The past 12 weeks have been exciting, challenging, eventful, memorable and more than I could have ever asked for. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work in a lab that is at the forefront of vascular injury and remodeling research. I have met some of the most talented, knowledgable, and caring individuals who always put time aside to teach me. If I could continue my senior project for longer, I would do so in a heartbeat. But I am excited to participate in research over the next four years of college and return to the lab this summer!
This project has not only taught me how research works, but also nurtured my interest in cardiovascular science and resolution of inflammation. From not knowing what an automatic pipet was to using one everyday, I have definitely learned various research techniques. I learned to formulate, plan, execute, and analyze experiments. I can now say that I am proficient at Excel and can analyze data that I gather. I have acquired a lot of knowledge from reading articles about stents, restenosis, resolvins, inflammation, and every new word I heard during lab meetings. Lab meetings gave me the chance to articulate everything I was working on and get input on what to improve on and do next. Lastly, I have learned that research requires focus, patience, and technique that is developed over time and experience. There was not a single day I did not make a mistake and I did a lot of problem solving with Mian, one of the lab members.
Personally, this project also made me realize how to take matters into my own hands and become independent. It took a lot of self motivation to take the caltrain alone and walk to my building in the morning. Toward the end of my project, instead of going 3 days a week I started going an extra day to help around the lab. After everything everyone has done for me this was the least I could do. I want to thank my external advisor, Dr. Conte, for this wonderful opportunity. There are very few people, especially as busy as him, who would actively teach students in their lab. I also want to thank Tom, Evan, and Mian for guiding me everyday. I am very excited to accept their invitation to come back to the lab soon! And I want to thank Dr. Murthy, who helped me come up with the proposal for my project and listened to all the ups and downs I went through. Finally, I want to thank Ms. Belcher, who helped coordinate this project and fine tune my presentation.
If you are a junior, I would 100% recommend participating in the Senior Project for the many reasons I stated above. Choose a topic that you are interested in and don’t mind constantly reading, thinking, and talking about. When I first wrote my proposal and was in the middle of emailing labs, the deadline to finalize an external advisor passed and I almost accepted that my project would have to be theoretical when it really couldn’t be. Don’t give up if you don’t get any responses after 5 emails. Unlike others, I was searching for a lab that was specifically working on research in the cardiovascular field. While this did narrow down my search, it also shortened the number of labs I could email. I would recommend making a google doc with links from websites of labs you are interested in and their emails. Then you should write a template email with information about your proposal and the senior project. I added 1-2 sentences to the template email about why I was interested in each specific lab after reading their research and pressed send. Searching for a lab is a very tedious process so I would also ask someone to help you (my mom helped me find many of the labs I emailed 🙂 ). You can also reach out to me if you need help or advice!
Here are the final two risk factors for coronary heart disease! I saved these two for the end because the American Heart Association doesn’t label these factors as “risk factors” but as “other factors that contribute to heart disease risk.” Personally, I experience the first one more often than not haha, I am sure others can relate.
This week’s risk factors: Stress and Alcohol
Researchers have discovered a connection between CHD and stress factors in one’s life. Stress factors are measured based on health behaviors or economic status. People who tend to be constantly stressed tend to exhibit behaviors of other risk factors I have mentioned: becoming physically inactive, overeating, and smoking.
Intaking two drinks per day (for men) or one drink (~ 12 fl oz) per day (for women) is the recommended drinking limit. Drinking excessively lends to higher blood pressure, risk of stroke, and a greater calorie intake. Alcohol in your bloodstream contributes to higher triglycerides and other fats that clog our arteries.
Here is the list of all the risk factors I mentioned and the recommended preventative measures:CAD Risk Factors
I hope that sharing risk factors has been somewhat helpful or simply insightful. I am glad that alongside doing hands-on research I also learned about the many lifestyle changes and choices to make in order to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Now I am going to continue working on my final product, which will be a research paper summarizing the results from my research. I will be presenting my project on May 22nd at the Doubletree Hilton hotel from 6-8 p.m. and hope you will join me!