Finding my Niche

Since I was an elementary school student, I have always found science related subjects to be easier to conceptualize because, despite its jargonistic terminology and very detailed concepts, there always seemed to be a straightforward answer. At least with all the basic elementary sciences we were learning, things seemed to be black and white with not very much room for challenging widely known and accepted concepts or abstract thinking (which was actually fine with me at that point in time). As I trek further along my scientific journey, I’ve began to realize that the entire existence of science and research is based on challenging known ideas and pushing the boundaries to explore unknowns. I’ve realized that even as scientists there is still a tremendous amount of information that we still have yet to understand, or even be aware of for that matter.

As an African American woman, I’ve always been aware of the fact that minority groups tend to be more susceptible to different health outcomes simply on the basis of their skin color and background. Now, the mechanisms in which this occurs is a concept that I would like to delve deeper into. Although the research I assisted with last summer was still in the early stages, the end result is to find trends within particular groups of people (race, smokers vs. non-smokers, age, etc.) that would essentially help with the development of a predictive model that could be used to identify the likelihood of a patient being re-intubated following cardiac surgery. This would then help with the development of an interventional oxygen treatment that could hopefully reduce this likelihood in high risk patients. This experience, along with all that I’ve learned in the VU PAECER-SURE program, has increased my interest in being ableto collect data and use various statistical tests to analyze the data which will allow us to discover relationships between certain variables, explore the mechanism of that relationship, and finally tackle that “How?” question. Only then would we be able to have a chance to provide a solution fit to overcome the health discrepancies we see in our country today.

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