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Student Highlights: Ala Alshomali (COL'23)

Ala Alshomali is a junior in the College majoring in Neurobiology.

Experience in Research

As an aspiring medical student, Ala became interested in scientific research, specifically in the field of neuroscience. He believes that “research serves as a bridge between both the current medical system and the upcoming technological advancement that will be shaping the future of medicine.” Early in his career of science, Ala hoped to contribute to this future and reached out to Dr. Ella Streim-Amit, the director of the Sensory and Motor Plasticity Lab. The Sensory and Motor Plasticity Lab focuses on senses and motor skills. The lab explores the extent to which brain organization depends on one’s own sensory or motor experience. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the lab studies models of early-onset sensory and motor deprivation. Specifically, the lab’s main study group are people born without hands. The results from this lab explores the regions of the brain responsible for these sensory and motor information, as well as the plasticity of the brain as a result of such sensory deprivations. Ala’s passion on various neurodegenerative diseases and its dire impacts on patients motivated him to join the lab during his freshman year. 


Ala is honored to have been given the opportunity to be part of the Dr. Ella Streim-Amit’s lab as a freshman. In the lab, Ala was able to meet a diverse group of people who helped him develop skills that will help him in the classroom, in the lab, and in society. He learned how to interact with different subjects during behavioral studies and thus, allowing him to effectively communicate with others. In the future, this clinical experience will help him deliver his messages to his patients more clearly. The community that he has joined showed him the importance of collaborative work and how to work within a research team. Joining the lab has also allowed Ala to understand concepts that he previously was only able to recognize theoretically. Learning about the nervous system in Foundations in Biology, Ala was able to use the knowledge that he acquired in the classroom and apply it to research that will have an impact on the field of neuroscience. In the future, Ala hopes to continue his research on sensory and motor skills, as well as its application to neurodegenerative diseases in medical school and beyond.