The University of Vermont is not just one of the highest-ranked public universities in the USA, but also one of the top research institutions in the nation. Because of the university’s small class sizes, esteemed faculty members, and robust research funding, undergraduate students have access to plentiful research and hands-on learning experiences to help them grow. We sat down with Emma Golden, a philosophy major/biochemistry minor from the USA, who is on the pre-med track, to talk about her research opportunities at UVM.
What is your favorite thing about studying at UVM?
I’ve had amazing professors. The best part of that is the opportunities that come with it. The professors I’ve had, if you show interest in your work then they will meet and talk with you. There are a lot of opportunities. It also isn’t intimidating, you can just walk up to a professor and say ‘I want to learn more about your research, or your book, or about what you are interested in,’ and they will say, ‘I’d love to do that, lets schedule a time!’ There is just so much diversity in the professors I’ve had and the people I’ve met.
How did you get involved in research with Dr. Jessica Heath?
I worked in an analytical chemistry lab in Denver after my freshman year. I never was interested in research. I always thought I’d go to med school and that’s it, but I absolutely loved working in the lab. When I came back, I went to see who was doing research in Pediatric Oncology because that’s what I’m focused on. Dr. Jessica’s work popped up immediately. She is this strong woman studying Pediatric Oncology and is a Pediatric Oncologist. She had a great personality that I really wanted to get to know. I emailed her not even asking to do research with her, but just wanting to learn more. I then met with her and we talked for an hour. She proposed that I take over her undergraduate research role since her previous undergraduate student was graduating. I’ve worked for her for just about a year and I’ve loved it.
What impact do you hope your research will have? What motivates you to do the work you do?
That’s a good question. It is hard with the research I’m doing because I could help develop a chemotherapy treatment that will change treatment. Obviously, I want to make a difference in the cancer world. You never know though with research if that will be how it works out. I hope to make some sort of impact. I hope to show that there is a procedure you can do to study stem cell proliferation. I just want to leave a mark that helps people in the future. Cancer is a big thing and there is so much that can go right with studying it and so much that can go wrong with studying it. I just hope to make some sort of a change in helping to progress the movement towards beating cancer.
What have been the most challenging parts about doing research during your studies at UVM?
The most challenging thing about my studies is just reminding myself that I’m doing my best and I can’t compare myself to others. Doing your best will be enough.
Research wise, the hardest thing is facing my failures and moving on from them. I’ve learned that research is not what we all read. We read the positive things, but there is a lot of failure. You learn from that failure and ask ‘what can I change?’ ‘Where can I go from here?’ And ‘how can I make this bad result into something that matters?’
Find out about our pathways to study at the University of Vermont