CSURF

Jaime Randise ('15, Biology)

Jamie RandiseWhat do you do for your undergraduate research?

With the support of Dr. Kiser, we are working towards finding nose and throat carriage rates for Staphylococcus aureus in undergraduate nursing students at UNCW. In this procedure we are collecting nose and throat swab samples from nursing students during their time in the nursing school. Over the course of completing nursing school, students are required to participate in clinicals, which put them at risk of becoming carriers of S. aureus. With data collected over the past three semesters, we can study whether the participants acquired carriage, lost carriage or had no change of carriage of Staphylococcus aureus. Furthermore, we are able to test if the strain of S. aureus is Methicillin resistant, also known as MRSA. After isolating the colonies of S. aureus, we are then able to perform PCR analyses. These tests are able to confirm the identity of Staphylococcus aureus and more specifically MRSA. MRSA contains a cytotoxic gene that we are also able to isolate in PCR. The data from both parts of the study were used to comprehensively examine the carriage of S. aureus in UNCW nursing students.

What made you want to pursue an undergraduate research project?

I've always enjoyed labs associated with biology courses. What differs with independent research from normal labs is the freedom that comes with it. The time that you invest in your research is reflected in your results. Additionally, the hands-on aspect is very appealing to me, so I was open to any opportunities that included this.

How did you start your research project?

Getting involved in undergraduate research was highly recommended by my advisor. After the idea was planted, I took off with it by contacting my advisor, Dr. Kiser, and he was happy to have me in his lab group.

Was doing your own research fun? Be Honest.

I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent working on this research project. Not only was it a great learning experience, but also a time to realize how much I enjoy research. Being able to travel to conferences gave me even more of an incentive to work harder, and being able to travel to cities I have never been before was very rewarding!

It isn't required to do research as an undergrad, so what advantages do you think this experience has provided you?

The most obvious advantage to participating in this experience is the learning. While many labs give an overview of basic techniques, this lab allowed me to learn lab techniques that I had never used before. I was also able to combine techniques I learned in separate lab courses into one effort.

This was also a great learning experience for myself too. I considered myself to be pretty good at time management and organization to begin with. It can easily be said that those skills improved during my time doing research. Communication is also important among lab mates and your advisor.

What recognition and/or grants did you receive for your research?

I received a CSURF Research Supplies Grant for the Spring 2015 semester that allowed us to buy supplies for this project. Also I received a CSURF Travel Award, which enables me to attend and present at conferences. I will be travelling to the CAA Undergraduate Research Conference in Philadelphia, PA (March 2015) and the American Society for Microbiology General Meeting in New Orleans, LA (May 2015).

What are your plans after you receive your degree from UNCW?

In the next year I plan on applying to graduate school programs that focus on biomedical science.

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