Undergraduate Research Program

Sophia Mar

Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Benjamin Land, Pharmacology

Contact: sophmar@uw.edu

Current research project: Alternative Behavioral Models of Chronic Pain

Sophia is a junior at the University of Washington studying Biochemistry. She has been working with Dr. Benjamin Land studying the intersection of cannabinoids and opioids in the context of pain and addiction. Her current research topic focuses on behavioral models of chronic pain. Sophia also serves on the Grey Matters Journal Leadership Team, an undergraduate neuroscience journal with the goal of bridging the gap between neuroscience and the general public. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in research and medicine, where she hopes to continue studying pain and addiction. In her free time, Sophia enjoys reading, cooking & baking, and spending time with family and friends.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Pain assessment methods predominantly focus on quantifying the direct pain experience. In chronic pain states, there is the added impact of pain on daily function and quality of life. My research aims to develop a model for observing the change in typical behaviors in chronic pain states. Beyond this project, the Land Lab looks at the intersection of opiates and cannabinoids in the realm of pain and addiction.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I realized I was interested in Pain Medicine after taking Intro to Neuroscience (Biol 130) and the Biology of Drugs (Biol 105) in spring of my freshman year. After reading a lot of papers on pain research, I found one by my current mentor Dr. Land. When I reached out to him about opportunities he had happened to be expanding the very project I’d read about. I joined and have been working in his lab since January 2021. The abundance of research opportunities at UW played a significant part in my decision to eventually attend this university. Research was an area I knew I wanted to pursue because it teaches an aspect of critical thinking not traditionally available in a classroom setting while also applying textbook concepts in real world settings. I hope this aspect of my undergraduate career will allow me to both deepen my understanding and contribute to the broader scientific community.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Find what you love! The sheer abundance of research opportunities at UW can be overwhelming. Take the time to explore what you like – just as you would for your major – and really dig into those topics. This can significantly improve the outcome of your future research experiences as your passion will motivate you. Professors and post-docs can are looking for students who are curious and driven. When you love the topic they’re researching, they can tell and are excited to take you on and train you.