“I did not expect so much freedom, and I am grateful that I am able to explore methods of epidemiological research using my own strategies.”
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Leanne Field, Biological Sciences
Briefly describe your research project.
I am interning for the Immunization Unit at Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department (ATCHHSD) and am investigating how local health departments across the United States vaccinate their communities. I plan to make best practices recommendations to the Immunization Unit and Flu Committee at the end of the semester, hopefully to improve outcomes in future flu seasons.
What was the most rewarding part of your research experience?
Using what I’ve learned in the classroom and applying it to independent research has been immensely gratifying. But perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my public health research is that it takes place in a real public health setting.
How has participating in research affected your undergraduate experience?
Research inevitably involves failures while seeking results. I have grown to be more patient as a person by experiencing obstacles during my research project. I also have grown more curious about science after seeing how immunization plays such a large role in preventing diseases and maintaining a community’s health.
What surprised you during the research process?
I initially thought that undergraduate research involved completing tasks dictated by a higher authority (graduate student, professor, etc). While I must still follow guidelines from my research mentor, I have had so much independence to complete my research in the most efficient manner. I did not expect so much freedom, and I am grateful that I am able to explore methods of epidemiological research using my own strategies.
What advice would you give to incoming and current students about getting involved in research?
It’s something that you have to try. When I arrived at UT, I had no idea what research entailed; the idea seemed nebulous. However, once I tried it, I loved it. If you haven’t started research, you shouldn’t be intimidated to approach a professor whose research you find interesting.
Research Week showcases the exciting work of undergraduates across campus and highlights opportunities for students interested in getting involved. Co-sponsored by the Senate of College Councils and the School of Undergraduate Studies, Research Week takes place April 15-19 this year. Take a look at the online schedule of events to find out more about Research Week events.