Student Spotlight: Victoria Popov
Victoria Popov is a second year in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Popov graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with an M.S. in professional studies with concentrations in biomedical sciences, psychology, and health systems administration. She graduated with a B.S. from RIT in biomedical sciences.
Popov is currently working in the lab of John Foxe, Ph.D., and Edward Freedman, Ph.D., where her research aims to gain a better understanding of the underlying neurophysiological processes that contribute to the decline in cognitive and social functions in individuals with neurocognitive disorders. She is particularly interested in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. “A long-term goal I have is to examine the effects of deafness on cognitive and social functioning in individuals with and without schizophrenia spectrum disorders at the neurophysiological levels. Past psychological studies have shown that individuals who are Deaf view auditory hallucinations in their primary language modality. However, the underlying neurophysiological processes and networks involved are unexplored.”
As a student who is deaf, Popov is working outside of the lab to develop programs that will increase diversity and inclusion, particularly for those who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, in STEM-related fields. Popov chose the University of Rochester for her doctoral work because of the support she knew she’d receive. “Because of my bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss, it takes a team to navigate the computational neuroscience field. I need an in-person captionist to receive equal access in classrooms, during talks, and in various aspects of research. The University of Rochester was rapid in bringing together several departments and individuals to develop and ensure I had the support services I need.”
Popov recently became a member of the Del Monte Institute Neuroscience Diversity Commission and came to the University as part of the Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at URMC. PREP encourages students from historically marginalized, minoritized, or excluded groups to pursue a research doctorate. She was also a Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate scholar while at RIT – an NIH-funded program that aims to increase the number of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) individuals who pursue a Ph.D. “There are very few Deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the STEM field, and I want to change that. Every individual is different and the only way we can accurately represent society is if there is better representation at the bench, because that will trickle down to better representation among subjects,” said Popov. “And that will have a major impact on science.”