Integrated Studies student work published in interdisciplinary journal

Integrated Studies student work published in interdisciplinary journal

By Chelsea McCracken

DSU's Integrated Studies program, which is housed in the Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS) department, allows students to create a customized major by combining two emphasis areas from a list of more than 30. Sefilina Skelton, class of 2018, majored in Integrated Studies with emphasis areas in Biology and Chemistry. Sefilina's senior capstone project was recently published in Utah Valley University's Intersections journal, which "seeks to publish outstanding senior thesis work from interdisciplinary programs in the state of Utah and the surrounding region." IAS faculty member Dr. Chelsea McCracken spoke with Sefilina to learn more about her published research.

CM: What did your research focus on? What got you interested in this topic? Why is it important?
SS: My research was inspired by one of my many science professors at DSU, Dr. Martina Gaspari, who recommended that I pursue the topic of human mitochondrial DNA since it is not well studied yet. Since several mutations in genomic DNA play a role in many diseases, my research focused on whether there are any mutations, deletions, or dysfunction in mitochondrial DNA that are also responsible for human diseases--specifically breast, lung, and prostate cancers. This research is important because it will not only contribute to the understanding of human mitochondrial DNA but also the roles that this DNA plays in the development of cancer.

CM: How did the research process work for you? Any advice for other students doing undergraduate research?
SS: The research process was time-consuming. I spent a lot of time surfing the internet, searching for books at the library, and talking to other biology and/or chemistry major students about my topic. If there is any advice for other students doing undergraduate research, it would be, if you want to know more about the research that you are doing, do not be afraid to ask and get as much help as possible.

CM: How does it feel to have your work published?
SS: It feels great. I was in euphoria for a long time and was super stoked that my work is well reviewed and will be published while I am still an undergraduate. This is a huge accomplishment for me and I am thankful to the Integrated Studies Department at DSU for choosing my work to represent DSU at UVU’s student research journal publication opportunity.