By: Taylor Eisenstein
Dr. Flaura Winston, Founder and Scientific Director of CIRP, says of the REU program: "The National Science Foundation Injury Science Research Experience for Undergraduates program is a win-win-win-win. A win for students: the intensive training and research experience provides a unique growth opportunity to talented and motivated undergraduates wherein 8 students (competitively chosen from over 300) gain real-world experience as a critical member of an interdisciplinary research team and close mentorship; a win for faculty: brings fresh perspectives to the faculty mentors at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania; a win for the field: brings the best and the brightest to the field of injury prevention; and a win for children: advances in science that can help protect children from injury and help those who are injured recover."
Injury science is a multidisciplinary field. CIRP believes in using a multidisciplinary approach to prevent and treat pediatric injury. During my internship, I was able to observe how multiple disciplines—specifically, engineering, behavioral science, epidemiology, and biostatistics—can come together to solve complex problems. These disciplines formed the foundation of the three cores in the REU program. Interns were assigned to a research project under a specific Principle Investigator (PI) and his or her research team in one of these cores. While I was able to gain experience in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics core, some of my fellow interns worked alongside researchers within the Engineering and Behavioral Science cores.
In the Epidemiology and Biostatistics core, I worked under the mentorship of Dr. Allison Curry, Senior Scientist and Director of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at CIRP@CHOP. Dr. Curry, an Emory alumni, leads the New Jersey Traffic Safety Outcomes Program. She has also led studies regarding the effects of the Graduated Driver Licensing decal provision, in which permit and probationary drivers under age 21 in the state of New Jersey are required to display decals on their license plates. In particular, I worked with Dr. Curry’s research team on a public health epidemiologic study of teen drivers. This research project examined the effects of ADHD on teen driving outcomes. My duties included patient chart abstractions using the Epic electronic health record system and subsequent data input via the Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) database.
Working at CIRP undeniably solidified and improved my research abilities. Being surrounded by influential individuals involved in the research fields I was interested in opened many opportunities for growth as both a student and an individual. Performing chart abstractions provided me with a behind-the-scenes glimpse into patient visits from a doctor’s perspective. I was able to master new technologies and data collection techniques and gain research experience on a research team within a professional environment. Prior to this internship, my knowledge regarding injury science was limited to a lecture from the HLTH 250: Foundations of Global Health class. Perhaps most importantly, my internship expanded this knowledge, especially in regard to its multidisciplinary nature.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number EEC-1460927. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
1. Marsac, M. (2015). The Cellie Coping Kit for Injury: Promoting Children’s Healthy Recovery. Retrieved from https://injury.research.chop.edu/blog/posts/cellie-coping-kit-injury-promoting-children’s-healthy-recovery#.V8mn-laMkhI