About me and my research with Parkinon’s Disease!

Hi everyone 🙂 My name is Kush Batra and I’m a third-year Natural Sciences student in the College of General Studies. I am also set to graduate this April! I hail from East Brunswick, New Jersey, but spent six years of my childhood living in Queens, New York. In my free time, I enjoy creating new music with my guitar, learning new languages, gardening, and photography. Oh, and I love to travel. My 1981 Polaroid camera and I have been to 19 countries together! (and hopefully many more in the coming years)

During my first semester at Pitt, I joined the Hooks Lab, led by Mac Hooks, and have been working there ever since. It is a very very small lab, so I get to really work closely with Mac and all of the other graduate students. To say the mentorship from this lab and the Pitt Honors College have been invaluable would be an understatement. Not only did I get the opportunity to be exposed to the world of academia, but I was also able to win four different research awards with their guidance (one of which sent me to Germany and allowed me to travel to 13 of the 19 countries I have visited!). Thus far, all of my research projects have been related to Parkinson’s Disease, but my project right now specifically focuses on how the dysfunction of the basal ganglia – a major brain structure responsible for controlling voluntary movement, selecting between different actions, and learning certain motor skills – is responsible for Parkinson’s Disease. Figuring out which pathways in the brain are affected through this project is especially important, because these areas will be targets for future therapeutic interventions to address the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease patients. I really enjoy my lab because I love the field of neurobiology and get to work with mice with both surgical and behavioral experiments. 

After graduating in April, I plan to take a two-year gap before applying to medical school. I’m eager to apply what I’ve learned during my time at Pitt and gain some real-world experience before continuing my education. I’m currently a semi-finalist for both a Fulbright Research Award in Germany and the Critical Language Scholarship for Hindi, and hope to spend my first gap year in India for the summer and in Germany for the academic year. This semester I have been keeping myself busy with research and my hobbies like music production, while I eagerly bide my time until finalist decision notifications.

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