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Senior Jennifer Katzenstein (Chittenango, N.Y.) presented results of her innovative research on the cognitive effects of Multiple Sclerosis March 14-16 at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association in Baltimore, Md.

The research is part of an outstanding Lafayette career that will allow her to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical rehabilitation psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis this fall.

Through the Lafayette Alumni Research Network, Katzenstein collaborated with Peter Donovick ’61, professor of psychology at SUNY-Binghamton, and several students. The research team conducted a study on information processing in persons with Multiple Sclerosis.

The LEARN summer program pairs alumni conducting cutting-edge neuroscience research with students interested in entering the field. Each student participant is paid and travel and room expenses are covered. (See related story.)

Katzenstein and fellow researchers administered a series of tests to 41 Multiple Sclerosis patients and 21 matched controls. They asked subjects to recall two lists of 15 words at various time intervals. The research team concluded that those with the disease take longer to acquire the information. As a result, those afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis may experience more difficulty with daily activities that require short-term memory.

Additionally, Katzenstein determined MS patients’ ability to retrieve information is the same as unafflicted individuals once the material is internalized. She was involved in data collection, tabulation, and writing for the study

“I feel that I really learned how to conduct research,” says Katzenstein, a senior neuroscience major. “I learned how to go about a project and was able to work with others researchers to develop a cohesive study. This project has even helped me organize my own research.”

Katzenstein is no stranger to the research laboratory, as she is conducting a senior honors thesis under the guidance of Wendy Hill, Rappolt Professor of Psychology and chair of neuroscience. They are examining testosterone levels and special abilities in autistic children.

She also collaborated with Gabrielle Britton, assistant professor of psychology, on EXCEL Scholars research to gain insight into how the brains of animals react to threats and safety signals. They studied eye-blink response in rats to learn more about anxiety-based human disorders. In Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, students work closely with faculty on research while earning a stipend.

“This project helped me learn how to set up a lab for research and taught me how to conduct literature searches,” says Katzenstein.

“My education has been excellent,” she adds. “I have been able to work with professors and pursue my own research through EXCEL, LEARN, and my honors thesis. I have also been able to develop my own research with the support of the faculty.”

A Marquis Scholar, Katzenstein traveled to Kenya and Tanzania with 29 other Lafayette students during January’s interim session between regular semesters to take a special course, Modern Sub-Saharan Africa. Chosen from among Lafayette’s most promising applicants, Marquis Scholars receive special financial aid and distinctive educational experiences and benefits, including a three-week, Lafayette-funded study-abroad course. Marquis Scholars also participate in cultural activities in major cities and on campus, and mentoring programs with Lafayette faculty.

She shadowed Debra Cipriana ’80, a neonatologist at Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook, Pa., through Lafayette’s Alumni Externship program. She gained experience in caring for both healthy and ill newborns in a hospital setting.

A peer counselor, Katzenstein is the founder and president of Lafayette Society of Neuroscience. She serves on Experience Lafayette Committee and is a physiological psychology lab assistant. She belongs to Alpha Phi sorority.

Categorized in: Academic News