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Sean G

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)

Expertise

Neurodevelopment, Neurodegeneration, sleep, sleep medications/pharmacology, Autism, Schizophrenia

Bio

My research focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms of sleep. Sleep is often thought of as a merely a behavior, but there are a lot of changes that occur in your brain as you sleep that are essential for learning and memory. My research is investigating what theses changes in the brain are and if the changes are different in developing and mature mammals. My future goal is to spread scientific knowledge to those who want to have it. I am still deciding how I will implement this goal, through outreach, science policy, or through a university (like being a professor). I have a passion for music and keeping my self active through running, biking, sports, etc.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Sleep on it: An in depth look at the current sleep field

Sleep is an essential part of all of our lives. However the biochemical (or protein) changes that occur in the brain during sleep and after sleep loss remain relatively unknown. In this project I could see you and me investigating where the current sleep field is at and writing a blog post or review about it. As sleep is relatively broad we can focus the project as much as you like or keep it broad. A possible broad question is how does sleep effect the brain? Possible focused questions are, does sleep effect male and female brains differently? Is sleep effect on the brain different with age? What are dreams made of? or anything else you can think of.

Investigating sleep and disease

Sleep disruption (i.e. not being able to fall asleep, stay asleep, etc.) is common comorbidity in many neurodevelopmental disorders (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Schizophrenia), aging diseases (such as alzheimer's disease), and depression. I am envisioning these types of projects to investigate what the potential role of sleep loss is in one of these diseases or disorders. The project could be in the forum or a blog post or review about this topic. If you are interested, I could see a very interesting survey/ 'study' asking patients with any of these conditions about how they sleep. The main questions for this type of project would be: Is there a connection between chronic sleep disruptions and this disease/disorders? What could be the potential role of sleep loss in one of these diseases/disorders? How does sleep impact development or aging?

Sleep medication: A bottle of lies or a bottle of dreams

There are many drug and other substances (such as melatonin) that are prescribed to people that have issues going or staying asleep. However many of these medications have mixed efficacy and it is unknown exactly what they do. These types of projects could revolve around investigating a currently known drug/ substance (such as ambien or melatonin). We can research how the drug effects the brain (if it is known), how effective the drugs are, how the drugs should be taken for maximum effect, and other details of the drug. We could also investigate potential future sleep therapies (an example could be endocannabinoids) that could be ground breaking or have better results than the current sleep drug market. We could also develop a survey to determine how any or many of these drugs are helping people sleep.

Coding skills

Very Basic coding in R

Teaching experience

Peer Assisted study Session (PASS) leader I attended every class (for organic or general chemistry). Based on the material the students learned I developed problem sets. I helped tutor groups of student and individual students through my problem sets and the ones for the class. I also gave mini lessons when needed.

Credentials

Work experience

Graduate school and research (2018 - Current)
Research assistant
James Madison University (2015 - 2018)
Research assistant

Education

James Madison University
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
Biotechnology
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Neuroscience

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