Beth Asnakew, born and raised in Saint Louis, MO, is a senior at Washington University in Saint Louis, TRIO Scholar and a McNair Scholar. She said, “WashU was sort of like a home away from home. Living only a few miles away from the Danforth campus, I was well-acquainted with the area and spent lots of time on or around campus.” She is a part of the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP) program, an interdisciplinary program that provides an opportunity to examine the mind from a variety of perspectives. Within this field of study, she found her interest in the biological underpinnings of the mind and decided to pursue a degree in Cognitive Neuroscience. Beth’s enthusiasm for the social, political, and intellectual history of people of African descent led her to pursue a minor in African and African American Studies.
This summer, Beth worked with Dr. Alaina Baker-Nigh for a McNair Scholars Research internship. They investigated the effects of caffeine on neurite growth and development by observing neuronal morphology. Beth noted, “The McNair Scholars Program allowed me to have some of the most invigorating and fulfilling experiences in my entire college career. In addition, during the internship, she conducted her first scientific research. In view of how widely caffeine is utilized around the world, particularly among young adults, Beth believes it is important to examine both the benefits and adverse effects of this drug. She hopes to continue her studies by pursuing a Ph.D. and eventually secure a career in professional research in lab.