Settling into the Summer with HSRF – Julia Wu


It’s been roughly a month into the HSRF, and I can safely say that I have already learned a lot from the program and my HSRF peers! I came into HSRF eager to further my knowledge and passion in research and learn about the amazing projects my fellow peers are working on. I believe it’s important to learn about others’ research because ultimately, research is about collaborating and communicating your ideas, and it is very interdisciplinary – what better way to do that than by being a part of HSRF?

Since I mainly conduct molecular biology research, I’m not too knowledgeable about the research that’s going on in other health science disciplines. So, I hope to learn about the research the other HSRF recipients are doing this summer because I am passionate about the health sciences! For the past few weeks, during our weekly seminars, all of us fellows have been sharing our research with each other. It has been very educational and beneficial to me because I have been able to learn more and more about the different health sciences research being conducted at Pitt. By the end of the summer, I hope to have a well-rounded understanding of the other fellows’ research projects and continue to stay informed of the research being done in their respective fields even after HSRF!

One thing that I appreciate about the HSRF program is that all the fellows have an interest in the health sciences. While I do believe it’s important to be a part of a truly interdisciplinary community (such as the Brackenridge Fellowship), it is equally as crucial to collaborate with individuals who have overlapping academic backgrounds as you. Nevertheless, the health sciences is a broad topic: there are many disciplines under this umbrella, which is apparent in the different HSRF projects going on. I am particularly interested in Akshitha Maddula’s research on pain treatment to find more effective therapies besides opioids. Anesthesiology and pain management has always intrigued me because everyone responds to drugs differently, and the opioid epidemic is a serious national crisis, so research like Akshitha’s is crucial to prevent opioid abuse.

My research focuses on basic genetic and developmental biology research to expand our knowledge about the cellular functioning behind reproduction. While I work with C. elegans, a microscopic model organism in the scientific community, my peers are directly working with cells and tissues in mice and humans. This shows how everyone’s research is at different stages; it’s exciting and encouraging to know that my research discipline has the ability to progress so that one day, we’ll have enough knowledge about human development to ensure the birth of healthy babies!

Image of Zachary Leydig, a recipient of the Brackenridge Fellowship who researches in the Yanowitz Lab with me, and myself!

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