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Engineering | Undergraduate Research

Nathan Kirkpatrick, Travel Grant

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Nathan Kirkpatrick, Travel Grant

Nathan Kirkpatrick is a biomedical engineer and current FURI researcher working under the mentorship of Dr. Claire Honeycutt. He took his research to the Society of Neuroscience’s 2015 Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois to present his poster titled, “Evidence for a transition in usage of cortical and subcortical structures during the learning process of human hand movement.” Nathan gave us an overview of his experience.

In layman terms, what was the conference about?

According to their website, it “is the premier venue for neuroscientists to present emerging science, learn from experts, collaborate with peers, explore new tools and technologies, and advance careers.”

What motivated you to present at this conference?

I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get some feedback on my research, as well as a good networking opportunity to identify potential advisors for graduate school

Can you share about some of the presentations you attended?

During the conference, I attended a presentation from researchers at the University of Texas. They were using similar research techniques, but were using them to study how stroke survivors move their bodies. It was an enlightening experience because I was able to see how the research I am working on is directly improving people’s lives.

Another presentation I attended was by researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology. They were investigating how the brain controls organ function, with the eventual goal of designing pacemaker-style devices for other organs. The presentation inspired me to go to Georgia Tech for my PhD, and now I will be working in that same lab!

Best part of the conference?

The best part of the conference was the opportunity to talk with researchers that are actively contributing to what we know about how the brain works. During my poster presentation, I was able to get valuable feedback about my work, as well as identify potential avenues for further exploration.

Has your involvement with this conference influenced your research plans?

YES!! At this conference, I met the professor that I will be spending the next 6 years with while I work on my PhD. FURI’s Travel Grant program provided me with the perfect venue to network. Now I will be completing my PhD in my top-choice lab.

What did you wish you knew prior to the conference?

I wish I knew not to be intimidated. Everyone that stops by your poster wants you to succeed, so there’s no reason to be nervous.

Any suggestions for other students regarding conferences? 

Do your homework before hand! Look at the program and identify potential presentations & posters you find interesting so you can use your time effectively.

With the help of the FURI Travel Grant, your conference experience can be as awesome as Nathan’s!

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