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By balancing two scientific approaches, Rebecca Burns learns how the brain works biologically and how the psychological human factors make each of us so different.

Major: Biology & Biotechnology, Psychology

Rebecca Burns

Becky Burns studies the biology of the brain and the psychology of the mind to understand human dynamics and behavior from all angles.

Why did you pick the branch of science you are in?

I’m studying biological science and psychological science, both of which I love because of their direct relation to people and the opportunity they give me to help others. Biology allows me to better understand people and the world to which we’re connected. Psychology gives me a better understanding of people and how our minds work. Working in biology, I’m able to address so many problems in the world, from grievous diseases—like ALS and Parkinson’s, which I’m studying in my MQP—to ecological issues, like the disappearance of bumblebees, which I researched two summers ago. Both of these research projects tap into my work in psychology and my understanding of neural pathways as well.

What are the biggest misperceptions people have about scientists?

I think scientists are often perceived as cold people who don’t connect well to others. To the contrary, I think most scientists I know are motivated by their desire to help others!

What’s something you do that reminds you that you are an #actuallivingscientist?

Heading to Gateway every day to work on research for my MQP always reminds me that I’m actively contributing to new research.

I am a scientist and I... learning more about the world around me.

How do you hope your scientific contributions will impact the world?

I’d really love to make an impact on a global health problem and empower developing communities.

How has WPI prepared you to become an #ActualLivingScientist?

WPI has given me the skills to work in a team to solve problems, which is exactly what being an #actuallivingscientist is all about!