Student Spotlight | April 2021
Major: BA in Biology and a minor in Business.
Describe your research/creative work in just a few sentences that we can all understand: At KUMC's Baby Lab, we study children's language and early social development through a variety of parent-report and play-based assessments. My research project studies the relationship between a child's emerging preverbal communication skills (eye contact, gestures, pointing etc.) and their social-emotional competence levels (self-management, social-awareness, relationship skills, etc.)
Q: Who mentors your project?
A: Dr. Brenda Salley and Corinne Walker SLP have been my mentors throughout this project. They have gone beyond my mentor expectations by dedicating countless Zoom hours and collaborative emails to this project.
Q: What surprised you about doing a larger research or creative project?
A: How much I would love it! I joined KUMC's Baby Lab six semesters ago to boost my candidacy for medical schools. However, throughout my time working in the lab I have identified a passion for research that I did not know I had before. Over the course of my project, I have found myself reading research articles during my free time and constantly coming up with new questions. The support I have received from my mentors has cultivated a strong curiosity and has empowered me to step away from the pre-med track and pursue my real passion - child development!
Q: What did you find most challenging about getting involved in or doing your project? What advice would you offer to students facing similar challenges?
A: The most challenging part for me was believing in myself. I didn't think I had what it would take to complete an independent research project so there was some reluctancy to start and a touch of imposter syndrome. It is easy to look around you and think that everyone else has it all figured out, so my advice to other students is to be transparent with your peers and mentors about how you are feeling. Pretty quickly I realized A LOT of people experienced these moments of self-doubt, and that helped me to take the power away from the voice in my head saying I wasn't enough. Genuine curiosity/passion is so beautiful, and when you find it, you absolutely need to pursue it.
Q: What do you like most about your project?
A: The thing that I like the most about my project is the feeling of contribution to something greater. I hope my results will contribute to our knowledge of early social-emotional development in infancy and further our understanding of typical and atypical developmental pathways. Allowing for earlier identification of problem behaviors or developmental delays will allow for more successful interventions.
Q: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to get involved in research?
A: Just do it! Which I realize is not great, nor novel, advice as beginning research/creative work can be extremely daunting, but once you locate where your passion/curiosity lies, you've already done the hardest part. With KU being a research institute, faculty members are itching to spread their knowledge and increase student involvement. Begin by reaching out via email to learn more about their research. Even if their lab isn't the right fit for you, they always will help point you in a better direction!
Q: How do you spend your time when you're not working on your research?
A: When I am not working on my project, I can be found burning food in my kitchen or playing with my roommate's pet rabbit - Noodle.