Tatiana Thompson '22
Summer Plans: Research Associate
Hometown: Bridgeport, Connecticut
Major: Neuroscience, Health Professions Advising concentration
I’m spending the summer researching a fascinating and important topic. What a lot of people don’t know, and what might surprise them, is that a large number of people in the Nazi regime were physicians. Learning that and thinking about it in the context of the Holocaust and mass murder, which is devoid of all medical ethics, raised the question for us about the correlation between studying ethics and studying medicine. How was it that people who took an oath to protect human life became enticed with the idea of ending it? We’re thinking about that idea in the context of today’s medical students by studying medical school curriculums from across the country—using universities similar to Holy Cross—and seeing if there’s a correlation between those institutions that have courses on the Holocaust and medical bioethics and outcomes for students who are “successful” in the medical field they pursue. For students who are taking detailed courses in medical ethics and then going in to healthcare or STEM fields, is there a difference in the way they’re approaching their studies? Their patients? How they participate in clinical trials? We’re in the beginning stages, but we believe that if students are not that well informed about medical ethics, things like the Holocaust can happen again.
I’m looking forward to branching out and doing my own research. I’m interested in working on a spinoff of what we are doing here, and hopefully staying with Professor Daniel Bitran. I’m on the Health Professions Advising track and a neuroscience track, and the psychology behind genocide is fascinating—I could see wanting to branch out and do my own research, in particular looking at the underlying psychological effects of denial. I’m interested in how in denial many of the participants were during the Holocaust, and how they did things and mentally managed things so that not all of the responsibility was on them—so they didn’t have to take full responsibility. I’m curious to explore more about the science of denial.
Holy Cross does a good job of promoting opportunities for research. From when I first got here, even from orientation and the very beginning, everyone said it was amazing to do research here and I should look for the opportunity. My approach was to be proactive—I went online and found professors with research I might be interested in and reached out to them to ask, can I help? When I first learned about this particular research, I had just started my sophomore year. Professor Bitran wasn’t really sure if he was going to move ahead with this, but I told him I was really interested if he was. Ultimately, I think the research will help schools and universities, including Holy Cross, to ask questions: what kind of students are we producing? What should we care about besides what grades students are getting and what graduate schools they get into? What motivates individuals and students to ask questions beyond what is taught in the classroom?
As a neuroscience major in the health professions advising program, I already knew I wanted to go in to medicine, but I am still in the process of figuring out what it is that I want to do with going to medical school. I knew I was interested in research, but I also liked working with people, so I may also want to work in a hospital. Through this experience, I know that research is something I want to continue to do. It changed my trajectory and made me interested in what other things I can do with research, such as looking more into the psychological effects of denial.
Click to read more student summer profiles: Paulina Martin ’21, Ramses Taveras ’22, Elizabeth Larkin ’21, Charlie Millard ’22, Mandusu Sidibay ’21, Christopher Smith ’22, Christina Casey ’22, Billy Fitzpatrick ’20.
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