Spencer Miller: Tobacco Sciences Research


Name:            Spencer Miller


Type of Project:         Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science Research


As a research assistant in Project Two of the Buckeye Teen Health Study, I was able to spend my summer learning about population-intervention and public health research and statistics. While learning about tobacco research, I worked in the lab for the project and analyzed the reliability of the samples they were collecting for the study.


This project allowed me to look at healthcare from two different perspectives that I had never viewed it from before. First of all, I was able to view healthcare from a public health standpoint. Through meetings with Dr. Electra Paskett and Dr. Amy Ferketich, I was able to see the research involved in exploring the health of communities and the techniques researchers use to extend care to these communities. In addition, I was able to view healthcare from a biochemical researcher’s standpoint this summer. I learned how one can tackle large healthcare issues through online research and by developing questions and techniques to answer specific questions that can contribute to healthcare.

Consequently, this experience allowed me to explore what my role in the healthcare field should be and exposed me to lab techniques that I plan on using throughout my life.


This STEP experience exposed me to a lot of places and people. A lot of my time was spent in my lab. In that lab, working full time, I was able to go through the process of developing a project, completing the project, and reporting the results and findings through a paper and poster presentation in a specified amount of time. Therefore, I was exposed, for a couple of months, to the work schedule and stress of a researcher.

In that lab I was able to interact with post-docs that taught me how to run qPCR and extract DNA. I was able to talk with research managers who had different experiences and advice to talk about. I also met a lot of students my age that are planning on using their education in a variety of ways to promote healthcare. These different viewpoints allowed me to fully see the different aspects of healthcare.

In addition, as part of the project, I got to go to Appalachian fairs and Columbus farmers’ markets to help recruit participants for the study. I also got to go to research seminars to learn about other peoples’ research. At these places, I was reminded of how much I enjoy working with and interacting with people of different cultures. I was reminded that I want to interact with people of different viewpoints throughout whatever career I choose.


This learning experience has had a large impact on my life goals and my values. Before the project, I imagined that the only way I could help patients was by becoming a doctor. But I have developed a love for population-intervention research as well as clinical laboratory techniques. I still want to provide care for others as I always have, but now I want to do it in a way that better fits my talents and interests. I am now training to be a Medical Laboratory Scientist, and I am looking at working in impoverished nations in order to fully provide the patient care of which I am capable.

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