ACE Scholarship Recipient: Desiree Delavary

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One of our ACE Scholarship recipients of the spring 2018 term, University of Glasgow student, Desiree Delavary, from UC Berkeley, had the opportunity to work at the DART lab at the University of Edinburgh, focusing on Autism and Fragile X Syndrome.  Read about her experience and what she learned during her research position below:

In Spring 2018, I left UC Berkeley to Scotland, excited to study abroad at the University of Glasgow.  Before leaving Berkeley, I had many qualms not only associated with leaving my friends and comfort of the known, but with what felt like abandoning my academics.  Spending a year dedicated to working on research in my lab, I was nervous about leaving my work unfinished and creating a gap in my research experience.

Upon arriving in the UK, I was thrilled.  I was making new friends, and being immersed in the new cultural experiences.  I had the opportunity to choose from an array of classes associated with my major, as well as extend my course studies beyond the scope of my academic focus.  Many courses I had the opportunity to take were not even offered at my home UC campus!  Although my experience was going well, I felt as though something was missing.  I missed doing research, and I also wanted to gain the opportunity to experience a research lab in another part of the world.  My studies involve brain sciences and mental health, and I was interested in continuing research in this domain.  Upon researching labs, I learned about the DART lab at the University of Edinburgh, which focused on research in Autism and Fragile X Syndrome, a research domain I intend to pursue in the future as I have a background working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I began my emailing the head of the lab regarding my research interests, who fortunately agreed to interview me and extended me an unpaid lab position that was in accordance with my student visitor visa.  I was thrilled that I was able to have the opportunity to work in a lab abroad focusing on my research interests, in the pursuance of further academic opportunities and to enrich my study abroad experience.  This being said, I was stationed in Glasgow, and the position was at the University of Edinburgh.  Although the cities were close to each other, it was out of my price range to make the commute twice a week.  Fortunately, I was able to apply to the ACE Scholarship funded by UKI UCEAP!  Without this scholarship, I would not have had the edifying experience of working in the DART lab at the University of Edinburgh.  Getting started, I expected to learn a lot about Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fragile X. Moreover, I ended up learning a lot about the variance in lab environments.  There was a noticeable discrepancy in my research experience at UC Berkeley and research in the UK.  I noticed it was a lot more relaxed, where there were enforced lunches, constant jokes, and a necessity for tea and biscuit breaks.

Upon returning to the U.S., my experience doing research abroad assisted in me obtaining a position working at UCSF!  I was told my applications stood out as my experience abroad demonstrated my ability to work in different environments.  I was asked extensively about the differences I noticed in the lab environments during interviews, and felt extremely lucky to be able to talk about it.  This opportunity was only made viable due to the ACE Scholarship I received.  This experience cemented in me the passion to pursue living and doing research abroad in the future.

Watch a clip from Desiree portraying some of her incredible time working at the DART lab at the University of Edinburgh!

If you’re interested in learning more about the ACE Scholarship, or wish to apply, click here