To Anna Kruyer, our gray matter, frontal lobes and glial cells are truly fascinating.
The Clare Booth Luce Scholar and recent Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) graduate has become so taken with the human brain through her science studies at Fordham that she will start her doctoral program in neuroscience at The Rockefeller University this fall.
“Each brain is different, and there’s so much we don’t know about it,” said Kruyer, an Ohio native. “There’s a lot of research that needs to be done on ways to treat neurodegenerative problems. It’s going to take putting techniques, tools and minds together to find the answers.”
Kruyer, who originally planned to be a journalist, had what she calls a “casual interest” in neuroscience while in high school. But it was her initial exposure to a Fordham class in biological science, taught by Jason Morris, Ph.D., which helped her find her stride.
“Science classes are hard to love, but [Dr. Morris] had a fantastic way of making students understand what is going on,” she said. “That kind of teaching? I’d never really experienced it before. I found many passionate teachers [here]who are doing science and loving it, and that’s translated to me.”
Kruyer proved so adept at the sciences that Morris helped her get a job in a neuroscience lab at Columbia University, where she works most afternoons. He also mentored her on a research project involving genetic mutations in fruit flies.
Their collaborative paper on the growth defects in the tissues of Drosophila was published in Geneticsmagazine this past February. Kruyer also presented the work at the Drosophila Research Conference in Philadelphia last year and at a student research exposition in Albany, N.Y. last January.
Fordham’s St. Edmund Campion Institute also helped Kruyer secure a U.S. Irish Council scholarship to spend part of last summer at Trinity College Dublin, where she toured several laboratories in Ireland’s up-and-coming pharmaceutical industry.
“The opportunities at Fordham have been huge,” she said. “Where I come from in the Midwest, people don’t know about Fordham; it’s a hidden gem. But it sure serves the students who do know about it.’
Before tackling her academic career at one of the leading biomedical research universities in the nation, Kruyer is making plans to travel to southeast Asia for six weeks during the summer. She credits Fordham with educating her as a “whole person” and said that the experience of going to school in New York has made her extremely well rounded.
“If I had known that I wanted to study science, I may have chosen a more science-oriented school,” she admitted. “But living with dancers and actors, meeting all sorts of diverse groups of people has made me so adaptable. I’ve grown at all angles here; I’ve learned so much.”
Although Kruyer is a student whose academic work neared perfection (she had a 3.9 average) she said that her goal in life is primarily a simple one.
“I’d really like to have a job that makes me happy,” she said. “In New York, it’s easy to find people who can’t balance doing work and being happy. But I love working in the lab. When I am doing it, the time just flies by; every day is fun. I want a job like that.
“Neuroscience is a good field for social impact, too,” she added. “The brain is such an important component and it’s so understudied. There’s useful research waiting to be done.”
See the webcast of Fordham’s 163rd Commencement at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 17, here.