Bio major presents brain injury research at medical conference

Friday, February 12, 2016

Kyle Vyronius

The research opportunities for students at UNH's campus in Manchester begin with the encouragement of the faculty. In the short time Psychology Professor Dr. Daniel Seichepine has been at UNH Manchester, his passion for brain behavior and trauma studies has inspired students to explore new research in the field.  

Biology major Kyle Vynorius has worked closely with Seichepine on a research project spanning over two years, studying the effects of mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) on otherwise healthy college students. Data from the study found a strong connection between multiple mTBIs and long-term effects on an individual’s mood, cognition and executive functioning.

“This data is important, as it provides evidence for a current gap in available literature, and gives insight to a major issue being recognized in the United States- effects of a concussion,” Vynorius said. 

Typically, when an average person thinks about a concussion, it is in relation to an athlete or a major physical injury. But according to Seichepine, any trauma to the brain that may induce a state of dizziness, headache or memory loss can be considered a concussion. The results of the study show that average people may have experienced a concussion and never realized it.  

The International Neuropsychological Society holds a conference at a different destination every year. This year it was held in Boston, which was a perfect opportunity for Seichepine and Vynorius to showcase their findings and discuss it among medical professionals from different countries and disciplines. Vynorius was able to fund his attendance through a grant from Manchester Undergraduate Research Support.

It is uncommon for undergraduate students to present at a conference of this magnitude, but Vynorius’ research proved fascinating enough to warrant an invitation. It is rare for young researchers to be recognized, so he said he was honored that his name was listed first on the poster.

Vynorius presented their research on February 6, the final day of the conference. Leading up the presentation, his excitement and anxiety was at an all-time high. 

“It was a little bit nerve racking," Vynorius said. "But once I started talking to people, it was actually a very comfortable setting. It felt like a discussion."

Vynorius, a junior, presented to around eight scientists and graduate students in the field of neuropsychology, who were quite surprised to discover that he is an undergraduate student. 

“Most people asked me what year of graduate study I was in or if I was post-doctorate," Vynorius said. “That was cool.”  

Vynorius, a graduate of Pinkerton Academy, said his favorite thing about UNH Manchester is the individual attention you get from professors, and the opportunities — like research projects — that professors provide to students. He recommends that all students consider pursuing a research project, for both academic and personal growth. 

Seichepine agrees, adding that research can lead to opportunities that set students apart in competitive fields.

“Presenting at medical conferences like this will look great on [Vynorius'] applications for medical school," Seichepine said. "It is very competitive to get into medical school.”  

Vynorius said he will continue research as he works towards receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 2017. He plans to apply to medical schools, and eventually pursue a career in neurological sciences.  

Written by Brittany Gaston '17, Sign Language Interpretation