Undergraduate Research: Public Health
Major(s): Senior in Medical Microbiology and Immunology
Research area: Parasitology and public health
"I studied the role of the hormone, serotonin in the life cycle of the fluke, Schistosoma mansoni.. This fluke causes the disease schistosomiasis, which is a growing concern in Africa and other tropical regions. We have found evidence that receptors for serotonin are present in a critical stage of the fluke's life cycle. Growth of the fluke in its snail host may depend on the presence of serotonin."
Why did you choose to pursue a research project?
I wanted to be able to apply all the knowledge and lab skills I've learned in class to an area that only a few undergraduates are studying. Now I have a project I can call my own.
How is learning by doing research different from learning about science in a class?
When you're studying science in class, someone tells you "this is how it is" but when you get into research, you observe things for yourself and you have to decide what things mean and what is important. The security of always having the answer is gone, but in another way it's exciting to go out and find the answers for yourself.
Did you find that the process of research was different that you had expected?
When I began doing research and was waiting for my first results, I was expecting that I would be making amazing discoveries with every experiment. But I found out that it wasn't like that; it's a much slower process. Often things don't work out as you planned, but you learn that the unexpected results mean something, too. Or you go back and try to find out why it didn't work and plan a new approach.