Student Research Spotlight

Christina Paulson

PaulsonProgram: B.S. in Nuclear Medicine
Mentor: Jonathan Baldwin, BSRT, CNMT, RT(CT)
Department: Molecular Imaging and Radiation Sciences

My name is Christina Paulson. I am a senior in Nuclear Medicine and will complete my degree in May 2017. Prior to pursuing my bachelor’s degree, I was not very involved in research. My clinical experiences have expanded my knowledge of Nuclear Medicine and have also provided questions that do not have clear answers. With the help of the OUHSC Nuclear Pharmacy and Jonathan Baldwin, I have been able to embark on a research topic that involves the sterile compounding of radiopharmaceuticals.

My current research compares non-sterile gloves bombarded by 70% isopropyl alcohol to sterile bench mark, to establish non-inferiority to sterile gloves used in radiopharmacy compounding. This research study aims to illustrate that non-sterile gloves bombarded by sterile 70% isopropyl alcohol are non-inferior to the USP 797 action limit of greater than 3 colony forming units. The United States Pharmacopeia 797 in 2007 mandated the use of sterile gloves in compounding radiopharmaceuticals. This change increased costs. If non-sterile gloves bombarded with sterile 70% isopropyl alcohol were determined to be above the action limit, nuclear pharmacies that do no currently use sterile gloves for radiopharmaceutical compounding could be asked to further evaluate the risks of using non-sterile gloves bombarded with sterile 70% isopropyl alcohol. However, if non-sterile gloves bombarded with sterile 70% isopropyl alcohol were determined to be below the action limit, nuclear pharmacies could further evaluate the need for sterile gloves.

My professional aspiration is to obtain a career in Nuclear Medicine that enables patients to receive optimal care through radiopharmaceutical innovation. Upon completion of my degree, I plan to use the knowledge and training gained from my classroom and clinical experiences to aid physicians and patients during the diagnosis and treatment process. I hope to create an environment that provides patients with determination and strength for the battles he or she faces medically.

Eunsun Park

Program: Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology
Mentor: Frank Boutsen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders

My name is Eunsun Park. I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and expect to complete my doctoral program in May 2017. I chose a field of speech-language pathology to help and reach a greater diversity of individuals with communication disorders through my novel research findings and teaching  activities.

Our team in the Motor Speech and Prosody Research Lab (MSPRL), directed by my advisor Dr. Frank Boutsen, has conducted various research projects involving prosody (e.g. speech rate, speech rhythm, vocal pitch, intensity, etc.) and eye-movement behavior in normal and disordered populations and presented research findings at multiple local and national conferences. My training in the MSPRL has allowed me to collaborate with experienced lab colleagues, researchers, and clinicians at INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center in Oklahoma City and non-profit organizations like the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma. For my dissertation research, I am investigating eye-movement behaviors and prosody characteristics during oral and silent reading in individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) compared to a healthy age-matched group using an innovative eye-tracking technology.

Upon the completion of my doctoral program, I would like to work at a university where I can conduct research projects regarding motor speech disorders and eye movement patterns and teach students to become competent speech-language pathologists and researchers. I will also advocate in minority communities of the importance of early intervention for speech-language disorders to improve their communication ability and quality of life.

Ashley Brice

Ashley BriceProgram:  M.S. in Nutritional Sciences
Mentor:  Susan B. Sisson, Ph.D., R.D.N., C.H.E.S., F.A.C.S.M.
Department:  Nutritional Sciences

My name is Ashley Brice and I will complete my M.S. in Nutritional Sciences in May 2017. Prior to pursuing my graduate degree, I received a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from OU Health Sciences Center in 2007 and worked as a registered dietitian for eight years in several areas including children with disabilities, oncology, and adult rehabilitation. My clinical experiences have provided both a passion and real-world perspective to my graduate course work and research.

My current project aims to better understand family child care home provider’s experiences with a federally funded food program called the Child and Adult Care Food Program. I collaborated with members from the Oklahoma Department of Education, Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and family child care home providers in the research design and developed quantitative and qualitative questions to help understand where the family child care home providers might need training to help meet new guidelines and best practices recently released. Meeting these best practices is an important step in addressing the higher-than average obesity rate among low-income children in Oklahoma by helping provide healthier food options through the Program.

I will submit my research findings to the College of Allied Health Research Day and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I also plan to disseminate my research findings to my community partners. My future plans are to continue to help address barriers to healthy eating in individuals, families, and communities through research, policy, teaching, and family-centered care.

Nana Safoah Twum-Ampofo, PT, MPH

My name is Nana Safoah Twum-Ampofo. I am a second year
student in the PhD Allied Health, Rehabilitation Science Track program. I
am a physical therapist with experience in pediatric orthopedic and neurorehabilitation. I have a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Ghana. Getting a public health degree afforded me the opportunity to appreciate the importance of interdisciplinary training and collaboration in bringing solutions to patients. My interest in pursuing a career in research comes from my passion in mentoring others to value academic excellence. In addition to my clinical work in Ghana, I organized and facilitated Continuous Professional Education (CPE) workshops and seminars for PTs locally and abroad. 

Under the mentorship of Dr. Kolobe, I have been involved in the Self-Initiated Prone Progression Crawler (SIPPC) research project in the Human Development Research Laboratory. The research team is involved in the integration of robotics and sensor technology with the goal of influencing movement learning in infants with CP and simultaneously measuring performance outcomes. I recently won a scientific achievement award for authoring and presenting an abstract at Graduate Research Education and Technology (GREAT) Symposium, 2016. My abstract about the development of postural control and movement proficiency in infants with or without CP, in achieving prone locomotion using the SIPPC has also been accepted for presentation at a national conference next year. 

My research area of interest is movement learning in infants at risk for neurological disorders. With regards to my dissertation, I will be focusing on the benefits of error-based learning strategies on the acquisition of sitting in infants at risk for cerebral palsy (CP). Sitting represents a key milestone for children. In the first year of life, it allows infants, not only the freedom to explore with their hands, but also some degree of safety if left unattended. For older children it allows them to participate in learning activities required at school. Alleviating barriers to the development sitting is highly imperative for infants with CP in order to facilitate an independent functional life. My work seeks to explore the possibilities of motor skill learning taking advantage of the neuroplastic mechanisms of the young brain. My goal is to continue conducting research and producing evidenced base results for publication and practice. I will also pursue opportunities to mentor students interested in working with families of children with disabilities.

Jacob Smith

Jacob SmithProgram: MS in Medical Dosimetry
Mentor: Stacy Anderson, M.S., CMD, RT(T)
Department: Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences

My name is Jacob Smith and I will complete my M.S. in Medical Dosimetry in May of 2017. Prior to entering the Medical Dosimetry program, I completed my B.S. in Radiation Therapy from the OU Health Sciences Center in 2015. I first began research in 2014 at the Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center working with Dr. Klaas Wierenga through the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) program. This eye-opening experience magnified just how important research is to improving care for patients.

My current research project aims to reduce the incidence of pelvic insufficiency fractures due to radiation treatments in post-menopausal women by justifying an improved, however more expensive treatment technique without disrupting current workflow. I am taking a sample of patients and creating two different treatment plans for each. Various treatment evaluation tools will then be analyzed to find a significant difference in dose between these two techniques. After my research is completed, I will submit it for publication in 2017.  Hopefully, the results of my study will bring attention to pelvic insufficiency fractures and could be used for further research in pelvic bone dose constraints or comparison of other treatment techniques.

Upon completion of the M.S. in Medical Dosimetry program and becoming a Certified Medical Dosimetrist (CMD), I will take the knowledge and skills gained from the many clinic sites I rotated at and the OU Health Sciences Center into the workplace to benefit people suffering from cancer.

Natalie Rothbauer

Program: BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders
Mentor: Carole E. Johnson, Ph.D., AuD., CCC-A, FAAA
Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders

My name is Natalie Rothbauer. I am a senior in Communication Sciences and Disorders and will complete my B.S in May 2016. Prior to joining the HERO Lab, I was involved in political science research on the Norman campus with the Public Opinion Learning Laboratory, which is what sparked my interest to find an opportunity to research within my own field. After taking Dr. Johnson's anatomy class and learning about her lab, I was honored for the opportunity to work with her and the rest of the HERO Lab team.

My current research project shows the understanding of Firefighters' Knowledge of, Experiences with, and Attitudes Toward Hearing Loss and its Prevention. This study was conducted by use of an online survey. Participants were recruited via email and represented wide demographics of experience as firefighters. This research is important to all disciplines of allied health because it proves the miscommunication in regards to hearing loss prevention and management in this special population. It should be concerning to all Allied Health professionals that a firefighter with knowledge of hearing loss may not follow through with audiological management due to the fear of forced retirement. In addition, this directly relates to psychological factors associated with injuries or disabilities on the job and shows health professionals should consider extra counseling as a part of their treatment plan.

I had the opportunity to present this research last month at the American Academy of Audiology conference. It was one of the most challenging academic weeks thus far in my academic career and I would highly recommend that students in all disciplines attend a national conference in their respective fields.

Next year, I will start my AuD at Illinois State University where I will be working in their Hearing Loss Prevention Lab. I hope to further my research within the firefighting community and other underserved populations and will utilize the data from this study to create better hearing protection devices and hearing technologies wearable in highly variable situations.