Keshav Kukreja ′12
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
What brought you to Rhodes?
I chose Rhodes because I liked its size and it wasn’t too far from home. I actually came here with the intention to study economics and business, but after taking biology, chemistry and psychology together my freshman year, I immediately decided that I wanted to remain in the sciences. I chose neuroscience as my major because of its versatility—I can take essentially any biology, chemistry or psychology class that I want with an incredible bonus feature: I get to focus on the aspect of the human body I find most fascinating—the brain.
What have you learned in your time here?
I’ve realized I really enjoy tutoring. I tutored at KIPP academy my freshman year, peer tutored in the math department for two years, and I have also served as a member of the Academics Committee for the Rhodes Student Government (RSG). With the help of RSG and my fellow committee members, we are currently in the process of developing this new program for Rhodes called the Student Academic Aides. In this prospective program, freshman can meet up with upperclassmen in their respective departments and work toward creating a four-year academic plan, which will help them learn about all of the various academic opportunities Rhodes has to offer.
Aside from academics, I also learned a very important lesson regarding personal relationships. Whether they are with close friends, professors or colleagues, the relationships I made here at Rhodes will last a lifetime, and for that I am very thankful.
What are some of your exciting research experiences?
During my first research experience in high school, I experimented with Type II diabetic chick embryos in order to study the effects of stem cell therapy. When we introduced human mesenchymal stem cells into the chick embryos, we observed that the progression of diabetic symptoms was slowed down and even potentially reversed. The future of that project would have been to closely study the mechanism behind the actions of the stem cells, and how to reproduce their effects. I was able to present my research at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which made this kind of the pivotal “I like science” moment of my life. At Rhodes, I have been involved with Dr. Katherine White’s Cognition and Aging Lab and last summer, I participated in an internship at Duke University in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience through an REU program. I spent 10 weeks there in Dr. Warren Meck’s lab studying the neural substrates of interval timing in Sprague Dawley rats. Interval timing is essentially how we, without realizing it, time things constantly, which in turn influences many important behaviors in our everyday lives. I certainly hope that regardless of the career path I choose, I am involved in some form of scientific research throughout my life, as the fruits of its labor impact everyone around us.
Plans after graduation?
I will be attending LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. For the summer—I hope to travel, expand on my DJ’ing hobby—and most of all relax before embarking on the next chapter of my life.