Neuroscience Graduate Student
University of Iowa
Neuroscience and Psychology Double Major
Rachel Clark '12, a neuroscience and psychology double major, is currently
a researcher in the University of Iowa's Health, Brain, and Cognition Laboratory.
Her research on the relationship between exercise intensity and spatial memory, originally conducted at Knox, will soon be published in a professional research journal.
How has your Knox experience made an impact on your career?
Knox's neuroscience major provided me with the knowledge and confidence to begin graduate school at the University of Iowa. The amount of detail I learned in Knox's neuroscience courses gave me an advantage over students who had only had biology courses. Furthermore, my senior research experience has been invaluable during this first year of laboratory rotations. My research on the effects of exercise intensity on spatial memory [in rats] helped me acquire my current research position in the Health, Brain and Cognition Laboratory. The paper that resulted from my project has since been accepted (pending revisions) to an official research journal, which will be hugely important in future grant and job applications. I'm so grateful for the independence Knox grants (and demands of) its students -- it has been one of the most important assets in my career thus far.
How did your Knox experience affect the course of your life?
Although Knox was in the comfortable Midwest, it led me to an amazing study abroad experience in Denmark, which has since led to another trip to Europe during which I visited six different countries and experienced many different cultures. Without my study abroad experience, I would not have had the courage to go on such an adventurous trip.
Also, my experience with ballroom and swing dancing at Knox encouraged me to find ways to dance wherever I am. I have since competed in various styles of ballroom dance and have found swing dance opportunities in Iowa City, Copenhagen, Des Moines, and San Francisco.
What's the most important thing you learned at Knox outside the classroom?
I learned how to appreciate people. I can admit that I came from a slightly narrow mindset (small town Iowa doesn't provide a huge amount of diversity), but Knox really helped me broaden my perspective and value people who may have vastly different beliefs and opinions than myself. I now see diversity of opinions as not only useful, but necessary, for the advancement of any group of individuals.
Why did you choose Knox?
My main reason for attending Knox was the neuroscience major. However, I'll also admit that at one point during my college search I found a list of "100 things Knox students like to do" and it included mention of eating pancakes, playing hacky sack, and taking naps in hammocks...all of which I love to do. So that really sealed the deal.
What surprised you about Knox?
Because I attended a small high school, many people told me "Now you are a big fish in a little pond. At college, you will probably feel like a little fish in a big pond." Now, Knox is obviously not the biggest pond out there, but at first I did feel that way. I felt invisible and it seemed that I would never make a name for myself amongst all the other talented and smart students. However, somewhere along the way I found my niche. That is what surprised me. Knox gave me a place to be me, but also allowed me the space to develop into someone wiser, more independent and more creative than who I was before.