At the beginning of the summer, I started a position in Dr. Michael Knopp’s Radiology Lab. Dr. Knopp is a radiologist with a PhD in Computer Science. Over the course of the summer, I have not only learned a significant amount about MRI’s, but also what goes into the organization and coordination of a clinical trial. There are many projects going on in Dr. Knopp’s lab at the Wright Center of Innovation, but I specifically spent most of my time working on a Glioblastoma clinical trial, and some of it working on a Meningioma clinical trial. My job was to look at patient scans as well as the parameters of their scans and compile the information so that a comparison could be done to see if all of the sites were sending in scans that were up to protocol. Depending on the sequence of the MRI and the field strength of the scanner(3T or 1.5T), different parameters were laid out. In these trials, the sequences looked at were T2, FLAIR, 3D T1 (pre- and post-contrast), DWI, and Perfusion (DSC for the Glioblastoma trial and DCE for the Meningioma trial). I learned the defining features of each type of scan, and which parameters are most important for each type. One of the main goals of the compilation project was to use this information to decide how close the parameters of the scans sent in had to be to the protocol to be acceptable for the trial. Different sites have different types of scanners, so communicating exactly what is wanted for each trial is extremely important for the trial to have accurate and comparable results. So much work is put into improving the the protocol so that there are substantially less problems and disparities for future trials. Since these trials use patients from different facilities throughout the U.S., it is very important to be clear and concise in communicating the specific scans that each trial requires. This research experience has not only given me a great foundation of imaging information that I will be able to use in the future, but has also introduced me to some incredible people. Overall, I am happy to have helped out in a lab that has opened my eyes to a different side of the research process.
I have always been extremely involved in my church, whether it is working in the nursery during church services or helping with Vacation Bible School. Both of these things have helped develop my leadership skills. When I work in the nursery, I am the primary caretaker of children ages 0-3 years old. I usually have a couple of helpers, but as the most experienced, and typically the oldest, I am usually in charge. It is a part of my job to not only play with the kids and make sure they are having a good time, but to also make sure each child is getting equal attention from me and the other helpers in the nursery. When I volunteer with VBS, I am the leader of a group. This means that I am in charge of a small group of children, and I walk them around to various stations and make sure they are having a fun time while also learning a lot. I do my best to create a welcoming environment where everyone feels included. Working with kids has always been something that I love. Getting to play childish games and see every single child smile ear to ear when their favorite song comes on, or when they are picked for duck-duck-goose is an experience like no other. Children are the future, and being able to play a part in their development is a great feeling.
This year, I participated in BuckeyeThon for the first time. I have never felt so humbled to be a part of something in my entire life. Spending 12 hours on your feet, dancing and raising money for kids with cancer will really put things into perspective. While I am here, finding my way through college and living my life, there are thousands of children in hospitals fighting for their lives. It is the LEAST I can do to dance for 12 hours in support of them. Throughout the day, I learned the “morale dance,” which is the dance that all of the team leaders show at the beginning. At the end of the marathon, another person from my team and I, along with two people from every other team, performed the dance on stage in front of hundreds of people. This was a thrilling moment, and I was proud to represent my team and dance in support of children who can’t. I was able to personally raise over $1000 for children with cancer thanks to the help of my family and friends. I will never forget the last few minutes of the marathon when the total amount of money raised was revealed and everyone hugged and cheered and cried tears of joy. I have never been more proud to be a Buckeye than in that moment. As someone who possibly wants to become a pediatric oncologist, this event inspired me to continue to work hard and achieve my goals FOR THE KIDS.
I have been volunteering at The Inn at Olentangy Trail, a nursing home, in the dementia unit since the fall of 2016. On Sunday mornings, I and several others go to the nursing home and mingle with the residents. We do anything from doing puzzles, painting nails, and playing with a beach ball to just sitting and talking. Seeing the residents faces light up when we come in is a feeling that will never get old. Although many of the residents may not remember us, it is still just as rewarding to watch them smile as they complete a puzzle or celebrate as they successfully hit the beach ball back to us. Before we leave, we always help serve lunch and clean up afterwards. I have met some incredible people through volunteering here, and I hope to continue going for as long as I am able to.
I started volunteering at Riverside Hospital in 2016. In such a short time, this experience has shaped me in a way that I did not know was possible. I have been working as a greeter at the main entrance of the hospital, where I engage with the families of patients and answer any questions they may have. I walk patients and their families where they need to be, while providing a friendly and welcoming environment. Occasionally, I deliver flowers to patients rooms, which always makes me smile. This experience has not only helped change my perspective on everyday life, but also introduced me to some incredible people. I volunteer every Wednesday morning with two amazing elderly, but not so elderly in spirit, men. I have become close with both of these men, and they have both offered me some great advice, as well as words of encouragement when I need them. Listening to them talk about life gives me great hope for the future, and watching their kindness in action gives me great hope for humanity. Interacting with my fellow volunteers and with patients and their families has made me realize how important it is to be present in the moment and to appreciate the little things in life. Many of the patients that I work with have had life altering circumstances occur at Riverside, whether it be a medical emergency or the loss of a loved one, in the blink of an eye. Seeing this has helped me appreciate how fortunate I am, and has helped me be thankful for everyone in my life and every single day that I am living.
In the fall of 2016, I was elected the treasurer for Buckeyes Against Alzheimer’s. This club works to spread awareness about and raise money for Alzheimer’s disease. With more then 5 million Americans affected by Alzheimer’s, this is such an important disease to bring awareness to. As someone, who like a substantial amount of others, has been personally affected by the disease with the loss of a loved one, I am honored to be a part of an organization that is helping to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. As the treasurer, it is my job to not only request funding and manage the accounts, but to coordinate fundraisers. So far, I have coordinated a Blaze Pizza fundraiser, and a Torpedo Comedy Club Fundraiser. At the end of each year, we donate half of our remaining money to the Alzheimer’s Association.
This in-class research project helped to open my eyes to the incredible amount of work that goes into every single research inquiry. For this project, we were given information about endophytes, which are microorganisms that inhabit internal plant tissues. These endophytes are typically seen to have a mutualistic relationship with the plant, meaning that both the endophytes and the plant benefit from the relationship. Given minimal information, we were required to come up with a testable research question involving endophytes. My partner and I decided to explore how the endophyte diversity of a plant would be affected when the plant was introduced to salt stress. We worked throughout the semester to run the experiment, and collect as much data as we could with the resources provided. We were able to gather data using microscopy, PCR and gel electrophoresis, and several bioassays. We also drew upon literature to help us make predictions and consider why we had the outcomes that we did. Once all of the data had been collected, we created a poster to present at a mini forum. The forum consisted of several Biology classes presenting their original research to various faculty members. My partner and I were able to present to many professors, as well as our TA. This was a great learning opportunity for me, as I hope to present research at forums, such as the Denman Forum, in the near future.