Sophie Hill

Sophie Hill
Her current project is "Understanding pathogenesis and developing new treatments for epilepsy caused by mutations of voltage-gated sodium channel genes."

Share the most exciting thing you enjoy about your research?

My research is on developing new therapies for epilepsy. Day to day, the most exciting thing for me is to come into the lab and find that the animals I've treated are alive and not having seizures - since that suggests that our treatments could be useful in human patients.

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

Don't take everything so seriously!

What appeals to you most, research or teaching? Why?

I enjoy teaching motivated students in a setting where I can really get to know them. Unfortunately, that's not the situation in most classes at a large research university like U of M. So, at the moment, I prefer research because it gives me the sense that what I do each day could really make a difference for people with devastating illnesses.

What person in your life was the strongest influence on you choosing your career path? Why?

It sounds strange, but I think the person who had the strongest influence on my career trajectory was my high school debate coach. He taught me how to read academic papers and formulate arguments, which helped develop critical thinking skills. Without my experience on my high school debate team, I don't think I would have gone into neuroscience.

What are your hobbies?

I like to read, and I also knit and play piano. During COVID, I've also gotten into baking (more or less successfully).

Why did you decide on University of Michigan?

I went to U of M as an undergrad, so I already knew the culture pretty well when I was applying to grad schools. When I was an undergrad, I emailed a bunch of PIs looking for a lab to do research in. Nearly every one of the professors responded and offered to meet with me - even if they didn't have an opening for an undergrad in their lab. That experience, along with my time in the lab I did join, showed me how open people here are to guiding new researchers. Another factor was the students. Compared to my other choices, the NGP students seemed happier and more like they were part of a community.