Emily Rowlett STEP Reflection

1. For my STEP project I compiled a catalog raisonné for artist Dan Tranberg. Tranberg was my uncle and a great inspiration to me. I constructed this project with the goal of memorializing his legacy as an artist. Through provenance research I found as much of Tranberg’s work as possible and traveled to photograph these pieces. After a number a trips to cities across the country I photographed over 150 works of art. I then created a catalog raisonné featuring these photos to fully capture the life and work of Dan Tranberg.

2. My experience completing my STEP Project was certainly enlightening. I learned a lot about myself as well as the art industry. I found that throughout each stage of my project, I took time to evaluate myself and my progress. While I have a tendency to procrastinate, this wasn’t a prominent issue throughout the months I was working on the project. I believe this is because I was passionate about the work I was doing, and this passion motivated me to get past certain obstacles and setbacks along the way. I enjoyed the work that I was doing and also had a personal connection to every aspect of the project, so finishing the catalog on time and to the best of my ability was essential.

I also found that my preconceived notions of the art industry and the careers of artists were severely tainted. I was unaware of the many hardships professional artists face in order to make a living and be successful. While finding works of art I came across numerous artists with their own unique stories and bodies of work. It was enlightening to hear about how they knew Dan Tranberg and why they own his art. After completing my STEP project, I have an even greater respect for professional artists and their craft.

3. The nature of my STEP project allowed me to interact with numerous people: from artists, to gallery owners, to friends and family. While it was interesting to hear from mutual friends of Dan Tranberg and I, I found it particularly rewarding to speak with artists I was meeting for the first time. In each meeting, we bonded over our love for Tranberg and his art and spoke about his incredible and inspiring success. These humbling experiences throughout the past year were an important part of my grieving process as well as a step in the right direction of my goal to memorialize Tranberg and his collection.

The knowledge I gained regarding the process of art making as well as selling the art was enlightening. I had little understanding of the process of making a name for yourself in the art world, something I knew Tranberg worked tirelessly at for the entirety of his life. After finding his art spread across the country, I knew that he had successfully established himself and a respected professional.

This widespread recognition further affirmed the importance of creating a catalog raisonné. While the book will be an important documentation of his collection for my family, it will also provide his friends, colleagues, and fellow artists with ways to memorialize him and his work. His impact on others as well as the art world was extensive and desperately needed to be commemorated.

4. Ultimately, I set out on this journey with hopes of memorializing my uncle, Dan Tranberg, and his collection of artwork. Along the way, I was able to both grieve and move on from the sadness of his sudden passing. Each new piece of art I tracked down was healing in the sense that I had found another source of Tranberg’s impact. His creativity and passion reached expansive audiences, something that I can only hope to achieve in my lifetime. I am concluding my STEP project with a strong drive to be fearless in pursuing my passions and leave my own impact on a new generation of artists and creators.

Alex Kohler STEP Reflection

Alex Kohler

STEP Reflection



  • Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.                                                           


      1. The goal of this project was to design and build an indoor aeroponic garden. The main crux of the process involved doing this as cheaply and simply as possible, in order to allow any individual(s) to repeat this process themselves.


  • What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?


      1. A lot has changed for me in the last year; I have a better understanding of my worldview and the things that are most important to me. I have learned that most people are good people, and that all you need to do to understand this is engage with them. I have spent lots of time in the last year engaging with people and ideas I would have simply written off before. For example, a pro-life person. A couple of years ago, if I would have interacted with this person it would have been very surface level and hostile. Now I’m confident enough in my own experiences and values that interacting with this kind of person does not need to be hostile. In fact, through engaging with people I disagree with on certain issues, I have found that we probably agree on a lot of things, we have simply reached different conclusions that are often not completely thought out! Finding common ground and common facts is crucial in conversation, and if you make an honest attempt you will almost always be able to do this.


  • What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?


      1. The main event that led to this transformation was an incident I was involved in during class last year. A hypothetical discussion was taking place about the need (or lack thereof) for government in our lives. I made a comment about how government ensures protection of its citizens, and another student commented (in what I perceived to be a hostile manner) that it is easy for me to say this as a white male. As someone who considers themselves to be “woke” in terms of politics, I was taken aback. Why was this seemingly obvious conclusion I had reached so aggravating to this student? In part, it was because we had not established common ground and facts before these comments.
      2. I understand the privilege I have as a white male, and that other identities in this country are not as well protected as me. I, however, was talking in the abstract, while the other student was more focused on the current reality.  I do not believe this other student and I would disagree on very much of our worldview, we were simply arguing with a different basis and scope. If we would have dug deeper and found common ground, I am sure we would have been able to work out our differences. If put in a similar situation today, I will react more calmly than I did then, and instead of being instantly offended, try to understand where the other person is coming from and establish some kind of common ground.
      3. I have also begun to consume new kinds of media in the past year, specifically a lot of media that I disagree with, such as the Daily Wire and some radical feminist media on YouTube. Hearing these different perspectives allows me to question my perspective and how I got there. In some instances, this strengthens my position, in others it makes me question and perhaps completely change my position. Challenging myself in this way has made me a much more accepting person and also a more versatile conversator. This has resulted in more confidence in myself, especially in social situations and at work.


  • Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?


      1. This change has been crucial for my life. Being able to at least be civil with others can seem impossible when looking at the world through the lens of social media, which is where the majority of conversation is now happening, especially for young people such as myself. Long form discussion, face to face, is a much healthier way to communicate than social media. Furthermore, when establishing common ground/ facts in these conversations, the ease with which agreements can be found in most instances has been pleasantly surprising. This has made be a much happier person; it feels good to get along with different kinds of people!


  • I understand that much of the transformation I have just discussed is not directly related to my STEP project, so I will now give a recap of my project and what I learned.


    1. My STEP project had a timeline of one year, an amount of time that seems to me to be both relatively long and short. At its inception last Spring, I had very little knowledge about aeroponic gardening and no experience in building or maintaining a garden. Over the course of the year I built and tested three distinct designs, each one better than the last in my opinion. However, I was never able to implement a cheap and easy to assemble drainage/ water recycling system for any of the designs, which means nothing was grown in the garden. I failed.
    2. Failure is a tough pill to swallow, which is why I’m not going to do it! The good thing about all the work I have completed on the garden is that it is cheap and easy to assemble; even if Ohio State decides to take all of the work I have done, I will be able to easily recreate what I have built and try again in the future when I’m not consumed with school and work. Failure is just an invitation to try again!
    3. This can be applied to conversations, like the ones discussed in answers 2 through 4. Just because a conversation with a person goes poorly does not mean the next one cannot be productive, and just because I find one person with a particular view to be hostile does not mean they will always be hostile, or that conversations with others who hold a similar view have to be hostile. We can always try again with a fresh set of eyes and ears.

STEP Reflection

For my STEP signature project, I assisted Dr. Michelle Humeidan and the Clinical Anesthesia Research Lab in conducting the Neurobics Trial. This clinical trial’s aim was to assess the efficacy of preoperative cognitive exercise on the onset of postoperative delirium in a subset of elderly patients – delineated by specific exclusion criteria.

As a result of my STEP signature project, I was able to work in the middle of an ongoing, multi-year clinical trial, which allowed me to test my previous assumptions of clinical research. My assumptions that were tested include the difference between direct patient care and clinical trial proceedings, the level of separation between a research team and the medical staff taking care of patients involved in the clinical trial, as well as what treatments may be tested in a clinical trial. Before my experience in the Neurobics trial, I believed that patients in a clinical trial were taken care of by members of the clinical trial’s research team. Instead, I now understand that a research team works alongside attending physicians in the hospital, and they are another addition upon the existing medical team tasked to take care of each patient. Additionally, my preconceived idea of the separation between a research team and other medical staff was challenged. I previously believed that research teams would operate separately from existing medical staff; however, I now understand that research teams act alongside existing medical staff in order to provide patients with excellent care and keep them involved in the trial. Finally, I used to believe that the only treatments included in clinical trials were prescription drugs. However, I can see that a treatment option can be more than just a prescription drug, but even cognitive exercise.

The experience that challenged my previous assumptions was shadowing cognitive tests. When shadowing cognitive tests, I was able to see that, as a member of the research team, our job was not to take care of patients, but to supplement their care with the proceedings of the clinical trial. Not only did I see that they were under the full care of their normal medical team, but I also saw that I did not extensively monitor their health – as a physician or nurse would – as a member of the research team. Before this experience, I had no idea that clinical trial members were not under the full care of the research team.

In addition to shedding light on the difference between direct patient care and the care given from a research team, shadowing allowed me to reevaluate the separation between the two medical teams. When shadowing, it was crucial to coordinate with the nurses and physicians on staff when beginning a cognitive test or drawing blood for other sections of the trial. This showed that I was wrong to believe how separate the two teams were because we were all acting as one team. Instead of acting separate, it was obvious to me that everyone was part of one team because all of the staff on the floor was prepped and equipped to assist with the clinical trial as well as watch over each patient.

Finally, as a result of shadowing the clinical trial’s cognitive tests, I was able to see that a treatment method was not always a prescription medication. Instead, I saw that cognitive stimulation via an iPad was a treatment method being tested. Because of being a part of this experience, I now believe that I have a fuller understanding of the scope of clinical research as being far more than a drug testing site. Instead, it is an intellectual playground where novel ideas can come in all forms.

My new understanding of clinical research is not only currently valuable to me, but crucial in my future career. I now understand that as a physician, I can be given the option to both care for patients and help enhance current medical knowledge without having to devote myself as only a physician or a clinical researcher. As a result, I further understand how crucial physicians are to not only conducting but also maintaining long clinical trials, which further increases my understanding of the power of a team of motivated individuals in making a difference in the world. Additionally, I understand how incredible, yet simple, medicine can end up being. If, upon completion, the Neurobics trial shows that cognitive exercise is a viable preventative measure to combating postoperative delirium, something as simple as cognitive stimulation before surgery will have been able to stop the onset of something that even drugs have failed to remedy. This once again has helped inspire an awe of the human body, which has helped bolster my desire to become a physician.

STEP Reflection

Name: Monika Locatis

Type of Project: Undergraduate Research

For my STEP signature project I contributed to research done in Dr. Grottoli’s Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Laboratory. Her research focuses on how ocean temperature and acidification effects the adaptation of coral species. In her lab, I spent most of my time either cleaning or outlining the surface area of pictures of coral, to look at the relationship between surface area growth with numerous stressors, such as high temperature and high acidity, or low temperature high acidity.

My project was very insightful in how many steps the research process needs to be carried out, and how many people contribute to that research. For instance, I did not except the time of these research projects to extend to the amount they did. I worked in the lab for 2 semesters and obtaining the complete results of the surface area project was not finished by the time I left. We looked at coral from 1 month, 5 months, 17 months to 22 months when putting a stressor on them. This alone takes up a lot of time and dedication from the graduate students and lab assistants. When you look at the grand scheme of things, such as collecting the data, processing the data, writing the results, and more, it takes a long time, taking the graduate students 3 years or more to publish.

I also realized how many different steps there are towards research. There are of course, steps outlined in scientific papers such as the methods and results, but there’s much more that goes into that. One thing people never think about when considering research is the clean up and planning research needs. I would mostly do the cleaning as an assistant to the lab, where cleaning must be particular so not contaminations ruined results. Coral dust and fragments had to be cleaned thoroughly with soap, rinsed many times, and glassware burned or plastic bathing in an acid solution. There were also many conferences to plan with the graduate students, and of course field research when it calls. These components are very much overlooked and seen as minor, but they are needed in a research lab.

I learned that communication in research is the key to completing research. We would have weekly lab meetings to discuss our progress in our research and get feedback on how to present the research. Since this work will eventually be published for the whole community to critique and see, Dr. Grottoli reviewed the graduate students work and suggested ways to present the information, or different methods that will produce better results. Research is done by many people at once working on pieces of it to make a bigger project. It is also about trust, where the graduate students had to let us help with their research and gave us the responsibility to complete tasks that affect the results.

This affected my view on research, as well as my attitude and interaction within my research lab, as well as outside the lab, helping me become more professional. I learned the importance of everyone in a lab and applied that in my workplace. I learned how to openly communicate more, and learned to trust others with my responsibilities more when I need help. I learned time management with my projects, seeing how long research takes made me spread my projects out so I can give them the time and attention they need to be the best.

Being a part of a research lab and experiencing all these things I never expected in a research setting has led me further into my career path. I know truly understand the scientific process and have gained research experience that will only help me advance to more research and positions in my field that will make me a respected member of the science community. However, I have only scratched the surface of research, and hope to conduct my own big-scale research someday. I am very grateful for the opportunity Dr. Grottoli has given me, letting me work in her research lab.

All of these things I’ve learned about research has just further solidified my career path, as I’ve come to learn research is very important (although time consuming) and it leads to bigger changes that can significantly impact our choices in conservation efforts, and thus help recover or continue to have ecosystem services and/or populations of a species. And everything I’ve learned in the lab, communication, time management, professionalism, from the connections I’ve made and the level of responsibility I was given will only help me advance further into my career. In my profession, I would eventually have to do research. Graduating without any research experience can be detrimental, and I am glad my STEP project has let me advance further into my career, giving me valuable experience needed to continue growing in my studies.

STEP Reflection

For my STEP project, I conducted research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Craig Burd Lab. My project focused on helping understand the molecular mechanism of GREB1, a protein implicated in breast cancer.

This project was my first exposure to undergraduate research and at first, I didn’t know what to expect. Although I was nervous about jumping into something I had no experience with, I am so glad I took the leap. This experience has allowed me to grow and learn a lot about myself. In particular, through this project, I have become more independent, which has given me the confidence to take on a new individual project in the future. I have also enjoyed being able to see the real-world applications of a lot of the things I’ve learned in my classes. Most importantly, I’ve been able to appreciate the importance of basic science research in the advancement of medicine and how much work really goes in to all of the research and development of new treatments and cures.

Coming into the lab with very little background, I had trouble adjusting to working in a research lab. Conducting research for the first time in a new field is like learning a new language. For the first few months, I relied heavily upon help from the graduate students working in my lab. Before this project, I was somewhat resistant to ask for help, but through this experience, I was able to feel comfortable not knowing all of the answers. The most important relationship I developed was with one of the graduate students, Corinne, who taught me all of the techniques and skills I use in the lab. Working with her allowed me to become more confident in my own skills and my ability to succeed. She was always available to explain how and why things worked and inspired me to be more ambitious and independent.

This experience was very valuable in my personal and professional life. I plan to attend medical school in the future, so working in a research lab has allowed me to appreciate an important aspect of the healthcare field. I feel that having this background in research will allow me to pursue future research opportunities in medical school and beyond. Personally, I will be able to carry the newfound confidence and independence I have developed in the lab with me as I continue in college, medical school, and in life.  

STEP Reflection

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

For my STEP Signature Project I did undergraduate research in the field of nuclear engineering investigating a method of measuring thermal conductivity. I used a technique known as the Four-Point Probe to measure the electrical resistivity of a material which can then be used to calculate the thermal conductivity. The main activities of the project were literature review, equipment procurement, design and fabrication of testing apparatus, conducting experiments, analyzing data, and writing a thesis.


2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

Going into this STEP Signature Project I thought I might be interested in doing research, but I wasn’t entirely sure what it would be like or if I would actual like it. I was also in the process of considering and applying to grad schools and determining my aptitude for research was an important part of the decision. What I learned from my experience was that I enjoyed doing research, but not nearly as much as I hoped I would. Before my STEP Signature Project I assumed I would prefer a research oriented career. That assumption changed and I now think a career in industry or research could be equally rewarding.


3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

The main activities that led to the change discussed in question 2 was actually doing the research, literally conducting the experiments and collecting data. I learned how frustrating it can be. When erroneous data came in there was a large number of potential causes (from something as simple as a loose wire to something as fundamental as not modeling the physical system correctly) with no indication as to the issue.

I spent so much time working on things that only indirectly contributed to the research I was trying to do, such as several weeks just to get the equipment working properly. It was all too easy to feel I had wasted a week not making progress because I explored an avenue that proved uninformative, which is just a part of doing research

It was also hard to feel the work I was doing was important and mattered. Research is extremely specialized at this point and much of it is neither glamorous nor ground breaking. Technically all research is by definition original and expanding human understanding, but I’d rather put that knowledge to practical use. These experiences changed my perception about doing research.


4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

As a direct result of doing undergraduate research I decided not to pursue a PhD in grad school. Getting a PhD would both involve 4 or so years of research but would also be for a research focused career. Before my STEP Signature Project I thought that would interest me but I am now less certain. Instead I plan to get a masters with research distinction for a career in industry with a more applied research focus. Without going through the experience of my STEP Project I would be going into grad school with a much less clear understanding of what I want to do professionally.


STEP Reflection

Name: Shivani Deshpande

Type of Project: Undergraduate Research

I conducted research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in the Center for Perinatal Research. My lab studied a disease called necrotizing enterocolitis, also referred to as NEC. My project focused on the long-term, neurodevelopmental effects of NEC. I spent my time working on an animal model of experimental NEC and neurodevelopment and analyzing collected data.

When I first began this project, I remember feeling rather overwhelmed at the task before me. Our lab had never done a behavioral study before, and I was helping my lab mentor implement this model for the first time. I was unsure of how I would succeed in this project, but I decided to take on the challenge. I worked full time over the summer, and day by day I would get a better grasp of things. I still felt like a rookie every day, but I wasn’t discouraged by my knowledge gap so much as taking it as inspiration to study even more, to read even more articles. By the end of the summer, I had collected enough preliminary data to be able to present it at a poster competition at Nationwide Children’s. Through this experience, I learned about what it takes to collect and present scientific data, and was able to do so under the mentorship of skilled doctors.

My strategy at dealing with stress and anxiety changed over the course of this project. My timeline began at the beginning of summer, but continued through the school year as well. I had to learn how to manage the demands of my schoolwork and lab, and how to balance the two. My time management skills were truly tested, and I think the most transformative personal portion of this project. I learned how to prioritize my tasks and conduct both my lab experiments as well as homework.

When I first began this project, I was very nervous about the task I had to undertake. My lab mentor is who I credit with giving me the confidence to work on this project. I am a very detail oriented person, and like to have to have as much information about a subject before taking on a task. My mentor, sensing this, sent me all the papers and protocols she had researched before developing our animal model. This extensive research, and mentor-mentee relationship helped me gain the initial confidence to conduct this research.

As mentioned earlier, I presented preliminary data at Nationwide Children’s poster competition. This was a very key aspect of my transformation. I had to begin preparing for the competition weeks prior to the actual presentation. I learned how to create a scientific poster. This process takes a couple weeks, and goes through many editing rounds. Through this process, I learned how to approach a scientific presentation. I had to practice presenting my poster in front of my lab prior to the actual competition. Every time I practiced, I noticed something else I had to change in my speech. This taught me that in the future, practice is the best thing I can do prior to giving a scientific presentation. Finally, I learned how to answer questions on the spot. After I presented my poster to the judges, they would follow up with a few questions. This was the most transformative portion of the poster experience, and I could only experience it at the competition itself. I learned how to take a second and process the question, and answer it calmly and thoroughly.

I also had to learn how to acknowledge my own gaps in knowledge, and how to communicate that I did not know the answer to everything. As a premedical student, this proved difficult, to admit that I was not sure of something. Often, the judges themselves knew the answer, and would supply it once I communicated that I was unaware of it. This experience taught me that admitting your own weaknesses is also a necessary skill, as it can lead to a gain of knowledge in the end.

Finally, once the school year began, I learned how to refine my time management skills. The biggest component of this was communication. I had to communicate to my lab the times I had to prioritize being a student. This was a unique situation, as my standing in lab was largely as a professional colleague. I had to discipline myself to reduce distractions and complete my work on time. I also refined my communications skills by relating to my lab when I had a big midterm or project coming up, and had to scale down my hours that week. This process showed me that communication is the best way to avoid potential conflicts and help in prioritization.

The skills I gained during this project relate directly to my professional goals. I hope to go to medical school and become a physician in the future. This project immersed me in an environment where I was surrounded by the very people I hope to be. I was able to gain invaluable advice, and make strong relationships with incredible individuals

This project provided me with technical skills I will definitely use in my academic and future career. As a premedical student, I will have poster presentations in my academic career. This experience taught me how long it takes to make such posters, and provided me with public speaking skills that will only help me in scientific presentations.

Finally, the time management and communication skills I refined through this project will benefit me in every area of my life. Not simply academically or professionally, but personally as well. I learned how to communicate with people in an assertive manner, and was able to see firsthand how this avoided future conflicts. The skills and experiences gained during this project will be immensely helpful both in the present and future.

STEP Reflection

Taylor Vassis

Undergraduate Research

Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

For my STEP Signature Project, I served as a research assistant in a study designed to observe how environmental factors, such as light, sound, and touch affect the stress levels of infants in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. I was personally responsible for coding the data for sound interruptions the child was experiencing during their stay in the hospital.

What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? 

My STEP Signature Project gave me a newfound sense of appreciation for the research field. Before this project, I had no experience in research and really only had a basic sense of how the process worked. Throughout the semester I was able to see all the pieces and parts that must come together in order to execute and accomplish the goal of a researcg study. Seeing all the hard work that goes into performing a research study, truly made me appreciate all those who dedicate their careers and life to research. Research is genuinely the future of medicine and therefore the future for each of our lives. Without the advancements research has provided, as a population we would be digressing in health and not have close to any of the number of vaccines and treatments as we do today. My STEP project reiterated this message  and showed me how grateful we should all be for how much research has given to our society.

What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? 

My relationship with my PI, Dr. Tondi Harrison, really allowed me to gain this newfound appreciation for research. From our very first meeting, I noticed the love and passion she has for her work. Besides teaching me about the process and “how-to’s” of coding, she taught me to appreciate the process. She told me that coding especially may seem never-ending and unimportant at the time, but being able to analyze all the data in the end and determine a conclusion makes all the tedious work worth it. Dr. Harrison was an instrumental part in shaping my first experience with research into such a great one.

I told myself from the very beginning to keep an open mind about what I may be doing in the project. I let Dr. Harrison know that I was comfortable doing whatever she felt best suited me and was needed at the time in the study. I believe that one of the reasons I have enjoyed my research experience so much this far is because of the freedom she offered me from the start. Dr. Harrison not only presented me with many different options to choose from, but thoroughly showed me how to code for the different options before I made a choice. Last semester and currently my responsibility in the project has been to code for sound in the data collected from Nationwide Children’s. Originally the only sense that was going to be coded for was touch, but in conversation Dr. Harrison and I realized that sound, especially in a hospital, would have a major effect on an infant’s healing process. From that conversation, Dr. Harrison decided that we should include sound as a factor of the study and allowed me to code for that aspect.

I began my STEP Signature Project with the intention that this would be a great learning experience, but I finished gaining so much more. I was able to learn about the process of research and coding data. Although, what I value the most from this experience is being able to understand how much goes into research and making advancements. Seeing this firsthand by actually being part of a research team has been very impactful. I think many people take for granted the outcome of research studies, without thinking about all the time and individuals that are needed to make it happen.

Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? 

With aspirations of working in the healthcare field, specifically as a pediatric nurse practitioner, this experience was very beneficial to my future. I was able to observe pediatric patients recovering from cardiac surgery and get a look into how interactions like hearing their parents’ voices or being comforted by touch were able to influence this healing process. Since Dr. Harrison works in the college of nursing she has been able to provide me with many insights and tips regarding the graduate nursing program I will be applying to next fall. Through my STEP Signature Project I was able to gain experience and form relationships that will be valuable in allowing me to pursue my dream career.


Each participant’s bed is set up with sound and video recorders.


Coding page


STEP Reflection

Name: Jacob Caponi

Type of Project: Undergraduate Research

  1. My STEP Signature Project consisted of being a research assistant with sociology graduate student Brandon Moore on the PrEP Perception Study. PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is used to prevent HIV. I transcribed interviews, conducted interviews, analyzed data, and reported findings from the study in my position.
  2. Overall, through this project I was able to develop critical thinking and professional skills. The position of research assistant gave me the experience of understanding how research development takes place in a large institution such as OSU. I was able to develop my own questions surrounding how individuals perceived PrEP usage while gaining knowledge from participants about how history, biology, politics, and society all play a role in perception of PrEP usage. Combining all of these perspectives allowed me to find my passion for public health which is the major I changed to after pursuing this research project. Without this research position I may have not found my passion for public health as quickly.
  3.           In order to begin the project the proposal had to be submitted through different IRBs – OSU and the city health department where the study was conducted. This was done to recruit participants, but I learned how research is a process and not a simple “ah-ha” moment often portrayed in the media. Social science research begins with an idea and requires many steps before participants are even interviewed. I learned how to navigate queer spaces to promote this project and understood how society functions to create spaces for “others” in a physical and medical sense. As a first time “investigator” this was a big step in being culturally competent with my intended participants.

Once the previous was accomplished I was able to hear the stories of individuals who lived as men who have sex with men (MSM). Ages varied and learning of gay history was a first as it is often excluded from the heteronormative history taught in schools. Significant to this research project, how MSM view a medication that could save their life, was the AIDS crisis. Comparing older MSM narratives to younger MSM provided insight to how HIV/AIDS is viewed.

The relationship with my mentor, Brandon Moore, provided me with the dedication to pursue graduate school. Brandon was able to give me advice and motivation to apply for grants, interview individuals, and share this project at community events. Brandon also helped read over my personal statement for a masters in public health which I was accepted into for next year.


  1. This project allowed me to find my passion for public health and gender and sexual minorities. Understanding the perception of PrEP medication aligns with my minor in pharmaceutical sciences and also my major in public health. I was able to find a mentor who encouraged independent, critical thinking which sparked my interest in graduate school. I also am able to take the skills from this research project and apply them in graduate school where I will continue research. My future plan is to get my PhD and become a professor/researcher.


Food Safety in Cancer Patients

  1.  During my STEP project, I worked in a Microbiology lab. While in the lab I extracted DNA from rat feces for research.


  1. Before my project, I was not interested in pursuing microbiological research as career. I wasn’t even interested in any kind of research. I was very nervous about working in a lab. However, by the end of my project I was surprised how comfortable and how much I enjoyed working. I was also provided with many researches that helped me academically. I could build relationships with professors and other students like me in the nutrition filed. This large network of resources allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and ask for help.

3.  First I was transformed by getting out of my comfort zone. As I mentioned above I was nervous about starting a research project. This was something I had never done before and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. After I started working not only was I able to use knowledge I have gained from previous classes but I also learned so much more from the people I was working with. Because I enjoyed working on the project so much this semester I will now get out of my comfort zone more often.

This project also increased my confidence. Being able to accomplish such a difficult project showed me that I could succeed academically. I am much more confident with my school work and telling myself that I am smart enough to take a class or pass a test.

Finally, I was transformed with the way I view content covered in class. As I mentioned above, I used information I had earned previously in class to help me in the project. This showed me how valuable what I am learned is to my future career. Being able to apply that knowledge made me more excited to learn about nutrition.


  1. These transformations with help me in so many ways. First, they will help me as I finished my last year and a half of school. I will try more new things, be more confident in my school work and view my classes as a resource instead of something I must get through. Thinking further in life, it will help me in my future career. By trying new things, I will be more open to something I have never done before, I will be confident in my accomplishments during college and I will use my knowledge to solve problems as a dietitian.