Merci N. Best is a fourth year PhD candidate in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology. Merci’s research focus is understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, her dissertation research involves studying the accumulation of Tau, a protein with significant implications in Alzheimer’s disease. Tau accumulation is one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease in brain cells. She aims to determine the extent, if any, to which breakdown of the axon initial segment, a barrier inside of brain cells is involved in Tau protein accumulation. Merci is also a recipient of the Double Hoo Research Award, an award that funds research collaborations between undergraduate and graduate students.
Merci is a graduate of the PhD plus Foundations series, having successfully completed the course. She also participated in the Communicating Research and Future Faculty series’ of PhD Plus.
What are your post-PhD career aspirations?
My career goal is to spearhead research projects by becoming the principal investigator of my own lab.
How did participation in the PhD Plus Foundations series support your professional development and career planning?
Through the Foundation’s series, I have accumulated knowledge and resources that will directly be transferable in helping me communicate my research efficiently. The series also helped hone my skills in organization. Moreover, strategies learned through this series aided me in finding additional mentors who are able to help further my career development. These tools will also prepare me to apply for jobs in the future.
What is your advice or recommendations to peers on how to best leverage the PhD Plus program?
My advice to anyone taking a PhD Plus course is to actively participate in all the sessions you are able to attend, including being present in the discussions, activities, and exercises. If you need to miss a session, connect with Sonali and Yi to receive the content and knowledge from that day’s session to reap the maximum benefit of this and other programs.