I am an undergraduate researcher at the Brody School of Medicine. I first started in the field of research in high school observing my mentors. One mentor I observed in high school focused on the mitochondrial physiology of cardiomyocytes, while the other mentor focused on the therapeutic effects of human mesenchymal stem cells in hearts. When I first started, I knew almost nothing about any of these subjects. What little information I did know was from the biology classes I took in high school. I did not know any of the techniques used to do research, but I learned.
I formed great relationships with my two mentors and the people in their labs over time. I literally began to absorb knowledge from my mentors like a sponge, learning how to do some of the techniques by observing. My mentors showed me how to apply scientific theory through their research. I learned how important the mitochondria in heart muscle cells were for life and the energy they provided to each individual heart muscle cell for the entire heart to beat. I also learned the potential of stem cells of how they can differentiate into heart cells to replace dead heart cells after a heart attack to restore the heart’s function back to normal.
I also learned much more after my high school research ended in the summer of 2010. My mentors encouraged me to start an individual research project once I started college in the fall of 2010 because I had observed them for several years. Since I had gained enough knowledge to conduct research, I began my research during my first semester at ECU, under the supervision of my two mentors. My new research topic became the mitochondrial physiology of human mesenchymal stem cells as they attempt to differentiate into cardiomyocytes. My original experiences with research allowed me to delve more deeply into a more complicated topic. I began to see how mitochondria work in stem cells and their potential for better differentiation into heart muscle cells.
Overall, my experience with research has been incredible! It provides me with the chance to meet new people and have a better understanding of science. For me, research is a stimulating process where you can come up with unique ideas and ways to find your own answers. I encourage any student to get involved with research because whatever answers you find will always lead to new questions, and soon it will develop into a continuous process of wonderful learning.