Students Engage in Life-Changing Research

As a student in the College of Health Sciences, you will have opportunities to be engaged in life-changing research through UMass Lowell's experiential learning experiences. From preventing childhood obesity to evaluating the performance of safer (green) approaches to disinfection to improving drug therapies, students participate in co-ops, research symposiums and research awards. Depending upon your major, you'll also have the opportunity to be involved in community engagement projects. Below are examples of recent student research projects.

Jenna Connolly '14 (Nursing)

"My co-op experience has been incredible. I was given the opportunity to work with Prof. Juliette Shellman, a nurse researcher at UMass Lowell, and a team of undergraduate and graduate students who have been studying the effects of reminiscence therapy on older adults. At the end of her research, Dr. Shellman hopes to have an article published in a nursing journal describing her results. I was given the chance to take part in this experience by both witnessing and taking part in interviews. Additionally, Dr. Shellman let me write the introduction to the article. Clearly, this experience has opened many doors for me. I was able to see the research process first hand, and by the end, I will hopefully be a published author."

Isabel Robinson '14 (Exercise Physiology)

"When I was first offered a position to work with a professor on a research project, I was hesitant. I was worried that I would hate it and be completely bored and turned off by the idea of doing research. Fortunately, my worries were all in my imagination because I love what I am doing. I love being able to go to the lab and sit down and play around with different technology. I love to come up with questions and ways to answer those questions, and then actually answering the questions gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I also love that I can actually see the progress that is being made, and I know by the end of the semester that I will feel as though I've helped with something important. Working with Dr. Bruce Young and his TA Amy has been a great and worthwhile experience. It has not been all work, as they have been able to take time out of focusing solely on the research to give me advice and to guide me through my thought process about my future academic and career goals. I am glad that I made the decision to work with a professor and would do it again next year if given the opportunity." 

Nathalia Mendoza '12 (Clinical Laboratory Sciences)

"In my co-op, I have been assisting a PhD student in her research about how a certain drug will work against a cancerous liver cell. In the lab I have been able to test these cells by doing Cell Culture, RNA extraction, Gene Expression, ELISA and many other assays and techniques. I have found this experience to be the best I have ever encountered at school. Being able to work in a research lab has taught me how hard researchers work to get the data they need. I am fortunate to be able to work with such an outstanding group of people because they have counseled me with regards to schoolwork and also taught me the things they have learned in their classes, which in return has helped me with my own career path. I am truly grateful for this great opportunity that I have been given and will work really hard to continue to learn as much as I can and to build on what I've learned already."

Alexandra Beauvais '12 (Community Health & Environment)

UMass Lowell community health education undergraduate student Alexandra Beauvais participated in a service-learning project at Girls, Inc. "As far as career goals and educational goals, this service learning project gave me such a good insight on what service learning really is," says Alexandra. For other students going into research at the University, Alexandra recommends "you know what you want to get out of the experience, to know what you're looking for and what kind of qualities you're looking for in your research." She says this will help students with the work they're doing both now and in the future.

Maryann Ford '12 (Environmental Health)

UMass Lowell environmental health undergraduate Maryann Ford took part in the multidisciplinary research that looked at building a framework for teen sexting. UMass Lowell is at the forefront of research on this current issue. In a team led by Dr. Andy Harris and Dr. Judy Davidson, a research group has spent the year examining this issue. Components of the research included background information, data coding, and interpretation of results. Researchers also conducted focus groups for local educators to add to the existing data. Maryann Ford along with Lindsay Tucker (both Emerging Scholars in the Center for Women and Work) have spent the year as part of this team, and have learned much from the data and the process itself. Maryann presented the poster at the 2012 Student Symposium which details the learning experience and significance of the research, along with the benefits of doing research at the University. "The benefits of doing research is to expand your horizons with your knowledge in general," says Maryann. "I have a lot of knowledge in environmental health and the sciences but I did not have a lot of psychology knowledge...this was a way to put in the position of being able to learn more."

Tatenda Chindongo '12 (Nursing)

UMass Lowell nursing undergraduate student Tatenda Chindongo discusses her team's research on childhood Obesity in Lawrence, Massachusetts--chosen for its "staggering obesity rates"--and the aim of the research, which was to increase the knowledge of school age children about healthy nutrition and exercise. A health promotion program that consisted of educational concepts (based off the United States Department of Agriculture's My Plate recommendations for healthy eating and exercise) was implemented at the YWCA of greater Lawrence. Sixty-five school age children participated in a 4 hour program. Evaluation consisted of pre and posttest tool that measured the knowledge concerning nutrition and exercise. There was a significant increase in knowledge at the completion of the program.

Jennifer Gonzales '12 (Clinical Laboratory & Nutritional Sciences)

Jennifer Gonzales is a clinical laboratory & nutritional sciences undergraduate student. Her junior year research, "The Effect of Endocrine Disruptors on Weight," covers the topic of environmental toxins in the body that change and disrupt the way our body functions and subsequently cause endocrine disorders and weight gain. Jennifer says her project will help with future research goals, starting with an animal study this summer, 2011. Jennifer sums up her education at UMass Lowell in one word: “Amazing.” She has "learned a lot" since freshman year and says she appreciates the professors because they show her that they care about her and the education and knowledge she is receiving: “Each time that I feel stuck and need help, and come to them and I always leave satisfied.” Jennifer plans to attend graduate school to become a dietician and work with people with eating disorders.

Sommer Vogel (Clinical Laboratory & Nutritional Sciences)

UMass Lowell Clinical Laboratory & Nutritional Sciences graduate student Sommer Vogel presented research for detecting residual microorganisms left on a surface after a cleaning process using an ATP Bioluminescence Meter. To evaluate the performance of safer (green) approaches to disinfection, rapid methods of detection are needed. Sommer and her research team evaluated the Hygiena SystemSure Plus (Hygiena, Camarillo, CA) for sensitivity across the growth curve and precision in comparison to culture for Escherichia coli (ATCC 21214) and Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 6538). The team concludes that the ATP meter sensitivity is dependent on bacterial growth stage and the precision of the device is adequate with both organisms. Future work will include a field pilot study. As for Sommer's future, she plans to work in the medical research field. She says she's "gaining the education and the learning and the lab," and together with her previous work experience, she'll compile "all of the necessary components to be a good candidate to work in medical research."