Posted on Thursday, March 30, 2023
Senior biology major, Mia Greco, is gearing up to present her research at the annual Undergraduate Research & Arts Celebration (URAC) on April 19. Join her excitement and learn more about her excellence, as well as the opportunity that exists at Westminster through URAC, by reading her answers below. Cheer on Mia and her peers for their passion for research - and learn from their findings - by visiting campus for URAC this year.
Tell me about your college experience so far and why Westminster was the right choice for you.
I have had an absolutely wonderful college experience at Westminster! It is affordable, close to home, and offers a small student: faculty ratio, enriching my learning and research experiences. I have met lifelong friends and built foundational relationships at Westminster. The strong, caring community that surrounds the college is irreplaceable. At Westminster, professors, faculty, coaches, and students are all invested in each other's success, and exhaust all resources to achieve it. Furthermore, I was able to continue my softball career at a competitive, collegiate level that provides me with a comfort of balancing academics and sports as I have done my whole life.
What’s your favorite topic of study? Why does it intrigue you?
My favorite topic of study is human physiology. I have taken a variety of courses covering broad aspects of biology from the level of individual cells and molecules, up to populations and ecosystems. Physiology brings together my favorite aspects of biology and allows me to apply my knowledge to humans. I am interested in understanding the system as a whole, but I enjoy the cellular basis that physiological pathways offer. I am most interested in studying the visual system and learning about how the eyes work to perceive light information and communicate with the brain to integrate signals as images. Visual perception is intriguing to me, as I will be attending Optometry school in the fall of 2023, and would like to build a stronger foundation of my undergraduate knowledge as it applies to my future career.
URAC is coming up – what will you be presenting?
I will be presenting two posters at URAC. In the summer of 2022, I received the Dietz Sullivan Research award and was granted the opportunity to design and conduct my own experiment over a six week period. My study is The Effect of Embryonic Exposure to Ibuprofen on Visual System Development. Here, I address whether Ibuprofen use during pregnancy will have an effect on fetal eye development. The second poster I will be presenting is a project for my A & P II course. It is titled Usher Syndrome: The Imbalance of Hearing and Vision. The information will include the genetic basis of Usher Syndrome, different types, who it affects, and possible treatments for those afflicted.
Who has been the biggest mentor/influence in your success with the project and why?
Dr. Furimksy has been the biggest influence/mentor in my research process. He is the leading advisor on my Honors Board and has been extremely encouraging and helpful since I first asked him to be a part of my research. His shared knowledge and valuable laboratory skills have cultivated my research experience in an enhancing and enjoyable way. He has nominated me for awards to supplement my project and provided me with the opportunity to present my findings at an international biological conference (SICB) in Austin, Texas this past January (2023). Dr. Furimksy has been there every step of the way to explain, guide, and encourage me in my research!
How has Westminster prepared you – through academics, experiential learning, and extracurricular activities – for life after college?
Westminster has unequivocally prepared me for life after college. Since freshman year, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone in the classroom and in front of my peers to challenge and foster communication skills that are critical for the future. Through my involvement in extracurricular activities (softball, peer tutoring, SAAC) I have learned time management skills that allow me to accomplish my tasks/goals in an efficient manner. I have been able to build relationships with professors and faculty members that I can refer to for advice and/or recommendations in the future. Most importantly, my experience at Westminster has given me the confidence to take on any challenge. I have been exposed to courses and subjects that I once felt were impossible to understand and succeed in. However, the professors and faculty at Westminster have instilled in me the critical thinking skills and determined mindset to take on new challenges and chase my dreams!
To learn more about URAC, visit here.