profile picture

Jessica W

- Research Program Mentor

MD candidate at University of Southern California (USC)


psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, public health, projects that involve neurocognitive testing, neuroimaging, and social determinants of health.


Hello! My name is Jessica, I am a resident Psychiatrist at the University of San Diego, California. I am originally from a northern suburb of Chicago, Illinois. I have always been interested in psychology, however after one year as a Psychology major in college, I realized I wanted to understand the biological basis to the diseases we were learning about. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors in Neuroscience from USC in 2017. While there, I worked on multiple research projects involving emotion and cognition, stress, and memory. I completed an Honors thesis titled, “The Effects of Hormonal Contraception on Hippocampal Volume in Young Women: A Neuroimaging Study." This study examined changed in the volume of the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory, in women on birth control depending on whether they were on their hormone pills or placebo pills. After college, I worked for two years as a Study Coordinator at the Stanford VA. I was in charge of two studies that sought to investigate biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease using neurocognitive testing, neuroimaging, and labwork. After this, I decided to pursue medical school, and returned to USC to obtain my MD. While in medical school, I have worked on various research projects. Most recently, I worked on a study that aims to improve the treatment of depression in the primary care setting by implementing psychiatric collaborative care (PCC) conferences in a primary care clinic that serves mainly underprivileged patients. To do this, we performed a retrospective chart review comparing a specific depression test score, called PHQ-9, before and after case conferences during which psychiatrists discuss the patients and provide their treatment recommendations to primary care physicians. Usually, underprivileged patients do not have access to psychiatrists, thus this project aims to reduce disparities in psychiatric care, something I am very passionate about. In May of 2023 I graduated from the Keck School of Medicine with an MD. I matched into Psychiatry at UCSD, and could not be happier.

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.

Analyze barriers to mental health care access in a population of your interest.

Although mental health is finally gaining attention, unfortunately there are large disparities in who can access mental health care. Performing a literature review to investigate the reasons behind these barriers, and how to circumvent them. Write a research article that analyzes your findings and offers potential solutions. You can customize the project to a population you care about, such as adolescents or certain racial or ethnic groups.

Create your own research proposal!

Is there a topic you've always wanted to investigate? A question you've always had about the way the mind or the brain works? Develop your own research proposal, and maybe even collect some preliminary data! Together we can take your question and use it to develop a hypothesis that will guide your data collection. You could create a survey, perform a literature review, or design your own experiment. I can then help you translate that work into a manuscript.

Educate the public on a topic of your choosing!

Is there a mental health, public health, or social science topic you are passionate about? Do you want to educate people about a medical illness you care about? Hone your teaching and leadership skills while bringing awareness to the public! You can do this by creating a website, a social media platform, or a podcast! I have experience with doing this myself, and can help you learn skills such as Canva to create content you're proud of. Let's brainstorm!

Teaching experience

I have mentored undergraduate students seeking to apply to medical school through the American Medical Women's Association, helping them with everything from MCAT studying to personal statement editing, even with moral support! I have also mentored younger students in various research labs.


Work experience

Stanford VA/Aging Clinical Research Center (2017 - 2019)
Study Coordinator


University of Southern California (USC)
BA Bachelor of Arts (2017)
University of Southern California (USC)
MD Doctor of Medicine candidate

Interested in working with expert mentors like Jessica?

Apply now