Alex Pronko | Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Center

Alex Pronko

Alex Pronko

Department: Biology

Faculty Mentor: Miriam Ashley-Ross

When you entered Wake Forest as a first-year student, did you anticipate being able to pursue research with a faculty member?

No, I actually did not know about undergraduate research opportunities at Wake Forest until Sophomore year.

How and when did you learn about mentored research and the URECA Center?

Sophomore year my academic advisor informed me about the opportunity to work with the URECA center. I began conducting research fall of my junior year and received a stipend the summer after to further pursue my project.

What led you to become involved in research as an undergraduate?

In order to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biology, you have to take a course in research methods. It was during this class that I met my faculty advisor, Dr. Ashley-Ross. I wanted to conduct a study in biology and loved working with animal test subjects. Currently, we are studying a rare type of fish that is able to breathe and walk on land for up to three weeks.

Can you describe the relationship you have had with some of your faculty members?  What did you learn?  How did you learn that?

Dr. Ashley-Ross is very easy to talk to; I meet with her at least once a week, if not more. I also worked very closely with a graduate student over the summer, and he and I still see each other two to three times a week. They have both taught me a lot about patience as well as the basics of conducting scientific research.

How has URECA influenced your ideas about scholarship and your life passions or work?

URECA funded my research over the summer, which made me feel that what I was doing mattered. Although I performed studies during the semester, being offered a stipend gave meaning and inspiration to my work.

Is there anything else you would like to say about your experience doing mentored research?

It has been a great experience. Wake Forest provides many resources through URECA for students to pursue research. I am actually flying out to San Francisco in January to present my findings at the SIFB National Conference.