I know that if I was somewhere else, I wouldn’t be getting the same types of opportunities in research or in performance, and the fact that they just continue to get better and better makes me all the more glad to be at Bucknell.

Updated June 9, 2017: Colleen will pursue a master's of music degree in vocal performance at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. During Commencement, Colleen received the Bucknell Prize in Music and the Bucknell Prize in Neuroscience. Congratulations, Colleen!

Colleen McGonigle '17"I was hugely involved in music — specifically singing — all throughout high school, but I never really had the desire to be "the struggling musician." I was the type of student that was interested in everything, so I didn't want to constrain myself to one field. I was looking for a way to stay as involved with as many of my interests as possible during college, and one day I read an article about music cognition — how your brain processes music — and it lit that proverbial spark in me. It was such a cool feeling. So I figured that going to a place where I could pursue music alongside psychology or neuroscience would probably be my best bet, and that led me here.

"The neuroscience research I'm working on with Professor Grisel studies the effects of stress on alcoholism. We're interested in why males and females consume alcohol differently. We spay and neuter our mice and then we see if the removal of testosterone in the males or estrogen in the females makes the two sexes meet in the middle with how they consume alcohol. Usually, the mice have constant access to running wheels, so we introduce stress by locking them every other day for a few hours to see if they'll get frustrated and self-medicate with alcohol. We've been getting some really great results. I've already presented research posters at the Sigma Xi Conference and the Susquehanna Valley Undergraduate Research Symposium, and just last week we went to Rutgers University to present our research at an endocrinology workshop.  

"The professor I'm closest with is Professor Martin-Moberley in the music department. She's the opera instructor and she's also my private voice instructor. Since I sing when I'm with her, which is a much more intimate part of me than research, I really open up around her, and that has allowed me to forge a friendship with her beyond a purely student-professor relationship.  

"Something that the music department does that's super interesting and very useful is Studio Class, where all the students in the department perform for each other each week. That collaboration and support helps us form a vocal performance community, which makes our productions easier to put together. We've become very close and that's really important, because when you get up and perform in front of your peers, it's a very vulnerable position to be in, and the community really provides a source of strength and support in those moments.  

"The reason I love Bucknell is that I am continuously amazed by the opportunities here. I was able to get involved in research my very first semester — there aren't a lot of other universities that offer that type of opportunity to such a huge percentage of their student body. Also, you can count on one hand the number of undergraduate non-conservatories that have a full-blown opera company that puts on full opera or musical productions. I know that if I was somewhere else, I wouldn't be getting the same types of opportunities in research or in performance, and the fact that they just continue to get better and better makes me all the more glad to be at Bucknell."  

Colleen is from Glen Rock, Pa.

Posted November 19, 2015

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