Posted in Student Profile
PhD in Pharmacology
“The faculty and students within the Pharmacology department have a camaraderie that makes doing research special, which you don’t often see at other institutions.”
Eric Witherspoon is a student in the PhD in Pharmacology. He is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Interesting fact, Eric is addicted to peanut M&M’s and chocolate ice cream.
What made you choose Georgetown University for your PhD?
I chose Georgetown University to pursue my PhD because I knew that this was the only institution that would provide me with the environment to become the best scientist I can be. The faculty and students within the Pharmacology department have a camaraderie that makes doing research special, which you don’t often see in other institutions.
What research topic are you interested in studying?
I am particularly interested in learning more about the mechanisms associated with epilepsy and the different epileptic drugs that are currently used to treat the disease.
Whose lab are you in now and what is the research focus?
I am in the middle of lab rotations, so I will not be fully established in a lab until after my first year. However, I am currently working on a summer rotational project in Gerard Ahern’s lab that focuses on the expression and function of a splice variant of the ion channel ,TRPV1, in the Grueneberg Ganglion nerves. The goal of the project is to understand how the expression and activation of TRPV1 within the Grueneberg Ganglion regulates the circuitry by which neonates and adult mice detect fear.
What do you hope to do with your degree?
After obtaining my PhD I plan to start a career in science policy or get a job as a faculty member at a major research university.
What sparked your interest in the biomedical field?
Initially, I wanted to be a physician, but after a research experience during my freshman year of undergraduate studies, I knew that research was something I wanted to continue doing. I’ve always been an inquisitive person and being in the biomedical field has allowed me to incorporate my natural curiosity about life and my love for science into one.
What skill would you like to master?
I want to master my scientific writing skills. As much as I hate writing, I’m aware that the way that scientists communicate, convey results, and obtain funding is through writing. Being able to master this skill will allow me to become a better scientist.
If you didn’t sleep, how would you spend the extra time?
If I didn’t have to sleep, I would spend the extra time practicing and enhancing my skills as a musician. I’ve always had a love for music, but I’ve put it off for the last couple of years. Hopefully, I can find time to get back to it soon.