The University of Vermont Graduate College is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2017-18 Rodney L. Parsons Anatomy and Neurobiology Award is Riley St. Clair, a doctoral student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program.
Riley grew up in the quaint town of Red Lodge, in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. Her curiosity for how the world works stemmed from a childhood spent exploring the forests and mountains surrounding her home. She attended the University of Montana and, after taking courses in biology and psychology, she fell in love with the field of neuroscience.
During her time at the University of Montana, Riley was a teaching assistant for introductory chemistry and psychology courses and she became captivated with teaching science to others. After receiving concurrent degrees in cellular biology and psychology, she came to the University of Vermont to pursue a PhD in neuroscience in order to become a professor. She was drawn to UVM for many reasons, including its interdisciplinary and collaborative environment, the plethora of teaching and science outreach opportunities, as well as its location in beautiful New England.
In 2014, Riley joined the lab of Dr. Bryan Ballif, where she uses biochemical and proteomic approaches to study protein interactions in signaling pathways critical to neurodevelopment. In collaboration with Dr. Alicia Ebert, she uses the zebrafish as a model organism to elucidate the role these proteins play in vertebrate development. In particular, how visual system development is impaired when cellular signaling pathways do not function appropriately.
After graduate school, Riley will begin a post-doctoral fellowship as the next step towards becoming a professor. She will use the money provided by the 2017 Rodney L. Parsons Anatomy and Neurobiology Award for professional and career development by presenting her doctoral research at scientific conferences. Outside of her research, Riley enjoys cooking and painting with friends as well as going on outdoor adventures in New England, including rock climbing, biking, and skiing.