Alumnae Spotlight: Young Alumnae Series - Jackie Mehr DRC'22
Recent Douglass alumnae are using the talents and skills developed through a Douglass education to make strides both out in the world and back on campus. Jackie Mehr DRC’22 is an active Douglass alumna and current NIH researcher. Throughout her four years as an undergraduate student, she cultivated an impressive research career that culminated in her receiving the Goldwater Scholarship. The insights Mehr has to share are invaluable to the over half of Douglass students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Through the power of the Douglass network, current Douglass students have the ability to connect with alumnae like Mehr to gain wisdom from her experiences.
“Douglass added a new dimension to my college education rooted in community, and I’m so thankful for all of the connections I made through my Douglass experience,” she said. “As an undergraduate, I was really fortunate to receive mentorship from several strong women scientists. Now that I’m an alumna, I’m trying to pay this forward by offering support to my younger peers whenever possible.”
During her time at Douglass, Mehr was no stranger to mentorship. She was a Douglass Red Pine Ambassador, a role that works directly with prospective Douglass students. She was also a Douglass Honors College Changemaking Mentor during her senior year, a mentorship program for students dually enrolled in Douglass and the Rutgers Honors College. However, perhaps where Mehr made the biggest impact was as a Project SUPER Research Ambassador. In this role she offered advice and leadership to students doing research through Douglass’ Project SUPER Research program. As an undergraduate, Mehr studied addiction, binge eating, and a brain system called the orexin system. Her extensive projects and experience in Rutgers labs made her a great role model for students just beginning the program. Even as an alumna, Mehr has offered to continue connecting with Douglass students through email and other channels.
“My one piece of advice to both current Douglass students and alumnae is to always build your network of support to include people who you see yourself in as much as possible,” Mehr said. “Asking for help or guidance can be scary, but people are often a lot more open to helping you than you may think. For me, identifying mentors who I can relate to has been particularly impactful because I could visualize my future through those women, and it has been exciting to transition to more of a mentoring role myself after graduating.”
Mehr’s current work at NIH is focused on the effects of insulin in the brain, specifically how insulin and dopamine interact. In the future, she hopes to continue neuroscience research while also seeing patients as a physician-scientist. She is currently applying to MD/PHD programs.
While her impressive research career has been recognized through various prestigious honors, Mehr cares more about her team, collaborative learning, and of course, the knowledge research can uncover.
“It’s definitely validating to receive recognition for my research,” she said. “But working with my lab mates to generate interesting and meaningful data has always been the most rewarding part of research for me. Any recognition I receive is just an added bonus onto the excitement of discovering something that nobody else in the world knows about yet!”
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