Graduate student spotlight: Investigating the links between the immune system and Parkinson’s disease

Throughout the year, we highlight Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s doctoral students. This month, we’re featuring Alysa Kasen, a Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Lena Brundin. Alysa investigates how infections may trigger processes that contribute to Parkinson’s disease.   

How would you describe your area of study to someone without a science background?

My work is focused on understanding how infections can cause the immune system to dysfunction and possibly contribute to Parkinson’s disease.

What do you want to do with your degree?

I want to continue studying the connection between inflammation and neurodegenerative or psychiatric diseases.

Did you take time off before starting your Ph.D. degree or come directly from an undergraduate or master’s degree program?

I came to Van Andel Institute Graduate School directly out of my bachelor’s degree.

What is your favorite stress-reduction technique?

I love to take my dogs out on a hike when I am stressed.

What accomplishment (academic or other) are you most proud of?

I have been most proud of my acceptance to Van Andel Institute Graduate School. I remember running down the hallway of Northern Michigan University to my undergraduate faculty mentor’s office to share the news with him.

Why did you choose Van Andel Institute Graduate School?

I knew I wanted to work in a neuroscience lab. VAI has so many well-known scientists in the department I knew I would be able to work with so many brilliant scientists.

Interested in Van Andel Institute Graduate School? Learn more at vaigs.vai.org and read previous student spotlights here. Read more about the M.D./Ph.D. program here.