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  • Writer's pictureRaluca Narita

WinSTEM's Research Panel

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Hello everyone! We had a Win Stem research panel, in which four individuals who engage in research came together and shared their experiences and gave tips to undergraduate students.

Varshini Ganesh is on a journey as an undergraduate student, and she is a junior working towards a B.S. degree at The University of Texas at Dallas. Her Undergraduate experience includes engaging in volunteering services and has research experience at a Neuro-psychiatry lab. Her research experience began in 2020 at Greene’s Lab. Elaborating on the interest of getting into research, her tips include emailing professors and PIs, forming a template, and modifying depending on the lab and type of subject the lab specializes in and researches for, and finally scheduling interviews and practice mock sessions, prep for questions, and meet with your lab members. Going about her research personal experience, she is a Research Assistant at Greene’s Lab and performs experimentation such as PCR, Gel electrophoresis, and Western Blotting at her lab. Greene’s lab is a wet animal lab, which means animal husbandry and IUCUP Protocols are to be followed. Another thing that is vital to maintain in labs is etiquette and professionalism. Maintaining formal communication with your lab members and PI is critical; this includes bringing on time for lab activities/experiments/meetings and attending weekly laboratory meetings, which she had presented in the discussion.

Another medical professional who joined the research panel to discuss their career and how they have gained such an opportunity in research is Yvonne K. Ralph, MS. She works at Developmental Neurolinguistics Lab, and her lab works with language development and EEG procedural findings. She graduated from The University of Texas at Dallas and is an alumnus, and she specializes in Interpretation with the development of rotation. Showcasing her research position, a little about her includes completing her post-doc at Florida International University. This program was also conducted with Dr. Shannon Pruden. She is interested in how neural networks are connected with the physiological aspects of the Brain and successfully completed her dissertation work! She loves working at her lab and cannot wait to experiment with her interests furthermore!

Tina Melamed is working towards her Ph.D. and has previously obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in linguistics and Master of Science degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Texas. While working towards her Master’s Degree, she also worked in a clinical setting and wanted to fill a gap in the literature she observed during her studies.

Thus far, Melamed has worked with two advisors, and her interests were changing. Eventually, she developed a goal to conduct research for kids who struggle with language.

Her lab duties consist of an obligatory twenty hours per week. Ten of said hours are spent as a teaching assistant who oversees undergraduate research assistants. She oversees data analysis, data collection activities, scheduling, interviews, communication, and student projects. Melamed spends the other ten hours as a research assistant, and she focused on her primary mentor’s projects in their labs. During this time, she also works on her dissertation, which includes: designing equipment, collecting data, analyzing, and writing. She also spends this time conducting teaching activities, including attending class, grading, and meeting the professor outside of class for discussions.

A few other things Melamed does are maintaining a speech-language pathologist license and accreditation, volunteering as a guest speaker at various events, applying for grants, and preparing for the job market while applying for jobs.

Currently, Alexandria Holden is a clinical research coordinator who has multiple responsibilities. For starters, she helps support grant-planning activities and studies start-up research projects, as well as moving them into production. Additionally, Holden engages with patients and their families in health promotion research and participates in cross-collaboration with different professions for intervention development and delivery. She is also responsible to ensure high-quality data collection through her best practices and disseminate her findings to the community and professional audiences.

According to Holden, there is a lot that goes into public health. One component is the promotion of healthy eating habits and physical activity, which can be achieved through group lifestyle balance (GLB) for specialized rehabilitation populations. A second component is maintaining high-quality research data through traumatic brain injury models systems (TBIMS) and exercising emergency preparedness and readiness for individuals with disabilities. A third component is preventing pressure ulcers using technology like the S.m.a.r.t. Seat cushion study. A fourth component is improving support services for patients, and this can be done by peer mentoring for individuals with spinal cord injuries. A fifth component is the efficacy and effectiveness of using assisted technology in rehabilitation. This can be achieved by the foundational ingredients of robotic gait training for people with spinal cord injury during rehabilitation and program versus intervention.

Lastly, Holden values numbers and narratives. She finds communication strategies to be extremely important and evaluates the program and intervention effectiveness. A few other subjects Holden says are essential are: accessing the patients’ needs, assets, and capacity, creating evidence-based interventions, and listening to patients’ experiences to participate in patient-centered care.

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