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Priscilla Flores-Ascencio

Student Spotlight | November 2019

Major: Chemical Engineering with a concentration in biomedicine (bioengineering certificate recipient upon graduation)

Describe your research/creative work in just a few sentences that we can all understand. 

Observing the estrogen receptor involvement in meniscal fibrochondrocytes homeostasis. Basically, this is looking at how estrogen is involved in the mechanisms in the cells that promote the health of the meniscus in your knee.

 


Q: Who mentors your project?

A: Dr. Jennifer Robinson in Chemical & Petroleum Engineering

 

Q: What surprised you about doing research?

A: It’s all part of a bigger goal, but big goals are achieved through tiny steps. Research is about learning something new and observing something that no one has noticed before. So, these small steps might have never been performed by anyone else before. It can make even these tiny steps a hurdle. It can be really rewarding to overcome and one day you just look up and see everything you’ve done so far.

 

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: I am a low-income student. I always wanted to be involved in research, but I had to prioritize working and earning money over getting started right away. It can be very intimidating to be so tired from working or studying and being told by a professor that they require a minimum of 15 hours a week in the lab. I saved up some money and cut back on my hours and found a professor who wanted to help me instead of monopolizing my time. You should always be willing to shop around for a mentor to find the best compromise and balance your priorities.

 

Q: What do you like most about your project?

A: I really appreciate seeing the fruits of my labor. Sometimes when you spend a long time on a study, you don’t gather any official data while you're conducting the study and it’s easy to worry that you might not be doing a good job. Then you end the study and you see the data analysis come in and the data makes sense. That’s one of the best feelings to have.

 

Q: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to get involved in research?

A: It’s nothing like what you’ve ever done before in your education. You are really in uncharted territory at all times. You should try very hard not to get discouraged. Sometimes it will feel like you failed, but learning what doesn’t work for your project is forward progress.

 

Q: How do you spend your time when you're not working on your research?

A: I’m currently in a YouTube hole. I try to make some time for friends whenever I can. I’m also spending a lot of my time right now as a senior looking at graduate schools and at going to more academic conferences while I can.


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