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Valerie Sydnor

Neuroscience PhD Student


Brown University

Valerie (she/her) obtained her undergraduate degree in Health and Human Biology from Brown University ('15). Passionate about improving treatment outcomes for individuals with mental illness, Valerie conducted her undergraduate research on psychotropic polypharmacy in an inpatient hospital (Psychosocial Research Department, Butler Hospital, Brown University) and her post-graduate research on affective disorder etiology and the antidepressant actions of ketamine (Psychiatry Neuroimaging Lab, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University). Now a Gritty-loving member of PennLINC, Valerie's research aims to identify spatiotemporal axes of cortical development using neuroimaging measures that are sensitive to inhibition, myelination, and spontaneous activity: three biological features that mechanistically regulate cortical plasticity. She is furthermore interested in links between temporal development of plasticity-regulating features and the emergence of child and adolescent affective psychopathology. Thus far at Penn, Valerie has published three first-author papers (in close collaboration with David Roalf and Desmond Oathes) and two first-author reviews and has been a recipient of a Jameson-Hurvich Travel Award, a Society of Biological Psychiatry Predoctoral Scholars Travel Award, a Hearst Foundation Fellowship, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Outside of the lab, Valerie spends her time marathon training on the Schuylkill (Skoogy) River, playing Tapper at Barcade, frequenting the Bakeshop on 20th, and trying to fall down rabbit holes to recreate Alice in Wonderland.

Fun Facts

    Valerie's dream job is to be a Ravenclaw Prefect.

    Valerie reached her academic peak in seventh grade when she memorized 280 digits of pi.

    Valerie eagerly began her stint as the lab social chair immediately prior to March 2020.

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