Sydney Lamarand is in her third year of Illinois Tech’s coterminal bachelor of science in biochemistry/master of science in biology with a specialization in biochemistry program. This year, she started working toward a psychology degree as well. Of her decision to take on all these degrees, she said, “I want to combine my knowledge of the way the brain functions biologically with my knowledge of motives and drives and the basics of human behavior, to one day study neurodegenerative disorders like multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s.”
Lamarand began doing work-study in the lab of Jialing Xiang, professor of biology, at the beginning of her sophomore year. During this time, she showed great interest and potential in research, according to Xiang. Because of this, Xiang and Lamerand designed a special project for Lamerand to work on for the research she would be conducting as a 2016 CoS Undergraduate Summer Research Stipend winner. This research expanded on Xiang’s ongoing research into anti-cancer proteins, but was tailored to Lamarand’s career interests.
Their project this summer aimed to study preliminary information about the newly discovered BaxΔ2 function in neurons—primarily special neurons like Purkinje neurons, which are the source of output for the entire cerebellar cortex. This research not only helped Lamarand to understand BaxΔ2’s role in brain cancer, but also in some neurodegenerative disorders such as the ones she hopes to spend her life researching.