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Shveta Parekh is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience program in the Psychology & Neuroscience department.  

1. Tell us a little more about what  you’re  studying at the moment and/or what your research focuses on.

My research focuses on the importance of inflammation throughout addiction. I am currently studying the neuroimmune consequences of chronic heroin use and withdrawal on cytokines and glial cells in a rodent animal model. This research will help gain a better understanding of underlying biological mechanisms of heroin use and withdrawal.  

2. What are your general career interests or professional goals after graduate school?

Through my graduate program, I was able to be instructor of record for an undergraduate course. Through this experience, I have come to realize I have a passion for teaching and mentoring. I am interested in working in a teaching-intensive role at a liberal arts institute following graduate school. I hope to teach multiple undergraduate courses, as well as oversee an undergraduate research-focused laboratory. 

3. How has participating in the Graduate School’s professional development programs and offerings benefited your professional development? Is there a particular program or resource that has helped you the most or that you found to be especially valuable? 

All the workshops through the graduate school have been amazing. Two of my favorites are the Effective Mentoring series and UNC’s partnership with the Center for Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). The Effective Mentoring 4-week workshop trained me in how to be an effective mentor to my undergraduate research students, and this will directly translate to being an effective mentor to undergraduates in my future job. Furthermore, the teaching development programs offered by CIRTL have been monumental towards enhancing my teaching-focused education. These courses discuss multiple aspects of teaching such as equity and inclusion, learner-centered education, and reflective decision-making. The knowledge and skills that I have learned during these courses were truly eye opening and are heavily utilized during my own teaching. UNC’s partnership with the CIRTL Network has enhanced my experience of evidence-based teaching practices and allowed me to make connections with a diverse learning community.  

4. Are there other steps you are taking now as a graduate student to prepare yourself for the job market/your industry?

I have been taking classes through CIRTL, namely the MOOC Introduction of Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM teaching, as well as working towards my CIRTL Practitioner Certificate.  

5. What is something you wish you had known about professional development in your first year of graduate school? 

I wish I had known that professional development is just as important as your research, and needs to be explored from day one of graduate school. If I could do it all over again, I would have started attending professional development seminars and working towards building connections during my first year of graduate school. There are multiple resources available at UNC and there is so much to take advantage of. 

6. Do you have any professional development or career planning advice to offer your fellow graduate students?

Spend a lot of time exploring multiple careers through informational interviews. There are so many potential opportunities following graduate school that you may not even know about. My own perspective on my career has been evolving over the past four years. Find professionals in a field you think you might be interested in learning more about and talk to them! 

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