Tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

My interests in psychology and the brain started in high school and increasingly grew throughout college at the University of Texas at Austin.

I obtained my bachelors of science degree in psychology from UT Austin, including a minor in business, with intention to apply for medical school to pursue a career in psychiatry or neurology. However, while in a clinical psychology course during my last semester of college, I learned about a subspecialty field of neuropsychology. I was hooked!

I realized that neuropsychology was a better-suited path for me, considering my interests in brain function and human behavior. I withdrew my medical school applications and then worked towards gaining more clinical and research experience in psychology/neuropsychology.

Original Link:

https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/education/graduate-school/programs/phd-degrees/clinical-psychology/student-profiles/pandya-seema.html

Tell us about your research

At the University of Texas at Austin, I became a research assistant in both Christopher Beevers’, Ph.D., depression lab and Andreana Haley’s, Ph.D., lab studying cognitive impairment in aging and dementia. I also obtained a psychometrist position at Austin Neuropsychology, PLLC, working with David Tucker, Ph.D., and Melissa Bunner, Ph.D. on assessments involving adult and child populations. Through these experiences, my interests in neuropsychology continued to grow, and I eventually applied for doctoral programs in clinical psychology that had opportunities in neuropsychology.

The UT Southwestern Clinical Psychology Graduate Program suited my numerous interests due to its neuropsychology track, diverse clinical and research opportunities in a medical setting, and the ability to work with a variety of faculty members.

How does your work benefit the community

Research-wise, I’m interested in the neuropsychological implications in different types of brain dysfunction and utilization of neuroimaging techniques to study such pathology. My dissertation project involves studying baseline predictors of reversion to normal cognition among individuals with mild cognitive impairment, with Martin Woon, Ph.D., as my dissertation chair. I’m also gaining experience with neuroimaging analysis (FreeSurfer) and applying my training to projects related to neurodegenerative diseases.

My clinical training has thus far included individual and group therapy, psychological evaluations, and neuropsychological assessment in a variety of populations and settings. During my third year in the program, I completed the first-half of internship at Parkland Memorial Hospital in both outpatient and inpatient psychiatric settings. I’m excited to finish the second-half of my internship at UT Southwestern’s Neuropsychology Clinic in my fourth year.

In addition to my clinical and research interests, I served for two years as a campus representative for the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students Advocacy Coordinating Team and am currently serving as president of the Faculty and Student Organization of Clinical Psychology at UTSW (FOCUS) and the Association of Neuropsychology Students in Training (ANST).