What advice do you have for undergraduates who are just starting out in research?Do you feel in over your head? Like no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to learn it all? Good. That’s normal. Never compare yourself to your research adviser or graduate students when it comes to your base of knowledge. You’re not supposed to know it all as well as your adviser or other colleagues. Remember that you are there to learn; so, there is no need to fret over what you don’t yet understand or especially what you do not know. If you learn to ask the right questions, it will all come in time.
When you were 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have been obsessed with science my entire life; while growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut so that I could explore novel worlds and find new forms of life.
What are your current plans/career goals beyond the undergraduate?
I hope to attend medical school – WVU SOM is my top choice – and afterward, I would like to try my hand at surgery. Currently, I am most interested in general/ trauma surgery and surgical oncology.
When did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first became involved in research during the spring semester of my freshman year, just after the New Year.
How long have you been involved in undergraduate research?
I have been working with Dr. Gordon Meares for just under a year now. I hope to stay with Dr. Meares for the rest of my undergraduate years.
Why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I have been obsessed with science my whole life, and the forefront of science lies in the conducting of research. Working in the lab has definitely nurtured my sense of curiosity.
How did you find/connect with your first faculty research adviser?
I found my way to Dr. Meares through my academic adviser, Dr. Rosana Schafer.
What is your current research?
Dr. Meares’ research deals with a unique inflammation that can be observed in many neurodegenerative disorders like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. This type of inflammation is caused by the stress of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) – the cellular organ that is charged with folding proteins into their correct forms. This ER stress-induced inflammation causes the cell to express genes that either ensure the cell’s survival or prepare it for cellular death. The research surrounding this topic of ER stress-induced inflammation is quite limited, and that is where we come in. We study how this mechanism functions: What causes this stress? How does this stress lead to inflammation? What effects does this stress have on gene expression?
What skills have you learned by doing research that you would not have learned otherwise (i.e., from lecture alone)?
I have learned many new lab techniques, but I think the most important skills I have accrued supersede the technical, working environment. Since I started working in the lab, I have gained a much greater sense of time management and, most importantly, a sense of patience.