Scientist Spotlight: Eva Morozko – hitting her mark in the lab and on the field

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Interview by Maria Montchal
Art by Blake Miranda

This week's scientist spotlight is on Eva Morozko, Ph.D. student in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at UCI who studies Huntington's Disease with Dr. Leslie Thompson. Eva is also Co-Chair of the Professional Development Committee of the CNLM Ambassador Program. We chatted with her about science and archery!

How did you get into neuroscience?
Neurobiology has always been a topic I was interested in. I believe the first thing that caught my attention was learning about the neuromuscular junction, that is, how our neurons connect to our muscles to move them. My mother had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease that greatly affects movement. So I’ve been interested in how our brain functions to control the different systems in our body and how those connections breakdown during disease ever since.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Being able to ask questions and run experiments to answer them instead of relying on others to figure it out. I’ve always been a tactile learner and being able to use my hands to figure stuff out is my happy place.  Plus, my field is very family oriented due to the nature of the disease I study (Huntington’s) so being a part of that emotionally is very rewarding.

What is one thing you think people should know about science?
Sometimes we need to answer smaller questions first before we get to the big picture. Organisms are complicated structures that rely on tiny molecules randomly interacting at times to function. Understanding these small events helps us understand how we function as a whole.

What is an area of research you think is really interesting outside of what you do, and why?
I’m really interested in virology and how viruses may cause or contribute to disease. Viruses are so cool since they are literally just DNA (or RNA) that can hijack your cells and trick them into doing something against their will. Creepy but amazingly powerful, tiny particles that can mutate to survive and be dormant until ready to strike!

Tell me about an interesting/unexpected hobby you have.
I’ve been competing as a collegiate archer for the last 4 years. I shoot Olympic Recurve aka the bows they shoot at the Olympics and have won a few national titles. It’s challenging and requires me to focus on something else entirely for a while. Sort of like yoga with pointy objects.

If you had to pick another job/career, what would it be and why?
I would be an FBI or CIA agent working in Biosecurity or Homeland security. My original dream career was a forensic scientist until I realized I’d most likely be running the same type of tests again and again which seemed boring once I started doing lab research in college. Being a field agent or investigative agent would allow me to still work on puzzles and answer questions but just be cooler. That or I’d go back in time, learn how to play an instrument (i.e. not be musically illiterate) and compose film scores for movies like Gravity or Harry Potter.

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Scientist Spotlight is a series of the CNLM Ambassador Program's Communications Committee. The committee is led by graduate student Maria Montchal

About the artist
Blake Miranda is a UCI Alum '18 and has worked at UCI in a variety of academic and clinical roles. He combines his lifelong love of art with the mission of the CNLM Ambassadors. His research interests include how maltreatment in early childhood influences the likelihood of developing neurological disorders, as well as the role of drug and non-drug interventions for Alzheimer’s disease. Click here to email Blake.