Student Star: Miranda Johnson

Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Award

Name: Miranda Johnson

“I had no idea that I would have accomplished what I have so far in my undergraduate career. This university has supported my research and fostered my desire for knowledge.”

Miranda Johnson was the recipient of an Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Award (URCAA) and an Honors Thesis Award for her research on the neurobiological aspects of activity-based anorexia. “When I graduated from high school, I was not sure what I wanted to study. FSU had plenty of organizations and resources that I felt would help me discover my passion. FSU has exceeded my expectations.” A senior Psychology and English Literature double major, Miranda has transformed from a School of Theatre student interested in performance to an undergraduate research stand-out with aspirations of attaining a PhD in Neuroscience.

“When I was a Theatre major, FSU gave me an outlet to experience what I feel, the playwright intended. This college has plenty of organizations that provide a place for students to express their ideas and passions about their fields and outside interests. Once I decided to focus my studies on Psychology, specifically Neuroscience, there were so many opportunities for research. I had no idea that I would have accomplished what I have so far in my undergraduate career. This university has supported my research and fostered my desire for knowledge.”

After spending the summer working on a research project under the direction of her professor and mentor, Dr. Lisa Eckel, Miranda was inspired to pursue an Honors in the Major thesis to continue her work. She received funding for her research and was given the opportunity to present her work at a symposium held at the FSU College of Medicine. She will also present a poster at the FSU Undergraduate Research Symposium being held this month. Besides devoting time to fulfilling her intellectual curiosity, Miranda has taken advantage of a range of opportunities offered at FSU.

“Even though research is an important aspect in my college experience, I truly believe that other activities have nurtured my diverse interests as well. FSU has an incredible performing arts program. I enjoy seeing main-stage, as well as student-directed theater productions. The incredible faculty in the English Literature department constantly challenge me to think critically about literature and the impact a text can have on society.”

Miranda also volunteers as a crisis counselor with 211 Big Bend, a non-profit organization that offers information, referrals, and crisis counseling to members of the Big Bend community. “The training that I received stressed the importance of establishing a connection with the caller, and more importantly, listening to their needs. 211 fosters a compassionate attitude and strives to help our community. Because of the experience that I had with 211, there is no doubt in my mind that I am more aware of community issues, and that because of these issues, I want to become more involved in finding solutions.”

With the FSU Neuroscience program, she assisted with the Brain Bee and Brain Awareness Week. During the Brain Bee, she presented her research to high school students in Leon County to help spark interest in the basic fundamentals of neuroscience.

“This experience gave me the opportunity to meet graduate students in the program who have fueled my need for education beyond an undergraduate degree. More importantly, I look forward to working with kids and helping them to discover a love for science.”

Miranda was recognized by President Wetherell at the Office of National Fellowships banquet in the spring of 2008. “That night, I was inspired by the diversity of FSU. The students that came [to the banquet] were from many different fields of study and truly showcased what can be achieved by students today.”

Miranda will graduate this spring and hopes to continue studying the biological controls of food intake until she has earned her PhD. Her goal is to research and teach in an academic setting. “After all of my experiences in college, I would love to give back to students and inspire them to become more involved in their studies.”