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Oliver L'Esperance

Student Spotlight | March 2018

Major: Neurobiology

Describe your work in a few sentences that we can all understand: My research focuses on pathways of neurodegeneration surrounding mitochondrial dysfunction initiated by chemotherapy and resulting in cognitive impairment.  I am currently writing a review paper about these pathways that additionally highlights the clinical translational benefits of utilizing operant animal behavioral paradigms rather than widely used fear-based paradigms.  I plan to continue this line of research by starting my Ph.D. with KU Pharmacology and Toxicology in the fall.



Q: Who mentors your project?

A: Dr. David P. Jarmolowicz (lab PI) and Michael J. Sofis (Ph.D. student mentor)


Q: What surprised you about doing research?

A: I was surprised by the amount of real time adaptability to unpredictable situations that is necessary to conduct consistently quality research.     


Q: What did you find most challenging about getting involved in or doing your project? What advice would you offer to students facing similar challenges?

A: For me, the hardest part was taking the initial steps to move out of my comfort zone and take on research responsibilities on top of school and other parts of life. I would say that research looks a lot more intimidating from the outside than it actually is once you start to become familiar with the way that things work. Just get up and do it! It’s much better than just thinking about it.


Q: What do you like most about your project?

A: I really enjoy the feeling that I am adding to the collective cancer treatment knowledge base such that my actions improve the quality of life for people that I will never meet.


Q: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to get involved in research?

A: Send some emails out and see what opportunities are available to you. There are plenty of researchers at KU who enjoy bringing undergraduates into the research community in ways that are mutually beneficial. Keep in mind that research experience can open new doors to you down the line that you don’t know about now. 


Q: How do you spend your time when you're not working on your research?

A: I play guitar and bass guitar in a couple of bands, play Civilization V marathons with friends, and I’m learning to swing dance with KU Swing Society.


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