Today is the second annual Undergraduate Research Symposium held by the Students’ Union. The symposium is a fantastic celebration of all that is undergraduate research here at the university and I look forward to attending. I’m a huge proponent of undergraduate research: it absolutely changed my life as an undergraduate, so while I’m a bit biased, I still encourage everyone to pop by CCIS today and support your fellow undergrads! You might learn something new, you might make a friend, and who knows, you might get interested in research yourself!
I interviewed three undergrads participating in the Symposium about their research and the impact it has had on their undergraduate careers. These interviews will be posted throughout the day, so check back here a bit later to read what the other students have to say about their experience.
I first got to hear from Fahim Rahman.
1. Why was your project important?
My project looks at using silica nanoparticles as a carrier for heart tissue antigens. Studies have documented exposing infants to foreign blood type antigens leads to immunological tolerance. This immunological tolerance allows for tissue and organ transplantation to be carried out without matching blood groups between the donor and recipient. Silica is a very bio-friendly and easily modified material, which is why we are interested in using it as a carrier for blood type antigens. We hope to induce immunological tolerance through these antigen-carrying silica nano particles. Hopefully immunological tolerance will lead to both a lot of mismatched organs not going to waste as well as lives being saved from not having to wait for a perfect donor match.
2. Would you do research again?
I most certainly would do research again! In fact, last summer I was in the Department of Chemistry, working on the synthesis and functionalization aspects of the project. This coming summer, I’ll be conducting research in the Department of Pediatrics and Immunology looking at a mouse model for immunological tolerance. I’ll be examining the physiology of a transplanted mouse heart. I’m very excited to be continuing on a similar project, and believe that I will be entering graduate studies as well in the future.
3. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Myself in five years? Hah, that’s a tough one. If I’m lucky, I’ll be in medical school and/or graduate studies. I haven’t planned out the order I want to finish the two in. In short, I’ll still be in school! With much to learn and discover still.
4. What was the best part of your research experience?
The best part of my research experience was working with a wonderful and talented group. My supervisor (Dr. Jillian Buriak) was friendly, approachable, and knew her chemistry. She also was wonderful at communicating and steering projects forward. The graduate student (Jeremy Bau) that I closely worked with during the summer was very similar. He was so passionate about his research and so dedicated that you really wanted to contribute to all the great work he was doing. Jeremy really was an inspiring man, and I am grateful to have worked with him. Same for Dr. Buriak; she really did “light a flame” for my medical and research career goals as she promised.
Still not convinced undergraduate research is for you? Check back at 11 am for Mina Fahmy’s insights into her undergraduate research!