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Dynamic Duo

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

In today's Post, we invited a dynamic to share a bit of her journey so that our IgnITE community can learn from her experiences and passions.

Without further ado, please welcome Abby Cussons and Sydney Turack!

Name : Abby Cussons

School/Year : University of Guelph

Honours Bachelor of Science

Fun Fact :

Name : Sydney Turack

School/year: University of Guelph

Honours Bachelor of Science

Fun Fact:

What's the next step for you?

Abby Cussons : Currently volunteering in the SUMMIT lab out of Mount Sinai that focuses on increasing access to maternal mental health services and hopes to work full time as a research assistant for the next year. In Fall of 2023, she hopes to pursue her masters in clinical neuropsychology to expand on her research interests in Autism Spectrum Disorders and paediatric mental health.

Sydney Turack : Currently studying to take the LSAT and apply to law school in November 2022. Upon admission for the Fall of 2023, she plans on using her background in neuroscience to pursue the field of neuroethics and further investigate the integration of the law and the brain. Between her application and attendance, Sydney will be applying her research abilities to a cognitive neuroscience lab in Toronto.

Why did you choose your project?

We chose our project for a few reasons, the main reasons being the unique link between the Immunity theme to Neuroscience which we both majored in and our passion for women’s health and breaking the cycle of women’s issues often getting overlooked in research. The concept of our project, Anti-NMDAR encephalitis lacks a depth of understanding and we felt strongly that focusing on this unique condition would allow us to incorporate our research interests and the knowledge we’ve gained over the course of our degree. We wanted to select something that could make a difference in, what we believe to be, a crucial area of neuroscience research and to create awareness of some of the poorly understood challenges faced in women’s neurological health.

What has IgnITE taught you?

Finally, any advice for future competitors? -

  • Scheduling regular meeting times and outlining specific markers/goals you want to complete as the deadline approaches in order to stay on task and manage your time

  • Consistent communication between group members and your mentor: be ready to show them the work you’ve done so far and meet every couple of weeks to get a better understanding of what can be improved upon

  • Choose a topic you’re passionate about; you’ll spending a lot of time researching, writing and editing about this one specific subject, so make sure you don’t just choose something that you think will impress the judges

  • Less is more. After you’ve accumulated all of your information and research, try to narrow your scope to one very specific aspect that can easily be conveyed within the timeframe

  • Start with a big brainstorm session. Having a few hours with your group to simply connect dots, spit out ideas, and solidify a framework for your project was especially helpful later in the process when we had to summarize concepts or develop a methodology.

What are your career aspirations?

Abby Cussons - She hopes to work clinically with youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and focus on behavioral therapies that will help improve their quality of life and make an impact on the lives of youth struggling with mental health conditions. She wants to be able to study new therapeutic options throughout her career that will offer more benefit to individuals and families who are struggling with ASD.

Sydney Turack - Sydney hopes to work within the legal field and apply her background in neuroscience and psychology to her endeavors within the field of law. She aims to use her experience to challenge current ethical, societal and legal practices and assumptions involving the mind and the brain. Sydney aspires to expand society's understanding of this area of study and regulate its legal applications to better suit the needs of the population.

Thank you Abby Cussons and Sydney Turac for sharing your story with us!

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