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Meet Your Hosts - Zarmeen Zahid

Hello and thanks for visiting our blog! We're very excited you’re taking this science journey with us. To give you some background on why this venture is important to us we're going to tell you a bit about ourselves. First let us introduce Zarmeen!

My name is Zarmeen and I'm from NYC. Growing up in a traditional Pakistani household in a city with people of so many different nationalities, the similarities and differences in the way people thought and behaved became apparent to me very early on. I didn’t know it then, but my interest in the brain and behavior had become foremost in my life. As my understanding of the world grew, I became keenly aware of new issues in watching people I know and love struggle from mental health problems. I constantly questioned why this may be why some people develop these issues and others don't, how do they arise and, importantly, how can we help? Are there ways to treat these issues? It wasn’t until college that I was able to put a solid label to my interests. My curiosity and passion to understand was propelling me towards a career in science, specifically neuroscience!

As a freshman at SUNY Geneseo I joined a developmental psychopathology lab under the direction of Dr. Michael Lynch and began my journey of asking why. Studying non-suicidal self-injury and suicidal ideation on a college campus, I quickly became deeply unsatisfied with the state of current pharmacological and behavioral treatments in psychiatry. I took to the books- however new or old they may be to try and find a something new. Little did I know, reading one seemingly inconspicuous science article on psychedelic drugs from the 70’s would change the trajectory of my scientific life forever. I quickly became immersed in the old literature and got involved as a volunteer in the study at NYU looking to examine the efficacy of psilocybin in the treatment of alcohol dependance. Now with my interest in psychedelic science solidified, I knew that I didn’t have all the necessary skills and tools to ask my questions appropriately. I wanted to know what psychedelics were doing in the brain to have these incredible therapeutic outcomes and if there was a way to maximize this therapeutic potential.

That leads us to present day! As a PhD Candidate in the Neuroscience Training Program in the labs of Dr. Matthew Banks and Dr. Cody Wenthur at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, my work looks to understand the role of synaptic plasticity in the therapeutic mechanism of action of serotonergic psychedelics. My journey is nowhere near done, in fact, it seems every day I ask more and more questions.

But now- let's take this journey together and grow with and contribute to this wondrous field of psychedelic science. I am immensely passionate about not only this work, but about science education in general.

As scientists, it is our responsibility to disseminate information in an understandable and accessible way. As an immigrant child who didn’t even know being a scientist was an attainable and credible career, I am dedicated to being a resource and voice for those who may need it. Let's dive in together!

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