Neuro alum Oliver Sussman (‘21) has received a Fulbright Scholarship in support of cognitive neuroscience research that he will pursue in Luca Bonatti’s lab at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.
“I’m beyond thrilled, and deeply grateful for all the support I’ve received at Harvard: from the Caramazza lab, from Ryan Draft and the Neuro department more broadly, and from Chris Gerry, my fellowships tutor,” Sussman says.
For Sussman, the Fulbright year will both bolster his neuroscience research experience and offer immersion in the culture of the Catalonia region. “I’ve been to Barcelona once before, and I fell in love with the city: its energy, its liveability, and the way in which it combines an international feel with a distinctive Catalonian character,” he says. “I’m also excited to practice my Spanish, pick up some Catalan, and visit some of my relatives who live there!”
Sussman’s research project will delve into how verbal reasoning differs from non-verbal reasoning using fMRI experiments. “My project is in a similar vein to my thesis research (which was also an fMRI experiment), albeit aimed at quite different research questions,” Sussman explains. “My general goal for a Fulbright project was to gain further research experience in cognitive neuroscience while trying out new areas of interest prior to selecting a focus for a PhD, and I found that Prof. Bonatti’s lab overlapped perfectly with the topics I most wanted to explore next: language, fundamental cognitive science, and intersections with philosophy of mind.”
“Oliver is a serious and gifted scholar,” says Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in Neuroscience Ryan Draft. “He has followed his interests into the intersection of philosophy, cognitive science, and neuroscience. His experience at Harvard – in courses, research, and abroad (studying Spanish in Argentina) will serve him well in Barcelona, where he will begin his next research project to study the development of thought and reason.”
He adds that his undergraduate research career didn’t follow the typical timeline and is glad that the Fulbright program is offering an opportunity to expand and elaborate upon his past research experiences. “I began my undergraduate research career relatively late, and in a pandemic no less; as a result, I was concerned I lacked the requisite experience to be a competitive applicant,” Sussman says. “If you’re in my position, I highly encourage you to apply! The Fulbright selection criteria are quite holistic, and I think it can be a great opportunity to deepen early research experience.”
Congratulations to Oliver Sussman!