Two-time Charles E. Schmidt College of Science alumni Nate Shanok most recently graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2020, with a Ph.D. in experimental psychology and a focus in behavioral neuroscience. He also received his M.A. in psychology in 2017, from the College. Currently, Shanok works as the director of the Delray Center for Brain Science, and he also serves an adjunct professor in FAU’s Department of Psychology. The College caught up with Nate to learn more about his latest endeavors.
How did FAU help prepare you for your career?
FAU provided me with the extensive background knowledge in psychology and neuroscience that I needed to be successful in my current position. Additionally, my professors helped me to obtain valuable internships and research experience.
Did you have a mentor at FAU?
My primary mentor at FAU was Nancy Jones, Ph.D., director of the WAVES Emotional Lab. She was incredibly helpful and encouraging throughout the process. I also received great support and inspiration from David Bjorklund, Ph.D., and Laura Vernon, Ph.D.
Were you involved in any research at FAU?
I was fortunate to be involved with numerous research projects that took place at FAU on both the Boca Raton and Jupiter campuses. One of my favorite projects examined the effectiveness of an 8-week mindfulness meditation intervention for middle-school students at A.D. Henderson. The results showed that the intervention not only reduced depression and anxiety levels, but it also influenced corresponding changes in resting-state brain activity patterns in these students.
What type of research are you involved in now?
At the Delray Center for Brain Science, I am involved with clinical studies that examine the effectiveness of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and intravenous ketamine infusions for treating depression, anxiety, OCD and Alzheimer’s disease. We are also conducting research on the potential of using EEG recordings to assist in diagnosing these conditions.
What are your primary responsibilities at the Delray Center for Brain Science?
I have clinical and research responsibilities at the center. I work directly with patients and perform brain scans, cognitive assessments, TMS treatments and neurofeedback (basically a workout for the brain). I also oversee several research studies and assist with data analysis.
Why did you decide to become an adjunct professor? What classes do you teach?
I decided to teach at FAU because I greatly enjoy conversing with students about topics in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. My hope is to inspire students and encourage them to maximize their potential in pursuing their goals. I teach Human Development and Experimental Design in the Department of Psychology.
I understand you published a novel. Can you briefly describe what it’s about?
Yes, I am very excited to announce that I published my first novel titled, “ Pursuing Purpose: A Neuropsychological Approach to Maximize Life and Enjoy the Process .” The book explores the construct of purpose in life and presents research that highlights its importance in both physical and mental health. The book also presents evidence-based strategies (from psychology and neuroscience research) for maximizing purpose, as well as cutting-edge intervention approaches for combatting depression and existential crises.
What inspired you to write it?
I was inspired to write this book for personal and professional reasons. When I graduated from college as a 22-year-old, I was suddenly met with a lot of uncertainty about my future and my purpose in life. I also experienced a health scare that caused me to question my survival, and mortality in general. This led me into an existential crisis and state of depression. I work with many patients who grapple with similar issues. I hope that the messages and strategies in this book are able to reach those individuals who currently feel lost, discouraged or purposeless. Writing this book was a very liberating experience for me.