Next in the SDRC’s blog series focussing on early career researchers, is a blog from Mizuki Morisaki, a PhD student at the University of St Andrews. Mizuki’s work relates to the SDRC’s Fundamental Science theme.

 I am a third year PhD student at the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, and I am funded by the Japan Student Services Organization and St Leonard’s College, University of St Andrews.

I started my undergraduate degree in Psychology at the St Andrews in 2011. During my undergraduate, I became more interested in the underlying mechanisms of all psychological processes, such as memory and learning, which led me to study neuroscience, and later specifically ageing in the brain. I was probably particularly attracted to this field because of my background. I grew up in a tiny village in southern Japan where the vast majority of residents are over 65. This may not be surprising, but I became quite aware of the importance of healthy ageing and started to wonder about its underlying mechanism. Although we all agree that ageing is a risk factor for all diseases and particularly neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. I really enjoyed studying this field during the final year of my undergraduate, so I decided to continue in the same department for my PhD.

In my PhD project, I study how stress impacts brain ageing. Many of us have a negative association with the word “stress”. However, it is surprisingly difficult to define stress and its negative or positive effects on the brain. Moreover, how stress interacts with ageing is again yet to be discovered. I use multiple models to investigate the effects of stress-related biomarkers on ageing on neurons. I mainly focus on how glucocorticoids (known as stress hormones) affect age-related biomarkers.

 The SDRC will be posting blogs featuring bios from ECRs throughout August. Follow us on Twitter so you can keep up to date with the series.