Nick Bello: Exploring the Brain through Undergraduate Research

“Studying the brain is a weird concept. Think about it… you’re using your brain to study itself. How cool is that?”

Nick Bello spends his week trekking from lab to lab, implementing innovative ideas and conducting unique research projects. As a senior neuroscience major, Nick has spent his time at Georgia State taking advantage of the boundless opportunities for research provided to undergraduate students.

During his freshman year, Nick was awarded a university assistantship and a Language and Learning Fellowship. He began working for Dr. Gwen Frishkoff in the Brain Electrophysiology of Language and Literacy Systems (BELLS) Lab. After a year of learning and shadowing, Nick began pursuing his own research in the form of an Honors undergraduate thesis.

He explained, “My research focuses on the possibility of using certain types of sounds to improve cognitive function, as well as how those sounds affect brain activity. I’m proud to say that an experiment like this has never been performed before, and it’s exciting to be able to work on such a groundbreaking project.”

Nick has since presented his research all across the southeast. Over the past year, he participated in the Symposium for Young Neuroscientists and Professors of the Southeast (SYNAPSE), the Southeast Neuroscience Conference (SENC), and the Atlanta Neuroethics Consortium (ANEC). He also presented at the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC) and the Georgia State Undergraduate Research Conference (GSURC) over the past three cycles. In 2012, he won the Neuroscience Award at PURC and in 2013, he was awarded the 1st place prize.

For Nick, the idea of being able to pursue a project entirely based on his own design and having access to the resources to successfully execute it were big parts of why he chose Georgia State. His big take-away from his thesis experience though, apart from his research skills, was an entrepreneurial spirit.

“I’m a student pilot of the MAKE Media lab initiative. In this lab, I am developing a new type of 3D printed prosthetic that can be controlled with the mind,” Nick said. “The idea is that we can use a medium like 3D printing to make prosthetics more abundant and affordable, and all the while more innovative and advanced.”

Moving forward, Nick is also a pioneer in Georgia State’s Neuroscience Dual-Degree Program, a 5 year curriculum in which one can earn both a BS and an MS in neuroscience. He said, “After completing the neuroscience masters, I plan to earn a second MS through Georgia Tech’s Biomedical Engineering Innovation and Development program to more adequately prepare myself for a career engineering neurally integrated devices, such as prosthetics and exoskeletons. I really believe I have a lot of exciting possibilities ahead, and it’s really nice to know after all of these invaluable experiences I’ve had at Georgia State, I’ll be ready for anything to come.”