I always knew I was interested in medicine, but I joined a psychology lab because I felt that would introduce me to something new. I think that’s really important for everyone at Penn to do. I don’t think any of us should narrow ourselves.
Shreya started her first year interested in science but undecided about her major. Early on, she enrolled in Biological Basis of Behavior, Health and Societies, and Psychology classes. After excelling in BBB 109: Introduction to Brain and Behavior with Dr. Julie McGurk, Shreya chose the interdisciplinary Biological Basis of Behavior major to deepen her study of neuroscience. Alongside her major, Shreya will complete a chemistry minor to learn more about the clinical applications of biochemical mechanisms in courses such as Biological Applications of Organic Chemistry with Dr. David Chenoweth, Associate Professor of Chemistry. Shreya’s curiosity extends to the biological and chemical aspects of mental health, which she explores in classes like Abnormal Psychology with Dr. Ayelet Ruscio, Associate Professor of Psychology.
Shreya’s research experiences in biochemistry, psychology, and pharmacology complement her academic studies. Shreya discovered her aptitude for scientific research while working in an on-campus biochemistry lab during her summer after her first year. When Dr. Ruscio invited Shreya to join her psychology lab, Shreya accepted the opportunity to investigate biomarkers differentiating anxiety from depression. Shreya’s varied responsibilities in the Ruscio Lab included recruiting participants, conducting clinical experiments, and analyzing findings.
Shreya’s Biological Basis of Behavior thesis is based on her work in a Penn Medicine pharmacology lab. Shreya‘s research, which examines the unique neurochemical effects of e-cigarettes, contributes to a rapidly expanding field of study on the impact of e-cigarettes, especially as it pertains to youth. Shreya’s thesis discusses preliminary data on the addictive qualities of flavorants and introduces a protocol for tracking anxious behaviors that are triggered by e-cigarette vapor in mice.
As a singer and violinist, Shreya is active in several on-campus performing arts initiatives. Shreya is a member of Penn Sirens, an all-female vocal ensemble and acapella group. Members not only sing acapella, they also write their own shows and choreograph dances. Shreya also shares her passion for singing with Philadelphia students as a vocal teacher with After School Arts at Penn in the Platt Student Performing Arts House. A source of joy in her own childhood, Shreya revels in her students’ happiness as they sing. In addition to her vocal activities, Shreya practices violin in a small ensemble group run by Penn Chamber and the Department of Music. Shreya’s ensemble practices regularly and meets weekly with a professional musician; this year-long experience culminates in a performance open to the entire Penn community.
Shreya lived in Hill College House her first year where she formed close bonds with her peers as well as faculty and staff. The building’s design encourages socialization –dorm rooms connect to large lounges ideal for studying and relaxing. Shreya and her hallmates forged a strong community. Shreya particularly enjoyed getting to know peers that she otherwise might not have had the opportunity to meet. While Shreya now lives in the high-rises, her Hill friends have been a source of strength and fellowship throughout her time at Penn. Shreya’s relationships with Hill College House Fellows, or professors-in-residence, have also been influential to her Penn journey. Shreya took two writing workshops with House Fellows: Writing Seminar in Environmental Science: Law, Environment, Identity with Fayyaz Vellani and Intro to Creative Writing: Memoir and Literary Journalism with Jamie-Lee Josselyn. Now a senior, Shreya fondly recalls the engaging conversation –and really good cookies –at house-wide events. When Shreya moved into the high-rises sophomore year, she found a similarly positive and encouraging residential community.