The State University system recently named SUNY Oswego senior cognitive science major Christopher Bartlett a 2015 Brain Scholar, awarding him a summer research internship at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

Bartlett, a resident of Martville in Cayuga County who minors in psychology, is one of only 11 Brain Scholars from around SUNY, most of them from the system’s four university centers.

The awards offer students unique opportunities to be on the cutting edge of new research and innovation in highly specialized fields, said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher in announcing selections for SUNY’s Brain Scholar and STEM Passport programs. “These unique summer internships are going to prepare SUNY students for college and career success,” she said.

As a summer research assistant for Dr. Daniel Ts’o, associate professor of neurosurgery at Upstate Medical University’s Institute for Human Performance, Bartlett is assisting with research involving the functional imaging of the retina.

“We’re looking at the underlying biochemical pathways behind neurovascular coupling,” Bartlett said. “It’s what drives vasodilation (which decreases blood pressure) and vasoconstriction.”

The work ultimately impacts research on diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma, among others, he said.

Work with Dr. Leigh Bacher, faculty member in psychology at SUNY Oswego, fanned Bartlett’s interest in research of the eye. Bartlett learned to use eye-tracking and blink-rate equipment. He said the work with Bacher also taught him a lot about how to deal with human subjects in research, a skill that ultimately will support his work with Ts’o this summer.

The award “certainly is a great opportunity,” said Bartlett, who hopes to earn a graduate degree in neuroscience. “I’m only two weeks into the internship and already I’ve learned a great deal of information.”

The Brain Scholar program is part of the SUNY Networks of Excellence, which assembles scientists, scholars and external partners from SUNY campuses to conduct collaborative research in high-demand areas.