Mentor:Dr. Alexander St. John, UW Emergency Medicine
Current research project:Dysregulation of Platelet-von Willebrand Factor Interaction in Trauma-Induced Coagulopathy; Type O Whole Blood and Assessment of Age During Prehospital Resuscitation Trial; Direct Versus Video Laryngoscope Trial
Sarah is a senior Interdisciplinary Honors student majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Chemistry. She works on several different projects in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Harborview Medical Center. She is interested in prehospital care, resuscitation science, and harm reduction strategies for opioid misuse. She hopes to pursue a career with a balance of technical lab work and patient facing interactions. Sarah plans to apply to MD programs after graduation with goals to become a physician scientist and eventually a professor. Outside of her research, Sarah is a UW tour guide and volunteers at the Washington crisis line. She enjoys collecting house plants, spending time with family, and drinking lots of coffee.
Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Hemorrhagic shock is a leading, but preventable, cause of death for many trauma patients. The research projects I work on investigate ways to manage and prevent hemorrhagic shock so that patients have better clinical outcomes. In a severe injury, like a motor vehicle crash or fall, the body might produce unhealthy blood clots that are more damaging than beneficial to the patient. Trauma induced coagulopathy is a severe complication of trauma that alters the mechanism of healthy blood clotting through a number of complex factors. Clots can be too large and difficult to degrade, which can cause dangerous vascular blockages. Conversely, clots can be too weak which can lead to fatal hemorrhaging. My research aims to better understand the mechanism by which this complication occurs so that pharmaceuticals and therapies can be developed.
When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research in the spring of my freshman year. I wanted to translate the knowledge that I learned in the classroom to hands-on work. I utilized the Undergraduate Research Database to find a volunteer lab position in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Even though this was outside of my major department, the Strand Lab combined two of my interests- houseplants and biochemistry! Since then, I have been involved in research in the Epidemiology, Emergency Medicine, and Plant Biology departments.
What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to try! Rejection is difficult and discouraging, but try to remind yourself that the worst thing that can happen is that you get told no. Even if you think you’re underqualified, apply! You might get some important feedback or offered a different position along the way. Ask to meet with people you admire. Even if they don’t have a spot for you in their lab, you’ll be on their radar, learn more about your dream career, and they can point you in the right direction.