|Ezequiel Gleichgerrcht '08 checks in on the chicks whose behavior he will study as part of his work with Teresa Barber, associate professor of psychology and a behavioral neuroscientist who chairs the neuroscience department.
Professor, doctor or researcher? That is the question. And only Ezequiel Gleichgerrcht ’08 knows the answer.
Before coming to Dickinson from his native Argentina, Gleichgerrcht’s career direction was much clearer. He was already in his first year of medical school on his way to becoming an oncologist. In his country, students begin physician training right out of high school.
Gleichgerrcht had heard about Dickinson from fellow graduates of his high school, the ORT School, who had come to the Carlisle, Pa., college on scholarship. Gleichgerrcht contacted Robert J. Massa, vice president for enrollment and college relations, about attending a summer program at the college and asked if funding was available.
He was surprised when Massa responded that the college wanted him for four years, not just a summer. Due to the support of some very generous Dickinsonians, Gleichgerrcht happily accepted.
A biology and neuroscience major with a French minor, Gleichgerrcht was awarded a John Dickinson Scholarship, which provides $15,000 per year for eight semesters and is the college’s highest recognition for academic achievement and leadership. He also received a Global Campus Scholarship, which supports talented international students.
He has no regrets about his decision. “My studies at Dickinson, experiencing different types of research and new ways of solving problems, have already helped me get an internship in Buenos Aires with the Institute of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology [INECO],” he says, grinning and leaning forward, almost popping from his chair with enthusiasm.
“Eventually, I will go back home, but I will never regret coming to Dickinson,” he says, even though he’ll have to start over in medical school.
In his home country, Gleichgerrcht would never have been able to seamlessly blend all of his interests.
“I’m fascinated by research and therapy and language and biology and chemistry. One major connected all of these fields—neuroscience.”
He also liked the idea of combining his interest in languages with the study of science.
Despite his abilities, he’s cagey about just how many tongues he speaks, explaining that a retired Dickinson Spanish professor told him that when someone asks you how many languages you speak, you should answer with the number in which you can hold an intelligent conversation.
The number for the green-eyed scientist is four—Spanish, English, French and Portuguese. But he can go on a successful shopping trip in three languages—German, Italian and Polish—and order his favorite food, ice cream, in one—Russian.
Gleichgerrcht has not only studied and mastered an array of languages but created his own, which contains no gendered words because he is “a firm believer that gender is a social construction, and my language is genderless as a statement to go against whatever discrimination comes about from that social framework.”
As manager of the French and Spanish House, he wanted to create a community with Italian House residents, who occupy the same building. His zeal for languages gave him the idea of posting important phrases, like “Where’s the bathroom?,” in Spanish, Italian, French and English, so that visitors and residents alike would be encouraged to converse with others in their preferred language.
In addition to his work as house manager, Gleichgerrcht is an assistant with the Office of Diversity Initiatives, president of the French Club for the second year, and member of the Portuguese and Neuroscience clubs.
This keen interest in languages has connected with his ongoing scientific research.
Gleichgerrcht and Assistant Professor of Psychology Richard Abrams have been investigating the way in which words are processed unconsciously. And last year he examined, with the help of Assistant Professor of French Lucile Duperron, how bilingual speakers access language.
His academic prowess was acknowledged this year with the Ron Phillis Memorial Prize, awarded to the biology major with the highest grade point average at the end of the sophomore year.
As he plans his remaining time at Dickinson, Gleichgerrecht is in a quandary about how to spend his summer. He may do research on invertebrates for his honors thesis with Tony Pires, associate professor of biology, in Washington, D.C. But since this is his last summer before returning to medical school, he would prefer to study in Toulouse, France. Another option is to return to Buenos Aires and INECO for another summer
Whatever he chooses, he will use a $3,000 Engage the World Fellowship to support his work.
While Gleichgerrcht knows he will focus on neurology in medical school, he is contemplating what form that career may take. He wants to take research, build on it and apply it. And he wants to teach.
“I would like to be a professor, a doctor, a researcher ... I’m still narrowing it down.”