By: Jessica Martin, SDSU Chapter Member
This week I got the chance to interview Romana Hyde, the President of the WSS- University of Idaho Chapter. Romana is a 4th year student, double majoring in Biochemistry and Psychology, and is currently applying to Neuroscience Graduate PhD programs in hopes to pursue a career in academia somewhere down the line.
Romana joined WSS in Fall 2018, when the Chapter was founded at the University of Idaho. She joined because she “loved the idea of a community of STEM women supporting each other” through the challenges of completing an undergraduate degree in STEM. The community that she found in WSS encouraged her to get involved, and ultimately become President this year!
Romana has had extensive and diverse experience in research, and has been a part of three separate labs throughout her years at the University of Idaho. Since her freshman year, Romana has been involved in research with Dr. Mark and Michelle McGuire in veterinary science studying lactation, where she prepares sample DNA for microbiome sequencing. Her sophomore year, she worked under Dr. Russel Jackson in a psychology lab assisting with evolutionary research. Finally, her junior year she began working with Dr. Ben Richardson looking at the Shank3, a gene related to Autism Spectrum Disorder, and its expression in the cerebellum. Being a part of the Richardson lab played a major role in solidifying Romana’s interest in neuroscience and has made her want to pursue similar research projects in the future.
From October 19-22, Romana had the chance to attend the Society for Neuroscience Conference in Chicago, where she got to present her research on Shank3. The conference is large, attended by 28,000 people who are researchers in her field. Although there was a category for undergraduate students, she was able to present in the regular poster sessions, which is a huge accomplishment! While presenting, Romana got the opportunity to answer deep, intellectual questions about her research due to the high attendance of people who are well-versed in neuroscience. Because of this, she has new viewpoints on her project moving forward. In addition to getting experience presenting at a large conference and watching various research talks, Romana got to network with labs at different graduate schools and even got to meet the previous President of the Society of Neuroscience who shared advice on how to successfully pursue a career in science.
Romana has accomplished incredible things as an undergraduate woman in science, and her advice for other undergraduate women in science is to do the things that you are passionate about, even when they aren’t going your way. She also emphasized the importance of being kind to yourself: your best is always enough. Lastly, don’t be afraid to forge your own path. The University of Idaho does not have a neuroscience program, but Romana created her own path to pursue neuroscience, and clearly her resourcefulness paid off!
Although Romana is an amazing scientist on her own, she says that WSS has had a significant impact on her. She has grown professionally from WSS workshops, and has made priceless connections with fellow WSS members as well as faculty and staff that have helped her to become “a more well rounded person and a better scientist”. Even though she is happy to be able to be a part of WSS now as a senior, she wishes that WSS was something that she had a chance to join as a freshman. Now, as President, Romana will be able to pass on her experiences and knowledge on to the next generation of women in science!