University of Vermont

Office of Undergraduate Research

If at first you don't succeed...

Aina (Biology 2016)

photo: HKline Photography

As her sophomore year came to a close, Aina felt her honors thesis research looming. As a Biology major, her options seemed limitless. She focused on medical research, as that was her intended path. Aina contacted one of her professors, however, when this did not work out, she looked around at the other resources she had. She talked to friends working in labs around campus, met with OUR to discuss her interests, and compiled a list of potential researchers that matched her interests and contacted them.

After a number of emails and referrals, Aina found her place with Dr. Vikas Anathy of the Pathology Department working in his area of interest: oxidative stress in lung fibrosis. Aina’s focus became allergy-induced asthma, what happens after a foreign particle enters the lungs. By looking at the published literature on the subject, she determined that she would focus her thesis on the protein response that leads to scarring in the lungs. Aina’s research primarily focused on how to reduce the negative effects on lung tissue, such as scarring, after contact with an allergen. While she could not disclose the full details of her research prior to its publication, she shared a sense of the value that research provided her.

Aina considers herself to be a visual and tactile learner, lectures alone did not effectively provide a full understanding of the material. Through hands-on research, she was able to apply things from the classroom to the lab and vice versa. Research made the classroom more relevant to the real world. She also became more confident in her abilities by building this extracurricular foundation. The advice she shares with her peers regarding research is, "The full-on experience of being a science major is going out there and doing it.”