For my STEP project, I participated in undergraduate research at Ohio State’s Injury Biomechanics Research Center. My project was to develop a custom MATLAB code that could create stress-strain curves and quantify material properties from dynamic structural tests of individual human ribs. The next step in the project is to find predictors of material properties.
Over the course of the project, I have furthered my knowledge of the scientific process and learned how to drive a research and problem solving effort. Through this project I have learned a great deal of perseverance. At almost every step of the project, I have encountered at least one issue that required me to implement and hone my problem solving skills. This process has greatly increased my ability not only to problem solve, but to think critically. This critical thinking ability has applied to both others and myself, and the ability to do this is critical for pursuing science and reasoning what the proper course of action is. This transformation and growth was a key part of my STEP experience.
When developing a computer code, there is much trial and error, and subsequent problem solving. In order to write a code that would take the data we had obtained and output the stress-strain curves and model we desired, there were many different steps of data processing and manipulation needed. Once one portion of the data was formatted and processed in an appropriate manner, the next section needed to be formatted and processed. There was a great deal of trial and error in each step and significant problem solving that, through each step, honed my skills and strengthened my perseverance.
Throughout the entire process I gained a higher appreciation for the scientific process and expanded my knowledge of how to best pursue it for this process. Throughout the duration of the project, I had the chance to develop relationships with several primary investigators in the Injury Biomechanics Research Center. From them, I was able to learn a great deal about how to properly investigate, interpret and analyze data. Beyond that, I also learned how to think critically and learned to check and double-check my work. I have learned that this is very important to ensure that each step makes sense.
Additionally, I had the opportunity to present my project at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. Through this experience, I was afforded the opportunity to speak to many different people about my research. I spoke to a great variety of people, ranging from high school students to experts in biomechanics. This was a great opportunity because an important part of science is explaining your work to others and helping them understand why your work is important. This Forum helped me practice those skills and learn how to present my work.
This STEP project will me help as I pursue a career in medicine. Research is an important part of medicine and learning how to properly conduct and present research early will certainly benefit me throughout my career. The relationships I have formed through my project will help me as I apply to medical school and continue to pursue that career. The skills I have learned, such as problem solving, critical thinking, and presentation will be further advantageous throughout my life.