Throughout my time at the University of Pittsburgh, I have explored a wide variety of research topics ranging from the divestment research with the Pitt Student Government Board to biological sciences research (bacteriophages and epithelial Na+ channel in the kidney) to public health, sociology, and global health research exploring barriers to accessing health care resources for women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) both within the Pittsburgh community and abroad in Ecuador. As a result of these experiences, I have accumulated a lot of knowledge and research skills useful both in the “wet lab” bench research setting as well as a qualitative research setting. I have also written abstracts, and presented my research whenever possible (and I have included links to my presentations and publication below)!

Research Projects

  • Napo, Ecuador (Summer 2019)

    Female IPV Victims and Survivors & Access to Mental Health Care Services

    • This is an IRB-approved, independent research study that I conducted summer of 2019 as an extension of my Ecuador study abroad program.
    • Mentors: 
      • Judy Chang, MD, MPH; Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research, Pitt School of Medicine
      • Noelle Spencer, MPH candidate, Pitt Graduate School of Public Health
    • Stipend: $2500 Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, University of Pittsburgh Nationality Room
    • Background Information:
      • Intimate partner violence (IPV) refers to physical, sexual, psychological harm or threats perpetuated on a sexual, romantic, or committed partner (CDC, 2018).
      • 38% Ecuadorian women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime by an intimate partner (UN Women, 2016).
    • Issue Researched: Access to mental health resources are an unmet need for Ecuadorian women who experience IPV due to stigma surrounding mental illness and a lack of policy for mental health illness screening.
    • Brief Research Methods:
      • I independently conducted eight, one-hour long interviews each in Spanish with female participants based near Tena, Ecuador in the Napo Province.
      • Participants were identified using a key informant and also the snowballing qualitative research technique.
      • Currently: I have assembled a team to help transcribe and translate the recorded interviews, as well as conduct data analysis by developing a codebook.
    • I presented my project and preliminary findings at the Nationality Room Scholarships Showcase poster session.
    • NRP Scholarships Showcase Poster


  • Pittsburgh, USA (Spring 2019)

    Female IPV Victims and Survivors & Access to Reproductive Healthcare

    • Mentors:
      • Judy Chang, MD, MPH; Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research, Pitt School of Medicine
      • Carly O’Connor-Terry, MD Candidate, Clinical Scientist Training Program, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Class of 2021
    • Stipend: 
      • Awarded $1000 THINK Research Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh Honors College
    • Issue Researched: 
      • What kinds of barriers women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) face in accessing reproductive healthcare.
      • Accessing reproductive healthcare is extremely significant for women experiencing IPV, as IPV causes significant medical distress, such as reproductive health issues (STIs, pelvic pain), as well as putting these women at higher risk for reproductive coercion.
    • Brief Research Methods:
      • Transcribed interviews
      • Developed codebook for analysis of qualitative interviews
    • Culminated with project presentation at the end of THINK fellowship.
  • Pittsburgh, USA (Summer 2018 - Spring 2019)

    Contraceptive Counseling

    • Mentors: 
      • Judy Chang, MD, MPH; Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research, Pitt School of Medicine
      • Bhavya Varma, MD Candidate Class of 2020, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
    • Background Information:
      • The US has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the developed word, with 50% of pregnancies being unintended (Dehlendorf et al., 2014).
      • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Office of Population Affairs published a report of recommendations for Providing Quality Family Planning Services in 2014 that specified key information to discuss regarding contraception.
    • Issue researched: 
      • Our goal was to explore discussions surrounding contraceptive counseling between providers and patients and examine whether these counseling conversations follow the CDC recommendations, since few research studies have explored this topic.
  • Pittsburgh, USA (Summer 2017 - 2018)

    Epithelial Na+ Channel Regulation by Biliary Factors

    • Mentor: Ossama Kashlan, PhD, Assistant Professor Medicine, Renal-Electrolyte
    • Stipend: 
      • 1 of 40 students chosen to conduct NIH-funded research ($3000) during a 10 week SURP program at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
    • I began this research as a part of the SURP program, in which my summer research internship project was focused on exploring the following: “Bile Acids Activate ENaC by Increasing Open Probability of Channels Expressed at the Cell Surface”. As a part of this program:
      • Attended weekly Cellular Physiology of Kidney summer course
      • Wrote abstract
      • Gave 10-12 min. PowerPoint presentation at the completion of this program.
    • With the completion of this program, I continued this work into the spring of 2018 and have achieved the following:
      • Publication in The Journal of Biological Chemistry: second author of paper “Murine epithelial sodium (Na+) channel regulation by biliary factors”.
      •  Second author of poster: “The Epithelial Na+ Channel is Regulated by Biliary Components”
        • I was unable to present at this conference, however, our primary project leader presented this poster at the Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego, CA, spring of 2018.
  • Pittsburgh, USA (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)

    SEA-PHAGES Bacteriophage Research Lab

    • Research was completed as part of the Foundations of Biology Sea Phages 1 lab course.
    • Result: discovered and isolated a novel bacteriophage (phage Celestia)
    • Accomplishments: 
      • Poster Presenter at 9th Annual SEA-PHAGES Symposium, Ashburn, VA (Summer 2017)
      • Sponsored at Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus
      • Selected as 1 of 2 representatives of Pitt’s spring 2017 SEA PHAGES program to present poster: “Gordonia phages are highly diverse genetically and exhibit curious patterns in infection of different Gordonia species”
      • Sea Phages Symposium Abstract 16-17
      • SEA-PHAGES Symposium 2017


  • Pittsburgh, USA (Spring of 2017)

    Student Government Board, Divestment Research