Human Science Senior Builds Research Skills Through Presentation and Publication

Posted in News Story

November 6, 2019 – Sara Misiukiewicz (NHS’20), a human science major, says she has grown through her undergraduate research experience under the mentorship of Dr. Joanna Kitlinska, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular & cellular biology, and Dr. Jason Tilan, associate professor of human science.

Human science senior Sara Misiukiewicz (NHS’20) stands in front of trees and a stone wall near St. Mary's Hall.
Human science senior Sara Misiukiewicz (NHS’20)

For example, she has had the opportunity to publish with the faculty investigators. (See citation: Krawczyk, E., Hong, S. H., Galli, S., Trinh, E., Wietlisbach, L., Misiukiewicz, S. F.,  Tilan, J. U., Chen, Y .S., Schlegel, R., & Kitlinska, J. [2019]. Murine neuroblastoma cell lines developed by conditional reprogramming preserve heterogeneous phenotypes observed in vivo. Laboratory Investigation.)

And just last month, she was invited to present her research at a meeting of the Greater Washington DC Area Chapter of the American Physiological Society. Six individuals, from all of the abstracts submitted, were invited to deliver oral presentations. Misiukiewicz was the only undergraduate presenter. 

Question: Where did you grow up, and how did you discover Georgetown?

Misiukiewicz: I grew up in New Jersey. I discovered the human science major at Georgetown after my freshman year in college. I was really interested in studying biology, but I wanted to learn more about its application to human health and disease. I decided to transfer to Georgetown in the fall of 2017. 

Question: Tell us about how you got involved in research at Georgetown and the event at which you presented.

Misiukiewicz: I got involved in research by speaking with multiple human science faculty who helped me find a lab investigating something I was interested in. I joined the Kitlinska lab (PI: Dr. Joanna Kitlinska) under the guidance of one of my human science professors, Dr. Jason Tilan, after my first semester on campus, which was my sophomore year. When speaking with Dr. Tilan, I was excited that as an undergraduate, I would have the opportunity to be involved in pediatric cancer research. My project is focused on understanding how Ewing Sarcoma invades and spreads through nerves.  

Human science senior Sara Misiukiewicz (NHS’20) delivering an oral presentation in front of a projection screen with an image and the title, "Cancer and the Nerves."
Misiukiewicz presents her work.

On October 28, I was selected to give an oral presentation at the Greater Washington Area American Physiological Society (dmvCAPS) meeting based on my abstract submission. Last year, I attended this conference, and it was my first poster presentation. Returning back to the same conference, this time to give a formal presentation, was really exciting because I was able to reflect on how I have grown as a researcher and presenter. 

Question: How are you enjoying Georgetown and the human science major?

Misiukiewicz: The human science major has connected me to so many intelligent and kind people who have fostered my academic growth in ways I did not think possible. The opportunities available in the human science major are so unique because of the dedication the professors have for seeing students learn and excel in and out of the classroom. 

The support I have received and the strong science background I have obtained through my core human science and pre-med classes have allowed me to dive further into my academic interests. This semester I am taking the upper-level human science elective, Cell Biology of Cancer (HSCI-369), taught by Dr. Alex Theos. I have enjoyed applying my research in this class and expanding my understanding of cancer by reading, discussing, and writing about primary literature.

In my junior year, I was able to work on my research project for course credit in the Department of Human Science. This opportunity was extremely valuable for me as I was able to devote more time to my research on Ewing Sarcoma, which helped me generate data that will help to support my honors thesis. 

Question: Tell us a bit about your time at Georgetown, including your activities.

Misiukiewicz: Since joining the lab, I have been encouraged to pursue many opportunities to present my research. Aside from dmvCAPS, I have presented posters at Georgetown’s Undergraduate Research Conference in the spring of 2019, the American Association of Cancer Research’s student caucus in the spring of 2019 (Atlanta, Georgia), and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital National Symposium of Undergraduate Research in the summer of 2019 (Memphis, Tennessee). 

Outside of lab, I was able to volunteer in the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s child life unit. This semester I am a teaching assistant for the human science Genetics of Health and Disease course (HSCI-355). In my free time, you can usually find me at Yates Field House.

Question: What are you thinking about after Georgetown?

Misiukiewicz: I am taking a gap year and planning to apply to medical school in the 2020 admission cycle.