We had the opportunity of interviewing Peter Sauer '23, a student at Carnegie Mellon University, about: College Life
Peter is currently majoring in Computational Neuroscience and Statistics/Machine Learning. His goal is to create new data analysis tools to understand cognitive function and apply that knowledge in the medical field. He is currently an EMT, teaches high school students about statistics and neuroscience through Project Ignite, and is a research assistant at CMU.
Key points he made:
"The most important thing I have learned from CMU EMS was that you don’t really know what experiences are like until you actually experience them."
"I would actually recommend to wait until college to start doing research so that you can work on something more long-term."
Q: How did your involvement in your high school’s Science Bowl boost your passion in science and encourage you to major in computational neuroscience?
A: I was never really involved in my high school’s Science Bowl, actually. What inspired me to get into biology was Professor Minden’s Intro Biology class. I think the way he taught biology classes, almost like telling a story, really motivated me to get into the biology field. Combined with my quantitative skills, and my belief that understanding cognition would be the pinnacle achievement in science, I found that the computational neuroscience major fit my interests.
Q: Seeing that you are a volunteer for the Carnegie Mellon Emergency Medical Service, what have you gained from that experience?
A: I have gained a lot, actually. The most important thing I have learned from CMU EMS was that you don’t really know what experiences are like until you actually experience them. You can look at all the literature or study a specific topic, but unless you have first-hand experience in a field, you’ll never truly understand what things are like.
Q: What are some unique opportunities that Carnegie Mellon has to offer?
A: CMU has a lot of opportunities. There are plenty of research opportunities and career events to help with your career goals. There are also a lot of art-related events that occur, which is a nice way to have fun. Being a student at CMU also provides access to some museums that are affiliated with CMU, which is nice.
Peter was part of the research team, where he learned so much.
Q: How have all your roles as a research assistant further your knowledge and interest in biological sciences? How did you find these opportunities?
A: My roles as a research assistant have helped me understand what research is like on the graduate level. Being a part of a research team is a good way to understand whether research is a good career path for you. I would actually recommend to wait until college to start doing research so that you can work on something more long-term; moreover, I feel like I could have been doing other things to bolster my resume. However, if you want to start doing research immediately, simply contact a professor whose research you’re interested in via email. Make sure you take a quick look at their research papers and their abstracts to get a better idea about what their research is all about.
Q: What does a typical day or week look like for you in college?
A: Most of a typical day or week consists of studying or working with my friends, or participating in the extracurricular activities I am a part of. I like to eat at The Exchange and at Tartan Express. Sometimes, I work out at the UC Gym to destress. The weekends are probably when I have the most fun, as I try my best to get food with friends or explore the city. For instance, this past Saturday, I went to the Mattress Factory (a Pittsburgh art museum) with my friend.
Q: What is the culture of Carnegie Mellon like?
A: CMU’s culture is very geeky and quirky in comparison to other colleges. Part of CMU is work intensive, but another part involves talking about how Burning Man in Black Rock City is cool or discussing how surgery is done in outer space. It’s through these little but eccentric moments that really defines CMU culture. I think some people would disagree, saying that CMU is all work and no reward, whereas others would say that CMU simply lacks school spirit or any culture. But to me, I think CMU culture is incredibly passionate about being quirky if you look for it and are searching for the right things.
While you’re here, connect and learn more about Peter Sauer on his LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/pjsauer/.
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