Like students in every corner of the country, higher education involves creating many lasting memories for ARCS Oregon Scholar Sydney Weber Boutros. But for this recent recipient of the National Science Foundation Research Award, higher education is also about studying how we store, preserve, and recall those memories.
“My work focuses on learning and memory. One thing that is clear is the fact that our memories are essential to forming our personalities, morals, relationships, careers; without memories, we can’t live,” said Weber, currently doing graduate work at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. “Right now, we don’t understand how the brain stores memories or how we can retrieve those memories at any moment—it’s like the brain is a filing cabinet with an automatic delivery system, but we don’t know how files are stored, found, or why they get lost or corrupted. So, I want to understand the mechanisms behind how we have experiences, tuck them away in our brain, and come back to them later.”
Helping Weber better focus on her studies has been the vital fiscal boost she has received from ARCS Foundation.
“ARCS Foundation has significantly decreased stress around the rising cost-of-living in Portland. Graduate student stipends—even with my increased NSF stipend—are very modest,” she said. “I am incredibly grateful for the relief ARCS Foundation brings to my life outside of school, as well as for the relationships I have built within the community.”