Friday, April 28, 2017

URSP Student Claire Campos Explores the Perspectives of Filipino Americans Regarding Hospice and Palliative Care Services

Hospice and palliative care services remain underutilized amongst the U.S. minority population. Of the U.S. minority population, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) represent the largest portion of this population. However, there remains a lack of sufficient research on AAPIs regarding potential barriers to hospice and palliative care services. Therefore, the objective of my study was to explore the perspectives of Filipino Americans regarding hospice and palliative care services to identify potential barriers to its utilization.

A total of ten participants were recruited throughout the Virginia and Maryland regions. Participants had to be ages forty or above, Filipino American, and able to speak English. Each participant consented to a face to face semi-structured interview which assessed current knowledge and sentiments associated with hospice and palliative care services. By using a grounded theory approach, interviews were later transcribed and coded to formulate major themes suggested by the data. Themes which arose included generational norms and cultural relations as presenting barriers to hospice and palliative care services.

I became interested in this project after my experience with hospice and palliative care in my service learning for the social work field. The social work field emphasizes the importance of equal access to services regardless of socioeconomic status. As mentioned previously, hospice and palliative care services are underutilized amongst minority populations despite its benefits. I took the opportunity OSCAR presented me to explore reasons why this disparity existed.  I plan to continue research throughout the duration of my social work practice. To be successful in advocacy and intervention, it is important to remain informed of interdisciplinary evidence and evidence-based strategies. Throughout this term, I learned how much more effective an argument can be made through solid research.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

URSP Student Grace Morgan Conducts Bioarchaeological Research in a Medieval Danish Cemetary

I’m a senior anthropology major with a biology minor, and my research deals with the intersection of those two disciplines. I conduct bioarchaeological research analyzing spatial analysis of demographic and health data in a medieval Danish cemetery. The reason I became interested in this research stems from my original goals when I started university. I’ve always loved archaeology, but I did not think that pursuing a career in it would be possible as I knew nothing of the current field. So, I started at GMU on the pre-med track, and I wanted to be a doctor. I was and still am very interested in health and pathology, but I realized that I was more interested in studying larger trends of health over time, with respect to how infectious diseases evolve alongside us. Couple that interest with a few archaeology classes and an infectious disease class with Dr. Bethany Usher and I had found my niche, bioarchaeology.

To conduct my research I spend my time translating handwritten Danish notes on the excavation of the cemetery I am studying, and then formatting that data into excel files grouped by specific demographic (age/sex) and health factors (cribra orbitalia/linear enamel hypoplasia). I then use SaTScantm to spatially analyze this data. I spend a lot of time running this software. This is really fantastic experience for my future career however, because I am obtaining hands on skills analyzing and interpreting data specific to my field. I have been able to directly utilize what I am learning in my classes to conduct research. This has helped me to see the connection between what I am learning in class and how it applies to the real world. More so than that, there is nothing more fulfilling that being able to add something to the greater scope of knowledge, and researching has allowed me to do just that. Participating in undergraduate research has prepared me for my career, and it doesn’t hurt that it looks great on a resume.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

URSP Student Connor Reid Studies and Evaluates American History Narratives Regarding the Plymouth Colony

My name is Connor Reid. I’m a sophomore here at GMU majoring in Government and International Politics and minoring in Religious Studies. Since I was young, I have always had an interest in history, and through OSCAR I have been given an excellent opportunity to explore this interest. This semester I am studying American historical narratives regarding the Plymouth Colony and evaluating those narratives by utilizing under-studied comprehensive town records of Plymouth Colony settlements. 

My project involves reading and identifying important passages to contribute to a larger narrative of the Plymouth Colony. To achieve this, I have been going a book of records ever two or so weeks, and regulary meeting with my mentor for questions or clarification. So far, my greatest discovery has been learning first-hand just how much life changed in the Plymouth Colony over time – outside changes were rapid and the Pigrims were forced to increasingly adapt to the new world around them. 
This project has allowed me to expand possibilities after GMU and gives me valuable analytical, research, and writing skills that would be useful in almost any career or graduate program post-graduation, and I am very thankful to OSCAR for this opportunity.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

URSP Student Daniel Cairnie Studies the Binding of Pharma-chemicals to Aquatic Humic Substances (AHS)

My name is Dan Cairnie and I am a senior chemistry major pursuing research in the field of environmental chemistry. Right around the time of Spring 2016, I really started to enjoy my experience in the lab because of all the instruments I learned how to use in my classes. The instrument I enjoyed the most (and still do) was the fluorescence spectrophotometer, also known as a fluorimeter. For some inexplicable reason, I love looking at the spectrophotometer output the peaks and troughs that come with a great sample reading. With the current research I am doing, I have the pleasure of seeing those peaks and troughs every day I enter the lab. I am fortunate enough work alongside Dr. Greg Foster in a project that studies the quenching effect of a commonly used pharmaceutical, carbamazepine (CBZ), on humic and fulvic acids (HA and FA) found in water bodies. By studying these interactions, we can gain a better understanding of the binding characteristics between the CBZ and HA/FA components.

I usually come into Dr. Foster’s laboratory on the weekends to experiment, since it is quiet and I am a bit more relaxed. However, most of the time I spend in the lab is dedicated to preparing solutions to run with the fluorimeter. It brings up recent memories of working in the chemistry department’s stock room, where preparing various solutions precisely was a staple in my routine there. While this process is certainly tedious and time-consuming, the joy I get when I finally see an accurate spectrum that supports literature makes everything worth it. So far, I have discovered that in dilute concentrations of CBZ and HA/FA, a much simpler quenching model, known as the Stern-Volmer equation, can be used in place of an extensive multivariate analysis. This multivariate analysis, known as the Ryan-Weber model, requires the mathematical programming software, MATLAB, in order to attain more quantitative insights on how HA/FA binds with CBZ. Using the Ryan-Weber model in experimentation is my ultimate goal once the Stern-Volmer method of analysis is perfected. Humic and fulvic acids are an integral part of the environmental remediation process, and with our research, we aim to understand how this can be affected by pharma-chemicals and what can be done long-term to mitigate any negative consequences.

Monday, April 24, 2017

URSP Student Margaret Sobeski Researches Biomarkers of Inflammation in a Mouse Model with Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

My name is Margaret Sobeski. I am currently a junior majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry at George Mason University. For my OSCAR project, I will be focusing on biomarkers of inflammation in a mouse model with late onset Alzheimer’s disease. My interest in Alzheimer’s disease began my sophomore year of high school when I started volunteering at the local retirement home. Once a week I would sit and talk for hours with Alzheimer’s patients where I became familiar with their behaviors and aware of how much the illness affected their loved ones. I quickly realized the devastation that came with the disease and became determined to get more involved. When I got to George Mason, I decided to major in Neuroscience and involve myself in innovative research related to neurodegenerative diseases. I joined Dr. Flinn’s lab as an undergraduate research assistant where I was encouraged to propose a research question of my own. I hope to use the skills and experiences I gain from this OSCAR project as I start applying to medical schools next year. On a weekly basis, I perform western blots on the brain tissue of mice with late onset AD. Western blotting is a well-established technique that identifies the presence of specific proteins from a more convoluted assortment of proteins in a cell. Although western blotting does not provide an exact number of desired protein present in the tissue, it will aid in my research by indicating whether or not the inflammatory proteins are in fact present in the brain tissue. In addition, it will determine whether late onset mice contain more or less inflammatory protein species. One thing I discovered thus far is that developing a research question is the easy part! Ordering your supplies and remembering to ask yourself what you are doing and why you are doing it is what makes someone a successful scientist.