URAD felt like a whirlwind, but I enjoyed every moment of it. Making my poster was a little stressful because some of the data I needed wasn’t received from our partnering University, Northwestern, until a few days before URAD. However, thanks to the efforts of my mentor and my phenomenal graduate assistant we managed to get the poster done and my speech finalized at the last minute. I had such a great experience presenting at URAD and teaching other students about the work I have been doing all year. It was especially interesting to talk with the judges and listen to some of their questions and thoughts on the topic! But by far my favorite moment of URAD was when I was done with my judging time period and was just walking around and noticed a girl reading my poster. I know it’s kinda cheesy but it really meant a lot to me that she was interested enough in my research that she would read the poster without anyone there to explain it to her or “pull” her in. Even though I had a wonderful experience I will say I was very nervous leading up to the event, basically everyone in my lab group could attest to that. But anyway it was all for nothing because I enjoyed myself and felt completely comfortable explaining the project! This year I was selected to be a McKearn Fellow for the 2014-2018 cohort so my next steps with undergraduate research will be this summer! I will be working full time continuing my current project but taking it in a different direction than last time so more conclusive results can be reached.

Being a Research Rookie has been amazing. That’s really all I can say. It completely changed my experience here at NIU my first year and inspired me to continue onto my future career goals. I thanked a lot of people in my last post but want to again that Dr. Gaillard and her entire lab team, but especially Jennifer Tournear. I wouldn’t be here today without her. Most importantly I want to thank Lauren Boddy. She has been an amazing asset and part of the Research Rookies program. She not only answered every question I ever had but even taught me how to arm knit. I am so grateful that I got to meet her, even though it was only for a year. She has inspired me more than anyone this year and I hope when I am her age that I can be as successful and genuine as she is. I wish her all the luck in grad school and look forward to keeping in contact with her as she progresses. Thank you Research Rookies, I will never forget this experience and all the people I have met and had the pleasure of working with.

For the last time, Keep Calm and Research On!

Katie Denius