A professor handles a test tube while Olivia looks on.

On being a researcher

Olivia Winter ’08
“I am excited about asking questions, picking apart ideas, and proposing new ways of thinking about problems. I obsess over the details of study designs and execution, all the while striving to be creative in my approach and thought processes.”

I have been characterized as a passionate and creative person for as long as I can remember. As a child I was so engrossed in my imaginary witches-and-faeries land that I had my own character, book of spells, and potions made from ditch weeds. In my pre-teen years I fervently tried my hands at baking, knitting, and embedding dry bugs and flowers into handmade paper. As a self-schooled teenager I started my own business making lip balms, I painted, I assisted in a veterinary clinic, and I traveled to Bali to work as a midwife’s apprentice. All the while I loved reading books and discussing ideas. Oberlin seemed like the right place for me, because I knew I would be free to express my individuality while receiving a high quality education that my low-income Iowan family never dreamed we could afford.

Oberlin helped me find my most rich and inspiring passion and creativity outlet--scientific research. I started as a research assistant in psychology my freshman year, I stayed in Oberlin conducting research as a McNair Scholar for two summers, and I am currently completing my neuroscience honors project. As a researcher I am excited about asking questions, picking apart ideas, and proposing new ways of thinking about problems. I obsess over the details of study designs and execution, while striving to be creative in my approach and thought processes.

There are few other places where I would have had the luxury of such intimate involvement in real scientific research as an undergraduate, while simultaneously being part of a broad-minded, culturally rich, and diverse community. I am thrilled about my future as a neuroscience PhD student and researcher. Most of all, I feel grateful to Oberlin for helping me discover a lifelong expression for my passion and creativity.

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