Center for Injury Research and Prevention

The Power of Women in Health Research

November 14, 2019
Kendall Seigworth CIRP REU Alumna

A note from CIRP@CHOP Training Manager Carol Murray, MSS, MLSP:Today we are pleased to welcome a guest blog post from Kendall Seigworth, MPH, a research assistant at Temple University who participated in the Injury Science Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at CIRP a few summers ago.

Before I came to CIRP for my Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) internship, I was extremely unsure of what my educational and subsequent career paths would look like. It was the summer before my senior year at Millersville University, where I was studying Sociology and Anthropology with a minor in Philosophy, and I needed to figure out my next steps.

At that time, I felt a bit trapped in my small home city of Lancaster, PA. I had not traveled very much, and the thought of living in a big, bustling metropolis like Philadelphia intimidated me. Fortunately, I knew I needed to force myself outside of my comfort zone to be able to grow. My undergraduate academic adviser sent me a link to a National Science Foundation REU posting at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). I found the Epidemiology Core project examining the Natural History of Youth Concussions very interesting and decided to apply. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to be accepted into the program!

During my time at CIRP, I was mentored by Kristy Arbogast, PhD and Ronni Kessler, MSEd. My tasks included abstracting data from CHOP’s electronic health records for retrospective analysis of children treated for one or multiple concussions within the CHOP network. This gave me a safe space to learn more about data entry and descriptive statistical analysis. I also had the opportunity to start a literature review on concussions in children from birth to age 4. While reading the literature on this subject, I developed a passion for injury prevention and control.

Inspiring Females in STEM

I was certainly learning a lot about employing scientific methods to answer an original research question during my REU summer, but the key aspect of my experience that stood out the most was being surrounded by intelligent, skilled women involved in STEM. Before interning at CIRP, I knew no female who was pursuing a STEM career. Having female role models to look up to in this field of research became extremely important to me, and this experience allowed me to imagine myself in career roles that I did not believe were possible

I was also very impressed with being given the chance to be exposed to the inner workings of one of the leading pediatric hospitals in the world. This experience allowed me to gain an appreciation for interdisciplinary research and practice that have shaped the institution’s success. I was fortunate to see how the process works, as individuals in fields such as medicine; biology; engineering; public health; epidemiology; statistics; psychology; social work, sociology, and ethics work together to achieve the common goal of improving children’s health.

My time spent at CIRP helped me to decide that I wanted to pursue a Master of Public Health. I ultimately chose to return to Philadelphia to receive my MPH in Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University where I graduated in 2019.

In September 2019, I began working with the Siminoff Research Group in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Temple University on a Department of Defense grant funded-project: “Military Veteran's Knowledge, Attitudes, and Interest in Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation (VCA) Treatment for Disfiguring Service-Related Injuries: Developing Shared Decision-Making for VCA.” I also am currently pursuing a certificate in Healthcare Informatics from the Drexel University College of Computing and Informatics. In the future, I hope to earn a PhD related to social and behavioral sciences in public health.

I cannot thank CIRP and the National Science Foundation enough for sponsoring CIRP's Injury Science REU program.The social impact of increasing access to internships in STEM and social sciences for undergraduate students who are traditionally underrepresented in these fields is immensely beneficial. I personally feel this program needs even more recognition and appreciation for its efforts to uplift and inspire young scientists.

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