Name: Sam Ernst

Role: Co-op student, Research Assistant

Education: B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University (May 2018)

Hometown: Doylestown, PA


1.     What are you working on right now?

I am currently working to support projects that examine: (1) biomarkers for psychopathology and early life adversity, (2) neuroplasticity measurements, and (3) the potential role of electronic health records/data linkage to increase detection of child maltreatment. For these projects, I have been assisting with grant proposals, conducting literature reviews, etc. Additionally, I am learning how to code and perform statistical analyses in SAS, and preparing to present a poster at an undergraduate research expo in April. I really enjoy my time in the lab because I get to be a part of so many different types of projects and this forces me to step outside of my comfort zone! One project that I am very excited about is a review on measures of neuroplasticity where we are using a unique framework for thinking about how neuroplasticity is measured across various clinical and research fields. I have always been interested in how the brain works and changes throughout the lifespan.


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

Three questions I am interested in answering include:

1. How are changes in brain structure and function related to mental disorders, such as depression, and when in the lifespan do these differences begin to manifest?

2. How does the timing and type of intervention impact therapeutic outcomes for people struggling with mental disorders?

3. Why are some mental illnesses episodic in nature?


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

As I approach the end of my undergraduate program at Northeastern University, I am most proud of my academic achievements in the classroom. For the past four years, I have been focused on my studies, and I am leaving Northeastern with a breadth of knowledge about the brain, mental disorders, and human behavior. My favorite courses that I've taken include: Neuropsychology, The Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, Behavioral Genetics, Psychopharmacology, and Abnormal Psychology. I am also extremely proud of being recently awarded the 2018 Sears B. Condit Award, an award given to the top one hundred graduating students at Northeastern with the highest grade-point averages.


4.     Which superpower would you like to have?

If I could have any superpower it would be the power of teleportation. Not only would I save time and avoid public transportation for my commute to work and school, but I would also be able to travel the world. I could take my lunch break by the Eiffel Tower, read a book on the beaches of Hawaii, or see the Northern Lights in Scandinavia without paying a dime for airfare.


5.     What 3 items would you take to a desert island other than food and water?

I would take a dog (preferably a black lab or larger sized mutt), a journal with hundreds of blank pages, and a box of colorful fine tipped markers for writing/drawing.