Undergraduate Research Program

Scan Design Innovations in Pain Research Program Students

2021 Scan Design Innovations in Pain Research Program Students


Mariam Benazouz

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Emily Law

Mariam is a senior at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Bioengineering. This summer, she is working with Dr. Emily Law in the Palermo Lab. Mariam is conducting research that focuses on improving treatment outcomes for children with chronic pain using cognitive behavioral therapy. In this way, children and families can cope with the pain in a healthier way that allows them to maintain a high quality of life. In her free time, she enjoys learning languages, biking, and spending time with her family.

Zoe Lu Chau

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Kushang Patel

Zoe is a rising junior at the University of Washington majoring in bioengineering. This summer, Zoe is working with Dr. Kushang Patel in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine to assess movement-evoked pain in older adults with knee osteoarthritis through the development and piloting of a study protocol. She is especially excited to gain insight into the clinical aspect of pain research. During the school year, Zoe works in the Lai Lab to develop oligonucleotide cascade reactions that profile and isolate breast cancer-specific exosomes with the purpose of better understanding the biological mechanisms behind breast cancer drug resistance. In addition, she is involved in the EPE program to provide first-year engineering students the tools and resources needed to explore engineering at the UW. Outside of school, Zoe enjoys volunteering, learning new languages, and playing the piano. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine and help improve biotechnology via the intersection of research and healthcare.

Victoria Peng Yu Chen

Victoria smiling for the cameraInstitution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Tonya Palermo

Victoria is a sophomore majoring at the University of Washington majoring in Psychology and Biochemistry. This summer, she is working with Dr. Tonya Palermo on a web-based cognitive behavioral early intervention for pain and response management for parents with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and their children who may be at risk for FAPD (functional abdominal pain disorder). In general, the Palermo team specializes in constructing cognitive-behavioral interventions for a number of pain conditions and uses clinical research to organize necessary skills for pediatric pain management and resilience building. Outside of the lab, Victoria enjoys reading and watching psychological thriller, playing the cello, bullet journaling, and mental health advocacy and education. After graduation, Victoria intends to pursue a career in medicine with a focus on developmental psychiatry, using the knowledge from collected experiences to lead future CBT-based projects and continue with pain research.

Grace Gordon

Grace Gordon smiling for the camera

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Rabbitts

Grace is a junior at the University of Washington pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Physiology) with a minor in Global Health. She is working with Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts this summer studying pediatric post-operative pain trajectories as well as researching adolescents’ perspectives on using prescription pain medicines. She is excited to gain experience in clinical research and learn more about how children transition from acute to chronic pain. In the future, she hopes to attend medical school and work as a pediatric surgeon while addressing healthcare inequities. In her free time, Grace enjoys hiking, listening to music, and spending time with her friends, family, and pets.


Sophia Mar

Sophia smiling and posing for the camear

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Benjamin Land

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. This summer, Sophia will focus her research on behavioral models of chronic pain. During the school year, Sophia 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, eating good food, and spending time with family and friends.

Kat Motovilov

Kat smiling for the cameraInstitution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Michael Bruchas

Kat Motovilov is a senior at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Bioengineering with a minor in Neural Computational Engineering. This summer she is working in Dr. Michael Bruchas’s lab under the guidance of postdoctoral fellow Dr. Kasey Given. Her work focuses on characterizing the role of neuropeptide S in anxiety and drug-seeking behaviors. Outside of the lab, she enjoys going on runs, exploring new places in Seattle, and painting.

Thanh Viet Tran

Thanh smiling for the Camera

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Ajay Dhaka

Thanh is a rising senior at the University of Washington and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. For the past year and this summer, Thanh will be continuing to work with Professor Ajay Dhaka in the Dhaka lab to explore certain chemicals affecting the neural circuitry which establish a positive or negative valence in sensory stimuli using zebrafish as a model system. Thanh previously volunteered at a clinic and worked with a family doctor to help serve the Vietnamese community in Seattle. After graduating, Thanh hopes to pursue a career in the medical field, focusing on helping underprivileged communities around the world. In his free time, he enjoys reading novels, spending time with family and friends, travelling, and listening/playing to music, especially jazz.

Sandra Yang

Sandra smiling in front of the water

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Sean Rundell

Sandra is a rising senior at UW, pursuing a B.S. in psychology. Her experience working as a Rehabilitation Technician at ATI Physical Therapy and coursework in physiology, biopsychology, and statistics has cultivated her interest in pain research. Previously, Sandra has worked in the Sisneros Lab as an undergraduate field researcher, studying the association between sound source localization and mating behavior in plainfin midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus). This summer she is working with Dr. Sean Rundell on his new PROSPECTS study that is concerned with learning more about lumbar spinal stenosis with the goal of developing a clinically useful predictive model for long-term function in older adults receiving non-surgical care. She is looking forward to gaining a more nuanced understanding of the lifestyle factors that impact chronic pain and what treatments are most cost-effective. In her free time, Sandra enjoys working out, experimenting in the kitchen, and discussing a recent podcast or book with friends. She hopes to further her education in graduate or physical therapy school.



2016 Participants





Benefits of research

Participating in undergraduate research can provide opportunities for you to:

  • Work one-on-one with faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers
  • Contribute to the creation of new knowledge
  • Sharpen your critical and analytical thinking skills
  • Complement and extend your classroom learning
  • Enhance your confidence in your abilities
  • Prepare for graduate-level study
  • Explore your interests and clarify your career goals

Some of the greatest benefits of being involved in research is the insight it gives you on:

  • How to learn
  • How new knowledge is created
  • What you can accomplish when actively engaging your own research questions

Deciding on research

“Research has helped me connect more surely with my strengths and weaknesses; I have changed my majors to better reflect my passions.”
– Athena Canones Epilepsia (Technical Communication)

Before getting involved in a research project with a faculty, consider your goals, interests, and time commitments.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I hope to gain through my research experience?
  • What are my interests?
  • What do I know about research in my field?
  • How much time can I realistically commit to working on a research project?
  • Are there particular skills I need to aid me in my research project?
  • Are there courses I should take before doing a particular research project?
  • What type of learning environment do I prefer?

Whether you are ready for research depends on your willingness to take intellectual risks, your interest level, and persistence, in addition to your background knowledge. If you are intellectually curious about a topic and are willing to work hard to learn and master knowledge and new skills, then you are probably ready for a research experience.

Keep in mind that if you are a beginner with few skills, the type of project you can undertake will be limited; however, projects suitable for beginners exist in many disciplines. Also, if you have two quarters or less remaining at UW, it may be too late for you to tackle an ambitious project. So visit the Undergraduate Research Program as soon as possible, no matter what your level of expertise!

To aid students who are deciding on research, the Undergraduate Research Program conducts information sessions on undergraduate research every autumn, winter and spring quarter. Registration for these sessions is recommended.

Also, if you are a faculty or FIG/TRIG leader who would like the URP to conduct an information session for your class, email urp@uw.edu with your preferred dates and times.

About mentoring

Mentoring relationships benefit both undergraduates and faculty, develop over time, and enable:

  • Commitment to scholarly development
  • Engagement in collaborative inquiry

Mentoring relationships also encourage:

  • Positive environments, which encourage questions and foster curiosity
  • Consideration of new or alternative approaches
  • Constructive, reciprocal feedback

And often provide:

  • Guidance for the undergraduate in making important research or related career decisions
  • Oversight of the undergraduate’s research methods and practices
  • Up-to-date knowledge of available resources and funding
  • Support in sharing and publicly presenting research

All of which supports the enjoyment of active participation in research!

Remember: the quality and character of mentoring relationships varies across discipline and academic departments. Factors that influence mentoring relationships include time, experience, individual preferences and skill sets, and the number of research participants.

When selecting a potential mentor, ask yourself:

  • What are my scholarly interests and career goals?
  • What faculty shares my interests?
  • What do I expect from a research mentor?
  • What is my preferred research environment?
  • What type of training do I want?
  • What skills do I want to develop?
  • Who do I enjoy working with?
  • How does mentoring fit into my conception of research?

To answer these questions, you might:

  • Check department web sites and read faculty profiles
  • Visit web sites dedicated to research at UW (e.g., The Office of Research)
  • Drop by during a potential faculty mentor’s office hours to chat about her or his research
  • Read UW faculty publications
  • Email urp@uw.edu to make an appointment to learn more.