“Driven, silly and busy,” Shauna Odum takes on the world of neuroscience

Senior Shauna Odum is a researcher, Criminal Minds fanatic and self-described “STEM girlie.” She has always been fascinated by all things science, so a neuroscience major was the perfect fit.

“I love science, and I really liked psychology when I was younger. But I also really liked the other more hard sciences. I remember I was looking at some college when I was applying and they had a neuroscience program. They were like, ‘it’s basically a psychology mixed with a biology major,’ and I was like, ‘yeah, that sounds right, and that’s what I want to do,’” Odum said.

After graduation, Odum plans to keep developing this passion by pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience. With this, she hopes to keep doing research, a path Michele Johnson, a biology professor at Trinity, inspired her to take.

“I think she’s one of the most wonderful women ever, and I aspire to be like her when I’m older. I want to go into research, and I think she’s not only an amazing professor and great at biology, but she’s also a really good mentor. I’d like to be like that someday,” Odum said.

As the secretary of Trinity Women in Science and Technology (TWIST), Odum further stresses the importance of being a woman in her field and supporting minority voices.

“I think it’s really important to help support other women in science because it’s not always easy to be a woman in the room — it’s mostly men,” Odum said.

In addition to being the secretary of TWIST, Odum is a peer tutor for the biology department, as well as the secretary of her sorority, Alpha Chi Lambda.

Within her biology classes at Trinity, Odum had the chance to conduct her own research. Last semester, she studied the effects of testosterone on lizards but describes her proudest moment as what followed after.

“My lab went to a biology conference, and it was so fun. I never thought that I would do that. If you’d have asked high school me if I would go and present a poster on the research I’ve been doing, I’d have been like ‘No way. I’m way too anxious about public speaking. I hate it.’ But I was really proud of myself for not only doing all the work to get it all put together, but then being able to buck up and do it instead of being afraid of talking to all these people,” Odum said.

Looking back at her time at Trinity, Odum found that one other moment in particular stuck out: late-night breakfast her freshman year.

“Me and a bunch of my friends, we had no reason to be up that late. It wasn’t like we had a final the next day or something, but we stayed up for midnight breakfast. We all went in our pajamas, and I remember it was freezing that day. It was so cold. We were all standing out in line, shivering, waiting for breakfast. The experience of going in there and sitting in Mabee, and it’s ridiculously loud because it’s so full of people, but it’s the middle of the night on a reading day. It just felt like the happiness before the stressful finals kick in, like your last little fun thing to do,” Odum said.

To her past self and to other Trinity students, Odum has just one piece of advice.

“You need to put yourself out there. I tend to be kind of more reserved and quiet and scared of putting myself out there, and I think I’ve been able to grow a lot over the past few years and doing that, I think it’s helped me a lot in my life. I’ve made friends that I never would have made friends with if I didn’t just walk over and say hi to them. It’s especially hard when you’re young to put yourself out there because you’re scared people are going to make fun of you or that you’re going to look stupid, but that’s part of life. Sometimes you do things and you look stupid, but that’s okay, because then you learn from it,” Odum said.