Major: Chemical Engineering, Class of 2020
Project Title: Development of a Targeted Metabolomics Method for Polyamine Analysis
"As part of UROP, I looked for clinical laboratory research that involved chemical techniques and I luckily found this project that applied liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. I worked as a research assistant under the mentorship of Dr. Stefanie Wernisch and my project was called “Development of a Targeted Metabolomics Method for Polyamine Analysis”. Polyamines are organic compounds essential for normal cell function and the difference in polyamine levels in diabetic and non-diabetic patients can give more insight to the role of these compounds in end stage renal disease. We focused on investigating the effectiveness of derivatization on analyzing these compounds using reversed-phase liquid chromatography.
Doing research my freshman year was such a positive experience and has given me a clearer idea of what being involved in research meant. I discovered that I enjoy working in the lab and in the future, I definitely want to be involved in scientific research. While working surrounded by esteemed faculty and graduate students, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed but this experience has taught me to be confident in my work and remember that I can contribute important findings. Doing research has also taught me that an experiment does not always yield perfect results on the first try, but instead requires multiple trials and rethinking to reach proper and insightful conclusions."
Major: Biochemsitry, Class of 2019
Project Title: Reconstructive Techniques in Craniosynostosis
"Hello! My name is Meike and I am a rising junior studying Biochemistry and German at U of M. My research journey began toward the end of my freshman year, when I realized that after a year of trying out a multitude of organizations on campus, I still hadn’t found one that gave me this true sense of purpose I so longed for. I decided to apply to the undergraduate research opportunities program (UROP) for my sophomore year - and I have never regretted my decision.
My research group is composed of six highly motivated UROP students and led by the craniofacial surgery fellow at Mott's Children's Hospital. With this group, I had the amazing opportunutiy to shadow in the clinic and became interested in Pierre Robin Sequence, a complex medical condition. PRS is characterized by the triad of micrognathia (small mandible), glossoptosis (posterior displacement of the tongue), and airway obstruction in neonates. The fact that this condition is a sequence (one anomaly leads to the next) and not a syndrome (usually has a genetic basis), makes the patient population very diverse and choosing the most effective treatment option is difficult. Obstruction ranges from mild to severe, each case with different treatments. In infants , it is not always perfectly clear if an obstruction is mild or severe, so the goal of my project was to identify variables that predict whether a child needs a surgical intervention as opposed to non-invasive treatment.
Throughout the entire research process, I definitely realized that I was spending my time working on something impactful, which I personally found very fulfilling. Along the way I learned that clinical research is messy in its own way (maybe not breaking glassware, but having so many confounding variables that one cannot control), and that research is not always about having an “Aha” moment every few days. It’s a lot of work, which taught me to be diligent and remain focused. But as I expected, I found that it is all worth it, because one is truly making a positive difference in the lives of others. I take away from this experience a longing for more, and I’ve also started considering a career in research along with wanting to go to medical school and becoming a physician. I guess I’ll just have to see where life takes me!"
Major: Neuroscience, Class of 2017
Project Title: Immunopathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis
"Before even enrolling at Michigan, I knew I wanted to participate in undergraduate research. I spent the summer before my freshman year in a clinical research experience at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, which only pushed me more towards research. That same summer, I applied and was accepted to the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) here and found my research experience through that program. I continued this research throughout undergrad, enrolling in the Research Scholars Program my second year, participating in research for academic credit my third and final year, and am now employed as a research assistant in the lab. The project I started working on is entitled, “Immunopathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis.” This project entailed conducting gene and protein analysis to examine the role of fucosyltransferase 1 in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory autoimmune disease with no cure. In addition to this project, our lab has been working on other autoimmune diseases, such as scleroderma, to evaluate the disease onset.
My participation in research has impacted my undergraduate education. In classes, I often encountered situations in which I had deeper knowledge of a subject than would be covered by the professor, which allowed me to contribute more fully to discussion. Research also helped me gain the skills and some of the experience I need to become a physician. But first and foremost, my research experience has taught me how to communicate with those I work with and how to problem solve when things don’t go as planned."