Pursuing Research at the Brody School of Medicine

NadiyaBy: Nadiya Yerich, EC Scholar and Honors College Freshman

I am a freshman at ECU, and I am a paid undergraduate researcher in the Department of Cell Anatomy and Biology at The Brody School of Medicine. I first learned about this position from an email sent to all of the EC Scholars about research opportunities. In high school, I did not have much exposure to research, so I knew that I definitely wanted the opportunity to work in a research lab in college. In fact, the Brody School of Medicine’s proximity to the ECU campus is one of the reasons I chose to attend ECU — I knew that there were so many professors there conducting fascinating research. When I saw the email about an open position in Dr. Sperry’s lab, I contacted her and asked for an interview. She agreed to the interview and offered me the position later that week, so I have been conducting research in Dr. Sperry’s lab for the past couple of months.

From the short time I have been involved in research thus far, I have already learned that
I immensely enjoy working in the lab. As an undergraduate researcher, Dr. Sperry and
her assistant helped me work around my schedule to find time to come into the lab every
day. I usually work around 10-11 hours per week. The mornings I spend in the lab are
actually my favorite part of the day. I love learning something new each day and
anticipating the work that will lead to an exciting discovery.

Dr. Sperry’s team is mainly studying PPP1R42, a protein she discovered. We are
conducting research on the effects this protein, R42 for short, has on cell functions. R42
is found in lots of different cell types, such as photoreceptor cells and sperm cells, and
plays a role in the regulation of the centrosome. When centrosomes do not function
correctly, it can lead to genetic mutations related to cases of genetic diseases and male
infertility. Dr. Sperry, Rong Wang (Dr. Sperry’s Research Technician), two other
students and I are conducting research in order to discover whether R42 could possibly be
used as a marker for these types of diseases in the long run.

So far, I have mainly been observing the different procedures for the multiple
experiments conducted in our lab. I have also gotten the chance to complete several
experiments on my own here and there, but I will start working on my own experiment
soon. I feel like I have learned so much already, and I am really looking forward to
working alongside Dr. Sperry’s team for the next several years. I have highly enjoyed
learning various research techniques and conducting research on my own as part
of a team.

I truly believe that without the Honors College and the email about the
position, I would never have learned about the opening in Dr. Sperry’s lab. There are
many professors on both ECU’s main campus and the Brody School of Medicine
conducting interesting research, and I encourage any and all undergraduate students to pursue open research positions in order to expand their knowledge base and learn more
about the research process.

Posted in Advice/Tips, EC Scholars, Honors College, Living Learning Experiences, Research & Internships, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Leave a comment

ECU Engineering Experiments with SolidWorks

ashley wilfordBy: Ashley Wilford, EC Scholar and Honors College Freshman

As I begin working towards my engineering degree at ECU, one of the classes for my major is Engineering Graphics.  The course focuses on drawing design and modeling software and is required for all first-year engineering students. Once a week, we meet for the lab of this class in order to utilize a Computer Aided Design software called SolidWorks. With SolidWorks, I have already learned how to create individual parts, such as heat sinks, flanges, and brackets; assemblies, such as doors and pulley systems; and drawings for both parts and assemblies. The class is taught by the wonderful Dr. Howard, who also wrote the textbook for the SolidWorks software.  This class is a great and fun
introduction to engineering design!

I am excited for what we will be learning later this semester with SolidWorks and discovering all of its possibilities, including modeling moving parts and thermodynamics. Also, for our final project, we must create an assembly with multiple parts and drawings for each part and the assembly on our own. While I have many ideas for possible project ideas, some projects that have been completed in the past include a playground, jewelry pieces, clocks, and a Rubik’s Cube! I’m looking forward to the rest of this semester
experimenting with SolidWorks!

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Inspiring Confidence and Compassion: Honors 2000

By: Amanda Hall, Honors College Freshman

Amanda (back row, third from left) with her group

As a freshman in the Honors College at East Carolina University, I am currently enrolled in Honors 2000. This class challenges Honors College freshmen to embrace leadership and leave an organization better than how we found it. Basically, the Honors College freshmen are assigned an organization in the community based off of an interest survey.

Amanda (back row, third from left) with her group

Working in groups, we are able to develop a plan to present to the organization and complete it! Personally, I believe this is an incredibly unique opportunity to make a change and truly affect the lives of others. At first, the idea of working with adults and offering my opinions, which could be rejected, scared me! At the same time, I felt excited and knew that I would be better prepared for the real world due to the professionalism and organization required for the course. After beginning this project, I am more confident in my ideas, and I enjoy working with my group members.

Although the development of leadership through a volunteer project is a major component of the class, speakers and lectures also add to the course. Listening to leaders who demonstrate success and are capable of inspiring other people are excellent sources to learn from. The speakers come from a variety of backgrounds and hold multiple vocations, which provides insight for students interested in a particular field. In high school, I attended the same mundane classes and questioned how the subject would apply to the real world. In Honors 2000, it is clear how every lecture relates to life, and I am always surprised by what is discussed in class. The Honors 2000 curriculum is truly fascinating.

One quote stands out to me that Dr. Herdman, my Honors 2000 professor, shared with the class. The quote, “Successful people establish the habit of doing things unsuccessful people do not like to do.” After hearing this quote for the first time, I let it sink in for a few minutes. Eventually, I recognized what most people dread or fail to complete. To me, this meant that I needed to maintain my study habits and give up a few hours a week for volunteering. So far, I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, participated on the club soccer team, contributed to the volunteer committee of ECU’s Dance Marathon, am a member of the Honors Marketing Committee, and accomplished progress with my organization for the freshmen honors project. However, I realize that this is not enough. I want to do more. I need to serve more than just the campus community and the city of Greenville. Serving more than just the area of Greenville is my ultimate goal. Hopefully, I will be able to work towards this as I develop leadership skills through the completion of this class offered by the ECU Honors College.

Posted in Colloquiums & Seminars, Honors College, Honors Colloquiums & Seminars, Living Learning Experiences, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Leave a comment

Taking Honors to New Heights: the NCHC Conference

Shayna Mooney, Associate Dean Kevin Baxter, and Adrian Modzik before presenting

Shayna Mooney, Associate Dean Kevin Baxter, and Adrian Modzik before presenting

By: Adrian Modzik, Honors College Senior

Before traveling to Denver, CO, the furthest I had ever traveled was Dallas, TX for a soccer tournament when I was 12. I was excited for the adventure of tackling a new city I have never been in. It turns out, my adventurous mindset was very fitting given the theme of this year’s National Collegiate Honors Council Conference.

During the conference, there was a break in sessions, and we were asked to attend a speech by plenary speaker Erik Weihenmayer. Erik lost his sight very early in life. He aspired to do great things, and he did not let a little thing like sight stop him. Erik is the only blind person to reach the summit of the tallest peak on each continent, including Mt. Everest. Recently, Erik decided to take on a new adventure and succeeded in kayaking the entire length of the Grand Canyon.

Erik’s remarks were both witty and inspiring. His take home message was two fold; first, go beyond what you think you are capable of (because you never truly know what exactly you are capable of until you push that boundary), and second, you cannot accomplish your goals without a good team behind you. Throughout the conference, I came to the realization that I had never heard truer words.

As I sat in each session and listened to all of the wonderful ideas and programs that other Honors programs across the country have instituted, I was so inspired by these amazing people. Each school had unique approaches to a variety of common challenges faced in every Honors program. However, I also realized how truly special our program is. We are, by far, the best program in the country. We offer our students more, we have more resources for them, and we have the best team of faculty and staff. I felt so thankful, again, that I had chosen East Carolina for my education because of the Honors College. All of the students in attendance were proud to represent their program, but tha was nothing compared to the pride I felt for our program.

Enjoying the sights of the city

Enjoying the sights of the city

This being said, when it came to giving our presentation, I could not have been more nervous.  Shayna Mooney and I had been selected among a competitive pool to give a presentation on Honors Student Engagement and Leadership: Honors Ambassadors. (Honors Ambassadors is a voluntary, student-led organization which strives to improve the Honors College through marketing, recruitment, philanthropy, and student programs.) I have very little experience speaking in front of people, and my co-presenter Shayna has always excelled at speaking in public, so I felt that I had a lot to live up to. How could I possibly accurately do justice to our program? And that was when Erik’s words came to me. If he can accomplish all these things that should not be possible for him, why couldn’t I? Why couldn’t I be the confident advocate that our Honors College deserved? I resolved to conquer this peak, and to give the best presentation I possibly could. Thus, when I walked into the conference room to present, it was with a confidence in myself and our program that I didn’t know I had. The presentation was a huge success, and it was one of the best moments in my life when we finished. Mr. Baxter did not have a single complaint–in fact, he praised our stellar performance. In that moment, I felt like I was on top of Everest.

Honors Student Engagement and Leadership: Honors Ambassadors

Honors Student Engagement and Leadership: Honors Ambassadors

Throughout the rest of the conference, Erik’s second point also hit home with me. Without the amazing team of Honors College faculty and staff, my experience would not have been the same, and would not have even been possible. As I have grown up in the Honors College since my freshman year, the faculty and staff have become like my second family. Having their support in this adventure meant more to me than I can say, and I am so proud to have been (hopefully) a good representation of the kind of student and person that the Honors College at ECU produces.

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Redefining Service

By: Cameron Worthington, EC Scholar and Honors College Freshman

cameron worthingtonVolunteerism is defined as the use or involvement in volunteer labor. I dislike how the term has been defined. Is volunteering really labor? I don’t think so. Volunteering is giving back to the community, helping the under-served, and giving with a smile on your face and happiness in your heart. Every chance you get to volunteer, you should take it. Locally, there is always someone who needs your help. As a part of this university and the Honors College, I constantly feel a desire to lend a helping hand.

The motto of East Carolina University (ECU) is servire, which means to serve in Latin. In my few months at ECU, I have taken time to assist GO Science in furthering science education around Pitt County; to help Dowdy Student Stores distribute textbooks for the fall semester; and to plan multiple service projects with the Honors College Marketing Committee. It has been some of the greatest months of my life. I fell in love with this university and its ideas when I first stepped foot on campus; however, my past experiences were definitely what led me here.

As a local student, I volunteered as much time as I could spare. I spent most of my time at Vidant Medical Center in the emergency department. I logged 400 hours with them, and it encourage me to follow my current career choice. Ever since I was young, I have always wanted to be an emergency physician. I was definitely reassured by my experiences there. I spent a year volunteering in a biomedical laboratory at the Brody School of Medicine. We studied intracellular mechanisms involved in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. I cannot begin to describe how spending time in the lab furthered my aspirations to pursue the medical field.

Volunteerism does not just benefit the organization you’re working for–it broadens your experiences and makes you a better person. It opens you to so many different opportunities. You meet new people, form new connections, and build new friendships. Volunteering is everything. I wish I could put into words how much it means to serve. Take every chance you get, no matter how simple, and give back. Giving your time goes a long way.

Posted in Advice/Tips, EC Scholars, Honors College, Living Learning Experiences, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Leave a comment