As an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, I completed a self-designed course of study in Neuronal Plasticity and Neurodegenerative Disorders, drawing upon insights from numerous disciplines to better understand mechanisms of resilience in the nervous system during aging and disease. Through my experiences in the laboratory, clinic, and community, I became increasingly interested in factors that influence vulnerability to age and disease- associated cognitive decline, particularly in the context of Alzheimer’s disease. Since graduating, I have continued to pursue this line of research at the NIH National Institute on Aging, where I am using data from large-scale, longitudinal studies of aging to identify novel risk factors and biomarkers of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. At the University of Cambridge, I will complete an MPhil in Epidemiology to gain a strong foundation in epidemiological concepts, data appraisal, and biostatistics and will apply this knowledge in the context of population-based studies to better characterize the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease. I hope this research will ultimately lead to the development of more accurate diagnostic and prognostic tools, as well as novel targets for disease-modifying interventions to help alter the trajectory of this growing global health concern.