Innovating Methods for Psychological and Environmental Sustainability

2023 Grad Profile: Shulin Zhang ’23GS shares how GS has empowered her to cultivate sustainability and growth in a multitude of arenas.

April 22, 2023

Undergraduate Shulin Zhang ’23GS came to Columbia GS from China to pursue parallel interests in mental wellness and environmental sustainability. She shares with us the interdisciplinary opportunities fostered as a double major in neuroscience and behavior and sustainable development, and the crucial role friendships have played in enriching her time at GS. 

Tell us about your path to GS!

After venturing into the world of sustainable packaging, sustainable lifestyle, and meditation initiatives for three years, I decided to go back to school and build a better understanding of things that I’m passionate about: sustainability in the world (my major in sustainable development) and sustainability within (my major in neuroscience and behavior). Columbia is an institution that pioneered both of these areas and GS was the perfect fit for my gap year experiences. Believe it or not, this was the only school I applied to because it fit so well that I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. 

What has been your proudest accomplishment at Columbia?

I conducted senior thesis research on “the effect of meditation on brain states and sustainable behavior,” combining both my majors. I gathered a group of amazing participants who were able to form daily meditation habits and I was able to look deeper into the neuroscience and psychology behind meditation. The thesis received great responses, and I had great support from the sustainable development program, the Barnard Movement Lab, scientific and academic mentors, the GS community, and beyond. It was amazing to have this platform and the resources to truly pursue my passion and make it into a reality. 

Who are some people who have contributed the most to your Columbia experience?

I feel grateful every day for the amazing friends that I met here, who are not only extraordinary individuals in their achievements, but have such kind hearts and the vision to truly transform our world into a better place. We would often discuss at length about combining scientific research, social enterprise, and technology to promote well-being and sustainability. We would host workshops on meditation and science, we would hug trees and frolic in Central Park. These have been some of my fondest memories, and I believe it is individuals like this that bring light to the world! In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen

What are your plans for after graduation?

I’m excited to continue my journey at Columbia by joining Rafael Yuste’s lab as a researcher and lab manager, pursuing my passion for neuroscience and sustainability through research and translational applications.

What advice would you give to a student who's about to start their GS journey?

Face the challenges with confidence and humbleness. You will change and you will learn, it’s all part of the process. Be ready for growth and exciting opportunities!