Tegan Schneider and Mitchel Larsen recently presented their work at one of the world’s consistently largest neuroscience conferences in the world. “Fun fact about our research, Over the summer we spent about 40 hours a week and everything failed (our results stayed inconclusive), and about two weeks before the conference, we finally figured it out, and it all came together.”
Larsen, a Sheboygan native and junior at Lakeland, studies Biology with an emphasis in Health Science. Larsen stated that he aspires to be a medical doctor.
Schneider, a junior, is currently double majoring in Psychology and Biology with an emphasis in Health Science. Schneider also plans on becoming a medical doctor.
Schneider and Larsen traveled to Chicago, ILL to present their neuroscience research at the Society for Neuroscience. Their research focused on a neurodegenerative disorder called Succinic Semialdehyde Dehydrogenase Deficiency, or SSADHD. “GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter (chemical messengers in the nervous system) in the body, and it goes through this cycle.” Schneider began
“Normally in the body, GABA is catabolized in a cycle. This is so it can be reused within the body. However, people who have SSADHD are unable to complete this cycle because they lack an enzyme.” Larsen added, “We took stem cells and differentiated them into astrocytes. Then, once they were astrocytes, we made sure they were functioning human astrocytes that can take up GABA. So, we then determined that they do indeed play a role in GABA catabolism.”
Larsen added, “We were both able to gain valuable experience through LURE, the Lakeland Undergraduate Research Experience, at a level which very few undergraduates get. Over the summer, we were given the opportunity to work with many fascinating techniques and scientific equipment that most undergrads don’t get to use.”
Both Schneider and Larsen are very close friends. Schneider stated, “Honestly, I started the project on my own, and I was scared. But when I found out Mitchel was working with me, I was happy. We are both independent, so it made the process fast and efficient since we could go and do parts on our own and then come back together.”
Larsen added that being such close friends with Schneider made it a very meaningful experience. “I don’t think I would have been able to take as much from it as I would have been able to on my own. Tegan is a very hard-working person who is clearly a very thoughtful person. We were able to give each other hope throughout the summer whenever we started to lose it.”
Both students wanted to thank LURE and Doctor McGivern for helping them and giving them the opportunity to present at such a prestigious conference. “Doctor McGivern was a very passionate professor, and he was very easy to work with. Without him, none of this would have been possible.”