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Student Profile in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Natalie Bell

Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program

Mentors: Elizabeth Davenport, Ph.D. & Joseph Maldjian, M.D.
Undergraduate Degree:B.S. Engineering, Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate Institution: East Carolina University
Hometown: Cary, NC
Awards/Fellowships: Undergraduate: NIH Intramural research training award (X2), National Toxicology Program Travel award, ECU Travel award, ECU Undergraduate Research Creativity Award, 3rd Best Poster in NIEHS showcase, 3rd Best conference paper at IISE; Graduate: GSO Travel Award, American Society of Functional Neuroradiology Travel Award

Natalie Bell

How did you become interested in science and/or research?

I became interested in science when my general chemistry 2 professor took the time to relate the concepts we learned during class to things I could see in real life. I think we were talking about the transfer of energy and he took me to his lab and poured a whole jug of liquid nitrogen on to the ground and "dissolved" instantly.

Please describe your research.

With neurodegenerative diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, many researchers have looked at concussion and subconcussive head impacts in retrospective studies to investigate later-life neurodegenerative disease development. Using advanced neuroimaging modalities like, magnetoencephalography (MEG) and diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) I am non-invasively "dissecting" these complex brain changes and begin to understand the structure-function relationship and potentially how we could prevent these neurodegenerative diseases from developing at an early stage. My dissertation work has been focused on evaluating structural (DKI) and functional (MEG) brain changes in non-concussed youth football players compared to non-contact sport athlete control participants.

Why did you choose UT Southwestern?

I came because of the people, the amount of resources available to graduate students, and the support from research staff, department, and dean I would be getting.

What do you think makes your program one of the best?

Working with collaborators across schools (UTA/UTD) and companies (industry partners) makes UTSW the most competitive program.

What do you love about your Program?

I love how close all of the BME students are. Everyone knows everyone and knows about their project because of WIPS. I love being able to use others knowledge if I am getting stuck and like be able to ask my friends what they think physiologically could be going on and stuff like that. That is what make UTSW so special the community.

– Natalie BellBiomedical Engineering Graduate Program

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