Q&A with neuroscience student Jacob Buursma

Jacob Buursma is majoring in neuroscience at WSU.

Barry Goldwater Scholar Jacob Buursma is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in pre-medical neuroscience with the plan to graduate in 2024. From Gig Harbor, Washington, Buursma has made the most of his time at WSU, gaining valuable experience in research labs and serving as a research peer mentor with the Office of Undergraduate Research and a peer recovery coach with Cougs for Recovery.

How has WSU prepared you for your future?

WSU has allowed me the opportunity to work as a research peer mentor, a peer recovery coach, and a research assistant. These roles are immensely valuable to me and have opened the door to impactful experiences that positively shape the way I think and act. The character attributes and valuable skills that I’m developing through the opportunities I’ve had at WSU will undoubtedly help me achieve my goal of becoming an effective and compassionate clinician-scientist.

What’s your favorite place at WSU?

My favorite place at WSU is the Veterinary and Biomedical Research Building. The architecture is awesome. The lab spaces are open and filled with natural light, making it a nice place to work. The greenhouse on top of Abelson is another favorite place of mine on campus.

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

I’ve taken many courses at WSU that were great, so it would be hard to single out a favorite from that list. Among my favorites, I would have to include NEUROSCI 301, 302, and 403, taught by Dr. Ryan McLaughlin, Dr. Rita Fuchs, and Drs. Michel Varnum and Gary Waymen, respectively. All the neuroscience courses I’ve taken have been great.

What do you hope to do when you graduate? 

After graduating, my goal is to matriculate into medical school with the intention of becoming a psychiatrist and clinical researcher. I aspire to dedicate my career as a future clinician-scientist toward the advancement of novel, translational and clinical psychiatric research and the development of more effective treatment models aimed at improving therapeutic outcomes for substance use disorders (SUDs) and mitigating the societal costs of SUDs.

Do you work in a lab?

I work as a research assistant in the Delevich lab, where we use systems neuroscience approaches to examine how internal and external factors, for example, cannabis vapor, effect adolescent development. The goal of the lab is to understand how certain brain pathways or cell types might be involved in producing both healthy and diseased-state behavior. I am also a research peer mentor with the Office of Undergraduate Research. This position involves mentoring other undergraduate students interested in research, guest presenting in classes, and other outreach efforts to help students get involved in research. I also work as a peer recovery coach with Cougs for Recovery, where I head the All-recovery meetings and participate in other outreach efforts to promote a community of recovery and growth on campus.

What’s one of your favorite hobbies?

I enjoy reading philosophy and psychology. Recently I’ve been reading “To Have or To Be” by Eric Fromm and “On Becoming a Person” by Carl Rogers.

What’s a unique fun fact about you? 

I completed a one-year program in audio production at the University of Washington before coming to WSU.