Graduate Student Spotlight: Megan Slaker
I met Megan for
lunch at a local hangout named Billygan’s near the Washington State
University campus in Vancouver, Washington.
It is an unassuming
place where there are always peanuts in the shell on the table and empty
peanut shells lying on the floor, very casual and very comfortable.
As I introduced myself to Megan and she herself to me, I understood
why she picked this environment to tell me about herself and her life.
At first glance it’s apparent that she is an easy person to be around
but let there be no mistake that she is a focused young lady with the drive
of someone who’s had a dream since they were twelve years old of being a
scientist. You see, Megan has always
loved science and problem solving.
Grove, MN, just west of Minneapolis, is
where Megan grew up.
She has an “unusually close
relationship” with her mom and her dad
is a “tough love kind of guy”.
Looking at her pictures you can see that
Megan and her parents are three peas in
a pod. As a child, her interests
included soccer and Girl Scouts until
she reached her sophomore year in high
school and stumbled in to a job at a
gymnastics club for kids which she
The summer between her junior and
senior year Megan traveled to Germany to
visit an exchange student that she and
her family hosted for a month during her
While she was there she attended school, traveled and watched all of
the 2006 World Cup soccer games.
After completing her BA
in Biology at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN, the same school her
parents call their alma mater, Megan came to WSU in Pullman to study
Neuroscience under her advisor, Barb Sorg. In 2012 Megan, along with the
entire Sorg lab, moved to WSU Vancouver to continue their research on how to
prevent relapse to cocaine in rats.
Megan’s research interests are in drug addiction, “specifically, what
makes certain individuals prone to addiction and others seemingly immune to
it, but all aspects
drug addiction interests me”.
Her interest in addiction began in
junior high and high school when she noticed many of her friends starting to
use drugs. However, her decision to
pursue research in addiction wasn’t determined until after her junior year
in college when she attended a seminar presented by a Neuroscientist on the
topic of natural highs.
After that time she says, “I started
reading all I could about addiction and haven't been able to stop”. Megan
recently completed a presentation for her Bioethics course where she
presented the ethical question, “Should drug addicts be considered
autonomous individuals, capable of providing their own informed consent?”.
When I asked her if
there was anything else she wanted to add to this story she said, “A long
term goal for myself is to stay happy and healthy. Life gets stressful and I
get busy, but I don't want to let that dampen my spirit or wear on my
health”. A perfect quote from an