Oyunsuvd travels aborad

From sea to shining sea: Magellan scholar traverses the country studying neuroscience

Created: December 15, 2023  |  Last Updated: December 15, 2023  |  Category: ,   |  Tagged:

Oyunsuvd presents a poster presentation WASHINGTON, PA (December 12, 2023) – In the summer of 2022, Oyunsuvd Bat-Erdene, a senior neuroscience major and economics minor, conducted a science experiment: she completed a Magellan Project, studying neuroscience in major U.S. cities to determine if the experience could change her career trajectory. And, surprisingly, it did. 

“Before [the Magellan Project], I was like, ‘Oh, I want to go to med school.’ I was sure med school was the only thing,” Oyunsuvd said. “But after that, I was like, ‘Maybe I want to do a Ph.D.'” 

For her Magellan Project, Oyunsuvd visited neuroscience laboratories in San Fransisco, New York and Chicago. Shadowing research scientists and graduate students at institutions such as the University of San Fransisco and the University of Chicago, she had conversations that changed her perceptions of research.

“[With research,] you’re doing something that no one has done before, and people often give up,” Oyunsuvd said, noting that she’s learned to persist through setbacks and challenges, which is advice she can offer future researchers.

“Have the resilience to continue till you succeed,” she urged. “Eventually, you will get something from the data.” 

Her Magellan Project experience exemplified that wisdom. Calling the project a “personal learning experience,” Oyunsuvd said it got her thinking about what fields of neuroscience she truly enjoys and prepared her for her recent neuroscience internship in Chicago.  

“As someone coming here from a different country and studying in the U.S., I don’t have any connections. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t have any research experience,” said Oyunsuvd. “[The Magellan Project] narrowed down what I want to do [in neuroscience, allowing me to focus on] more molecular work, and less on work in toxicology, behavior and chemistry.” 

It also cultivated a deeper sense of identity in Oyunsuvd. Having traveled outside her home country of Mongolia many times, she reflected on how independent travel can shape individual perspectives.

“It really opened my eyes, and it gave me a lot of opportunities,” Oyunsvud said, noting that it can do the same for others. “And when you travel abroad, you see, ‘Oh, there’s so many other cultures that exist.'”

After observing the variety of cultural differences across three cities within the U.S. alone, Oyunsuvd encouraged other global travelers to research appropriate cultural practices for the places they plan to visit.

Oyunsuvd added that her peers, leading with cultural awareness, should endeavor to explore these differences through opportunities like the Magellan Project.

“People say, ‘It’s hard to get it,’ or ‘It’s not for me,’ but If you love traveling or want to travel, this is an opportunity to do something cool,” Oyunsuvd said. “Don’t think your project idea is lame; just do it, and add some elements that make it fun and important to you.”

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