Celebrating Student Research

On Nov. 11, the UNC School of Medicine celebrated the 48th annual Student Research Day, hosted by the John B. Graham Student Research Society.

The annual celebration of student research was kicked off with the Landes-Merrimon Lecture, presented this year by Anna Huttenlocher, MD, professor of Medical Microbiology & Immunology and Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin.

Following Huttenlocher’s lecture, UNC School of Medicine students had the opportunity to present their research, first in oral presentations, and then in a poster presentation session that spanned UNC Medical Center’s lobby.

We asked a few participants to discuss their work:


"With this project, we looked at the amount of time surgical residents spend each day interacting with the Electronic Health Record. This is obviously a hot topic right now, but a lot of the current published research has focused on generalists. What we found is that the average surgical resident is spending two hours a day interacting with the EHR. This research was meant to really capture a snapshot of where things stand now, the next step of course will be to move forward and discuss ways to build more efficiency into these systems."

- Sabrina Peterson


I traveled to Guanajuato, Mexico, with the School of Medicine’s Proyecto Puentes de Salud project. This year, we brought dental students along with us as well and focused our work on the residents’ dental health. The state of Guanajuato is a major source of Mexican immigrants to the United States and I interact with this patient population through my work at SHAC [Student Health Action Coalition]. Trips like this help me to have a greater sense of where these patients come from and the circumstances that affect their health. This will only help in my communication with them.

- Ogar Ogar


"The purpose of my study is to determine the amount of normal swelling after one of the most common procedures of the cervical spine, which is the anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. From day one post-op to week two, you might expect swelling to gradually go down, but it actually went up. When radiologists see this trend, they will often get nervous, and order more tests, making the patient more nervous and also increasing costs. My main purpose with this research is to decrease that stress by showing that level of inflammation is completely normal."

- Trent Wei


"For this research, we facilitated an 8-week writing workshop for patients with diabetes. A lot of previous studies have done creative writing with patients, but not in groups or in a workshop model. Those studies also focused solely on health outcomes. We wanted to analyze the actual writing. What we found, for example, is that Type I diabetes patients tend to be more analytical, favoring step-by-step logical thinking. The Type II patients that we worked with were more narrative, and also had a much more positive outlook on their disease. Overall, I’d say that the exercise of narrative writing with patients can provide insights that might not present themselves during the course of a normal clinic visit."

- Beth Hanson

Following the poster presentations, all Student Research Day participants were officially inducted to the  John B. Graham Student Research Society and recognized at a banquet.

Awards were also presented for the day’s most outstanding presentations.

Kuno Award for Best Public Health Research:

  • Halei Benefield

Pillsbury Awards: Oral Presentations

  • Drew Cutshaw (Basic Science)
  • Alison Mercer-Smith (Clinical Science)
  • Abby Liberty (Public Health)

Pillsbury Awards: Poster Presentatins

  • Lacey Boshe (Basic Science)
  • Hubert Haywood, Alex Carlson (Clinical Science)
  • Clark Howell (Public Health)


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