November 28, 2016
When Katelyn Ondek '14 enrolled at Susquehanna, neuroscience was not yet offered as a major, so she designed her own. She wanted to study and work with the nervous system, and fulfill requirements for admission to veterinary school.
As an undergraduate student, Ondek conducted research in Associate Professor of Biology Erin Rhinehart's neurobiology laboratory. She studied the maternal diet of rats and documented its effects on offspring's predisposition to juvenile obesity.
"This was a fantastic opportunity for me to grow as a researcher, since I was collaborating directly with the principal investigator," she says. In addition to Rhinehart's mentorship, Ondek benefitted from opportunities to present her research and network with professionals in the field.
She presented her research at internationally attended conferences, including the Society for Neuroscience and Experimental Biology.
In her senior year, Ondek won the David S. Bruce Outstanding Undergraduate Abstract award for her senior thesis work.
"I owe a large part of my acceptance into veterinary school and the dual degree program to the strong laboratory background I garnered through this experience," she says.
After graduating, Ondek began veterinary school at the University of California-Davis and was accepted to the school's D.V.M.-Ph.D. program. Her dissertation research focuses on cognitive impairments in, and functional neurosurgical therapies for, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury. She is currently developing an implant to study sports-related traumatic brain injuries and memory loss after multiple concussions in adolescent rats.