Heather Lacy

Mentor: Dr. Walter O'Dell
College of Medicine
"My mom told me early on in life that she could see my strong interest for the medical field, the start of my interest occurred with a simple play time activity, I was the doctor and my pet cat Dusty whom was very sick and in need of dinosaur patterned band aids(the whole box) to be placed on his furry black coat for treatment. My interest for the medical field further grew throughout life and finally blossomed with the opportunities found at the University of Florida. Becoming involved in research while still an undergraduate has allowed my view of the medical field to rapidly grow. Not only am I able to see the behind the scenes process, trial and error and abundant energy that goes towards each advancement in medicine but with volunteering at Shands hospital I am also able to see the effects that the perseverance of research can make on actual patients. Being able to work towards the common goal of changing a life, beside my peers, is an experience that will forever stay with me. Research has and will continue to help me grow as an individual now as an undergraduate and in the future as a physician. Research is the foundation of medicine, and without it no progression or advancements would be made. Research makes a difference, it is the chance to overcome the impossible and bring hope to those who were hopeless. Research changes lives, I know because it has changed mine. "


Nutritional Science



Research Interests

  • Health Effects
  • Chronic Disease
  • Life Expectancy

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Undergraduate Research Scholarship
  • Florida Bright Futures Scholarship


  • Delta Zeta Pi Alpha Chapter
  • Food Science and Human Nutrition Club


  • Child Life Program Volunteer

Hobbies and Interests

  • cross-country running
  • baking dessert
  • going to the beach
  • spending time with people I love

Research Description

Quantifying Arterial Pruning from Birth to Adulthood in children born prematurely
My hypothesis is that those who are born prematurely and develop chronic PAH will have a progression in the amount of occlusion and pruning away of the arterioles as they grow and develop further into adulthood. I will receive chest CT scans of patients seen at the UF Health Shands Pediatric Pulmonary Care center. I will focus on children who are in the age range between 3-18 years old; analyzing each chest CT scan using software tools specifically developed in Dr. O’Dell’s research lab. Charting information related to the number of vessels at each size in a diagram form will allow us to correlate the age of the patient with the amount of pruning of the arterioles. For the project year I will analyze 30-40 chest CT scans of premature patients. Under the supervision of Dr. O’Dell I will make charts that correlate vascular pruning with the developmental stage of the patient. I will present my final findings through the University Research Undergraduate Symposium and at least one national conference. I chose a research project in pediatric pulmonary disease because it compliments my volunteer work with hospitalized children and their families within Shands Child Life.