Undergraduate Research Program

Meena Meyyappan

: Neurobiology
Mentor: Jennifer Rabbitts, Pain Medicine

Contact: alagumee@uw.edu

Current research project: Learning, Equipping and Preparing for Surgery: An Online Peri-Operative Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Adolescents and Parents



Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance

Surgery can be a very confusing and demanding time for adolescents and parents especially major surgeries such as spinal fusions. There is a high risk for post-operative development of chronic pain (pain lasting more than 3 months) after these major surgeries. The current standard of pain follow-up is not adequate enough for these adolescents. The purpose of this study is develop a peri-operative program administered to adolescents undergoing major surgery and their parents to better equip them for what to expect in surgery and pain management and recovery post-operation.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I started research as a sophomore in winter quarter working for a psychology lab that studied the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder using different technology. After working in this lab for two quarters I participated in the Scan Design: Innovations in Pain Research program through the UW. After an intensive summer this program I fell in love with my research in pediatric pain and decided to continue doing it there. I’ve now been a member of the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab at Seattle Children’s for 1.5 years. I initially started doing research because it was a resource that UW offered me that I wanted to try and take advantage of while I had the opportunity. I figured if I didn’t like it, I could always stop. I ended up loving the application of knowledge and community of researchers I worked alongside.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?

As an undergraduate, it’s easy to feel like you are not a member of your research group and that it is not your place to speak up or ask questions but I highly encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and do exactly that. Slowly you will start to gain the trust of other research members and your curiosity will shine through. This will open up a door of many more possibilities for you to do more independent research, apply for scholarships and be involved in publications and presentations.