Fishing for a Shark: A Fin-tastic Research Opportunity

Amanda Brooks, PhD,
Director of Research and Scholarly Activity

On October 1st, Amanda Brooks, PhD, Director of Research and Scholarly Activity at RVU, lead a virtual Shark Tank event open to students from both campuses. This was a jaw-some opportunity for 13 students to present their research idea to five faculty “Sharks” in anticipation of gaining a mentorship. Each student had seven minutes to present, ask and answer questions. After each presentation the Sharks would comment on the research idea and either offer or decline their mentorship. If two or more Sharks extended an offer, the student could decide which offer they wanted to accept. There were over 60 participants who observed the presentations, and if a student didn’t receive an offer of mentorship, there were other faculty in attendance who offered their assistance via the chat.

Faculty Sharks, doo, doo, doo

Sharks searching for the right mentee

Rachel Linger, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology. Prior to RVU, she spent 15 years working in biomedical research which included immunofluorescent staining of cultured hippocampal neurons, electrophysiology, and western blotting. She completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Cancer Research and is currently interested in medical education research, the affects of different teaching methods on student performance, and how curricular offerings impact student perceptions or stigmatized populations.

Dan Brooks, PhD, Assistant Program Director and Assistant Director of the MSBS program. His research background is in Protein Biochemistry with focuses on vaccines, drug targets, protein interactions, and bone void filler. He is currently helping other students on researching drug targets for microbes, vaccines, anti-drug antibodies, Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), D&I training, vaccine confidence in Latinx communities, and orthopedics.

Nena Mason, PhD, Director of Gross Anatomy, and Co-Director of Anatomy Fellowship. Each year, she works with roughly 30 students on eight to ten research projects. Her work focuses on innovative ways to use ultrasounds. In addition, several of her projects have been published and she has been invited to present at global conferences.

James Small MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology and Clinical Career Advisor. In college, he was a famous orthodontia model, and while he was on the Colorado College swimming team, his fraternity gave him a shark fin to help him win more races. He has completed several research projects for a private practice which included but not limited to A Gynecologic Oncology Group Study and Secondary Surgical Cytoreduction for Advanced Ovarian Carcinoma.

Brian Schwartz, PhD, MLIS, Director of Library Services and Associate Professor of Medical Humanities. His publications explore how effective communication skills strengthen empathy with his most recent research project, Teaching the Humanity of Evidence-Based Medicine: informed by the literature, guided by the physician, framed by the patient, receiving a grant. Other research interests include social construction of the doctor-patient relationship.

Shark Tank event via Zoom

The Mentees Receiving Grants

David Brown, OMS II: “The Effect of an Educational Intervention on Vaccination Hesitancy for SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19).” He will be mentored by Dr. Schwartz. SD Brown will be researching the attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccinations and if they can be altered with educational intervention.

Emily Paz, OMS I: “Opioid Epidemic and Safe Consumption Sites.” She choose to be mentored by Dr. Linger after several Sharks expressed their interest. According to SD Paz’s presentation, she wants to compile information from safe consumption sites world-wide and use her research as a resource for future consideration in the US.

Daniel Sullivan, OMS II, Jacob King, OMS III, and Telyn Peterson, OMS III: “Analysis of the Novel 5-Petal Bouquet Vaginal Speculum on Patient Comfort, Visibility of the Cervix, and Ease of Use.” They will be mentored by Dr. Small. The project anticipates to enhance the comfort of patients and offer a more efficient device for doctors to use for Pap-smears.

James Haider, OMS I: “Platelet Count in Anti-coagulated Ischemic Stroke Victims.” He will be mentored by Dr. Mason. When asked why he choose this topic SD Haider answered, “This idea occurred to me when I was working as an EMT prior to coming to medical school, and I’ve been thinking about it since. It’s exciting to be selected and to have the opportunity to pursue this as a formal project.”

Colton Merrill, OMS I, Jason Roe, OMS I, and Kevin Seely, OMS I: Evaluation of Tele-Health in the Treatment of Diabetes.” They will be mentored by Dr. Brooks. According to their presentation they want to find out if, “the telehealth medium is as effective as in-office visits in the care of patients with diabetes.”

Honorable Mentions

Benjamin Gourley, OMS I: “Neurodegenerative Disease’s.” SD Gourley is interested in finding out if sex can be used to treat patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He did not receive a grant, however, Dr.Zhong will be mentoring him.

Nicholas Taylor, OMS III: “Reducing Uninsured Rate in Colorado.” He wants to create pamphlets with a different effective language that would include instructions, application, and potential emails for questions.

Nicole Phan, OMS III and Jenna Buckleitner OMS I: “Sex Determination.” They would like to see if different diets and exercise can statistically increase the odds of producing an offspring that is either male or female.

SD’s Phan’s and SD Buckleitner’s hypothesis statement

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