Jackie completed her undergraduate education in 2019 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience. After graduation, she worked as a Mental Health Specialist and shortly after she became a scholar in the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at the University of Arizona. During her time in the PREP program, she did research in Dr. Anita Koshy’s neuroimmunology lab. The Koshy Lab focuses on the molecular mechanisms that allow a common parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, to persist in the brains of people and rodents. Her project aimed to find potential host cell factors that are essential for the persistence of Toxoplasma in vivo, specifically the role of STAT6. The goal was to identify which gene(s) STAT6 is turning on or off that is important for efficient encystment. In pursuing a Ph.D., her research interests lie primarily in the neurobiology of addictive behaviors, specifically, drugs of abuse and neuropsychiatric diseases. She believes that mental illnesses, like drug addiction, are becoming more prevalent over time and developing optimized methods for their treatment is imperative.
Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Glover
2021-2025, Access to Excellence Fellow, UIC