Undergraduate Research Program

Shannon Hong

Major: Neuroscience
Mentor: Samira Moorjani, Physiology and Biophysics


Current research project: Assessing Changes in Connectivity Between the Motor Cortex and Spinal Cord After Chronic Spinal Cord Injury


Shannon is a junior majoring in Neuroscience while studying in the Honors Program. She is currently working in the Moorjani Lab, where she is investigating motor recovery from spinal cord injury in rats. Through her research, she hopes to explore the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience and contribute innovative solutions to an injury that affects thousands of people every year. Outside of research, she enjoys sharing her passion for science with the UW community as secretary of the Neurobiology Club and reporter for The Daily.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The Moorjani Lab develops neuromodulatory strategies to promote motor recovery after chronic spinal cord injury in adult rats. Although our therapies aim to strengthen corticospinal connections weakened by the injury, I wanted to explore this in a more quantitative context. For my project, I am assessing the strength of the connections between the motor cortex and spinal cord and how they are modulated by both injury and therapy. This is done through implanting cortical and spinal array wires in injured rats and using an electrophysiology system to conduct recording sessions with them.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
During my freshman year, I got involved in the Neurobiology Club Mentorship Program. My mentor at the time knew I was seeking research opportunities so he encouraged me to apply for the lab he was working at. I was fortunate enough to get the position and I have been working at the Moorjani Lab ever since! Although my interest in research stemmed from my desire to apply what I was learning in my coursework, I have gained various other skills in my time as a researcher, ranging from rodent handling to experimental design.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Although it may be tempting to accept the first research opportunity you hear back from, your work will be much more rewarding if you get involved in a field you are genuinely passionate about. It’s also okay if you have no prior experience in your field of interest—I definitely didn’t have any when I joined my lab but by asking questions and broadening my investigative mindset, my knowledge of neuroscience has expanded immensely. If you ever need help navigating projects you are interested in, please feel free to reach out to me or our wonderful URP staff!