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Neuroscience Students

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​They excel in the classroom and in the lab. They get good jobs and they attend leading graduate schools. Our program is relatively young, but our students are among the most high-achieving — in fact, one was recently PC’s valedictorian. Read about them here.

Valedictorian Protsenko: The socially conscious scientist

Valedictorian Katerina ProtsenkoKaterina Protsenko wanted to spend her life painting in the park. That was her definition of happiness. But, as high school went along, the Latvian-born Protsenko’s interests began to broaden. Her love of science and psychology grew, and her road to Providence was paved.

“After I visited a few schools, I realized that I wanted a small, liberal arts school,” explained Protsenko, a biology and psychology double major, who also is graduating with a certificate in neuroscience.

Like so many PC science students, Protsenko spent valuable lab time being mentored by faculty members. She worked alongside Dr. Christopher M. Bloom, associate professor of psychology, Dr. Joseph A. DeGiorgis, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Mary E. Harmon-Vukic, assistant professor of psychology, on issues such as cognition and the relationship of the amyloid precursor protein to Alzheimer’s disease.

“As soon as I came here, I had teachers who treated me like an adult,” she said. “Dr. Harmon-Vukic asked me to work in her lab during my freshman year. She trusted me with her work and research. If this was a bigger school, that type of interaction would not have happened.”

In addition to her on-campus research, Protsenko served as a research assistant at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas for two summers and as a clinical research intern in Rhode Island Hospital’s Department of Neuropsychology.

Following graduation, she took a job as a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston — the largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School — concentrating on pain disorder management.

Research helps neuroscience student reach graduate school

Neuroscience student ryan postIt doesn’t take much to get started on independent research at Providence College. You just need to send the right email.

As a freshman, Ryan Post ’14 contacted Dr. Christopher M. Bloom, associate professor of psychology, to find out whether there​​ were any research opportunities in his lab. Three years later, the biology and psychology double major is the lab manager and an author of three research papers published in scientific journals. Now, Post is headed to Cornell University to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience.

Post said his favorite part of his PC experience was the access to researchers like Bloom. Because the College is a primarily undergraduate institution, he did not have to compete with doctoral students or postdoctoral scholars for lab jobs or faculty mentors like Bloom.

“Virtually every biology and psychology professor has a research lab,” Post said. “That access has been instrumental to my training and future.”

Next year, Post will enroll in Cornell’s doctoral program in neurobiology and behavior.

“It combines the hard neurobiology of everything from sensation to clinical disorders, to observing the natural behavior of animals,” he said. “It’s an interesting interplay between two areas that are pretty much separate in other universities.”

In the future, Post said he would like to become a professor at a place like PC, “a place where I’d be able to both teach and do research,” he said.