By Nathan Stephenson, Contributor
University of Nebraska at Omaha student Shauna Kister will travel to Munich, Germany in March to attend an exclusive, international neuroscience conference.
Kister, a junior neuroscience major, and nine other students from outside Germany were awarded admission into the Munich Brain Course, which will feature presentations from 27 leading experts in neuroscience. The students will have the unique opportunity to participate in hands-on workshops dissecting human brains.
“Most researchers work with rats, birds or monkeys,” Kister said.“With humans, you have a lot more hoops to jump through.”
The conference has taken place annually since September 2004. Kister will stay in a hostel with other students attending the course, which runs from March 25–28.
This is the second year in a row that a UNO undergraduate has been awarded the competitive scholarship from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, which is awarded to only 10 students worldwide.
“When I put it on my Facebook page, people went crazy,” Kister said.
She learned about the program when UNO alumnus Maxwell Virus and undergraduate Beth Fetzerwere awarded admission into the course last year.
“[Virus] never came back,” Kister said. “He likes it there.”
To earn the scholarship, each applicant submitted a transcript, academic resume, letter of recommendation and motivation statement.
“I talked about my job, but emphasized school,” Kister said. “I must’ve said something right.”
Kister is a mental health technician at the Lincoln Mental Health Crisis Center, where she has worked for over five years.
Despite her particular interest in mental health disorders, she was initially apprehensive about applying to the center.
“I didn’t apply there for years. I thought it’d be creepy,” Kister said.“But it’s smooth sailing when I’m there.”
She is also a psychiatric technicianat Lincoln’s Regional Center, where she has worked for eight years.
“[The patients] are the most fascinating people I have ever met in my life,” Kister said. “It’s never dull.”
She is a member of Suzanne Sollars’ laboratory, is active in Nu RhoPsi, NeuroWOW and Green Basis,and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience.
Kister lives in Lincoln, but commutes to Omaha to attend UNO because the university has one of the only neuroscience programs in the state. The College of Arts and Sciences established the first neuroscience undergraduate degree program in the Nebraska systemin 2009. Before that, the UNO neuroscience program existed within the psychology department.
Kister graduates next year, and is trying to figure out her post-graduation plans. She is considering attending graduate school at Colorado State University.
This will be the fourth time she has traveled abroad. When she was 18, Kister traveled to Europe with the Nebraska Ambassadors of Music where she performed in seven countries in 21 days in a concert band.
After she graduated from Doane College with a bachelor’s in organizational communication, she went to Germany on a travel scholarship. In 2011, she traveled to Europe with her family for her cousin’s 70th birthday.
“It’s kind of an addiction,” Kister said.