When Avantika Mitbander started at Arizona State University, she planned to prepare for medical school, so she decided that the best way to do that was to combine her interests of psychology and neuroscience.
“There's such a wide variety of ways you can go with a degree in psychology — with developmental psychology, cognitive psychology. In my second semester, I added on the neuroscience major, because I was really interested in the relationship between the mind and the body, how your emotions affect your body, how you're feeling and your biology,” said Mitbander, who also plays the piccolo as part of the ASU Sun Devil Marching Band.
“I think that both degrees complement each other really well," she said. "I get to learn anatomy in neuroscience and then in psychology, I'm able to learn what it's responsible for. It’s cool how well they play off of each other!”
Mitbander wants to go into medical school to become an OB-GYN and focus on women’s health. Currently, she is part of the Behavioral Neuroscience of Memory and Aging Lab with President’s Professor Heather Bimonte-Nelson, which focuses on how sex hormones, menopause and aging impact the brain and its functioning, including learning, memory and other behaviors.
“I really want to take all of the information that we are working on and actively help other women out,” Mitbander said.
Her interest in memory and cognition began when her own grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While Mitbander was interested in finding a research lab, the diagnosis of this debilitating disease in someone so close to her shifted the search to memory-based research labs at ASU.
“After joining the Bimonte-Nelson lab, I found how deep it really goes. And now I'm branching into the other parts of cognition and memory as well because there's so little research done in that area right now. No one really knows what role the uterus has or ovaries really do other than reproduction,” Mitbander said.
Her time in the Behavioral Neuroscience of Memory and Aging Lab has already left a strong impression on her peers and mentor.
“Avantika is an incredibly bright, engaged and creative ASU undergraduate who shows outstanding leadership. She has innovative ideas and thinks outside of the box. Because she is dedicated and resourceful, she finds ways to bring her ideas to fruition, yielding a real impact on those around her,” Bimonte-Nelson said. “Her high level of engagement in the laboratory, behavioral neuroscience interests, and classroom, combined with her service-oriented nature, will set her up for great success as she pursues her goal of becoming a physician. Her focus on women's health is especially important, as this is an understudied area of science and translation to clinical practice. We are all very proud of her!”
In addition to her research lab interests and the time committed to completing a double major with a minor, Mitbander also focused on pursuing another personal passion: launching a nonprofit-based club on campus. With the support of faculty mentor Gene Brewer, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Mitbander launched ASU’s version of Boundless Brilliance.
“Avantika is a truly incredible ASU undergraduate. Her passion for exploring the connection between neuroscience and psychology is matched by her genuine concern for the betterment of her community. Her efforts in the classroom, the laboratory and as a leader of the Boundless Brilliance student club is exemplary,” Brewer said.
Mitbander had previously served as an intern for the Occidental College's chapter and knew it was perfect for ASU.
“I loved volunteering for the organization so much. I knew that ASU needed something like this because there are so many students who want to help out and give back to the community. And this is a perfect way of doing it.”
Boundless Brilliance is an organization that brings STEM to the community and teaches important lessons like confidence and courage-building to young students who are exploring STEM careers.
“I think it's so important to start empowering people at a young age because that's when they're most impacted by the stuff that they see around them,” Mitbander said. “This is why I focus so much on elementary school students, because this is the first time they're learning about STEM — they don't really know what it is! Our goal is to get them excited at a young age because that's only going to keep growing as they go through high school and college.”
If students would like to volunteer or participate in Boundless Brilliance, they can register here.
More Science and technology
NASA's ShadowCam now lets you explore the moon’s darkest places
There are places on Earth’s moon where sunlight never reaches. Now, you can peer inside them — literally see inside these shadows…
NSF CAREER grant funds ASU physics professor’s research on integrin structure
Understanding integrins is essential for comprehending fundamental biological processes and various diseases, including cancer.…
Advances in forensic science improve accuracy of ‘time of death’ estimates
Accurate “time of death” estimates are a mainstay of murder mysteries and forensic programs, but such calculations in the real…