For her Honors Thesis, Hänel Watkins is studying soda. More specifically, Inhibitory Neural Mechanisms in Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption. She believes it is important, especially with the huge carbonated beverage market, to study why we struggle to stop drinking soda. Her passion for understanding how the human body works and what drives behavior has influenced her thesis and all of her research.

Hänel loves doing research in her lab because she feels like she gets to understand people better. “We have so many things happening in our brain that we're not conscious of, and it's amazing getting to work with human subjects to figure out what's going on in society,” Hänel said. The Honors Program has helped her draw unexpected connections that have improved her research and her academic achievements. “It made me see that there's nothing in the world that isn't connected to something else,” she said.

In March, Hänel will present findings for a dual EEG/fMRI study in San Francisco at the Society for Cognitive Neuroscience. Hänel will also present an ORCA project (The Role and Importance of Inhibitory Neural Mechanisms in Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption) at the Society of Psychophysiological Research this year in Washington D.C.

Hänel also presented a poster, Electro physiological correlates of confound-minimized congruency sequence effects in psychopathology, at the annual meeting of the Society of Psychophysiological Research, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

In her time at BYU, Hänel has worked as a TA for HONRS 120, 320, and UNIV 392. She loves working with students and contributing to the Honors program. Hänel appreciates how they try to push her to think in different ways. She loves being able to understand the world better, and jumps at every academic opportunity to do so.

In her spare time, Hänel loves to ski, and when she’s in California she goes surfing with her dad. Hänel is also obsessed with space and loves stargazing.

She will graduate April 2019 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Russian with University Honors. After graduation, Hänel will puruse a MD/PhD.