Q&A with neuroscience student Tori Wallingford

As a fan of mystery and true crime, neuroscience student Tori Wallingford says in another life she could see herself being a forensic pathologist. But after the Bellevue, Washington, native graduates this December, Tori hopes to get into veterinary school and eventually become a small animal general practitioner or an animal ophthalmologist.

How has WSU prepared you for your future?

My time at WSU has greatly strengthened my background in science, an aspect which will continue to inform and foster my future endeavors. WSU has also taught me the profound value of accountability and collaboration, in addition to encouraging me to embrace my natural curiosity.

What’s your favorite place at WSU?

My favorite place on campus is the Owen Science and Engineering Library. I’m one of those people who needs total silence in order to get anything done, and this is really the only place on WSU’s campus that allows me to be productive.

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

My favorite course that I’ve taken at WSU is Neuroanatomy, taught by both Dr. Heiko Jansen and Dr. Steve Lampa. This was the first anatomy course I had ever taken, which was initially a bit daunting, but it quickly became the class and lab period I looked forward to the most. The best part about the curriculum was the collaboration opportunities we were given to discuss neurological case studies with our peers and provide clinical diagnoses based on the patient’s signs and symptoms.

What do you hope to do when you graduate? 

When I graduate, I hope to attend veterinary school and eventually become a small animal general practitioner or an animal ophthalmologist. I’m very passionate about the preventative medicine aspects of general practice, but there’s also something about the anatomy of the eye and the unusual disorders which can arise that thrills me.

Do you have a job or work in a lab?

I currently work in Dr. Ryan McLaughlin’s lab in Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience on a project that is investigating the effects of sex hormones on cannabis vapor self-administration. When I’m back home for breaks, I also work as a veterinary assistant in a small animal clinic, doing everything from lab work to scribing and surgical assisting.

What’s your favorite hobby?

A more recent favorite hobby of mine is fostering kittens. I looked after two litters over the span of a few months this last summer, and I must say that it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It was so amazing to see the strict medicinal and dietary regimens I was following begin to work, as well as watch the kittens start to become more sociable and charming. I can’t recommend fostering enough, and it is something I definitely look forward to doing again soon in the future.

What’s a unique fun fact about you?

I am a huge fan of mystery and true crime. I grew up reading “Nancy Drew,” “The Hardy Boys,” and the like; I now enjoy listening to true crime podcasts and watching documentaries in my free time. I love reading up on old unsolved cases and trying to reason through which suspect had likely motive, opportunity, and a burden of scientific evidence against them. In another life, I think I would quite like to be involved in the field of forensic pathology.