"I applied to the University Scholars Program because I wanted to get involved in academic research, and I wanted to have a mentor there to guide me in my studies. I wanted to begin an independent study that was focused around my particular interests, and I hope to learn new techniques and procedures that I can utilize in a career in medicine. My goals for the academic year are to develop a working knowledge of the data processing and analysis for MRI, physical activity, and functional assessment in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). I also hope to develop functional guidelines for these boys by examining the relationship between T2 weighted MRI and physical activity measurements."
I am currently applying to medical school and hope to begin in the fall of 2012. I am interested in pursuing a career in facial reconstruction, helping burn victims and those suffering from cleft palates and deformities. Having a passion for health and athletics, my research interests focus on neuromuscular diseases like Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- UF Women's Club Scholarship (2011)
- Intramural Flag Football
- Intramural Softball
- Intramural Ultimate Frisbee
I have volunteered at Shands Burn ICU, Shands Operating Room, and Florida Surgical Center. Currently, I volunteer at Camp Boggy Creek, a place for sick children and their families to experience a fun-filled camp weekend while being surrounded by those suffering from similar illnesses. I also volunteer on the UF mobile clinic where I take patient’s vital signs, assist with intake procedures, and provide legal and social services to the underserved community.
Hobbies and Interests
- Sports, volleyball, softball, cheer leading, flag football, and traveling.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Boys with DMD
It is imperative that boys with DMD do not perform high intensity exercise in order to avoid increasing their already high rate of muscle damage. Yet, if these subjects do not engage in sufficient physical activity, they can experience disuse atrophy in the muscle that is still present and functioning. In order to provide information that may lead to recommended guidelines for proposed activity levels in this patient population, the following specific aims will be targeted: 1) Compare step counts and strength measures between boys with DMD and healthy controls 2) Compare functional abilities (6MWT, Supine to Stand, Ascending Four Stairs, etc.) of active boys with DMD, inactive boys with DMD, and healthy controls 3) Determine the relationships between muscle damage (measured from T2 weighted MRI), step count (measured from the Actigraph), and energy expenditure (measured from the Actigraph) A cross-sectional study with 35 DMD subjects and 15 controls (ages 5-15) will be used to assess the relationship between physical activity and muscle degradation. In order to determine the progression of DMD, I am utilizing a novel technique that involves T2 weighted MRI’s as a construct of muscle damage. For functional assessment measures, subjects will perform a six minute walk test (6MWT), Rise from floor (Supine to Stand), and Ascend Four Stairs (4 Stairs). Strength assessments are performed with the subjects using a Biodex dynamometer to determine isometric muscle strength. Lastly, an Actigraph accelerometer is worn on the hip to measure daily energy expenditures and to measure step count. The significance of this project is that there are currently no specific guidelines for activity for boys with DMD. I hope that this data can be used to provide information about the potential impact that physical activity poses on the status of muscle quality and function in children with DMD.