My studies at Oxford ended on Friday, I flew to NY on Saturday, I moved into my new apartment in Boston on Sunday, and I started work at Harvard’s Vision Sciences Laboratory on Monday.
It’s been a few hectic days.
But it has also been incredibly exciting! My mentor, Ken Nakayama, is a former Haverford student. The other researcher I will be working under, Jeremy Wilmer, is a professor at Wellesley and also studied abroad at Oxford for a year. I will also be working with Sarah Cohan, Professor Nakayama’s lab manager.
It looks like this summer’s research will focus on a family study of people with prosopagnosia. Prosopagnosia is a relatively rare condition affecting about 1-2% of the population. It has the fascinating symptom of not being able to recognize faces. This can cause embarrassment and distress for prosopagnosics, as it is difficult to explain why one can’t recognize one’s mother, or even oneself in a mirror. Prosopagnosia has been seen to run in families, suggesting there is a genetic component of this disorder. Our research will investigate differences in cognitive abilities in families of people with prosopagnosia in order to see how cognitive functions group together. We will also be getting genetic analyses of our participants. Hopefully, we’ll be able to isolate the gene(s) underlying this disorder!
My role over the next few weeks will involve helping recruit participants and organize the study. I might also have the opportunity to design my own project and conduct some independent research.