Maverick Science Student Stories

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Nusrat JahanNusrat Jahan (Progga)

 

Major: Psychology

Minor: Neuroscience

Campus involvementSociety of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE); Bangladeshi Student Organization (BSO); Psychology Society; Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology

Fun fact: Speaks four languages (Bengali, English, French, Hindi) and is learning Spanish

I came to UTA primarily because of its diverse campus and its designation as an R1 research institution. UTA is also my family alma mater; my brother and cousins went here and they had wonderful experiences, so I was sure I was going to have a wonderful experience, too. In addition, Bangladesh is my native country and UTA has a large and highly active BSO, which meant that I would have a community of people to support me as soon as I came in. Also, UTA provided me with a very generous scholarship. It was important that my education be affordable, and UTA definitely made sure of that.

I chose to study psychology because I was interested in the treatment and etiology of adverse mental health problems. Psychology is a fascinating subject and combining it with neuroscience allows me to learn about the complex relationship between human behavior and the brain. I love how helpful and kind the professors and graduate instructors of my department are! Working with them and learning from them led to an exponential growth in my interest and passion for the subject. It is a very fulfilling thought that what I learn today could possibly allow me to do something that helps people in the future!

The experiences I have had at UTA have contributed greatly to preparing me for my future career. First, being involved in student organizations taught me leadership. As secretary of SASE, I founded the SASE Research Interest Group, with the help of our Science Team, in order to encourage more minority students to pursue research and prepare them for success when interviewing for research fellowships and internships. This involvement program provides workshops on basic research skills led by faculty, graduate TAs, and qualified undergraduates, and the opportunity to work on an independent research project. 

Second, my part-time jobs helped me develop my communication skills. I work on campus as a student assistant at the Lockheed Martin Career Development Center, and I previously had an internship with HealthCorps, where I helped to monitor and evaluate teen wellness programs. I was also a peer educator with the Mavs Standup bystander intervention program, where I helped conduct educational workshops in bystander intervention. In addition, I worked as a tutor with UTSI (University Tutorial and Supplemental Instruction), where I tutored students in algebra, calculus, psychology, economics, and computer science courses; and I was also a tutor in the UTA Math Clinic and the Math Learning and Resource Center.

Third, my research positions helped me learn how to “think like a scientist”. I’m an undergraduate research assistant (RA) in the UTA Affective Decision Making  Lab, where I’m designing a clinical experiment investigating the relationship between stress and cognition among college students, and developing a novel assessment measuring political ideology affiliation to investigate its relationship with risky decision making and metacognitive abilities. I am also mentored by Dr. Philip Baiden from the UTA School of Social Work, where I’m designing studies investigating adolescent health risk behaviors, substance use, and mental health. I previously worked as an undergraduate RA at the UTA Social Research Lab, where I coordinated human subjects research in a laboratory setting investigating prejudice, creativity, and group work.

I feel that all these skills are essential to be successful in a competitive and diverse field like research. 

I think it’s really important that your educators are there for you, that they’re friendly, accessible, and knowledgeable. I can’t say enough good things about the professors I’ve had here at UTA. They’re always willing to answer any questions you may have, and they’re very helpful and understanding. They understand that different students have different learning levels and learning styles, and they take that into consideration. They just want you to succeed. 

It’s also important to know that as an undergrad, you need to have research on your resume for your future academic or professional career, and UTA is an R1 research institution, which means it’s one of the top research institutions in Texas and the United States. If you come here, you’re going to have a lot of research opportunities, especially since UTA encourages undergrad participation in research. What we always say here is that UTA is a community that cares, so you’re going to have resources that help you succeed academically, but you’re also going to have resources like CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) that help you when you’re stressed out by academics.

After graduation, I plan to work as a research professional for about a year and then hopefully start my journey in a Behavioral Neuroscience Ph.D. program.