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A Passion for Science, and a Dream

“My big goal in life is to find a cure or a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,” says Estella Tcaturian (Russia, UWC Robert Bosch College, Lake Forest ’21). Whether or not she gets there, she has made an amazing start.

Estella, who is of Armenian heritage, is Lake Forest’s first double-major in neuroscience and chemistry. She’s treasurer of the college’s chapter of Nu Rho Sci, the National Honor Society in neurosciences, and of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology chapter. She tutors fellow students in chemistry, biology and physics.

She has joined in research on Parkinson’s and on Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, and other genetic diseases — and she and three fellow undergrads recently described their research on “the paradoxical effects of hints on memory” to the international meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Montreal.

“They did so well that everyone kind of assumed they were graduate students,” says Matthew Kelley, the professor in whose cognitive psychology lab Estella is a research assistant.

Estella discovered her passion for neuroscience as a first-year student, and declared it her major. As a sophomore she took two organic chemistry courses, and became a double major. She’s only disappointed that her double-major requirements won’t let her fit in advanced organic chemistry. “But I talked to my advisor, and asked if I could get the materials from lectures to study on my own.”

Even with all her other involvements, tutoring fellow students “truly makes me happy,” Estella reflects. “We all come and try to improve our weaknesses, and just enjoy each other’s company.”