Faculty Mentor: Patricia Wilson
When you entered Wake Forest as a first-year student, did you anticipate being able to pursue research with a faculty member?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I came with anticipation of doing research here. I hadn’t even thought that research was something that I would be interested in pursuing. However, during my freshmen year at another institution I picked up a TIME magazine about a piece on Regenerative Medicine and how they researchers had just created an artificial heart from stem cells. It really caught my interest, and I began looking more into this field and realized that Wake Forest had a renowned program. When transferring schools, I took this into consideration. Once here, I was really impressed with Dr. Wilson and Dr. Atala and the Institute of Regenerative Medicine and this really fueled all the work I have done here.
How and when did you learn about mentored research and the URECA Center?
I have had connections with the URECA center for the past two summers. I did a Richter fellowship after my sophomore year in Nepal where I studied the influence of the caste system on health care services. Also, after my junior year, I did the faculty mentor fellowship to study the properties of multinucleated amniotic cells. I learned about the Richter fellowship and the URECA center from a friend who had been previously involved with the center.
What led you to become involved in research as an undergraduate?
I never thought that I would be interested in research but the Institute of Regenerative medicine at Wake is incredible. I specifically had an interest with neuronal regeneration, which led me to Dr. Wilson. I read many of her published papers and met with her and we really connected well. She has been an incredible mentor and I can attribute all my accomplishments in research to her and her patience.
Can you describe the relationship you have had with some of your faculty members? What did you learn? How did you learn that?
The relationships I have had with faculty members have been invaluable. The most important thing that I’ve learned is to not be afraid to ask challenging questions. My interaction with Dr. Dan Johnson at Wake Forest specifically has made an influence on the way I think and process information. His class on the Biology of Aging and Cancer biology rekindled my passion in the future of medicine and how we must always be asking questions and challenging assumed theories to move forward in science.
How has URECA influenced your ideas about scholarship and your life passions or work?
URECA has really helped me capture the essence of what it means to attend a liberal arts institution. I’ve been able to partake in the humanities through my research in Nepal and delve in the sciences through work in Regenerative medicine. Through URECA, I have become a more globally aware person, as well as a more inquisitive person. It’s expanded the way I think about the world and academia. It’s also made me much more passionate in pursuing a career centered on the combining of research and clinical medicine.
Is there anything else you would like to say about your experience doing mentored research?
I’ve had such an amazing time at Wake Forest and I can’t thank URECA enough for providing them for me. I’m going to Duke this weekend to present at SNCURCS and I couldn’t be more proud to be a Demon Deacon!