Receiving the Chancellors Undergraduate Research Fellowship has been very fulfilling and I am very appreciative to those that keep this great fellowship going. As a Pitt student it is great to see the encouragement from faculty for undergraduate research. This opportunity gave me the ability to delve deeper into my work and make it a serious component of my experience here at Pitt. It supported my project and gave me a sense of responsibility that kept me dedicated to the work. Dedication is a crucial component when pursuing undergraduate research. My understanding of the research process has definitely been molded and changed over the past two years. I have experienced both the positive and negative aspects of the research processes. There will be moments when you feel like you are not progressing as fast as you should be. There will moments when projects don’t work out or go as planned and there will be times when you feel completely overwhelmed with everything that goes with being an undergraduate. However, if you keep at it there will be great moments that are are worth putting in the effort for. Overtime you will gain invaluable laboratory/research skills, obtain data, network with those around you and hopefully be able to participate in prestigious fellowships based on your work. If I could give some advice on how to succeed in research, specifically biomedical research, is to first delve deep into the area of study your lab focuses on. These labs usually investigate very niche subjects that you must be somewhat familiar with. Understanding certain terminology and recent developments in that area of focus can go a long way. When starting a project understand what your specific goal is and how it connects to the labs overarching goals. My ultimate advice to anyone seeking it, is to be patients but stay curious.
My research project specifically focused on a rare metabolic disease called triosephosphate isomerase (TPI) deficiency. One of our collaborators which works closely with our lab (Palladino Lab) recently developed a mouse model for this disorder. My project involved me closely working with these mice. This new mouse model opened up new opportunities for characterizing and further understanding the pathology of this deadly disease. Through histological analysis we worked to understand how different tissue types are affected by this disease. The ultimate goal of the Palladino Lab is to find an effective therapeutic treatment for TPI deficiency. This mouse model will become a crucial component in this ultimate goal. During my time at this lab many individuals have helped me progress and help me get to the place I am. Dr. Palladino has been a great mentor and has helped me achieve and obtain opportunities that I am very grateful for. Tracey Myers, a PhD student working in our lab, has been one of my greatest resources. She has helped me navigate the world of research and has graciously given her time and energy to help me progress. She is definitely a mentor I very much cherish. No one achieves anything by themselves, so I thank those that helped me along the way.
I hope to keep pursuing my work at the Palladino Lab, and keep progressing the great work that is done there. Moving forward I would like to present the results that I have obtained from this last semester at the poster session offered by the biology department here at Pitt. In addition to that I hope to also present my work at this years Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). If chosen I believe this to be a great opportunity to get my work out there, and learn to present to a greater audience. One of my larger goals is to become a Brackenridge fellow to continue my work over this coming summer. Ultimately, I hope to apply and obtain a Bachelors of Philosophy degree which is another great opportunity offered by the Honors College. Again I would like to express my appreciation for this fellowship, it has provided me with an experience that will help me to progress in my professional goals.