McNair Summer Research 2017 – Shelby Nguyen

On September 1st, twelve McNair Scholars presented the findings of their summer McNair-funded research projects. Each student had 15 minutes to give a power point presentation and to take questions from the audience.

This blogpost features Shelby Nguyen, a junior in Nursing.  It is the third in a series about our summer researchers.

Project Title:  Sexual Dimorphism in TMEM35

Research Mentor:  Dr. Valerie Hedges (formerly of Northern Michigan University, now at Michigan State University)

LOL My Thesis Title:  Sex Changes You

What is one thing that you learned from this research experience?

One thing I learned from this research experience it that you have to be simultaneously structured and adaptable. You have to be organized and a have a thorough research proposal, as well as goals and daily guidelines; however, research does not always go as planned. I once had a tiff with a hamster that made one of the research days go awry, yet with Dr. Hedges’ help we were able to get back on schedule. Also, Dr. Hedges informed me of her departure from NMU one week prior to the official start of my project. However, with timeline changes and with built in emergency time (I started the research project early in case any changes were needed), I successfully completed my project!

What surprised you?

What surprised me was how difficult the literature review was and assembling a finished paper. I have written research papers before, most notably a 24-page research paper on themes in Macbeth and Shakespeare, yet it took a lot of effort, time, and energy to get my plethora of resources organized. For a topic with about 5 published papers, I had about 50 sources to sort through.

What frustrated you?

What frustrated me was that I felt unprepared for the project, and that I was on a learning curve. Dr. Hedges was wonderful and very helpful; however, she could only explain so much to me and I had to do the research and article reviews myself. Trying to cipher through all of the terminology was difficult, especially the graduate level journal articles, but with time and practice, I soon began to understand what I was reading.

Tell us something about your research mentor.

Dr. Hedges, my research mentor, loves coffee! In addition to that fun fact, I really want to say how happy I am to have worked with her. She was a wonderful mentor with me every step of the way. She helped push me as a student, she gave me confidence to work on my own, and she was always there when I needed her.

If you had the project to do over, what would you do differently?

If I had to do the project over, I would not do anything differently! In general, I am happy with my project and would not change a thing about my topic, working with Dr. Hedges, or my paper. Science wise and research wise, I would try and study my topic more and take classes if I could, and I would conduct a study with a larger population size.

Any advice for your fellow McNair Scholars who will do research next summer?

My advice for fellow McNair scholars who will do research next summer is to really keep in contact with your mentor, your McNair advisor, and Heather! There were a number of times I felt that my project wasn’t advancing as fast as I would have liked, but I talked to everyone and it worked out. You need to express your concerns. Also, if possible, pick out a mentor ASAP, get to know them, and discuss potential plans. I had a whole school year and ½ a summer to work with my mentor!

Does this research experience make you more or less likely to apply to graduate school?  Please explain.

This research project doesn’t affect my decision to apply to graduate school in general, but it helped me decide on which graduate school. I still plan on applying to a doctoral program, but I plan on applying to a practice based professional degree instead of a research one. I liked research, but I did not love it and I cannot see myself making this my career.

Is there anyone that you would like to publicly recognize/ thank who helped you with your project?

I would like to thank Dr. Valerie Hedges, Amanda Vanderplow, and the McNair Program at NMU (Heather, Jenny, and Lindsey).