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Spotlight On: Nicole Armstrong, postdoctoral fellow at NIA

Nicole Armstrong is from Baltimore. She completed her BS in Psychology and BA in Government/ Politics from University of Maryland College Park. She completed her Masters in Public Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

What is your area of research focus and its impact?

My area of research is brain and cognitive aging. During my postdoctoral fellowship, I studied determinants of neurodegeneration. I was involved in projects related to mechanisms underlying the relationship of hearing impairment with cognitive decline and dementia. During my time at NIA, I was able to present my work at a conference in Japan and also worked on projects at Erasmus University in The Netherlands.

What motivated you to do your postdoctoral fellowship at NIA?

I sought an opportunity to learn more about various neuroimaging modalities from my interest in brain aging. Dr. Resnick from the Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience offered me the opportunity to apply my methodological background to several studies as well as learn about analyses related to brain aging.

Who or what has been the greatest influence in your career?

My greatest influence has been my grandmother. She immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia without speaking English and knowing anyone here. While I was growing up, she would tell me that you can accomplish anything with a roof over your head, clean clothes, and food in your stomach.

What are some of your hobbies in your spare time?

Some of my hobbies are doing yoga, watching movies, and traveling.

What is next for you and beyond?

I am now an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and an associate director of the Quantitative Sciences Program at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

My new position was based on networking, so had it not been for presenting at conferences and setting up meetings with individuals, I might not have a job right now.

— Nicole Armstrong

What advice do you have for postdocs at the NIA for Career Development and obtaining a job?

My advice is to explore the options that the OITE has to offer. You might learn about alternative career opportunities that you would not have considered otherwise. Also, the OITE has examples of academic CVs and cover letters that they can send to you. The management bootcamp is something that should be mandatory for all postdocs, since many, if not all of us, will be supervising people. Additionally, I wrote a K99 / R00 grant application during my first year. While it was scored, not funded, it was still a good opportunity to learn about grant writing.

My biggest take away is to take advantage of the opportunities that NIA has to offer and apply for funding opportunities to attend conferences.

— Nicole Armstrong