Melissa Lee is a fourth year Haslam Scholar majoring in Integrative Neuroscience, which combines neurobiology with disciplines such as philosophy and poetry through the College Scholars Program. She has worked in Dr. Rebecca Prosser's laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology since her freshman year, studying the localization and temporal expression patterns of extracellular proteins in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the brain. With a proposal based on this research, she was awarded a 2013 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. She is also studying the effects of acute social defeat stress on proteins within the basolateral amygdala of mice in collaboration with Dr. Matthew Cooper's laboratory in the Department of Psychology. In the fall of 2013, Melissa spent 5 months in Dr. Isabelle Mansuy's laboratory at the Brain Research Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, studying the miRNA regulation of memory formation.
In her freshman year, Melissa, along with fellow Haslam Scholar, Mark Remec, founded the Undergraduate Research Students' Association, which aims to help better connect students and faculty members into undergraduate research positions, create an undergraduate research community, and promote undergraduate research. She is the principal organizer of the Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium and is editor-in-chief of Pursuit: The Journal of Undergraduate Research. She sits on the Undergraduate Research Student Advisory Committee as well as the Carnegie Application Advisory Committee and represented UT as a student ambassador at the Inaugural SEC Symposium in early 2013.
Melissa is co-founder and vice president of the UT Neuroscience Club. She was a weekly columnist for The Daily Beacon and is working with fellow Haslam Scholar, RJ Vogt, to create a means for students to translate leftover meals into dollars donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank. When she graduates, she will pursue a PhD in neuroscience and wishes to study the cellular and molecular bases of neurodegenerative disease or memory formation as a professor at a research university.