Baylor University
Psychology and Neuroscience
College of Arts and Sciences

Hillary Blakeley, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow
Boston University
While working on her undergraduate degree at Wheaton College, Hillary Blakeley knew she wanted to pursue post-grad education somewhere. The question was where. During the application process her senior year, Baylor caught her eye for several reasons. "I liked the idea of attending a school dedicated to research but also dedicated to maintaining their faith-based heritage," she says. The doctoral candidate in neuroscience was also drawn to the relaxed atmosphere the department portrayed, which was important to her as she had just gotten married. However there was one more incentive that put Baylor over the top. "The third reason I chose Baylor, to be totally honest, was the compensation," she says. "Baylor's stipend is actually pretty good (from what I know) especially when compared to the cost of living in Waco." Once here, Hillary realized she had made the right choice. "One of the things that I've really appreciated about my Baylor experience is the flexibility the program allows," she says. "I have had several opportunities to do things outside of my department I teach at the community college and I'm a graduate fellow with the Academy for Teaching and Learning at Baylor and the faculty have always been supportive of graduate students gaining those experiences in addition to the work we do in lab." That lab work includes research focusing on a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is highly involved in social behavior. "My dissertation project investigates excitability in the amygdala and its possible role in autism spectrum disorders." She adds, "I use a technique called whole-cell electrophysiology, which allows me to measure physiological properties of individual neurons in live brain tissue which is a lot more interesting than it may sound!" Hillary has found the small department and class sizes to be beneficial in her studies, with professors having the luxury of getting to know each and every student. "The faculty here are great™and they are very invested in our success," she says. Having already received her master's at Baylor, Hillary plans to complete her doctorate here as well then pursue a post-doctoral position to broaden her research skills. After that her plan is to teach at a research institution, but she will miss living in central Texas. "I'll admit it took a little getting used to, but this really is a great place to live."