Merima Sabanovic

Merima Sabanovic, Class of 2018.

Home Region
Bosnia and Herzegovina

What I'm Studying
Biology

Favorite Campus Food
Dhal

Favorite Abu Dhabi Activity
See the sunset on the Corniche

Interests
Tutoring, volunteering, and doing plenty of reading

Me in a Nutshell
Lab rat

Science is a constantly changing field.

There are always more questions to answer and the boundary of what is possible is always being pushed. It requires one to always be abreast with the current advancement and I enjoy that constant pursuit of more knowledge.

There is no one single person that knows everything and the collaborative efforts are what makes research new and interesting.

Merima Sabanovic, Class of 2018

However, it also involves a lot of challenging work, not just physically or mentally, but also emotionally. Research takes a lot of time and the results are only evident later rather than sooner. Sometimes, it just does not work, but when you do find something — it makes all the hours worth it!

For my Capstone project, I really wanted to look at what it takes to be at the top of the hierarchy, especially in a stressful environment.

Working on a mouse animal model, I aimed to investigate the relationship between social stress and social dominance, specifically how exposure to stress affects novel hierarchy formation and whether social status determines vulnerability to stress. The results are exciting: susceptibility to stress was not governed by pre-existing social organization but exposure to stress alone was a predictor of higher success in subsequent hierarchy formation.

Dipesh Chaudhury was both my academic and Capstone mentor.

His tremendous academic support and faith in me when I was proposing starting a project from scratch has given me the courage to work harder and really dedicate myself to research. He always had a funny story or a sassy comment to share and it really made my academic and work environment relaxed and safe.

I knew I had the support I needed, so doing the work was never a challenge. Also, the colorful batik shirts were a never ending source of fashion inspiration.

My favorite class was the literature core, Extinction.

I do not really use the word "life-changing", but I think it is more than appropriate here. The readings and the class discussions (with Professor Nathalie Peutz) really made me think about these issues in a profound way, and every week was more exciting than the next.

A big part of that class was our regional seminar to Uganda, in search of wild gorillas.

Students observing a silverback gorilla in Uganda.
Students observing a silverback gorilla in Uganda.

At the time, I had a broken ligament, but I still somehow managed to trek through the rainforest and have the silverback gorilla less than two meters away from me. It was something that I never imagined I would be able to do and see. To this day, that class and the topics we discussed are a point of conversation with my friends.

While I was studying abroad in London, I was volunteering as a researcher at University College London (UCL) at Jason Rihel's lab.

The experience really pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to use the skills I learned at NYUAD in a completely new environment. I have built lasting friendships with the other lab members and was happy to explore the science community of my host country for that semester.

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