San Bernardino

CSUSB Alumna Pursues Her Future in Neuroscience




​Janelle Doyle (BS, Biology, ’18) exemplifies what undergraduates can achieve at Cal State San Bernardino. 

For the biology alumna and recent recipient of the Professor Richard Fehn Memorial Scholarship, her record of achievement at CSUSB started before she event set foot on campus. Doyle was the recipient of a President’s Academic Excellence Scholarship, which is awarded to San Bernardino County high school seniors who graduate in the top one percent of their class. She later studied in the lab of Tomasz Owerkowicz, an associate professor in the department of biology who researches vertebrate physiology. Doyle started working on small research projects in Dr. Owerkowicz’s lab before taking the lead role of a project that she later presented at the 2017 “Meeting of the Minds” Student Research Colloquium. This opportunity shaped her career interests. 

But it wasn’t until she met Dr. Owerkowicz that she realized just how passionate she was about biology. 

“It wasn’t until I joined his lab that I think I fell in love with biology in general,” Doyle said. “Because before that, it was more of a means to an end for me. I got into his lab, and I discovered what you could do with research, and just how much independence and how much creativity you can have in research, and then within that, I found the specific niche of biology that I was interested in: neuroscience.” 

She conducted research at the University of Virginia in 2016, and obtained an internship at Stanford University in 2017 through CSUSB’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers program. That same year, Doyle presented with a group of students at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual meeting in New Orleans. She eventually became the laboratory-animal facility manager for Owerkowicz, where Doyle was in charge of 12 undergraduate volunteers. She coordinated animal-ethics training that ensures the humane care and use of animals for research, scheduled weekly husbandry duties and monitored animal care. 

Doyle’s first project with the American alligator occurred in 2015 through the Office of Student Research, where she studied musculoskeletal development in the species after the eggshell was removed during incubation. Then, in 2016, for an undergraduate research project, she studied the effects of tenotomy (a surgical procedure performed on tendons) of the caudofemoralis longus (an integral muscle in the hindlimb of all non-erect terrestrial vertebrates) on the terrestrial locomotion in the American alligator. 

In April 2018, Doyle was honored as the recipient of the Fehn scholarship, which recognizes CSUSB biology students who have demonstrated a commitment to biological research. 

She credits Owerkowicz with igniting her passion for research. “He was the first person to give me the opportunity to start research. I would absolutely not be where I am without his guidance, his encouragement, his knowledge,” Doyle said. 

As a CSUSB undergraduate, she further continued her research experiences at the University of California, Irvine, working on stem cells through the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) program. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree Doyle joined the Neurosciences PhD Program at Stanford University, where she is working on her doctoral degree studying the biology of glial cells, specialized brain cells that support neurons. 

“I’ve had a lot of really amazing opportunities just by being here [at CSUSB],” Doyle said, “and by having such easy access to the faculty and being able to form really close relationships with them … I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of the faculty members here.”