Tuesday, February 16, 2016

FWS Student Highlights: Wendy Klein

I am currently assisting Dr. Frankenfeld of the Global and Community Health department, with ongoing research into the Microbiome. The microbiome is defined as the community of bacteria that reside within each person’s biological system. This research is currently investigating the consequence of nutrition and its effect on the microbiome. This is significant because research has shown that the health of a person’s microbiome directly correlates to or has impact on the overall health of that person. Our particular topic is studying the diet of those individuals from south/southeast regions in Asia, and its affect on their overall health. Participants of the study submit questionnaires about their diet and where they have lived, as well as a fecal sample, which are then analyzed in order to directly map out the different populations of bacteria in each individual’s system. The future could hold this as a standard biological blueprint, speaking to the uniqueness of each individual.

On a weekly basis, I enter data into a database known as NSDR, based on the responses recorded on the questionnaires that participants fill out. I am also in charge of scheduling and conducting interviews for research participants who volunteer to be a part of the study, as well as dropping off samples. I am also being introduced to the techniques of data analysis using STATA.

This relates to my long term goals because investigation of the microbiome is something within the realm of biochemistry, my concentration. There is still a large gap between what we know and what we understand about this particular topic that is only beginning to be breached. This is something that I would be very interested in pursuing and my current responsibilities through OSCAR have allowed me to catch a glimpse of what current research on this topic could look like, and it’s very exciting.