17 Mar Katrina McCoy, 500 Stars Scholar
As a CTSI 500 Stars scholar, I was granted the opportunity to work in the Surgical Oncology lab of Drs. T. Clark Gamblin and Muthusamy Kunnimalaiyaan. I participated in research on RNA interference as a treatment to pancreatic cancer by collecting data on the efficacy through immunoblotting. Through this, I learned about laboratory research, how to compile a scientific poster, and I made connections with other students going into the medical field.
As a returning 500 Stars scholar in the 2018-2019 school year, I was introduced to the Students Understanding Principles of Research Education through Medicine, Engineering, and Science (SUPREMES) program, where I was trained on several in-lab skills and conducted my own research on mental illness in adolescents. The SUPREMES program is led by Dr. Brian Hoffman of the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Physiology at MCW and Marquette University. He taught me scientific research skills, in addition to important workplace skills that I will continue to use in careers to come.
I also worked alongside Dr. Stephen Saunders, the Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Psychology at Marquette University. In our time together, he guided me in a new research project, in which I served as the Principal Investigator. This granted me the opportunity to learn higher level skills of communication, such as submitting my plans to the IRB for approval and conducting in person interviews. In our study titled “High School Mental Health Professionals’ Opinions about Encouraging Students to Seek Mental Health Care”, we analyzed the factors that prevent adolescents with depression and anxiety from seeking professional help, and the measures schools can take to encourage them to seek help. I was excited to present our findings via poster presentation and written scientific manuscript, which I worked diligently to create. While this program session came to an end, I served as a Radiology Technologist Assistant at Froedtert Health over the summer through the 500 Stars Program and the Milwaukee Earn and Learn Program internship.
I now attend school at Marquette University, where I am studying exploratory sciences, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese through the Honors Program on an academic scholarship. I have had a passion for the health sciences my whole life, and the CTSI 500 Stars Program has helped strengthen that interest and connected me with several outstanding faculty, physicians, students, and staff. It has further prepared and inspired my interest in research by teaching me skills to use throughout my journey in higher education, as well as allowing me to explore the varying careers in the field of health sciences.