This year, I had the opportunity to continue working as a Research Assistant under the mentorship of Dr. Jianghong Liu in the Family and Community Health department in the School of Nursing through the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships’ Pincus-Magaziner Family Undergraduate Research and Travel Fund from the College Alumni Society. My work primarily focused on a pilot study conducted by Dr. Liu entitled “Omega-3 Fatty Acid Nutritional Intervention Study.”
Last summer, I contributed to the inception of this study under CURF’s Summer Undergraduate Research Group Grant. The main goal of this clinical intervention study was to determine the effects of omega-3, a type of fatty acid commonly found in fish oil, on mother-child relationships, behavior, and health. While these fatty acids are not produced by the human body, they support the growth and lifespan of nervous system cells and been proven to have significant effects on neurodevelopment in children and behavior in adults. Our hypothesis was that an omega-3 supplement, taken daily for 45 days, would decrease childhood behavior problems and improve mother-child relationships in the long-term (3 months after the initial assessment).
In the Fall 2018 semester, I conducted the final set of 3-month follow-up appointments for the study participants. This included a set of questionnaires about both mother and child behavior, to be filled out by the mother, and a cognitive assessment task completed by each participant. After the conclusion of participant interviews, my role shifted to data organization, cleaning, and analysis. Through interacting with other research assistants and attending trainings, I learned how to utilize the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) to conduct various data analyses. While the full set of results have not been obtained yet, I have gained greater insight into interpreting, understanding, and analyzing data.
Because of the various aspects of my role, this experience has provided an immense contribution to my educational experience. I am more confident in embracing tasks in which I have not had experience completing. Through conducting participant interviews, I have grown in interacting with patients and participants. Additionally, due to the demographics of this study, I am assured in my desire to pursue working with children in future profession.