The Department of Neuroscience recognizes faculty and staff each month whose hard work and dedication contributes to our mission and whom we’re proud to have on our team. Find out more about the spotlight of the month below!
July 2021 Staff Spotlight, Chelsea Bray
Where are you from originally and what led you to Ohio State?
I am from Cincinnati, just about an hour and fifteen minutes south from Columbus. I came to Ohio State for undergrad and graduated in 2018 with a B.S. in neuroscience and minor in clinical psychology and individual differences.
What lab do you work in and what type of research to do facilitate?
I work in Dr. Jonathan Godbout’s lab, where I am a Research Assistant and the outgoing Lab Manager. However, I’ve been in the lab for just under 6 years – first as an undergraduate, then as a staff member, and now as a staff/trainee as I transition to medical school. Our lab focuses on neuroimmunology, neurotrauma, and behavior. In addition to administrative and support duties, I focus on our lab’s traumatic brain injury research. Specifically, I look at the effects of microglia turnover on TBI-induced inflammation and functional deficits.
What do enjoy doing in your free time, outside of work?
In my free time, I deeply enjoy paying forward the support I’ve had throughout my own journey through community building and service to others. I am involved in a handful of organizations not limited to writing letters for The Letter Project, making blankets to donate to the YWCA, delivering Meals on Wheels for LifeCare Alliance, and serving as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line. I recently just picked up serving our local chapter of the Special Olympics and Alicia’s Closet for foster youth as well. Additionally, I am a community educator for the Alzheimer’s Association, and serve as the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Mission Committee Chair. When not doing one of the activities above, I enjoy being outside and listening to music, working out, or laughing at my own “cohort” of 7 domestic rats I own as pets.
What drew you to the field and the role you play in the Department of Neuroscience?
Neuroscience is something I have been interested in since my junior year of high school. I find it deeply fascinating that our brain acts as a fast computer yet we are only beginning to understand it. I particularly became interested in the field through neuropathology. There is a complexity to neuroscience that I find both frustrating and intriguing. The role I play here in the Department of Neuroscience is due to the generosity of Dr. Godbout, who has helped shape my career path through my indecisiveness upon graduation.
Who is your biggest role model and why?
Big shout out here – I would have to say my biggest role model is Dr. Kristina Witcher, who is one of my closest friends, and an alumnus of the Godbout Lab. I met Kristina as an undergraduate student just starting in research and can attribute so many countless aspects of my scientific training to her expertise. But beyond the lab, she is a genuinely caring person who would go to bat for anyone that needs a friend, support system, and confidant. As a former student in the MSTP program, she introduced me to the concept of a physician-scientist, and has given me a very clear look at someone who’s footsteps I’d like to follow. There’s simply not enough space on this document for all of the ways she inspires me to work harder every day.
What is your favorite movie, book, or band/singer/songwriter and why?
Admittedly, I don’t watch movies that often. I like books rather generally, so I can’t pick a favorite but the last one I read was Faithful by Alice Hoffman and it was wonderful. However, I love music! My musical taste ranges quite a bit and fluxes from time to time. Currently, my top listens are the bands Phantogram and Tame Impala. However, I also enjoy classic rock quite a bit.
What is the most rewarding part?
While completing a project or securing grant funding is wonderful, I strongly believe the most rewarding part of my job is training others (graduate and undergraduate students) and watching them flourish as they grow their own scientific careers.
Do you have any insights or advice to those who are just starting out or are interested in Neuroscience research?
I think this question depends on who the target audience is. For undergraduates or even high school students interested in science, I would say to simply reach out. It can be so hard to understand what a paper is saying sometimes, and I know fully how difficult it can feel to insert yourself into the conversation. But leaning into that discomfort and simply communicating and getting to know someone in the field is the best first step you can take for yourself. For people starting out in research, I say to be patient with yourself, take notes on everything, and be sure to ask questions! It is important to gain an understanding of how the administrative sides of your lab work, as well.
What are some hidden talents of yours?
I would say a hidden talent I have is that I’ve played trombone since I was 12 years old! I also make a delicious buckeye pie from scratch.
What else should we know about you?
As for some little known or fun facts… I am a first-generation college student, and was adopted. I was a gymnast and cheerleader for many years, and wound up coaching gymnastics through high school and college! In undergrad, I co-founded an organization called Students for Refugees, which I would say is one of my proudest achievements. I have won numerous awards for diversity engagement and humanitarian work at a university and local level, including a national award for active citizenship, and was awarded the David Hovda Award from the National Neurotrauma Society last year. I am also currently a full-time student in the College of Medicine’s MEDPATH program in addition to working in the Department of Neuroscience. Best of all, I am an official incoming M1 at OSUCOM. If you didn’t pick it up already, I enjoy being busy. :)