CURF #2 – Becoming A Researcher Ilana Kersh

I connected with my research mentor in the Fall of 2022, so we have been working together for about a year now. I had done previous research at Columbia University regarding Lyme disease and quality of life, and I cited one of her papers in my final research paper that I wrote. Once I got to Pitt, I reached out to her with my experience and asked if she had any work we could collaborate on. We decided that I would look at Osteoarthritis and comorbidities and the impact on quality of life, bridging off a previous study she had done. I really liked how I could combine my public health work with her nursing work. I am able to discuss health equity in my research while also bringing in her nursing work.

My advice to freshman who want to get involved in research is to figure out what interests you and then reach out to professors and see how their work could align with your interests. You may not always be able to find something that perfectly aligns with what you want to do, but you can definitely find something you are interested in. As long as you keep an open mind, you shouldn’t have many problems. For me, I came in wanting to study Lyme disease. I realized, however, that a more feasible goal would be studying quality of life, something that I ended up being more interested in than I thought. I hope to go back to my Lyme disease work in the future, but it is really cool to unlock new passions and interests along the way. Another piece of advice to freshman is to take classes that help get you started. Between honors seminars, classes on how to do research, and classes on how to write scientifically, there are so many resources at Pitt to help you get started.

In the future I would like to continue doing research in quality of life, comorbidities, and health equity. Getting started so early helps me lay a foundation for what I will be doing in the future, hopefully ending in getting a PhD in some area of public health. Getting good quality research experience this early in my academic career also allows me to see that this is something I am passionate about, and want to continue pursuing in the future. Currently, I am working to get my BPhil, and hoping to get my approval letter soon!

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