extension School.  I decided to embark on the medical path post-college so I am completing all the prerequisites to apply to medical school such as physics, inorganic and organic chemistry, and biochemistry. Coming from a family of historians and lawyers, I was always a bit intimidated by the sciences and often brushed them off as not “my forte”. While it still definitely doesn’t come easily, I have developed a strong work ethic and organizational skills that have allowed me to flourish. A bit of review every day has made my school tasks more manageable and less stressful.   

 

4.     Which super power would you like to have?

It is definitely tied between time travel and teleportation. I have always wanted to go back in time to see my parents and grandparents during their teenage years. I also absolutely love traveling but many of the places I want to explore require long and expensive flights. I’d love to snap my fingers and be in India, Japan, or Morocco (some of the top places on my bucket list). 

 

5.     WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU ARE LEARNING IN SCHOOL RIGHT NOW?

Much to my surprise, I am loving Organic Chemistry. It often has the reputation as being one of the most difficult premed courses, as it is like learning a new language. I am a visual learner so I have enjoyed learning reactions through drawing molecules and arrows to envision what is occurring. I rely on my model building kit as a physical tool to help me visualize reactions. I also appreciate that my professor often connects the concepts we study in the classroom to real-life medical applications. 

6.     WHAT FICTIONAL PLACE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO GO? 

I’d like to take a trip to Dorne, one of the regions of the Seven Kingdoms in Game of Thrones. Surrounded by the water, orange and lemon trees, and exquisite tile buildings with large archways, Dorne is beautiful and reminiscent of Spain or Morocco. 

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