Katie Furman

Katie Furman

My project in the Burgess lab focuses on melanin-concentrating hormone neurons in the lateral hypothalamus, which are involved in many different behaviors including feeding and sleep. Using optogenetics and fiber photometry, I am investigating how these neurons act to promote feeding or sleeping at times when these behaviors may not be homeostatically necessary

Share the most exciting thing you enjoy about your research?

I really like tinkering with technology, and problem solving. In my lab we do a lot of coding, and we build a lot of different setups from scratch to be able to perform unique experiments. I really enjoy this process, of having an idea, then building the apparatus, writing the code for it, finding problems and fixing them, until you've eventually created a whole new experimental setup that no one has ever used before. I think that's really exciting.

 What superhero power would you want the most? Why?

I think I'd like to be able to control time. Just so I could pause time for a bit and take a nap every once in a while.

 What would you tell your high school self if you could go back in time?

Stop being afraid of computers, and start learning some programming! It's not nearly as scary as you think, and you can do anything with it! Plus, its not only for nerdy tech bros. Girls can code too, and you can be great at it.

 What was your childhood dream?

I actually really wanted to be a music teacher. I loved playing the piano (I still do), and I loved singing in the choir at school as a kid. But I realized that I have to sing, in front of people, all by myself if I wanted to teach others. And that thought terrified me! I'm glad I found my love for science at the right time, haha.

 What are your hobbies?

I got a dog during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he became my whole life. I love going on walks with him and exploring new parks, its a great way to learn more about the city, and take my mind away from whatever research-related struggle I'm having during a given week. I'm also really into reality TV, and I'm trying to learn to crochet.


 Why did you decide on University of Michigan?

I spent a summer here during undergrad, through the BP-ENDURE program. Before that summer I would never have considered leaving the east coast, let alone moving to the midwest long term. But after being here and being able to experience the beauty of Ann Arbor, and become a real part of the community within the NGP, all I wanted to do was come back! I interviewed at other schools, but none of them seemed to have the supportive, encouraging community that I found here.