Meet Jamie Georgelos ’19 (CLAS), an OUR Peer Research Ambassador (PRA) majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology.
What is the focus of your research/creative activity?
The healthy human gut is host to a community teeming with beneficial bacteria. These help us break down food, protect us from disease, and produce some of the compounds our bodies need to function correctly. When people take too many antibiotics, they wipe out these beneficial bacteria and are more susceptible to infection. My current research is focused on identifying probiotics effective in combating bacterial infections of the gut. Once identified, I am working to determine the mechanisms the probiotics use to defend the human body, which may include secreting antimicrobial compounds, affecting the acidity of the intestines, and changing gene regulation in infective strains of bacteria.
Why did you get involved in research/creative activity?
I originally got involved in research because, as a pre-med student, I thought I had to. Because I thought I was being forced into research, I took the first available position I could find. I was dispassionate about my research, and I found I was very unhappy. I left the lab, thinking the world of research wasn’t for me. When I started to learn more about microbiology in my classes, I couldn’t seem to get enough. I would stay after class to ask the professor questions, and I started to think about how certain strains of bacteria could even be used to combat issues like obesity and malnutrition. I knew the only way to keep asking questions like this was to get involved in research again. I found a lab on campus that matched my interests, and I’ve been happily asking questions ever since!
What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?
Don’t forget to give yourself time to discover, and rediscover, your interests and passions. Before I settled into my microbiology work, I had a new life passion every semester! It was by figuring out what I didn’t like, both in research, classes, and even work environments, that I could find something that would keep my passions alive in the long run.
What do you enjoy the most about participating in research/creative activity?
Research lets me explore more than anything else has in my undergrad career. When I run into obstacles, I get to problem solve, think creatively, and come up with new solutions as part of a team. This team is full of people much more qualified and educated than I am, which gives me the opportunity to grow in a supportive environment with people who are eager to guide my research.
Describe the impact your research experience/creative activity has had on you.
By getting involved in research, I’ve been encouraged to leave my comfort zone. Starting with talking to professors, to developing a relationship with them, I’ve had to improve my interpersonal skills. In working with mentors, I have learned how to ask for the resources I need while still maintaining my independence.