Meet QMSS’s new Program Manager, Caitlin Posillico! Caitlin attended undergrad at the University of Delaware (the same school as President Biden!). She originally intended to major in Chemistry, but immediately knew that she wasn’t meant to be on that path. After exploring the other majors at her school, she found the Neuroscience major. She was unfamiliar with the field, but after learning more about it, she knew that Neuroscience was for her. She ended up minoring in Biochemistry, along with Italian Language. Throughout her undergrad, Caitlin didn’t know much about the world of research and data. She had heard about the “lab” that her friends conducting research disappeared to for hours at a time, but she had no idea what they did there. At first, Caitlin wasn’t at all interested: she was busy working part-time on top of classes already, and she didn’t see a way to add research on top of it. The summer before her senior year, Caitlin received an email from a friend. He was forwarding a posting for research assistants in a new lab being opened by a new Neuroscience professor. This new lab–which studied behavioral neuroimmunology–sounded fascinating to Caitlin, so she applied for a position. She was accepted.

Caitlin spent the following summer working full-time in the lab, and she continued her work into the fall semester. She was approached by her principal investigator about a 4+1 program, which would allow her to stay an extra year to complete a master’s degree. Having no idea what she wanted to do next, Caitlin agreed to stay for the extra year. As a Master’s student, Caitlin attended her first research conference. After meeting so many other neuroscience researchers, Caitlin wanted to figure out how she could stay involved in research forever and decided she wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. The fall after she finished her Master’s, Caitlin applied to five neuroscience programs, two of which were right here at the University of Michigan. Caitlin ultimately came to U-M to complete her Ph.D. in Biopsychology, a program in the Department of Psychology. During her time at U-M, Caitlin became one of the founding mentors for the Students Tackling Advanced Research (STAR) Scholars program in the Department of Psychology. The program is designed to help students learn the hidden curriculum of success in academic research – because research experience is an absolute must-have on the CV of any psychology student looking to attend grad school – with a focus on students from underrepresented and minority backgrounds. Through STAR Scholars, as well as working as an advisor for Psychology/BCN undergraduates, Caitlin (a first-generation college student herself) found her passion for helping students find opportunities and learn about the unspoken requirements of graduate school and the workforce. This passion is ultimately what led Caitlin to become the Program Manager here at QMSS.

As Program Manager, Caitlin acts as the “entire student services department” for QMSS, which she loves. She likes that she gets to wear many hats in her role here at QMSS, doing everything from advising current and prospective QMSS minors to assisting with event and program development. She said that “I love that QMSS, as part of its core goals and values, is trying to prepare students for real-world situations.”

Caitlin is available to all QMSS students as a resource not only for QMSS-related things, but other academic concerns, like preparing for graduate school applications. The QMSS department is beyond lucky to have someone as passionate and knowledgeable as Caitlin!