Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Student Profile: Joy Zhou

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Joy Zhou

Mentor: Roy V. Sillitoe, Ph.D.
Undergraduate major: Psychology & Cognitive Sciences
Undergraduate school: Rice University
Research Interests: Cerebellar Function and Motor Disorders such as tremor, ataxia, and dystonia

Why did you choose Baylor College of Medicine?

The quality of the faculty and facilities is unparalleled, and the collaborative atmosphere & scientific spirit is amazing!

What is your research interest?

My main research interest is in discovering how tremor, the most common neurological movement disorder worldwide, arises from pathological brain function in the cerebellum. After learning that it is unknown why many prescription drugs can have tremor-increasing or tremor-decreasing side effects in patients, I decided to take on a pharmacological approach to research the circuitry underlying tremor. By using tremor-affecting drugs on genetic mouse models of tremor, I hope to uncover how this disease originates on a circuit level, and use this knowledge to develop therapies that can treat tremor at its neurological roots.

Why did you choose your mentor?

My mentor has always shown me nothing but the utmost respect and support. During times that I have doubted my own abilities, he has always been there to offer encouragement and a genuine sense that he believes in me. I find that he puts in a lot of effort to cultivate an honest and communicative relationship with all of his students, even if it's a lot of work for him. After I realized that I needed to have hobbies to maintain a good work-life balance, I really appreciate that he supports my hobbies as well!

What aspects of training have been most influential in preparing for your intended career?

Learning how to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful criticism, and learning how to then apply feedback from constructive criticism towards my science, has been extremely helpful for my career so far. I have learned these skills, along with others such as scientific writing & professionalism, with a lot of guidance from my PI.

Did Baylor’s location in the Texas Medical Center enhance your experience?

Baylor's location is great! I love not having to use a car to get to work every day. Being at the heart of the medical center makes it extremely accessible by various means of transportation, and it's really nice to have a variety of restaurants to explore in the vicinity as well.

What are your career plans?

I would like to pursue a postdoc position, but I haven't decided what I would like to do after that quite yet.

What do you enjoy about living in Houston?

I have lived here for most of my life, but I still love the city more and more each year. There's such a great cultural diversity here that can easily be explored through restaurants and neighborhoods. Not to mention, the cost of living here is very affordable!

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Going to graduate school here will probably be one of the best decisions I'll have ever made in my life. It is by no means an easy decision to make, but I would encourage anyone seriously considering it to get a feel for how supportive & encouraging the program is. Graduate school can and will get difficult at times, and during those times it's crucial to have a support system made up of students, faculty, and staff alike to be able to fall back on. I've made several life-long friends within my department alone, and have a whole host of faculty mentors who are there to support my every success or encourage me after every failure. Good science isn't done alone! It really takes a village, so finding a support network to get feedback and motivation from is crucial.