A Day in the Life of Jesse Cole: A Neuroscience Major with a Love for Jazz

Posted by Melissa Wickes on November 28, 2016

When Jesse Cole came to Binghamton, he discovered that his favorite part of his major, biology, was the nervous system. Choosing neuroscience as his new major was a no-brainer (pun intended). Through internships, research and undergraduate courses, Jesse has learned to love research, but without losing interest in music, being a tour guide and everything else he is involved in on campus.

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Hometown: Garrett Park, Md.

Major: Neuroscience

Club/organization involvement: Harpur Jazz Ensemble, Organic Chemistry tutor for UTS, Tour guide, Binghamton Scholar

Career aspirations: Clinical neurologist or psychiatrist

Step into Jesse's shoes

Jesse’s busiest day:

7:30 a.m. -- Wake up, lay in bed for a while, get ready

9 a.m. -- Tutor organic chemistry in Mountainview

11 a.m. -- Rush down to the MarketPlace to get Tully’s “for the thousandth time”

11:40 a.m. -- Behavioral Neuroscience lab course

1:05 p.m. -- Hang out with friends, work on med school essays/interview prep

2:50 p.m. -- Neurochemistry of Addiction seminar

4:15 p.m. -- Go into the research lab, work on analyzing data from experiments I do over the weekend

6-6:30 p.m. -- Grab dinner at some point with friends

7 p.m. -- Jazz band rehearsal

10 p.m. -- Go home, wind down and maybe do some more work

Neuroscience research: thinking like a scientist

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What sort of research do you do in the neuroscience program?

“Since the beginning of my sophomore year, I’ve worked in the lab of Dr. Marvin Diaz, studying fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). FASDs can occur when a pregnant mother consumes alcohol during her pregnancy, and in the past couple of years our lab has focused on the effects of moderate amounts of maternal alcohol consumption on the developing fetus. The summer after my sophomore year, I stayed in Binghamton as part of the Summer Scholars & Artists Program and started doing research on moderate prenatal alcohol exposure. I’ve done a lot of behavioral research since then, and I have had two other research internships -- one at George Mason University in Virginia involving the effects of chemotherapy on the brain and one at Rutgers University studying the development of the neocortex.”


What does a typical day in the lab look like?

“On a typical day in the lab, I usually start by reading a paper or two relating to the work I’m doing on a neuropeptide called Substance P and anxiety. I usually come in over the weekend to run a procedure called immunohistochemistry, which allows me to stain the receptor for Substance P on brain sections. Finally, I’ll sometimes work on imaging the brain sections on a fancy expensive microscope and analyze the data.”

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What have you gained from this experience?

“I’ve gained so much from undergraduate research. My research mentors, especially Dr. Diaz, have taught me how to think like a scientist. Furthermore, spending all of this time learning from my mentors outside of my typical classes has taught me a ton about various areas of neuroscience.”

What has been your biggest accomplishment here at Binghamton?

"My biggest accomplishment at Binghamton isn’t academic- or research­-related. Instead, I think it is coming out and transitioning to being openly gay. I didn’t realize I was gay until late in my freshman year here, and it took a while after that to come out even to my close friends and family. The support I’ve gotten from them and from numerous people at Binghamton is something I will always cherish. It feels great to know that who I am is respected here at Binghamton."

Fun Facts:

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  • Has been to almost every US state
  • Ate bacon for the first time in his sophomore year of college
  • Was born in California and lived there until he was 6
  • Met Tim Kaine in 2014
  • Sat behind President Barack Obama when he came to Binghamton (on his second day of college!)

What is your dream job?

“My dream job is to be a practicing doctor working in a hospital. I’d like to work with patients but also stay involved in research in some capacity, whether that is partnering with translational researchers and/or doing clinical research myself. I think it would be really cool to be involved in research on disorders such as addiction, neurodegenerative disease, or something like that, while also being able to apply new discoveries to helping real patients.”

Tour guiding and jamming out

What is your most memorable tour guide experience?

“Earlier this semester, I was in the Admissions Center, and a freshman was walking by and recognized me as her tour guide from when she had visited Binghamton the previous year. She said my tour was a big part of why she decided to come to Binghamton. I still remember who my tour guide was when I visited Binghamton as a high school senior, and they had a big impact on my decision to come here, so being able to have done that for someone else is incredibly rewarding."

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What is it like being in the Harpur Jazz Ensemble?

"It’s so much fun being in the Harpur Jazz Ensemble. We have a phenomenal director, Mike Carbone, who keeps rehearsals fun while also getting the absolute best out of the band."

What is your favorite part?

"In my three-plus years in the band, I’ve met so many great people, and the band has always been such a great group of friends."

What’s next?

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"Next year, I hope to be in medical school! I’m currently finishing up secondary applications and going to interviews, and I really hope I get accepted."

Melissa Wickes is a senior from East Williston, N.Y., majoring in English--creative writing. She is a member of the a cappella group The Vibes, Alpha Epsilon Phi and she enjoys exploring new cheeses in her spare time.

Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? E-mail us at social@binghamton.edu.