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Student successes in graduate school: Sarine Janetsian-Fritz

Sarine Janetsian-Fritz | Ph.D. Student, Psychology | Department of Psychology When I interviewed at IUPUI, I felt that the faculty and graduate students in this program were not competing with one another but rather working together and collaborating on projects, making it a very enjoyable working environment.

What degree are you working toward?

Currently, I am working toward a Ph.D. in Psychology with an emphasis in Addiction Neuroscience.

Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?

I specifically chose IUPUI’s Addiction Neuroscience program (formerly known as Psychobiology of Addictions) because it is one of the only programs in the country that offers a strong foundation for research on drug addiction and its consequences. When I interviewed at IUPUI, I felt that the faculty and graduate students in this program were not competing with one another but rather working together and collaborating on projects, making it a very enjoyable working environment. Also, the mentorship provided by the faculty is desirable because not only do they try to mentor you on becoming a skillful and talented scientist, but they push you to strengthen further skills such as teaching, time management, grant writing, mentoring, and promoting individuality. Lastly, IUPUI is keen on forming new collaborations between and within departments and other schools (including the School of Medicine), allowing for opportunity for growth and diversifying research. I am very fortunate that I got accepted to IUPUI and could have not asked for a better experience or opportunity.

What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?

When I started graduate school, my foundational understanding of neuroscience was very weak and I had a difficult time with the dense and advanced information provided in each class, lab meeting, and conversation. I feel that I have grown substantially not only as a graduate student but as a future neuroscientist and electrophysiologist. I am thankful for the training that I have received from my mentor, Dr. Christopher Lapish, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without his leadership. My other favorite accomplishment has been receiving multiple travel awards and publishing as a first author in recognized journals including Psychopharmacology and Behavioural Pharmacology.

What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?

Coming from the west coast, moving to Indianapolis was quite an adjustment but the city has really grown on me. I enjoy the food and the microbreweries. I enjoy the night life and the hiking trails. I enjoy the farmer’s markets and the closeness of the community. My husband and I are able to do so many things and we are exceedingly thankful for that.

Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.

My primary interests are cognitive function and brain physiology in rodent models of disease, including addiction and schizophrenia. My long-term goals are to understand the neural mechanisms associated with aberrant behavior and cognition, as well as to identify translational biomarkers to better understand the etiology of schizophrenia to identify possible novel treatment approaches. To achieve these goals, I have used rodent models of addiction and schizophrenia to explore altered cognitive function while simultaneously evaluating electrophysiological metrics in multiple brain regions. I have also formed collaborations with colleagues on various projects that explore neural mechanisms and networks that are involved in impulsivity and processing stimuli in a genetic rodent model of excessive drinking (P-rat).

Although research has played a primary role in my training and career, I have had the rewarding opportunity to mentor ten undergraduate students, supervising them on their honors theses. In addition to balancing research and mentorship, I have been involved in teaching several courses including Behavioral Neuroscience and Statistics. During my time in graduate school, I have also been a part of several graduate student organization committees (e.g. president and representative of the School of Science Graduate Student Council, member of academic misconduct committee, School of Science Alumni Board member), and have volunteered in various activities (e.g. science fair judge, graduate student panelist, brain activity table at Winter Conference on Brain Research).