Q&A with neuroscience student Sydney Ackerman

Sydney Ackerman dreams of one day becoming a veterinarian. The Spokane native and Mead High School alumna will graduate in May from the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine with a degree in neuroscience (with minors in zoology and French), and while she plans to take a short break from school, she aspires to return to Pullman to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

How has WSU prepared you for your future?

WSU has helped to prepare me for my future through the wealth of opportunities there are. I’ve been able to do undergraduate research, an internship in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and go to Peru to provide veterinary services to underserved communities through a student club.

What’s your favorite place at WSU?

My favorite place at WSU is the climbing gym. I didn’t realize we had a climbing gym until I got into climbing over summer 2023 in Spokane and looked it up to find somewhere to climb when I came back to school. I’ve taken a few courses at the wall to learn to climb outside and to learn how to set new climbs, and all the staff members are friendly and cool.

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

My favorite course I’ve taken at WSU is Neuro 409 with my research mentor Dr. Giannotti. The course was called Affective Neuroscience, and, basically, we just learned about various types of affective (emotional) disorders like anxiety, depression, or bipolar. He also taught us about the actual techniques and procedures used in neuroscience research, which was pretty cool, especially once I got into the lab and started seeing these techniques in person.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

When I graduate, I’ll be taking a gap year while applying to veterinary school to hopefully start in fall 2025 (hopefully still at WSU).

Do you work in a lab on campus?

I’ve been doing research with Giuseppe Giannotti’s lab this school year. The lab focuses on heroin relapse and how a specific brain region, the PVT, is involved with relapse and withdrawal. I actually just presented this research at SURCA and won a Crimson Award.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

In my free time I enjoy reading as well as outdoor activities like hiking and rock climbing.

What’s a unique fun fact about you?

My parents and some of my grandparents went to WSU, so we’ve always been a Coug family. When I was a baby, we had a stuffed Butch T. Cougar that danced and played the fight song and said “Go Cougs” at the end. I loved this so much that “Go Cougs!” were my first words, so apparently, I was always meant to come here.