Personal Statement-REU

I have always been fascinated with human diseases; specifically, the process of research to discover what causes diseases and how to cure them. My interest stems from two very interesting documentaries. In the fifth grade, I watched the first documentary, “Treeman,” about a man inflicted by human papillomavirus. This led me to become captivated with the rarity and range of diseases in our world. My passion was heightened when I watched another documentary in high school. The documentary was on the discovery of angiogenesis and how this influenced tumor growth of cancerous cells in organisms. The video showed the entire process surrounding the making of endostatin, a drug to inhibit angiogenesis. Endostatin was effective in mice, but unfortunately not in humans. This trial illustrated the complexity and limited knowledge we as humans understand about cancer and disease. I desire to further my knowledge in the causes and treatment of diseases, and I truly believe that the University of Iowa’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute can help me achieve these goals.

As a first-year Chemistry BS major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I am currently enrolled in analytical chemistry lecture and lab (a sophomore level course). I have not yet had the opportunity to work in a research lab outside of class, but I have a strong desire to join one. I am excited to learn more about the application of nanoparticles and nanomaterials and their use in the health field. Specifically, I am intrigued to understand how the nanoparticles can be used to deliver drugs to fight diseases.

The three research projects that interest me are under Dr. Aliasger Salem, Dr. Sarah Larsen, and Dr. Jennifer Fiegel. The project most intriguing to me is Applications of Nanoparticles in Gene Delivery under Dr. Salem. This interests me the most because it is looking at minimally invasive drug delivery strategies. The lab is also looking at immunotherapeutic responses against cancer using various application techniques. I am thrilled as this project directly aligns with my research goals of investigating new methods for the treatment of diseases and it will help me explore applicable research for my future career endeavors. The second project, Applications of Porous Nanomaterials in Environmental Remediation, Catalysis and Drug Delivery under Dr. Larsen, is studying zeolite and mesoporous silica nanoparticles. These are being tested for use in drug delivery and imaging. Finally, Applications of Nanoparticles in Drug Delivery to the Lungs under Dr. Fiegel, is looking at targeted drug delivery systems for diseases of the lung. Both of these projects spark my interest as they are focusing on the treatment of diseases and new forms of drug delivery.

Admission into this program will allow me to advance my knowledge in the area of drug delivery and treatment of diseases. I will also gain valuable lab experience outside of the classroom. After participating in this research, it will help me to have a better outlook on what I want to do following my bachelor’s degree, improve my critical thinking skills in the lab and use the new skills to further my research later on, and improve my scientific reading and writing in order to better communicate my results.

My most important career goal is to make an impact on the research of treatment and drug delivery of diseases. In order to do this, I plan on earning a PhD in an area of chemistry and also attending either medical or pharmacy school. This REU will help me explore applicable research for all of my endeavors.

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