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Center for Experiential Learning

Five Recent Grads Reflect on their Research

Every year, dozens of undergraduate researchers graduate from Loyola.  We asked a few of them to reflect on their research experience or one aspect of that experience, and to think about what they got out of it in light of their upcoming plans.  Here's what five 2013 grads had to say.


James Hays (second from right), worked with mentor Dr. Jeffrey Doering (Biology) as a Mulcahy Scholar. Jim researched the genetic roots of cancer and presented his work at national and local conferences, an experience that helped him win acceptance to the Stritch School of Medicine.  Jim was nominated for the for the Outstanding Loyola Undergraduate Research Award.  Jim (second from right above) also presented his work at the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium (CAURS) with several other students from the Doering lab, including (l to r): Nagarjun Batchu, Elena Kurudza, Abigail Strong, and Neil Kuenhle.

“The National Conference on Undergraduate Research provided me with a valuable opportunity to present my research among my college peers, as well as gain observe the research that other undergraduates were performing.  I loved learning about projects that were outside of my particular subject of genetics research; I found the social work and psychology presentations to be more interesting than many of the projects in my field.  Talking with undergraduate researchers from other institutions broadened my understanding of my role as a student researcher, and gave me some insight into the projects and goals we were all pursuing.

Overall, what I will be taking with me as a result of my research experience will be much more than an enhanced appreciation for genetics. I have learned to work with others, and to be careful in my planning, diligent in my observations, and patient in my failures. These lessons will stay with me forever.”



Caleb Norton, a Mulcahy Scholar, conducted research with mentor Dr. Daniel Becker (Chemistry and Biochemistry) on detecting pathogens. 

“As a biology major, my goal was to become involved in a research project at Loyola that paralleled my interests in medicine and human biology.  After enjoying my experience in Organic Chemistry Lab, my TA (Doug Steinman) approached me about becoming involved in research in the Chemistry department under the guidance of Dr. Becker.  After learning more about the project from Doug and Dr. Becker, I realized I was becoming involved in research that would require me to incorporate elements of Biology and Chemistry to further advance the ability to detect pathogens that cause illness in humans.  This experience taught me to appreciate the necessity of interdisciplinary learning and collaboration to promote the advancement of human health.  I believe the lessons I learned from my experience in research will help me in my future career as a physician, especially in the collaborative environment which characterizes the field of health care.”


Melissa Orozco, an RMP and Provost Fellow, conducted research under mentor Dr. Tracy DeHart (Psychology), presented her research on narcissism and relationships at national, regional, and local conferences, won a McNair Summer Research Fellowship, and will soon apply to graduate programs.  Melissa was nominated for the Outstanding Loyola Undergraduate Research Award, and won the Psychology Research Award from the Psychology Department (see above).

“I became involved in Dr. De Hart’s Self and Social Interactions lab after taking her Social Psychology class. During my time in the lab I found several opportunities to expand my research experience through the Research Mentoring Program and Provost Fellowship. My research interests are in the self and romantic relationships, specifically how narcissism affects both of these. I have developed many close friendships and have had many fun moments during my research experience, but by far the best memory is meeting other fellows and presenting at the National Conference for Undergraduate research. I am currently completing a McNair Summer Research Fellowship and will be applying to PhD programs in social psychology in the fall.

This research opportunity not only helped me shape my future plans for graduate school and beyond, but also gave me tools that will help me achieve these future plans. This experience exemplifies the transformative education that Loyola stands for, where people are prepared to better understand the world through research at the same time that they better understand themselves through self-reflection.”



Darshan Thakkar graduated from Loyola this past spring.  Through the Quinlan Honors Program, Darshan gained research experience that will help him in his new job at Grant Thornton.  Above, Darshan presents his work on emerging nations’ healthcare coverage at Loyola’s Undergraduate Research and Engagement Symposium this past spring.

"I recently graduated from Loyola and the Quinlan School of Business, and I will be working in Public Accounting at Grant Thornton in the fall. I got involved in research through the brand new Quinlan Honors Program. One of the expectations within the program was for students to obtain an understanding of the academic side of the business world, and I quickly got involved with a couple of professors through my honors classes. I researched two projects. One project was with a team trying to understand Loyola University and Quinlan students' relative identity perceptions of themselves, their major, and the various schools at Loyola. The other project began as a research paper for an international business class and expanded into my own side project with a professor. I was just too intrigued about the subject to stop trying to answer my initial questions that I continued with the topic after the class was over. I studied healthcare infrastructure in emerging economies, and eventually the paper was published in an undergraduate economics journal. 

As I begin my job in the fall, I know that my research experience will help tremendously in problem-solving, attempting to find answers to questions of my bosses and colleagues, and simply a better understanding of how to approach a complex situation and get results. I would recommend researching to all Loyola undergraduates!" 


Jhanvi Shah received multiple LUROP fellowships to support her research during her time at Loyola, including the Mulcahy Scholarship and the Biology Summer Research Fellowship.  Last year, Jhanvi worked with Dr. Domenic Castignetti (Biology) conducting genetic testing on soil bacteria.  In addition to presenting at the Loyola Undergraduate Research and Engagement Symposium, Jhanvi was accepted to and presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

"I began doing research in microbiology as a freshman at Loyola. And continued to do so for the next 3 years. Through research, I have had the opportunity to travel and present at many symposiums. Research has not only provided me with time management skills, but it has also helped me expand my knowledge beyond horizons. I am now starting Pharmacy School at Midwestern University, and I hope to continue on taking more research projects here as well."



Loyola Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

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