Undergraduate Research Experience
- My STEP summer project was spent working in Dr. DeVries’s lab doing conducting neuroscience research under the guidance of Monica Gaudier-Diaz, one of the graduate students currently in Dr. DeVries Lab. My experience began with me working on observing the differential effects in microglia following an ischemic event using immunoflourescent staining for hippocampus microglia. The research I was involved with looking to elucidate the mechanism behind microglia activation in differential immune responses following stroke, and how this immune response can be exacerbated when male mice were exposed to pre-ischemic stress.
- This experience afforded me the opportunity to learn more laboratory skills as well as gain a better appreciation for the scientific process. I also was able to contribute to a broad range of different projects in the lab, allowing me to better understand a variety of topics being researched in Dr. DeVries’s lab. My favorite part of the research was being able to be present for the entirety of a study, instead of contributing to small parts throughout the school year. I have left this experience with a more consummate understanding in the field of neuroscience, and further validation that I want to pursue medicine or medical science in the future.
- When I first started my STEP project over the summer, I jumped right into working on staining brain slices from the study that I had been working on with my graduate advisor during the school year. I quickly discovered that the procedure for performing the staining was not nearly as simple as it was made to look. I had to redo multiple sets of each slide in order to get the staining correct. I worked on the staining for roughly a month before I had the opportunity to help work on another project during the summer. Towards the end of the summer I then returned to the staining I had performed and captured magnified images of the slides on a microscope. The struggles I had to overcome to get the perfect image really helped me to appreciate how much of the scientific process is truly trial and error. In the end I realized that there were in fact so many issues with how the images were turning out that I decided to redo all of the staining one more time to ensure that the comparisons I was making between brain slices were actually accurate.
I also mentioned previously how being present for the entirety of a study had an impact on my appreciation of the scientific process. Following the few weeks I spent working on the staining I had the opportunity to work with a student from The University of Chicago who was participating in a summer research program at Ohio State. I worked with here to carry out a study investigating the effect social isolation and prior anxiety had on depressive like behavior following cardiac arrest. Being present for the entirety of this study was influential in helping to understand the whole process of compiling data. I was able to carry out all aspects of the study, as well as compile and statistically analyze the data we collected. Being able to understand how biomedical research was conducted helped me to appreciate how the field of medicine has made the advancements that are available to use today
Finally, before presenting my poster at the STEP forum, I had the opportunity to present on my research specifically at the Fall Undergraduate Research Poster Forum. At this forum I was asked a lot of specific questions regarding the research I was involved with, and was asked to provide my own opinions regarding the implications of the research. This experience forced me to apply my knowledge of the research to discuss how better understanding the neuroimmune response following cardiac arrest, as well as factors that may exacerbate this immune response, is vital in a clinical setting. I really enjoyed to opportunity to express my opinions in a medical context and I think this part of my experience really helped me to realize part of the reason I want to pursue medicine. I want to be a physician partly to be an educator. I not only want to better the lives of others, but I want patients to trust me and for me to be able to educate others on how to better their own lives.
- I believe I have already discussed a bit on on why this experience has been valuable for my life. In large, I think spending time working in a biomedical research setting has helped me realize my desire to pursue medicine, but it has also helped to me realize I do not want to pursue a career in research itself. I would not find much interest in performing research like the research I was involved with for my entire life. What I most enjoyed about the experience was employing the knowledge I had obtained from the study and sharing it with others. Realizing this made it evident to me that I much prefer applying the knowledge that is obtained from biomedical research. To further validate this I am now seeking out more experiences I clinical settings to so I observe the other side of medicine and ensure that a career in medicine is really the right thing for me.