Thursday, May 4, 2017

Student Leadership Advisory Board Spotlight: Lindsey Vu, UVA ‘19

What research have you been involved with at UVA?
Since my first year, I have been a research assistant in the Clore Emotions Lab with the UVA Psychology Department. Initially, I volunteered in the lab for a few months, to gauge whether or not I had a true interest in research. I soon learned to love everything about it – from waiting on the IRB’s approval, to putting in the hours of labor to conduct research procedures, and finally to performing the data analysis. Through this opportunity I discovered more about my academic interests and learned to effectively work with others towards a common purpose.

I am now also one of the research assistants for the Obstetrics and Neonatal Outcomes Study at the University of Virginia Medical Center. The ultimate goal of this project is to improve pregnancy outcomes for all women by creating a repository of maternal tissue samples linked to maternal and neonatal demographic and clinical information. In this lab, I process biological samples, handle electronic medical records, receive direct patient interaction, and obtain unique clinical experience in a hospital setting. It is a sweet deal, especially since I am considering Obstetrics & Gynecology!

How has joining a research team prepared you for a career in healthcare?
My involvement in research has greatly improved my communication skills. I have learned how to speak effectively to a broad population of patients. I also gained time management skills, since becoming invested in a research project is similar to adding another class to your schedule. My private investigator has also taught me many aspects of health care that cannot be learned from a textbook.

Why do you recommend this opportunity for other UVA undergraduates?
I encourage other undergrads to explore research opportunities, because in addition to further developing your communication, time management, and analytical skills, the project you undertake will have a large impact on the scientific community. While obtaining important interpersonal skills, you also have the opportunity to make a difference and improve our understanding of various processes related to the field of study. In addition, some majors at UVA (such as biology and psychology) allow you to conduct research for credit. I highly recommend doing so because research is a fun and interesting way to obtain credits towards your major.

How does one become involved in research?
The first step is to determine which area of research you would enjoy pursuing. Do your own research. Visit the department’s homepage, where you will find links to all faculty members, and read about the research being conducted at UVA. Once you have narrowed down your interest, create a generic email template containing an introduction of yourself, your interests, and your desire to meet with the faculty advisor to learn more about the project. You will have to send this email to several professors, and it may take time to finally receive a response. In my case, it took me a month before I received a response from Professor Clore, but don’t give up hope! Utilize the resources available through the Undergraduate Research Network including UNLEASH.

Do you plan on incorporating research in your future endeavors?
Yes, during my bridge year I hope to continue conducting clinical research to deepen my experiences and understandings of the medical field and health care. I am currently perusing possible research fellowship options abroad. The great thing about research is that your options are limitless because there is still much the scientific community does not understand. There are many unexplored frontiers.

Hello! My name is Lindsey Vu and I am one of the members-at-large on the Pre-Health Student Leadership Advisory Board. I am currently a third-year undergraduate pursuing a double major in Biology and Psychology on the pre-med track. I was inspired to pursue a medical career by the doctors who treated my ill grandfather when I was young. I saw how the physicians were not only able to treat his pain, but also to ameliorate our worries and concerns. This compassionate, humanistic side of medicine truly enticed me.

On Grounds, I have been involved in several service organizations such as Medical Services, Pet Pals, and Relay for Life. I have also held leadership positions with the Vietnamese Student Association and The BIG Event. However, being involved in research is what I have enjoyed the most throughout my time at UVA.