Monday, September 24, 2018

OSCAR Student Brieann Sobieski Works with the Summer Impact on Relevant Biomarkers in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

As an aspiring physician and educator, research is a fundamental part of my career choice. Research is a vessel to impact change on a large scale. It is more than performing experiments and analyzing results. Research allows our world to continue to advance, as the field of medicine strives to provide the best possible outcomes to the lives of many every single day.

I believe that the OSCAR Summer Impact Grant for relevant biomarkers in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis has challenged me to explore creative ways to impact the world through research. In the biology aspect of the research project, I analyzed gene expression levels of mitochondrial genes in 18 idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) patients. The use of mitochondrial copy number as a method to separate patients in analysis has shown novel findings in cancer research. While many of the results were puzzling when referring back to the progression of their disease, it is fulfilling to know these findings may impact a future clinical intervention.

This project has created a strong passion in me for precision medicine. There is a vast knowledge of clinical data available in the form of large data sets. As the production of these data sets of patients is on the rise, it necessitates new software available to researchers and clinicians to be able to analyze the data. My team and I also helped create a tool to analyze large data sets and output significant information. This will help not only discovery novel findings in IPF, but will be openly available to any researcher or clinician working on another disease. While our primary focus is on lung disease, our contribution to medicine will span to all other diseases as well.

Aside from the importance of innovative software, it is also important to teach students how to analyze data. During the course of this summer, I worked to design an undergraduate course to teach RNA-sequencing. This kind of education is competitive experience for undergraduates to learn as precision medicine is on the rise. I am hoping this course will impact the student body at Mason and cause my fellow undergraduate peers to become excited to utilize their new skills in the future of clinical care.

I have seen first-hand the impact that I can create as a student now, and as a physician-researcher later down the line. There are so many ideas I have floating through my head, and the OSCAR Summer Impact Grant has solidified the skills that I need to bring those ideas to fruition.

Friday, September 21, 2018

OSCAR Student Sara Luzcando Works on LIMPiAR:A Latina Immigrant Multidisciplinary Project in Advancing Research for Undergraduate Students

My name is Sara Luzcando and I am working on the LIMPiAR project as a student research assistant. As it is mentioned in the title, the study focuses on Latina Immigrant women, who work in the cleaning industry. As part of the research team I have helped develop the survey in English, and as a Latina who speaks, writes and reads fluent English and Spanish I am able to help the project translations to Spanish. Our research strategy is Community Participatory Research (CBPR), this type of research is participant focused. My communication skill as a bilingual woman has offered comfort to the women that are participants in the project. The participant’s in our study guide our analyses, as well as they help with the recruitment of other participants through snowball sampling.

I first became interested in this project because of the name, I consider myself a Latina and I have always been curious about helping others who surround me in my community, and other communities that are difficult to reach and are in need of help. My work experience has allowed me to develop organizational skills, as well as communicative skills that have helped me succeed in this project through being the main point of contact for interviews as well as the interview organizer.
In the past I have helped communities through community service, and work nationally and internationally. I have done service work in New Orleans by rebuilding homes for those who lost them during hurricane Katrina, and in the Dominican Republic by bringing water to a rural community. My long term-goal is to continue to help either through studies that could benefit the future of a specific community, or through service work for the communities.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

OSCAR Student Oleg Menyaylenko Researches how to Turn Ambiguous Traffic Scenarios into Autonomous Vehicle’s Intelligence

My name is Oleg Menyaylenko and I have been working on an OSCAR Summer Impact project called “Turning Ambiguous Traffic Scenarios into Autonomous Vehicle’s Intelligence.” Computer Science and Machine Learning are my passions; thus, I was naturally drawn to this project.

At the start of this project, I expected to face highly challenging problems that would require Computer Science, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. I was not let down by my expectations. This project has definitely been intellectually stimulating, which further expanded my abilities in the corresponding fields.

Adding it to my resume upon completion, this project will set a fundamental landmark in my professional experience, as it will exhibit my passions and interests. Furthermore, this project has been an important part of my professional development, as I advanced in various workplace-critical skills such as communication and teamwork.

Over the course of this project, I have been working on Computer Science intensive tasks such as building a computationally-efficient neural network that recognizes and localizes various traffic objects, as well as designing and developing a graphical tool to help data scientists create an image data set for training. I also have been working on labor-intensive tasks such as manually labeling traffic objects in videos and reading many research papers on machine learning algorithms. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

OSCAR Student Isabel Guide Analyzes Hydroelectric Microturbine Deployment for Energy and Water Resilience in Haiti

As a URSP student this summer, my project analyzed hydroelectric microturbine deployment for energy and water resilience in Haiti. This project was first introduced to me by my mentor, Dr. Jennifer Sklarew, when I asked her if she was conducting any research over the Summer that would need a student assistant. She informed me that this project will build on a current PGF-funded micro-turbine pilot on Mason’s Fairfax campus.
This project sparked my interest through my passion for energy policy and the factors that contribute to the deployment of energy systems in a nation. I believe that developing countries should be well-aided by their allies that have a secure energy system in how to develop frameworks for energy policy. As someone who wants to study energy law after my undergraduate degree is complete, I believe that this research will give me the institutional knowledge necessary to fully comprehend the legalities of energy policy within a country. As for my goals for where I wish to see the world in my lifetime, I hope for this research to assist developing countries in fulfilling their energy needs so that all of their citizens can have access to affordable electricity.

Throughout this summer, much of my research has been analyzing current literature on the state in which Haiti’s energy system and framework is already in. Also, most developing nations look to multilateral development banks and international banks to assist them with the investments necessary to construct energy plants, so a lot of my time has been put into further understanding those developments as well. Also, I am looking forward to interviewing professionals in the field of international development that have worked in Haiti. From this research, I have discovered that a secure energy system may be useless and will fail in the long-term if it is not secured by an institution with a proper decision-making authority.