"Thanks to the MRADS Summer Research Award, I had the opportunity to continue my research on mothers’ beliefs and practices around feeding their infants and toddlers. Specifically, I studied how maternal behavior influences infant/toddler feeding behavior and is associated with the risk of childhood obesity. By immersing myself in research for an extended period of time, I saw what all it entails, such as the many different types of people and tasks that go into one project. 

This summer, I invested a substantial amount of time cleaning and organizing the field notes for our study, which consisted of participants’ data needed for scheduling and holding visits. While this task was tedious, not only did it provide us with accurate, up to date information for contacting participants, it also helped to ensure that the visits ran smoothly and safely for both the participants and the researchers. As I went on visits throughout the summer and listened to the lead researchers make arrangements with the participants, I experienced the value of the work I had done in editing the field notes, and even more so, I saw the importance that small details make. 

Through this research position, I learned the importance of teamwork and flexibility. There were times when things did not go as planned, such as technological malfunctions inhibiting me from completing my task. However, I learned first to use my knowledge and prior experience to try to solve the problem, and if I couldn’t, then it was okay to ask for guidance from a team member. 

Not only did this experience broaden my understanding of the research field and teach me valuable life skills, it also solidified my passion to do research. I am grateful for the MRADS grant that provided me with this opportunity, and I look forward to continuing research in the future."

-Kristen Paternoster, MRADS Alumni Scholarship Recipient