by Catie Meis
As we are now halfway through the spring semester (wow, right?), I thought it might be interesting to share about my research experiences stemming from the Honors Program, since many of you currently are or have been engaged in research either through the FHP Mentor Program or other programs.
My experience began in the Mentor Program, where I began working with Dr. Nastaran Hashemi and her colleague Dr. Reza Montazami, both in mechanical engineering. I was essentially given my own project, tasked with the development of a prototype microfluidic chip for mixing fluids. Dr. Hashemi asked me to submit an abstract to a professional conference pretty early in the semester. Then, about 2 months later, I found out that the abstract had been accepted and Dr. Hashemi would be attending the conference. Most excitingly, I was invited to attend and give the presentation myself!
The rest of the semester and first part of the summer was spent working hard to get results and put together a slide presentation for the professional conference. The week leading up to the conference I put in multiple 10-11 hour days trying to make sure I had best results I could – long, but totally worth it! I attended the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) 2013 Summer Bioengineering Conference at a resort in Sunriver, Oregon at the end of June. I flew out on my own, which was a bit of an adventure in itself, met Dr. Hashemi, and attended the conference for 2 days. The highlight was presenting our research to other professionals (literally the most intimidating audience I have ever faced!) and seeing those professionals interested in our ideas.
Here is a picture of the conference center, where the keynote presentations and large sessions were held (I presented in a different area, but I was so nervous about my presentation that I forgot to have my mentor take my picture! 🙂 ).
Participating in the ASME Bioengineering Conference has definitely been a highlight of my college experience. It really opened my eyes to the wide variety of medical research related to engineering and sparked my interest in pursuing a research career. It was also a great networking and learning experience, and in general a lot of fun! Aside from attending keynote speakers and other research presentations, I enjoyed the great outdoors and delicious food at the resort. Even scientists and researchers like to have fun and socialize! 🙂 After my own presentation was finished (and I could finally relax!), I went for a run out in the Oregon countryside near the resort – it was beautiful!
Since last summer, I have continued research with the same two mentors. Last fall, I had an internship through Ames Lab here at ISU in addition to coursework, and this spring I am beginning my Honors capstone project and working with several great FHP Mentor Program students. I also recently submitted a paper to the Journal of Applied Physics with my mentors. For me, research has become a huge part of who I am and who I want to be, and I have made great faculty connections. So, I encourage everyone to at least give research a try. If you are currently doing research, a little extra time, effort, and curiosity could open up great opportunities. Research can take to you to exciting places!