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Undergraduate Research – Linda Nguyen and Erin Jones

The Undergraduate Research Awards Program (URAP) provides the opportunity and support for full time undergraduate students to actively take part in faculty research projects within our College. “Research” in this case is broadly defined to reflect all forms of scholarship. The research ranges from ‘bench’ science to more applied social science. All forms of science expand what is known about health and human sciences. Throughout the course of this program, students work closely with their faculty mentor(s) and culminate their experience with a poster presentation at a year end celebration. Each quarter, students will also meet with other URAP participants and the program administrators to discuss everyone’s experiences and the progress of their work.

Linda Nguyen is a sophomore in Nutrition and Exercise Science. She is currently working on a research project to determine the effects of green tea catechin EGCG on DNA Methylation and Foxp3 Gene Expression in Immune T Cells. Deficiencies of this gene could potentially lead to immune dysfunction or autoimmunity. Linda had been working with her mentor, Emily Ho, since her freshman year. “It wouldn’t have been possible without their guidance, and walking me through everything step by step. It took me two terms of training, and they were extremely patient while I learned”, Linda says of her mentors Emily Ho and Carmen Wong. “When I first applied, I wanted to be able to present my research that I have been working on, as well as broaden my understanding of research”.

URAP has helped Linda relate what she has learned in class to a real life setting, but now she is also able to use the things she has learned through URAP and relate them to her classes. Limda says, “URAP has helped me to be able to explain my research in a coherent manner, in a way that other people who don’t work in a lab setting would be able to understand”. The most  beneficial aspect of the URAP to Linda was gaining experience working in a lab. She really enjoyed just doing the bench work and generating the data. She was able to build a relationship with the faculty and professors. They were there for her every step of the way and they have opened up new possibilities for her career goals.

Erin Jones is a senior in Public Health working on a research project with Viktor Bovbjerg analyzing data from an intervention called Improving Control with Activity and Nutrition (ICAN) which enrolled health plan participants with type 2 diabetes into a long-term lifestyle intervention to improve diabetes control. Erin is specifically studying depression and how it affected the completion of the intervention. Erin enjoyed the process so much that she plans on continuing research in graduate school, the thing that she enjoyed the most was just looking at the data. She says, “The research question I wanted to ask needed to be very specific and we were constantly trying to pinpoint exactly what we wanted to get out of the data.

This is Erin’s first opportunity to conduct research. She wanted to broaden her perspective of Public Health and found this program as a way to be more involved. She says that this experience has made her more passionate about her field. Erin says, “I like it a lot. I like it because it is hands on. I am able to retain a lot of information in class, but I get a better understanding of this information through research.” Erin found the most beneficial part of URAP to be being able to work with a professor. She says, “Before I joined URAP, I didn’t know any faculty beyond going into office hours and talking about grades.  But this program gave me the opportunity to have a one on one interaction with a professor.”