OUR Student Ambassadors
OUR Student Ambassadors
OUR Student Ambassadors are a group of undergraduate researchers at UNC who work with the Office for Undergraduate Research to promote a culture of research on this campus. They’re also here to help you! Feel free to contact the OUR Student Ambassadors at the email addresses listed below to ask questions or click here to schedule an appointment with them.
Interested in becoming an Ambassador? Click here.
How/Why Research? Coming into Carolina, I knew I wanted to be involved in laboratory research regarding DNA and contribute to something I am passionate about. I attended several research seminars and took IDST 184, both of which introduced me to research on UNC’s campus. I got involved in research my first-year by reaching out to a peer that currently works in the lab. After discussing about the lab with her, I knew this was a topic I would enjoy working on and an opportunity that would allow me to develop meaningful relationships with my mentors. I reached out to the lab manager and expressed my interests and qualifications in an interview. I was thrilled to get the position and working in the lab has been one of my most fulfilling experiences at UNC.
Research Experience: I work in Dr. Strahl’s Lab in the UNC School of Medicine. The lab focuses on histone post-translational modifications, which regulate the structure and function of chromatin and influence gene transcription. Specifically, I study the yeast metabolic cycle of S. cerevisiae, how histone crotonylation and acetylation are influenced in different conditions, and the role of YEATS domain. I have had the opportunity to perform new laboratory techniques, such as Western Blotting, SDS-PAGE gels, and TCA extraction. Throughout my time as a research assistant, I have been able to interact with wonderful mentors at the lab, find a research topic that I am passionate about, and contribute to the scientific community. Surrounded by UNC’s research-intensive environment, I have often witnessed students feel overwhelmed about how to get involved with research. My advice for students would be to approach finding a research position with an open-mind and be willing to get involved in new topics as you never know what doors it may open. I am happy to answer any questions you may have so please feel free to reach out to me!
Student Organizations/Clubs: Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), Carolina Cancer Association, Pre-Health Students and Career Prep.
Random Fun Fact: I have lived in Scranton, PA, for 13 years but still have not watched an episode of The Office.
How/Why Research? As an avid scuba diver and wildlife enthusiast from a young age, marine research has always been something I was interested in. Marine research became a passion of mine during high school after I conducted marine research on invasive lionfish in the Caribbean. When I arrived at UNC, I was determined to join a marine lab that would allow me to conduct marine research in the field. Through IDST-194, a class that introduces students to how research on campus is conducted, I was able to find and join the Bruno Lab of Marine Ecology and Conservation during my fall semester of freshman year.
Research Experience: I currently work in the Bruno Lab of Marine Ecology and Conservation where I have studied algae predation in the Galápagos and am currently performing a meta-analysis on Acropora coral restoration in the Caribbean. My goal for this research project is to develop an Acropora coral restoration database that will promote more effective coral restoration. This summer I will be traveling to the Galápagos to study the effects of temperature on the metabolism of various marine organisms. This research will illuminate the effects of rising temperatures due to climate change on marine organisms. As a NOAA Hollings Scholar, I will also be conducting marine research as an intern in a NOAA lab in the summer of 2022.
Student Organizations/Clubs: UNC JOURney, Carolina Scientific, UNC-CH Scuba Club.
Random Fun Fact: I worked as a dive guide in Cozumel, Mexico and went diving with whale sharks the summer before my freshman year at UNC.
How/Why Research? I got into research because I wanted to further explore topics I learned from the classes that excited me. I’m glad I did because undergraduate research is very distinct from graduate or doctoral level research and it can be such an exciting experience if you find the right research and group to research with! Getting into research was a bit difficult for me. I emailed a ton of professors and only heard a response from 3-4 of them, from which I could select the project/research that really intrigued me. This process took up the entirety of my first year (and half of my second year) and I wish I had found research sooner. Because of that, I’m always happy to help new students find their place in the research community here at UNC!
Research Experience: With my work in the Sheiko group, I have undergone polymer chemistry-based materials science research on projects relating elastomer network modulations. This focused work is on iso-chemical architectural control of adhesive material properties, UV photolabile control of biomedical/mechanical material properties, and grafted side chain linear-block elastomers self-assembling for novel material firmness. I perform polymer synthesis and test materials of properties such as viscoelasticity, stress-strain strength, gel fraction, swelling ratio, and material firmness. This work aims to serve value to the development of medical and industrial adhesives, drug delivery systems, efforts of plastic recyclability, and wearable electronics (tissue mimetic, prosthetics, etc.) Last year, I was awarded the 2022 ACS research funds by Florida State University’s graduate program to present polymer degradability via UV irradiation at the Spring 2022 ACS National Meeting. On top of all the chemical techniques I have learned, I have gained understandings in writing scientific literature, giving research presentations, poster making, and effective scientific collaborations.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED), UNC American Red Cross Chapter, Marathon Club, Arab Student Organization (ASO)
Also Happy to Chat about: Summer Research, Carolina Research Scholars Program
Random Fun Fact: I play soccer and love long-distance running!
How/Why Research? Research has made my experiences learning in class more valuable and relevant. I have had the opportunity to become involved in the applications of material and explore where my interests are. I was first involved in research with AP Research class in high school, where I learned about the wide scope of research areas and the research development process. Then, I continued to network with professors and teachers before applying to the Abram’s Scholarship program with the BME department.
Research Experience: I am studying D-serine by working to develop a biosensor for the amino acid in the brain based on enzyme engineering with an open circuit potential. Measuring D-serine is useful to predicting the onset of various cognitive disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression, along with the treatment and dosage of medicine to treat these cognitive disorders. I have previous additional research experience on the effectiveness of promoters in E. coli.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Swim Club, Dive In, Community Government, Biomedical Engineering Society, Society of Women Engineers.
Random Fun Fact: My favorite ice cream is Ben and Jerry’s Milk and Cookies.
How/Why Research? I was introduced to research in high school, and I immediately loved the idea of being able to study a specific topic in more detail and discover new information to add to the existing knowledge of that topic. For each of my research positions over the past several years, I have gotten involved by emailing professors whose research seemed interesting and asking if I could get involved.
Research Experience: I conduct research in global health policy and human rights. Over the past year, much of this research has focused on the COVID-19 response, studying how international organizations like WHO have responded to the pandemic. This research allows us to understand how certain policies may or may not be successful, which helps us to offer recommendations on the types of policies that countries and organizations should pursue in the future.
Student Organizations/Clubs:AMWHO; NCPIRG Students
Random Fun Fact: I’ve kayaked on rivers with alligators.
How/Why Research? I became involved in research due to several reasons: I am interested in attending a MD/PhD program and I wanted to see if I would enjoy working in the research realm, and I also enjoy learning more about cells, the body as a whole, and how the body reacts to diseases/infections/problems. When I started to look for available research positions, I first spoke with my research mentors so that I could become aware of the important resources available to me. I then used these resources, spoke with several of my professors for advice and to also see if I could become involved in their labs, and also checked the Office of Undergraduate Research website daily for new postings.
Research Experience: I use laboratory techniques such as extraction, distillation, gel purification and gel electrophoresis to study the effects of HIV-1 and HIV-2 on patients and cell lines, and also how effective ART treatments are in patients that regularly and irregularly participate in the treatments, how common mutations are in the patients that irregularly participate, and how to combat and treat these mutations. I am currently learning basic laboratory techniques and am slowly being given more responsibilities on projects and cell lines, and this experience will help me learn more about if I want to work in the research realm, what my interests are, and how to critically analyze and solve problems.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Carolina Health Samaritian Society club and the Mental Health Ambassadors club
Also Happy to Chat about: I am comfortable talking with students who are in low-income situations, students who deal with mental health issues (how to communicate their mental health needs to their PIs), students who have aged out of foster care, students who have no parental support system/students who are financially independent.
Random Fun Fact: I love to ice skate!
How/Why Research? I have a neurological condition that affects my vision. With this in mind, I came into UNC knowing I wanted to partake in research involving vision, neuroscience, and low-income communities.
Research Experience: In the fall of 2021, I was a Research Analyst for the Fitting Lab, studying how cellular function is affected by HIV-1 infections and (end)cannabinoids. Also, in the fall, I began as a Research Assistant in the EPIC study, where we are interested in how the brain and body work together to create emotional experiences. Last fall, I started in the AMP lab and conducted an independent research project this past spring about how VR experiences compare to the real world
Student Organizations/Clubs: Carolina Neuroscience Club
Also Happy to Chat about: Getting started in research
Random Fun Fact: I am a Diet Coke enthusiast.
How/Why Research? I wanted to get involved in research to explore my interests in chemistry outside of the classroom. I began my research journey when I attended a seminar my freshmen year about how to get involved in academic research, hosted by a group of OUR Ambassadors. I was shown a multitude of resources on how to find and reach out to labs to work in.
Research Experience: My research has focused on the development of a multivariable biofeedback sensor and drug release device that uses hydrogel technology. The goal of the device is to provide targeted drug delivery to bodily lesions while monitoring multiple biofeedback parameters (temperature, blood sugar, pH levels).
Student Organizations/Clubs:NC Fellows, Chemistry Peer Mentor
Also Happy to Chat about: Being out in STEM
Random Fun Fact: I have the best chocolate cake recipe!
How/Why Research? I became involved with research in fall of 2020, after finding the open position on the OUR website’s opportunities database. After that, I emailed and interviewed with my current lab manager, and started working in the lab the next week! I wanted to participate in research to experience real world applications of what I am learning in school.
Research Experience: In my college research experience, I have worked on projects that investigate the effect of the chemokine CXCL5 on the development of heart conditions, including forms of cardiovascular disease. In addition, the Schisler lab investigates the ubiquitin ligase CHIP, mutations in the gene that encodes CHIP, and how these play a role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. The goal of these studies is to use genomic-biologic data collected from mouse models to better understand human diseases. In my experience, I have gained skills in PCR work, gel electrophoresis, and handling of mice. Research has helped me deepen my understanding of biology and develop my problem-solving skills.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Delight, Alpha Phi Sorority, Blank Canvas Dance Company.
Random Fun Fact: I was a gymnast and can do a back flip!
How/Why Research? I have always been interested in why people make the decisions they do, and I learned that research is the best avenue for exploring that. I got involved in research through work-study positions and emailing professors.
Research Experience: My research focused on how an individual’s political affiliation and personality affects their reluctance to get vaccinated. I found that individuals high in neuroticism and openness to experience are less vaccine hesitant, and this is largely due to the fact that individuals high in these traits are more likely to identify as liberal. This research is useful as it could help public health officials create programs to better inform those who are vaccine hesitant and approach vaccine hesitancy in new ways.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Carolina Psychology and Neuroscience Ambassadors, Mental Health Ambassadors, Carolina International Relations Association
Random Fun Fact: I can practically quote very episode of Frasier, Friends, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
How/Why Research: The opportunity to do research was one of the main reasons I came to UNC; I hope to contribute to developing new approaches to solve some the toughest problems we face! When I first got involved in research, I just knew I wanted to do some kind of biological-related research where I would be doing lots of programming. I browsed through the database on the OUR website and found that the Neural Engineering Lab was looking for undergraduates, so I decided to send an email to the P.I. We met up and he gave me a coding assignment to see where my python skills were, and then I started doing research in his lab!
Research Experience: I worked in the Neural Engineering Lab for the summer of 2020. While there, I helped develop and troubleshoot some of the code they were using to analyze videos of mouse behavior. After that summer, I switched to working in the Won lab because I wanted to do research in genetics. I got in contact with Dr. Won through a graduate student I had met in my the Neural Engineering Lab. In Dr. Won’s lab, I’m working with publicly available datasets to better understand the genetics and neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders. In the summer of 2021, I’ll be doing an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at South Dakota State University, where I’ll be working on the annotation of the genome of a native perennial grass.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Carolina Analytics and Data Science, Club Ultimate Frisbee (B-team).
Random Fun Fact: I lived in Ecuador from 2018-2020!
How/Why Research? I attended a Nutrition open house during my freshman year and learned about research work that students in the program accomplished. I was extremely fascinated by one student who worked with Dr.Carroll and the gut microbiome. After reading a few of Dr.Carroll’s papers, I was most interested in learning more about the gut microbiota and its relation to the treatment and prognosis of anorexia nervosa. I emailed him and he was able to connect me to a grad student in his lab who is working on a project that aligns perfectly with my research interests!
Research Experience: In the year that I have worked in Carroll Lab, I have done some wet-lab work with sorting out DNA samples and PCR prep and data sorting in excel. Learning about a topic that many people don’t know much about and its significant impact on overall health has helped grow my love for my research and nutrition. In fact, joining Carroll Lab is one of the main reasons that I decided to major in Nutrition and helped open my eyes to the public health sphere. Mainstream media has only recently focused on the gut health and how certain bacteria can be beneficial to our bodies. Research opportunities related to the gut microbiota are endless and there are still many relationships between the billions of bacteria in our gut to be discovered.
Student Organizations/Clubs: UNC AMWHO, AKD+DRD
Random Fun Fact: I like to paint with Bob Ross during my free time!
How/Why Research? I always enjoyed doing math; however, I never knew how applicable mathematics was until I started doing research. In my field, research as an undergraduate seems to be a daunting feat that very few are able to do. To do groundbreaking mathematics research as an undergraduate is almost unheard of. I wanted to break into researching mathematics as both something I’m passionate about, as well as something that would be useful to the world. By emailing various professors I had known, I was invited to sit into Zoom meetings to gain an understanding of the group. Then, I was able to join my current research group. Being assigned a graduate student to serve as my mentor, I was given small projects to work on about the Fast Haar Transform.
Research Experience: My research experience is focused on Fast Algorithms, specifically the Fast Haar Transform. The Fast Haar Transform is a method to speed up analysis of the Haar function exponentially, which is done through the use of a hierarchical organization. Having to create code for this transform, I did speed comparisons between the classic method and the new hierarchical method to prove efficiency. Following a few presentations on my research, I have begun working on other projects, such as methods of optimization. Not only has my research provided me with exposure to the research process, but I am also hoping that the new method can be used in real world situations.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Association of Women in Mathematics, Math Gems, Math Help Center
Also Happy to Chat about: Balancing mental health with a heavy academic workload and research.
Random Fun Fact: A streak of my hair has been almost every color of the rainbow!
How/Why Research? I became involved in research during high school as a way to explore my interests outside of the classroom. Fortunately, I was able to participate in a Research in Computational Science program that greatly expanded upon my knowledge of various scientific techniques. I was excited to continue my research journey in college and took IDST 184 my first fall which introduced me to a diverse range of fields in which research is practiced. I was extremely lucky to have a great peer research mentor who sent me a listing for a position that perfectly matched my interests, and I ended up applying for it. It has been an incredible experience that has affirmed my decision to pursue a career involving research!
Research Experiences: As a research assistant, I am currently working on a project analyzing the interactions between common mental health symptoms using computational tools for possible earlier disorder identification. I love applying the skills I have learned from my coursework to meaningful topics, and have gained first-hand experience in multiple stages of the research process. It has been an eye-opening journey learning about different techniques from my lab mates and thinking about the clinical implications of research. I have not only learned so much about the field and developed much stronger analytical skills but have also gained greater confidence in sharing my work with a wide range of audiences.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Student Government Environmental Affairs Committee
Random Fun Fact: I brew my own kombucha!
How/Why Research? After tearing my ACL during my senior year of high school, I came to UNC and participated in many of the studies that the EXSS Department was conducting on knee injuries. I found this research extremely interesting and – through the connections I had made by being a participant – was able to begin working in the lab shortly thereafter. While I didn’t intentionally plan on getting involved with research, I am confident in saying that research has been one of the greatest resources available to me in college. Along with developing important skills, such as problem-solving and critical thinking, I have been able to conduct a deep dive on a topic that not only impacts me but impacts the world!
Research Experience: I work in the Pietrosimone Lab Group in the Exercise and Sport Science Department’s Motion Science Institute. MOTION is made up of a few lab groups whose goal is to utilize research to minimize musculoskeletal injury and disability. Under Dr. Pietrosimone, I work to understand the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) following knee injuries, specifically ACL Reconstruction. My favorite aspect of this research is its clinical applications. We work with real people who (may eventually) have real problems (with arthritis) and the work we do can hopefully help minimize this risk! Through this opportunity as an undergraduate research assistant, I have been able to publish abstracts, present at a variety of conferences, and learned more about a subject I am incredibly interested in.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Carolina For The Kids, Biology/Chemistry Peer Mentoring
Also Happy to Chat about: Research Outside of Your Major
Random Fun Fact: I had two pets when I was a kid – a hermit crab and a fish (both were named Joe so that I couldn’t forget their of their names!).
How/Why Research? I initially became involved in clinical research in high school through a summer program. During that experience, I learned a lot about the basics of clinical research and scientific writing. Through the program, I was introduced to the role of statistics in clinical research, and wanted to explore the connection between medical research and data analysis further. Once I joined UNC as an undergraduate, I attended several OUR workshops, one of which was a panel discussion where my current lab mentor was a panelist. Upon learning more about the lab at that panel event, I expressed my interest in joining and was fortunate to be given a project focused on my interests in bioinformatics at the lab!
Research Experience: During high school, I participated in a summer program called Summer Training in Academic Research (STAR) at Duke Clinical Research Institute. I completed a research project on medication management for neonatal hypertension, and worked with a team to co-write a manuscript on the topic. The program was highly beneficial for me as it exposed me to clinical research methods, gave me access to valuable mentorship, and inspired an interest in scientific research. Upon joining UNC, I worked for a semester at the Berg Lab, conducting literature annotation about the VWF gene. Currently, I’m involved with the Pecot Lab, where I use bioinformatics tools to explore the connection between miRNAs and lung tumor growth. I’ve learned a lot about cancer biology from my fellow lab mates, and continue to grow as a student researcher through this experience!
Student Organizations/Clubs: Narratives in Medicine, Carolina Cancer Association, APPLES, AMWHO, ACM at Carolina.
Random Fun Fact: I can speak in five languages!
How/Why Research? I decided to be involved in research after a high school research experience in organic chemistry. I got involved in research at UNC by reaching out to the professors and PIs whose research I was interested in. Whether it be sending emails or attending seminars, I made an effort to reach out and learn more about their research. I was also able to get help from the professors of my courses so I could search for a specific area of research that I was interested in.
Research Experience: My research experience at UNC began in my freshman year at the Kabanov Lab. The Kabanov lab researches the use of nanomedicine to address major needs in the medical field, such as the specific targeting of cancers and diseases. In my sophomore year, I also collaborated on a research project in the Pharmacology Department of the UNC School of Medicine. This research concentrated on gathering the biochemical information of a scaffold family called 1,2,3-dithiazoles to develop a concise review of its medical application.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Carolina Cancer Association, Spread Love Foundation.
Random Fun Fact: I took organic chemistry twice.
How/Why Research? I got involved with research to connect all that I have learned to real world. Being able to apply what I have learned in school answered a lot of questions I had regarding the importance of my educational journey. It was a very comforting feeling, and I can’t imagine a college experience without research!
Research Experience: I had experience in research with the Exercise Science department on ACLs using motion detector sensors on control athletes and athletes that had torn and repaired ACLs for a senior’s honors thesis. Now, I work in a lab that processes samples collected from human subjects to detect a variety of changes, including immune health and reactivity of lungs.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Greek life, CPALS, Club Tennis
Random Fun Fact: I have a corgi named Piper.
How/Why Research? I got involved in research because it allowed me to be part of neuroscience in a way that advances the field as a whole while also furthering my knowledge of neuroscience. Once I was set on getting involved, I created a collective list of all the neuroscience and/or psychology labs at UNC that were of interest to me. I reached out to all the labs on that list, interviewed, and accepted a spot at the Todd Cohen Lab starting the following semester.
Research Experience: I first got involved in research in high school at the Yale CANDLab, which focused on neural mechanisms underlying the dynamic changes that occur in emotional learning and behavior and the risk for psychiatric illness during childhood/adolescence. I performed ADIS entry, RI entry, WASI-II administration, and REDCap entry coding, and interacted with volunteers in the studies. This gave me a solid background in psychiatric disorders and qualitative research and introduced me to the lab setting within the field of Neuroscience and Psychology. At the UNC Todd Cohen Lab, my research dealt with specific mutations that have been associated with the formation of tau tangles and other indicators of extreme tau pathology in primary neurons and the capabilities to use this pathology as a platform for further testing and investigation. This was a significant step up from my previous lab position in terms of complexity and required developing my wet-lab skills and familiarity with data analysis softwares.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Consulting Club, Climbing Club
Also Happy to Chat about: Finding out what areas you want to do research in and stepping up involvement in research after getting involved within a lab.
Random Fun Fact: I’m a member of the UNC fencing team!
How/Why Research? It’s always been such an intense passion of mine to become a doctor but I knew very little about research. Upon entering university, I knew I wanted to pursue research and these additional aspects of scientific exploration but I had no idea how. I wanted to assist in research that was relevant to my major, so I contacted and emailed many PIs in the Psychology and Neuroscience department, including the departments in the UNC School of Medicine. I made sure to attach my resume and outline my interests so the PIs could get to know a little about me. Dr. Nicole Short agreed to meet with me and following an interview, offered me a research assistant position in her lab!
Research Experience: Since August 2020, I have been volunteering at the UNC Institute for Trauma Recovery. I identify issues that arise while testing our technology-based therapeutic intervention, code data for literature reviews, and track participants in our RISE Pilot Study. I’ve gained many valuable skills while working in the STAR Lab and benefitted from attentive and beneficial mentorship from my PI. I also completed a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) in this lab, where I ran statistical analyses to characterize rates of reported pain following sexual assault and analyze the associations between pain and physical injury.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Society.
Random Fun Fact: I’m captain of the dance team Bhangra Elite here at UNC! Bhangra is a style of dance from Northern India.
How/Why Research? I got involved in research because I wanted to explore topics that impacted by community beyond what I felt possible in my role as a student journalist. This process included consulting with fellow journalists and students, community leaders and members of the community, and scholars across multiple disciplines. Crucially, becoming involved in research meant seeking out and learning from people who recognized the value to be found in lived experiences and who could help me develop my ability to capture and communicate this wealth of knowledge.
Research Experience: I developed and assisted with a research project through IAAR-SLATE studying the experiences of poultry workers in Siler City, NC during the COVID-19 pandemic. This experience helped me recognize the importance of collaborative research methods. I contributed to the New Roots/Nuevas Raíces Initiative of the Southern Oral History Program on the experiences of a Latina immigrant as a migrant farm worker and business owner. This experience helped me further develop my interviewing methods in Spanish and recognize the value of oral history.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Latina/o Studies Program, Critical Ethnic Studies Collective, Limeaid
Also Happy to Chat about: Finding research opportunities
Random Fun Fact: I am a fan of combat sports of all kinds including Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Freestyle and Folkstyle Wrestling, and Sumo.
How/Why Research? I have always been interested in research because of a desire to push the boundaries of human knowledge and to contribute advances to scientific fields that help create a better and healthier society, such as epidemiology. I got involved with research at UNC by emailing professors whose classes I have been in to request enrollment in independent study and guided research courses under their supervision.
Research Experience: Prior to my time at UNC, I was part of the honor’s program at Wake Technical Community College, where I completed a year-long research project on the application of discrete Fourier transformations to modeling of physical systems. At UNC, I first worked on a project under Dr. Idris Assani in Mathematics, which explored the properties of sequences related to the Collatz conjecture. Second and currently, I work on a project under Dr. Richard Smith and Dr. Eric Whitsel in Statistics and Operations Research and the Department of Epidemiology, which aims to model the geographic distribution of radon gas in the United States for epidemiologic risk assessment. Research allows me to explore areas of statistics that are not typically covered as part of an undergraduate degree in statistics, which has been quite exciting. Another benefit of research experience is that it serves as a significant creative outlet; there are no wrong answers, only unoptimized solutions!
Student Organizations/Clubs: Kappa Theta Pi, Carolina Analytics and Data Science, Carolina Wrestling Club, Carolina Barbell
Also Happy to Chat about: Summer Research, Carolina Research Scholars Program
Random Fun Fact: I am an avid powerlifter and martial artist!
How/Why Research? I got involved in research because I found it incredibly interesting and I thoroughly enjoy working in a lab as well as in the field. I feel like through research I can more closely aid with research that could lead to a better planet. I got involved in research by using my gift of gab to speak up and talk to professors who I wanted to work with along with utilizing available work study resources.
Research Experience: My first research experience was with spatial cognition in the Burmeister lab in the biology department working with poison dart frogs and tungara frogs. After about a year of working there, I moved to the Marchetti Lab in the Earth, Marine, and Environmental sciences department working with iron limitation in chaetoceros diatoms. Through these experiences, I learned how to conduct myself properly in a laboratory setting, how to formally communicate with graduate students and PI’s, how to make a killer lab presentation, and much more.
Student Organizations/Clubs: De Nederlandse club
Random Fun Fact: If you ever want to talk about anything cooking, I’m your guy. I really like getting down to the chemistry of how food works.
How/Why Research? I was driven to research through my curiosity of why people behavior and how our minds work. I got into research through searching through different research labs online that had aligned with my different interests. I applied to a couple different research positions and the PEP Lab position was the best fit with my interests.
Research Experience: In Summer 2021, I joined the PEP Lab and spent the majority of my time getting to look into how research can have an intersection with different social topics like COVID-19. In Spring 2022, I completed an independent research project with the PEP Lab on whether nutrition could predict interoceptive awareness in the hope to draw connections to bigger social issues like food apartheids. I joined the QUEST project (within the school of social work at UNC) in the beginning of Spring 2022, and I joined the Herman Lab in the beggining of Summer 2022.
Student Organizations/Clubs: UNC JOURney, UNC Hospitals, Club Ultimate Frisbee (Electra)
Also Happy to Chat about: Finding Research Opportunities
Random Fun Fact: I was adopted.
How/Why Research? I have always been fascinated with the idea of research in order to answer pressing questions about human life. I became interested in biostatistics because of its diverse applications to public health. My involvement in research was achieved through emailing multiple professors in the field of epidemiology who had research focuses that I also found interesting. I asked to meet to talk further about their research and then followed up with the labs that I was most fascinated by and hoped to work in.
Research Experience: My research involves the analysis of an in-depth multigenerational dataset including information about participants’ demographics, health, neighborhood characteristics, socioeconomic status, and more. We aim to find patterns and connections between social and environmental aspects on someone’s health over their entire life course. I utilize programming languages such as R and SAS to find patterns and work to communicate these results to the general public. This research can help the improvement of neighborhood characteristics to benefit the birth outcomes of the population.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Alpha Phi Omega – Coed Service Fraternity, ScienceDays Mentoring Program, FEMMES Day Camp
Also Happy to Chat about: Navigating professor and researcher relations as a minority
Random Fun Fact: I am a twin!
How/Why Research? After a high school research experience studying how Fetal Alcohol Syndrome affects the rat cerebellum, I wanted to get involved in research as much as possible in college. I found the Frohlich Lab at a Psychology and Neuroscience department event and sent the PI an email detailing my interest in his lab. He contacted me for an interview and then offered me a position. After entering the Nutrition program, I was set up for an interview with the Hursting Lab by the department since research is a requirement for this major. While this was a less traditional way of getting into a lab, I still sent an email detailing my interests along with my resume and had an interview before being offered a position.
Research Experiences: At the Frohlich Lab, I worked on a project testing sustained attention in ferrets using the 5 Choice Serial Reaction Time Task and another project testing the ability of Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation to shift ferrets’ endogenous frequencies. In the Hursting Lab, I treat colon cancer cells with cytokines/adipokines and then examine proliferation, protein expression, and cell signaling pathways. In the fall of 2021, I was a Karen M. Gil Intern through the Psychology and Neuroscience department at RTI International. There, I studied how different cannabinoids affect the CB1 cannabinoid receptor in the central nervous system. During the summer of 2022, I was an intern at the National Institutes of Health in two labs. In one lab, I studied the effects of strobilurin fungicides and HIV drugs on mitochondrial respiration and phagocytosis in microglial cells. In the other, I evaluated the expression of the efflux transporter P-glycoprotein in human cell lines.
Random Fun Fact: I once lived in an apartment complex that had a monkey problem for over a year.
How/Why Research? I became involved in research to better understand the scientific process as well to gain the skills outside of a classroom environment to become a better scientist. I joined the lab in the spring of 2020 through browsing around online and finding a few labs that matched my interest. I emailed some labs and heard back from one PI to come in for an interview. At the interview, I was truly able to see how passionate the lab members were about their research, and I knew the lab would be a great fit for me. Afterwards, my PI offered me a position, and I have been a member of the lab since then.
Research Experience: Utilizing cell culturing, immunofluorescent staining, and microscopy, we quantitatively and qualitatively determine the effects of various environmental stressors on Chlamydia muridarum, the mouse strain of chlamydia. Understanding the mouse strain can better aid in chlamydial vaccine development as initial vaccine studies are done in Chlamydia muridarum.
Student Organizations/Clubs: UNC Hillel, Sigma Rho Lambda
Also Happy to Chat about: Obtaining Opportunities as an International Student, Navigating Unpaid vs Paid Opportunities
Random Fun Fact: I have been swimming with sting rays.
How/Why Research? Curiosity. I have always wondered why some populations are more susceptible to neurological disorders and have much more barriers to access/use of healthcare – and why our society hasn’t resolved these root causes. I got involved in research to ask these questions and understand the biological basis and potential environmental and societal factors as causes of various neurodevelopment disorders at UNC School of Medicine and Dr. Fry’s lab at the Gillings. I have been thrilled to research and discover the importance of preventative measures through healthcare management and public health policy-making processes to best serve underserved communities.
Research Experiences:My current research at Dr. Fry’s lab involves cerebral white matter injuries in the ELGAN cohort based on Ultrasound and Placenta-brain axis. The benefits of my research are to contribute to the knowledge on signaling pathways and genes that have high risks with neurodevelopmental disorders for future clinical and research application.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Student Government Executive Branch, RHA, CSS, Carolina Neuroscience Club.
Random Fun Fact: Lived in 3 states, 2 continents.
How/Why Research? My research interests lie in marine ecology and conservation. I am fascinated by the marine environment and desire to understand the factors that drive various ecological patterns. I spent my first semester emailing a number of professors in the Marine Science department and meeting with them to discuss their research. I was fortunate enough to land a position in the Marchetti Lab in my second semester. I also approached my organic chemistry professor in my sophomore year and spent a semester in the Hill Lab learning about organic chemistry synthesis techniques.
Research Experience: I worked in the Marchetti Lab from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021, and received a SURF award for my project. My focus was performing data analysis and DNA sequencing to determine potential correlations between environmental conditions and phytoplankton composition in the Galapagos Islands. This helps us predict how climate change could affect marine ecology and aid conservation efforts in the Galapagos Islands. In Fall 2020, I joined the Hill Lab to explore my interest in organic chemistry. There, I worked on a project trying to synthesis bisketenes which may allow for the development of a novel dimerization technique. I will be attending the Morehead City Field Site program in Fall 2021, where I hope to develop a project studying how the presence of shipwrecks affect the marine microbial population.
Student Organizations/Clubs: UNC Scuba Club, UNC Aikido.
Random Fun Fact: I love scuba diving.
How/Why Research? I got involved in research my sophomore year in a Virology lab at UNC School of Medicine through a work study position. Then, after deciding to take a gap year due to coronavirus and reading a very interesting paper Dr. Vetreno wrote, I reached out and was fortunate to be given a full time laboratory technician job studying alcohol use and neurodegenerative diseases.
Research Experience: My freshman year summer internship was at a pharmaceutical pharmacology lab, which opened my eyes to the world of research outside of academia. At UNC, I worked in a virology lab my sophomore year and spent the last year as a laboratory technician. I am excited to return to school this fall and conduct an honors thesis as a continuation of my gap year research.
Student Organizations/Clubs: American Red Cross, Club Field Hockey, Neuroscience Club.
Random Fun Fact: I learned to ski at 3 years old!
How/Why Research? I was first introduced to research during my senior year of high school during an Honors Research program, through this program we became introduced to different research sectors, and I began to realize how broad this field was. When I came to UNC, I wanted to become involved in research because I wanted to join a community of scientists that aim to explore the unknown. I am most interested in translational research that directly impacts patients in a clinical setting. Research gives me an opportunity to expand my knowledge through hands-on experience, which also provides a fulfilling experience when the project comes to fruition.
Research Experience: During my first research experience, I worked with Dr. Ju at the Brody School of Medicine, on a clinical research project studying lung tumors. I am currently conducting research at the UNC School of Medicine Under Dr. Lewek and Dr. Chelsea Parker. Through this study, we are analyzing the walking cadence of Parkinson’s patients. Since Parkinson’s patients have a smaller range of motion, we are working to increase their walking gait by engaging these patients in sessions where they walk on a treadmill in relation to a metronome. My portion of the study involves equipping the patients with motion sensors throughout their bodies and processing 3D vector data.vIn the Summer of 2022, I worked in the Floyd Lab as an Amgen Scholar at the Duke School of Medicine, where I studied the mechanisms of DNA damage and repair of brain tumors with a focus on how chromatin changes through epigenetic modifiers.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Carolina Boxing Club, Arab Student Organization, Muslim Student Association, Carolina Cancer Association
Random Fun Fact: I am a big anime fan.
How/Why Research? I was inspired to conduct research in the area of immunology due to my brother’s severe allergic reactions and history of cancer in my family. Thus, I applied to a magnet STEM high school (Academy of Science) and conducted a two-year project focused on brain cancer research and was introduced to cancer immunotherapies at an NIH summer internship program in the Pediatric Oncology lab.
Research Experience: My 2-year research project at the Academy of Science focused on testing natural compounds on a rat gliosarcoma cancer cell line and blood brain barrier organoid model. Using natural therapies would benefit patients with brain cancer as it could shrink tumor size for easy removal during surgery. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to work at the Pediatric Oncology lab at the National Institutes of Health, where the research was focused on using CAR T-cell cancer immunotherapy, genetically engineered immune cells, to attack acute lymphocytic leukemia. As a part of the Milner Lab, we are using plasmid DNA and PCR technology to enhance T-cell immunotherapies against cancers such as breast cancer. This type of therapy would be beneficial because it is specific to each kind of patient as it involves using their own immune cells and re-engineering them to increase efficiency in attacking cancers.
Student Organizations/Clubs: GlobeMed, CPALS, Tar Heel Raas dance team, Sangam.
Random Fun Fact: I can do a pretty good British/Australian accent.
How/Why Research? I got involved in this research because of my interest in the sciences as well as it was a work-study opportunity for me. I then reached out to my current mentor Dr.Button who hired me as a work-study student and after becoming comfortable in the lab I was able to work on some of the lab’s projects. I grew up with Asthma and this lab sought to find out ways to help with mucus clearance in asthmatic patients which really spoke to me.
Research Experience: As a researcher, I have learned so many skills that have been invaluable to my career. Research is never a straightforward process and leads you down many twists and turns that will challenge you in a way that you have never been challenged.
Random Fun Fact: I have lived in Chapel Hill all my life!
How/Why Research? I really wanted to get involved in research through my interest in medical Ophthalmology. I wanted to discover how researchers learn and treat ocular diseases apart from how clinical Ophthalmologists treat. I got involved through scrolling through research sites of professors, finding which projects I was interested in, and emailing them. I throughly enjoy my research and it has become a part of my lifestyle!
Research Experience: Through the Borras Lab in the Ophthalmology department at UNC Medical school, I have researched and learned under Dr. Terete Borras, PhD, to create a plasmid gene sequence coated in AAV virus to inject in mice eyes in the hope to lower interocular pressure and treat many ocular diseases such as Glaucoma. In Bower Lab in the Ophthalmology department at UNC Medical school, I research and study uveal melanoma cells and their treatment and impact on ocular tissue. I’ve benefitted greatly from all my experiences learning practical skills and methodology/familarity with lab techniques to add to my research toolbox including: PCR, western blotting and gels, maxiprep and miniprep for gene sequences, Nanodrop, Autoclaving, and SnapGene software!
Student Organizations/Clubs: Tri-Beta Biology Honors Society, Carolina Film Association, Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity
Random Fun Fact: I love rollercoasters!
How/Why Research:I find research to be an exciting way to explore topics you are curious about, and I particularly like to connect pathologies I see in my patients as a paramedic with molecular mechanisms of biology/disease and novel therapeutics that may benefit them in the future. I really love the autonomy you have to investigate your questions through experiments — if you have your own project, you can take it in creative directions and it will challenge you to think in ways you don’t have the freedom to in classes.
Research Experience: I joined the Dowen Lab in January of my freshman year and completed 2 semesters of BIOL395 (and am planning on doing a senior thesis). Here I’ve learned exciting genetic approaches, including CRISPR genome editing! In this lab, I am always encouraged and pushed to take my research to the next level — whether presenting my work in lab meetings, poster symposiums, or even at regional/national conferences. I joined the Bahnson Lab the summer after my sophomore year and have had the opportunity to learn a new, translational side to science where I have been able to apply more of my clinical knowledge to experiments involving mouse work and histology and have gotten to work with exciting techniques such as Light Sheet Fluorescence Microscopy!
Student Organizations/Clubs: UNC Campus EMS (Chief), oSTEM, Buckley Public Service Scholars, National Collegiate EMS Foundation (UNC Representative), Paramedic in Chatham County’s EMS System, Journal of EMS author
Random Fun Fact: I am one of the stereotypical Marylanders who puts Old Bay seasoning on everything.
How/Why Research? Research in physics is constantly pushing the absolute limits of science and our knowledge of the Universe, so it is very inspiring field to be in and I really wanted to become a part of those efforts. I first started doing research in my junior year of high school at Western Kentucky University, where I was dually-enrolled at the time. Within my first semester, I emailed the chair of the physics department asking to meet and talk about his research and luckily he was looking for students, so I got to work with him for the next two years.
Research Experience: My first project at WKU was in astronomy, studying the variable light flux of the binary black hole blazar OJ287. Over the summer between my junior and senior year of high school I got a grant to work at the University of Kentucky desgining a neutron detector for the Beam Lifetime 3 experiment at NIST. Now, I work on the NuDot project working to prove background reducing techniques for the search for neutrinoless double beta decay. Last summer I was designing and building electromagnets to act as magnetic shielding for the project. This summer, I will be working on light yield analysis for new quantum-dot doped liquid scintillators. Neutrinoless double beta decay, if detected, will tell us why there is matter in the Universe.
Student Organizations/Clubs: Visibility in Physics, Society of Physics Students, Physics Foundations Seminars, Club Taekwondo
Also Happy to Chat about: Finding paid research opportunities
Random Fun Fact: I have flown a plane. Twice.
How/Why Research? Coming into Carolina, there were many things I wasn’t sure about, but having been exposed to research in high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue research in a field I was deeply passionate about. While finding opportunities amid COVID-19 and virtual classes was hard, booking 1:1’s with OUR and following their resources on cold emailing really helped me land a research opportunity right in my field of interest.
Research Experience: Currently, I work at the CompCy Lab, where I’m able to combine my personal interests with existing technical knowledge while constantly learning more about machine learning techniques in the field of computational medicine. At my lab, I’ve worked with identifying patterns in single cell cancer datasets through various machine learning and clustering techniques. Ultimately, this research can be used to create a diagnostic test for how the immune system is impacted when someone has cancer. This information could even be used to make the immune system more resistant to disease down the line. During my time at the CompCy Lab, I’ve also performed similar machine learning techniques on single-cell data from pregnancy datasets, which can be used to predict when a woman might go into labor by identifying predictive biomarkers.
Student Organizations/Clubs: CADS (Carolina Analytics and Data Science), AI @ UNC
Also Happy to Chat about: Obtaining Opportunities as an International Student, Navigating Unpaid vs Paid Opportunities
Random Fun Fact: I spent five years of my life in Toronto, Canada
How/Why Research? I got involved in research after discovering a passion for uncovering hidden information within data after working on a research project for a class. After reading research conducted by UNC professors in the Political Science department, I became really interested in expanding the field of knowledge within political science and pursuing publication.
Research Experience: My research most recently has focused on education policy at EPIC. We have primarily been working on linking data from teacher candidate’s completing EPP’s at Texas institutions to Texas administrative data to provide analysis on employment outcomes back to the institutions. The benefits of this analysis are improving the quality of these EPPs based on quantitative data to ensure future candidates have even more successful employment outcomes. Some of my published research, co-authored with a political science professor, focused on asking if the imposition of economic sanctions leads to an increase in the lethality of transnational terrorism; we conclude it does. Overall, the benefits of these research experiences have been in developing strong data analysis and academic writing skills.
Student Organizations/Clubs:The Internationalist Undergraduate Journal of Foreign Affairs, Chapel Thrill Escapes
Also Happy to Chat about: The research-to-publication process.
Random Fun Fact: I am really passionate about the law and plan on going to law school.
How/Why Research? Before I got involved with the Strahl lab, I talked with a lot of older students to learn about their experiences with scientific research at Carolina and attended OUR’s “Getting Involved in Research” workshop in order to determine how my experience could look. After thinking about my research interests and potential career paths, I used the BBSP faculty database to come up with a list of specific labs, and after reading into their research and talking with current undergrads in their labs, I sent the PI an email expressing my interest. I was lucky enough to get an interview and a wonderful mentor. I am excited about research because it’s a way to investigate my own questions and improve the world.
Research Experience: I was lucky enough to start conducting research in high school. I started doing research during my freshman summer in high school, where I worked on an independent research project on gene expression during embryonic development in chickens, and had the opportunity to present my project at various competitions and conferences. During my sophomore summer, I worked on a project investigating the properties of DNA hydrogels and in a computational materials science lab. In my junior year, I participated in a research program that looked at how HFPO-DA stress impacted gene expression in C. elegans. During my first semester, I joined the Strahl lab in the School of Medicine. The Strahl Lab investigates how post-translational histone modifications cause changes in gene regulation, which can lead to the development of human diseases, such as cancer.
Student Organizations/Clubs: American Medical Women’s Association (undergraduates), Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society
Random Fun Fact: I really like growing plants. I have a ton of succulents (a few years ago, I learned the life changing fact that you can propagate them from a single leaf), wrote about my peace lily in my Common App essay, and had a few nice pineapple plants going before something ate them last year.
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