When Josephine Cooke moved from Fordham University to Queens College in the fall of 2016 under the auspices of the college’s Transfer Honors Program, she made what to some may have appeared to be an unusual change in the direction of her studies: A former dance major, she intended to study neuroscience. “I’ve always been interested in the brain. I used to want to be
a neurosurgeon, actually,” she says.
Fall 2018 found Cooke settling into PhD studies at Imperial College in London, a circumstance made possible by her receipt of a prestigious Marshall Scholarship. She is one of 43 students nationwide to be so honored and the third in the history of Queens College. Her intention is to continue pursuing neuroscience research related to the work she began at Queens.
“I’m still planning on looking at the use of dance as a rehabilitative tool, particularly for those with balance disorders, as well as investigating how dance contributes to plasticity in the brain,” she says. “And I still hope to integrate dance and other arts therapy into occupational therapy and physical rehabilitation for those with neurological/psychiatric disorders in the future.”
These studies will build upon the skills and insights she developed at Queens College in the behavioral neuroscience lab of Jeff Beeler, where she examined how neural activity changes over the course of learning.
Cooke was awarded the 2017 Raphell Sims Lakowitz Undergraduate Research Fellowship and with Beeler’s assistance applied to the CUNY Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program, which helps fund and provide research opportunities for minorities in STEM fields.
She was also one of 20 of 800 applicants selected for the 10-week National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
“Under Dr. Beeler’s mentorship I really began to flourish as a researcher,” observes Cooke