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Jacob McLennan (Neuro ‘20) Garners Dowling Thesis Prize

Jacob McLennan (Neuro ‘20) Garners Dowling Thesis Prize

Jacob McLennan (Neuro ‘20) has been chosen to receive this year’s Dowling Thesis Prize. The award, named for MCB faculty John Dowling, recognizes outstanding thesis work in neurobiology by an undergraduate.

Dowling, who read McLennan’s thesis, is pleased to see it garner the award. “Jacob’s thesis was a delight,” Dowling says. “It was an engaging and fun read on an important topic in neuroscience, namely neuroplasticity.”

“Specifically, it focused on the role of serotonin on enhancing auditory perceptual learning,” Dowling continues. “It first showed nicely the anatomical pathways of the serotonin neurons involved, and the innervation by these cells of VIP-containing neurons. The second part of the thesis discussed behavioral experiments testing the effect of serotonin on the VIP cells and perceptual learning. So both anatomical and behavioral experiments were undertaken by Jacob and discussed. The experiments were described clearly and were easily understandable. It read more like a PhD thesis than an undergraduate thesis. A splendid job!”

McLennan is likewise excited about the award but will miss the Neuroscience community at Harvard.

“When I think back to freshman year to where I am now, I cannot believe how much the Neuro community has taught me,” McLennan says. “Being part of the Neuro community has meant so much to me. The advising team has guided me through my college experience from my declaration of Neuro as my concentration to handing in my senior thesis. My brilliant classmates have always been friendly faces I can count on. I cherished the opportunity to not only learn from my Neuro professors, but also to get to know each of them well.”

“I would like to thank the Takesian Lab for all of their support, especially Dr. Anne Takesian [HMS] and Dr. Carolyn Sweeney [HMS],” he adds. “Also, I would also like to express my gratitude for my family who encouraged me throughout the thesis process and all of my studies at Harvard.”

Congratulations to Jacob!


by Diana Crow

Jacob McLennan

Jacob McLennan