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Research experience opens doors for students

September 25, 2014 11:00 AM
Mary Sparacello msparace@tulane.edu
Steven Lam

Steven Lam, a junior, says working in the laboratory of psychiatrist Dr. Stacy Drury during the summer will contribute to his decision of whether to pursue a career in research. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

While most Tulane University students headed home for the summer, Steven Lam and 13 other students spent six weeks on campus, conducting research alongside faculty members.

Lam, a junior, spent part of his summer alongside psychiatrist Dr. Stacy Drury, studying whether post-traumatic stress disorder in children correlates with obesity. The experience could have a lasting impact on Lam"s career plans.

“It was an eye-opener into what working in a lab full time would be like,” says Lam.

He and the other undergraduates were awarded summer research grants through the Newcomb-Tulane College Honors Program.

Lam hopes to attend medical school after graduation and possibly get a PhD, and he says the experience last summer will affect his decision of whether to pursue a career in research.

Undergraduates who work in faculty-sponsored student research said the benefits of working so closely with top professors helped them develop detailed knowledge of research methods in a wide range of majors and fields.

Tulane junior Nina Baumgartner studied how sex hormones affect cognitive behaviors in rats. Her work with Jill Daniel, professor of psychology and neuroscience, has had a meaningful impact on her future.

“This research experience definitely opened a door for me,” says Baumgartner, who is majoring in neuroscience and gender and sexuality studies. She will continue to work in Daniel"s laboratory this school year and do her senior thesis on the research, which solidified her plans to go to graduate school in neuroscience.

“It was an eye-opener into what working in a lab full time would be like.”—

Philanthropic support from Grace and F. Chapman Taylor, a 1982 Tulane graduate, and Harold E. Glass, parent of Jesse Glass a 2008 Tulane graduate, made these research opportunities possible.

“I"m extremely grateful for their generosity to make this experience in full-time research possible,” Baumgartner says, “because it gave me the means to truly begin the journey to my career.”

Other students who received the grants include:
• Haley Butler
• Sean DeClue
• Ross Hunter
• Morgan Evans
• Mohamed Farris Hajmurad
• Sarah Pourali
• Alix Youngblood
• Jennifer Janowsky
• Alexander Kulik
• Alexandra Moody
• Amie Settlecowski
• Zachary Stine

Mary Sparacello is a communications specialist in the Office of Development Communications.