January 7 – Street Drugs & Twin Studies

ONE night, TWO researchers, THREE minute Thesis Contest Winners

We heard from two early career researchers who recently won their University’s Three-Minute-Thesis contests.

Rachel Davies, a PhD Candidate at VCU, spoke about using medicinal chemistry to make and study street drugs called Bath Salts.

And Dr. Diana Dinescu of UVA discussed using twin studies to explore the relationship between motherhood and mental health.

Diana Dinescu’s passion for working with children and families was sparked early in life, when she taught at the Jewish Community Center in her home town of Bucharest, Romania. She moved to the U.S. at the age of 19 to pursue her dream, attended Dartmouth College, earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and economics, and dedicided to keep it going in Virginia. Using behavior genetics methods, Dr. Dinescu investigates the impact of family relationships on adult mental health. Read about her prior research in a UVA article titled “Is Marriage a Buzzkill? Presently, Dr. Dinescu is a postdoctoral fellow at Kennedy Krieger Institute (a partner of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) where she provides clinical treatment to children and their families. Additionally, she continues her research with colleagues at the University of Virginia where she recently earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology and won their 2016 Three Minute Thesis Contest.

Rachel Davies’ passion for animals developed into a passion for science communication when she worked at the Nashville Zoo. There, she taught education programs as a part-time job during her undergraduate studies at Middle Tennessee State University. Then, she headed west to earn her masters at the University of California, Irvine. She is a PhD Candidate in medicinal chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, and winner of their 2017 Three-Minute-Thesis contest.