The Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship has always had a mission of helping Augusta University students advance with networking and growth. Thanks to the center’s recent work, an Augusta University team consisting of a student and faculty mentor has been chosen to participate in the prestigious inaugural national Undergraduate Research Advocacy Program through the Council on Undergraduate Research.
Over the next few months, Adam Jones, a senior biology major, will work on a scientific project, and with the help of his mentor, learn to advocate for undergraduate research as part of the national Scholars Transforming through Research Program. The STR Program serves as a six-month professional development opportunity for undergraduate students and faculty mentors to leverage the impact of undergraduate research by sharing their story to funding agencies, elected officials and beyond.
“When I found out we were selected, it was a balance between a pleasant surprise and at the same time, an oh-my-gosh feeling because now I really have to talk to the politicians,” said Jones.
Jones is also a veteran of the U.S. Army with several years of military experience. He plans to continue pursuing his passion for research in AU’s PhD program in biomedical sciences.
Aiding Jones on the journey is his mentor, Daria Ilatovskaya, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Georgia. As his advisor, she will accompany him to meetings over the next few months and train him to effectively deliver the message about the importance of undergraduate research to policymakers.
“When I was in the military, and I had to choose someone to perform a particular leadership role, I would always look for which one of my soldiers who acted like they wanted the job. The one that demonstrated they wanted responsibility. That was the same mentality I had when I chose Professor Ilatovskaya. I wanted someone who seemed like they were willing to invest themselves in my success,” said Jones.
He added having Ilatovskaya as his mentor has helped calm the nervousness he felt initially. Despite his many years of leadership in the Army, and extensive public speaking experiences, participating in a program like STR is very new to him.
“This is my first time working with the CURS organization, but I’m very familiar with scientific research advocacy. I advised Adam that all he should do is just talk about his passion. The legislators are people as well and they want to know what it is in research that excites you personally,” said Ilatovskaya.
Jones’s research project is on the differences between male and female mitochondria and how those organelles differ between the sexes when it comes to susceptibility to kidney disease.
Jones came to Augusta University after a friend, who is a PhD student, spoke highly of The Graduate School. She piqued his interest when she shared her experience in a research lab on campus.
For him, this competition is an exciting adventure as he prepares for graduate school and beyond.
“I hope to gain experience in networking and getting used to talking to individuals outside of my immediate pool,” said Jones.