Building Bridges Through HSRF

The Health Science Research Fellowship experience thus far has been spectacular! Through group meetings provided through HSRF, I have had the privilege to meet and chat with other recipients which have given me an inside understanding of specific projects as well as a broader insight into the exploration and diversity of research being conducted across different departments here at Pittsburgh. HSRF is a golden opportunity to bring undergraduate researchers with different backgrounds and expertise across campus together, so we all may continue to develop a bigger picture mindset for how our particular studies may fit into and hold relevance in the vast array of departments, labs, and lives of those not merely here at Pittsburgh, but across the world.

With this, there is much I can learn from my HSRF companions. First is the chance for all of us to take a step back from our own studies and broaden our understanding of the wide range of research and projects that are being simultaneously conducted within our university. From this understanding, I hope to zoom in on this idea by developing a greater knowledge of the specific science and purpose that each HSRF recipient looks to advance and fulfill respectively. From these first few weeks, one student’s project that particularly struck my interest is focused on light effects on female mice muscle regeneration.

More so, I aim to zoom out from this concept as well by looking towards how my research may be of interest to my colleagues, how it can relate to other research purposes and departments, and how it can have an impact on our community as a whole. My research put briefly, is focused on the overarching goal of the development of skin-targeted vaccines with the use of novel intradermal delivery technology: microneedle patches. More specifically, I look to develop this by evaluating what adjuvant delivery would be best associated with these microneedle patches to evoke the most effective innate immune response possible. Thus, I see my research playing a role within the broader context of our community as my work is ultimately focused on the improvement of vaccine administration as a whole. 

Countless benefits come from working with others across disciplines. Perhaps the most valuable is the development of communication and presentation skills for our work so we may deliver and connect our research and goals with those in any area of the health sciences. Strengthening connections with other areas of the health sciences is key; this gives us the insight to update and expand our knowledge of other health science-related fields around us as well as giving us an idea of how our research connects with each other. In addition to HSRF, some of the most memorable opportunities I have been given to improve upon this are poster presentations and national meetings where I was able to present some of my previous research to others from different backgrounds and disciplines.

My experience meeting other undergraduate researchers and opening up to different disciplines through HSRF has been fantastic. I am looking forward to seeing what else this summer has in store!

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