Beginning My Project
Beginning my project, I think, has been the hardest part so far. For me, I sometimes struggle with knowing where to start. Especially doing independent research, it was a challenge knowing where to begin. In order to combat this, I met with my mentor to discuss a plan of action for the beginning. Since my research primarily involves finding readings and going through them, Dr. Grace was really helpful with finding some readings for me to begin with. I have spent the time going through readings focusing on the topic of Personalized Medicine. This is a concept I did not know before beginning my research. Personalized Medicine is kind of what it sounds like, it is the idea of finding the right medical practice or treatment based on the patient’s risks and disease. This is more precise than standard medical treatment.
I became interested in research because in high school I had taken a course called AP Capstone. This class is basically an introduction to research, and is a two-year course. The first year is AP Seminar, and the second is AP Research. AP Research is where you complete a research paper and conduct introductory-level research. This class is actually where I learned how to write a literature review, which is what I am doing for this fellowship.
As for my work, I began to be interested in why finding the right psychotropic drug was so hard for some people because of personal stories that friends and family have told me. So many people struggle with mental illness and are medicated for it, yet they struggle so much to find the right medications for them.
Advice I would Give
A student who wishes to conduct research but does not know where to begin has a few options. One of the first classes I took at Pitt was my Honors Orientation class. I took the health and data section, where we learned how to find if data was skewed, especially on news channels, etc. We also looked at how to get into research at Pitt. I think a really good way of being involved in research is to work in a lab. Honestly, the best way to get into a research lab is to just email the professor and ask if there is any way you can get involved. I think the best way to find professors and labs is to look under the faculty of the subject that you are interested in.
Learning how to do research helps with my professional goals because I know that I want to go into healthcare and work with patients in one capacity or another. Doing research helps me learn so much more than I do inside the classroom, and see real-world applications. Also, going into health-care, there is so much still being discovered, and new research is coming out all the time. Being able to understand and contribute to these findings is crucial for health-care professionals.