Karling Luciani is an MSc student in Dr. Christian Schütz‘s lab. Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, we caught up with Karling to learn more about her research, interests and the importance of women in science.

How did you become interested in neuroscience and why did you decide to pursue graduate school?

I completed a Bachelor of Sciences degree at the University of Guelph and majored in Neuroscience. I was always fascinated by the brain and was specifically interested in understanding mental illness and addiction. This is why I knew I wanted to pursue a thesis-based Master’s degree in Neuroscience.

What is your current research project?

My current thesis project looks at impulsivity and response inhibition in individuals with bipolar disorder. We use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to study this.

Why is it important to study the brain?

I believe it’s very important to study the brain, especially in my field, because mental illnesses are not always as “visible” as physical illnesses, so understanding and observing what is happening in our brains can help break down the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness.

Why is it important for women to be represented in STEM fields?

When women are represented in STEM fields, it inspires young girls and other women to work in STEM because they see someone like them in the field, so they know it is possible.

What advice do you have for someone looking to do grad school or get involved in research?

The main thing I tell students interested in graduate school and research is when reaching out to potential labs and supervisors for the first time, share with them why you are interested specifically in the research they do, and keep looking for opportunities available, don’t give up!

What extracurricular activities are you involved in outside of the lab?

For the past 5 years, I have been a part of a national organization called Jack.org, that focuses on revolutionizing mental health. Through the organization, I’m a certified mental health speaker traveling to schools and communities to speak on mental health. I love how I can connect my passion for mental health advocacy, and my research in Neuroscience.