Blog Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

Reaching the Summer Research Program halfway point: Progress and looking ahead

Written by Sela Lewis, BA candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, and participant in the 2023 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program

Medical imaging of the brain | Photo: Pexel

The Institute for Public Health Summer Research ProgramAging and Neurological Diseases track has so far, been an incredible experience. I am working in the Participation, Environment, and Performance Lab (PEPL) under the guidance of Professor Susan Stark, PhD. My focus this summer has been analyzing pilot data to support revision of an innovative, community engaged research project.

I have grown as both a scientist and student. As a scientist, I have learned new skills in analysis and presenting. As a challenge posed by Professor Stark, the students in the lab will present their preliminary research posters at the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center poster session. I look forward to this opportunity to share my findings and results with scientists from a variety of research interests.

As a student, I have found the seminars for the Aging and Neurological Diseases track interesting and informative. One of my favorites was a talk given by Mychal Vorhees, senior health communication and training specialist at WashU’s Becker Medical Library. Health communication is vital for patients and clinical research participants to understand their health information. Although everyone deserves to understand health information, most communication is written high above the average adult’s reading level. From this talk, I learned different ways to simplify sentences and use plain language in my daily communication. Consciously recognizing lapses in communication is important for representative health care. Attending this talk taught me skills I applied when making my poster, and skills I will continue to use in my career as a scientist.

Although I am halfway through my summer research experience, I am grateful for all that I have learned and will continue to learn.