My name is Tina Wu, and I am a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying the Biological Basis of Behavior (Neuroscience) and Economics. Both my scientific and research interests lie in understanding how the broader environment interacts with individuals’ physiological function and lifestyle to impact their health outcomes.
This summer, I worked with Dr. Jianghong Liu in the School of Nursing and assisted in her work on examining the effects of environmental toxicant exposure on health, behavior, and cognition both in early life and throughout the life course. We worked on two different projects. First, I am helping with a data-related project. Specifically, my role involved analyzing data collected last year during her follow-up study on the Healthy Brain and Behavior cohort. The original study, conducted in 2011-2012, examined the impact of various social and environmental factors, such as heavy metal exposure, on children’s behavior, and how behavior could be improved via nutritional, cognitive, and behavioral interventions. The recent study recruited a subset of the original cohort to assess the long-term outcomes of these interventions on ameliorating the impact of environmental exposures on behavior. Through analysis of this longitudinal data, we hope to better understand the effects of heavy metal exposure on short-term and future health outcomes, both in children and later into adulthood.
Secondly, I’m helping to work on a systematic review. Specifically, we are looking at t was reviewing literature and developing a systematic review on the relationship between air pollution exposure and sleep. Air pollution has been identified as a major public health concern due to its immense impact on the incidence or aggravation of various health outcomes, including respiratory, cardiac, and cognitive complications. Recently, more research has been investigating its effects on sleep, although results have varied. Thus, the goal of the systematic review was to contribute to scientific knowledge by more deeply examine the relationship between exposure to air pollutants and sleep outcomes and summarize the current existing literature.
Through these two projects, I not only developed broad research skills, including data organization, synthesis of research literature, and scholarly writing; but also, I developed some specific content knowledge in air pollution and sleep. Importantly, I developed an appreciation for preventative medicine, all of which will help my future medical career.
In summary, the experience and knowledge I’ve gained through learning from Dr. Liu and participating in the STEER program has affirmed my research interests in how our living situation and its surrounding environment, something many people do not have the resources to change, can impact our future health. Additionally, it has reinforced my desire to pursue medicine and public health as my future career path!