Q&A with neuroscience major Matteya Proctor

Matteya in Cougar gear with wintery woods behind her.

Only a handful of years ago Matteya Proctor was wrapping up her high school studies in her hometown of Deary, Idaho, where she was one of just 10 seniors in the class of 2020. Now at Washington State University, she is pursuing a double degree in neuroscience and psychology while gaining invaluable experience in several labs assisting in groundbreaking research projects on the brain, aging, and sleep.

How has WSU prepared you for your future?

Coming from such a rural area and a small school, I was able to participate in a lot but opportunity was generally very limited. It was a bit of a shock starting at WSU when I realized how many different opportunities and directions were available to me. There have been opportunities to grow as a researcher, to network and expand my perspectives, professional development opportunities, and opportunities to work on creative and extracurricular outlets. Sometimes I find it overwhelming how many opportunities there are to challenge and better myself!

What’s your favorite thing about WSU?

One of my favorite things about WSU has been getting to expand my perspectives and learn more about myself as a student, learner, and human. My favorite place on campus is VBR – it is a quieter part of campus and such a beautiful building!

What’s your favorite course you’ve taken at WSU?

One of my favorite courses that I’ve taken at WSU has been Honors 380, which I took on a faculty-led study abroad trip last summer. The trip was called “Art and the Brain” and was a collaboration between IPN, Fine Arts, and the honors college. We went to Amsterdam and Paris, and I had a ton of fun exploring both the connection between art and science and the amazing cities.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

I hope to attend grad school in a neuroscience, psychology, neuropsychology, or science communication program. I want to work in science communication/education research and hope to have a career where I can help bridge the communication gap between the scientific community and the public. I think scientific information should be accessible to people with all kinds of backgrounds, and I love learning about cognition and how we talk about, think about, and process cognitively demanding information.

Do you have a job or work in a lab or somewhere else? Describe what you do.

I have multiple jobs and work in multiple labs. I am an Honors 198 facilitator, a Biology 107 learning assistant, a peer tutor for the ASCC, and am starting as a mentor in the WriteSTEM center next semester. I have worked in the Affective and Cognitive Impacts on Decision-Making lab for four semesters. In this lab, I have worked on research and writing for a review paper on sleep loss and risk-taking, and I have run participants for a study on misinformation, decision-making, and cognitive strategies. I have worked in the Neuropsychology and Aging lab for two semesters. In this lab, I have worked on scoring participant questionnaires for a functional study related to aging and compensatory strategies. I have also been responsible for translating psychological questionnaires to and from Spanish for a cross-cultural study on compensatory strategy use. I am currently developing my honors thesis project in this lab, which will be analyzing self-efficacy and objective cognitive ability in older adults. Lastly, I have just started distance work for the sleep lab in Spokane, where I am analyzing data on trait emotional reactivity, emotional regulation, and coping in relation to sleep deprivation’s impact on affect.

What’s one of your favorite hobbies?

I love photography, travel, and sports.

What’s a unique fun fact about you?

My graduating class had only 10 kids!!