Nov. 13, 2014
OKSTARS high school intern presents study at Citywide Research Day
Union High School student Monica Venkatesha was thinking she might be interested in a science career, and a summer internship at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences solidified that goal.
“Completing a college internship helped me explore different areas of sciences I might want to go into,” she said prior to presenting research at the Citywide Research Day at Tulsa Community College.
As a participant in OSU-CHS’ Oklahoma Science Training and Research Students (OKSTARS) program, Venkatesha had the opportunity to complete a behavioral study and share her results at Tulsa’s Citywide Research Day.
“The OKSTARS interns are immersed in a research atmosphere that is usually reserved for graduate students,” said Nedra Wilson, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and cell biology and coordinator of OKSTARS and Native STARS. “They have the opportunity to work with our world-class faculty and make their own scientific discoveries.”
OKSTARS provides high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research in biomedical and forensic sciences.
Venkatesha worked with Kathleen Curtis, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology, exploring how stress impacts dietary decisions. Other researchers on the project included OSU-CHS biomedical graduate students Charissa Raymond and Dusti Sloan. The project focused on whether stress influences foods choices and if decisions varied by gender.
“Given the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and increasing daily stress we all seem to have to deal with, we are very interested in whether men and women choose the same ‘comfort foods’ when they are stressed,” said Curtis. “But even more broadly, learning about how stress affects food preferences may help us to understand why people eat what they do.”
Venkatesha helped conduct a survey of human food preferences and a complementary behavioral study in rats. Both projects involved collecting and organizing data, determine averages and variances and generating graphs to illustrate the findings.
At research day, she participated in a poster session then presented the findings before a group of college professors, researchers and students.
The second Citywide Research Day was hosted by Tulsa Research Partners at the TCC Center for Creativity. Both OSU-CHS and OSU-Tulsa are Tulsa Research Partners member institutions.