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Finding the Order in Disorders

Honored Graduating Student: Bailey Calder (CELL)

There are few things that make Bailey Calder (‘22) happier than when he looks at a glowing zebrafish. Looking into the microscope, studying the development of each structure, he feels like a scientist. In fact, brain research excites him so much that he won’t take a break after graduating—a week after he graduates, Calder will start a Ph.D. program with cell biology and physiology professor Arminda Suli.

Picture of Bailey Calder
Photo by Nick Rex

Calder has always taken an interest in science; however, his passion expanded after his first biology course, or as he calls it, “the best class,” at Utah State University. He transferred to BYU’s cell biology program a year later, where he would need to complete mandatory research to graduate. At first, he dreaded it. But then he met cell biology professor Jeffery Barrow, who introduced him to chicken genomes. Manipulating genetics and studying their influence on the organism fascinated him.

After he completed his research with Barrow, Calder had the opportunity to work in professor Suli’s lab, which sparked his interest in the brain. He began loving the research process, not only because it gave him opportunities to connect with the faculty, but it also helped him envision his career. And after working with Suli, Calder knows how he wants to spend his future: earning a Ph.D. in developmental neuroscience.

Before his time in Suli’s lab, Calder told himself he would never research the brain because of its complex interactions; however, those complications now grab his interest. “The more you learn about the brain, the more you start to think about things differently. You realize that everyone’s brain is so different,” he says.

This knowledge has changed the way Calder views others. In his Ph.D. program, he will work with Suli to better understand autism and how to help others with neurological disorders. Some may view neurological disorders as “broken,” but Calder sees the miracle of every individual neuron. He doesn’t view those with developmental disorders as having a disorder at all; every brain is ordered in its own perfect, individual way.

His goal will not be to look for a cure, but rather will work to bring informed care to individuals. As Calder learns the ways neurons connect, he will connect to the community by “increasing that ability to communicate between people that are different.” Through study, research, and passion, he will show the world that there is order in what many may perceive as the most disordered.