Senior spotlight: Sydney Reynolds (chemistry & biology)

Sydney_ReynoldsSydney Reynolds will graduate in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry. Learn about her experiences at UIndy over the last four years:

Q: What are your plans following graduation?

A: I will be going to Ohio State University in the fall for pharmacy school. It is a four-year doctorate program.

Q: How did your program prepare you for the next steps in your professional life? 

A: The chemistry department at UIndy has prepared me for the next steps in my professional life not only in my coursework but also with research opportunities and making connections.

Q: What activities were you involved with during your time at UIndy? 

A: I am the president of Sigma Zeta, an honors society for science and math. For two years, I was on the executive board of the Honors Student Association. I am also a resident assistant in Greyhound Village apartments. I am in the Honors College and have been involved in research for the chemistry department since my freshman year. I just finished my honors manuscript and presented my research at Scholars Showcase on April 12th. I have been a lab assistant for the chemistry department as well. These experiences have helped me build so many great connections, especially with the chemistry faculty. The chemistry department at UIndy is amazing, and I am so grateful to have them in my life.

Q: Did you have any faculty mentors? 

A: Yes! The two main faculty mentors that I have had throughout my time at UIndy are Dr. Ann Cutler and Dr. Katherine Stickney. They have helped me immensely with not only chemistry but also with letters of recommendation and professional development. I do not know what I would have done without their support and encouragement.

Q: Final thoughts about UIndy as you prepare for graduation?

A: UIndy was the best decision I have ever made. I am sad to leave, but I know I am moving on to bigger things.

Honors College alum shines in national scholarship competition

Aura Ankita MishraUniversity of Indianapolis Ron & Laura Strain Honors College alumna Aura Ankita Mishra ‘12 (psychology) recently earned the top prize in a national competition hosted by Alpha Chi Honor Society.

In a field of 27 applicants, she was selected to receive the $6,000 Joseph E. Pryor Doctoral Fellowship, which will support her pursuit of a Ph.D. in human development and family studies.

Mishra says she is excited about the next steps in her career, the foundation of which began at UIndy.

“What really helped me prepare for graduate school was the Honors College independent project at UIndy. I gained firsthand experience in working with actual data, running analytic models, and interpreting results, all of which are important skills necessary to succeed in graduate school.”

Her research has focused on evaluating the influence of childhood maltreatment and adversity exposure on adolescent and adult mental health outcomes, showing that child maltreatment has lasting effects. For example, she evaluated the dynamic association between post-traumatic stress, ongoing home violence and the ongoing changes in friendships in school.

“Aura’s achievement demonstrates the success students in the Strain Honors College have after leaving UIndy,” said Jim Williams, executive director of the Ron & Laura Strain Honors College. “The honors projects our students undertake often take a year’s worth of planning and execution under the tutelage of a faculty mentor, and as in Aura’s case, one can see how that labor of learning became a springboard for her profound work today on adversity in adolescence.  She’s now in a position to conduct research that will impact policy and prevention on a critical issue in our world.”

Mishra’s more recent work researching the cascading impact of childhood adversity on later-life health and well-being resulted in the study that won the Pryor Fellowship award.

At a time when about one in five – or over 40 million – Americans experience mental illness, Mishra’s work is focused on ways to lower those numbers.

“These studies are important because they provide empirical evidence for prevention and intervention methods to prevent the harmful effects of childhood adversities during adolescence and adulthood,” she explained.

After graduating, Mishra plans to gain additional training as a post-doctoral research fellow and subsequently work as a faculty member at a research-oriented university.


Learn more about the University of Indianapolis Honors College

December 2017 Graduation: Meet Delmar Oropeza

delmaroropezaDelmar Oropeza ’17 (biology, chemistry minor, pre-pharmacy concentration), was one of two Ron & Laura Strain Honors College students who received a research grant along with her co-researcher Sierra Corbin from the Sigma Zeta National Honor Society to conduct and present research at the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Conference in Atlanta. She is graduating in December.

Q. Congrats on your research grant from Sigma Zeta National Honor Society! What are your thoughts about receiving the grant?

A. I was pleased and thankful that Sigma Zeta was willing to fund our research. This grant meant that [co-researcher] Sierra [Corbin] and I would not have to fund our project. It was interesting to hear what professors and other students thought about our research. Most of them seemed really interested, especially because of the involvement of food.

Q. Could you briefly describe your research? What inspired you to pursue this topic?

A. We wanted to determine a procedure that could test the genotype of individuals for a portion of the gene that contains a marker for the taste preference of cilantro. We wanted to test if the way individuals perceive the taste of cilantro is genetic or not. Sierra and I enjoyed taking genetics with Dr. [Sandy] Davis (associate professor of biology), so we worked with her on our capstone/honors project. She gave us the idea, which caught our attention.

Q. How did your research experience – and Honors College in general – prepare you for the next steps in your career?

A. The research experience allowed me to expand my learning and communicative capabilities. There was a lot of reading and interpretation of papers that took place, which allowed me to expand my analytical intakes. We presented our research several times during the course of the project, and this helped me develop my public speaking skills. 

Q. What are your plans after graduation?

A. I plan to go to pharmacy school. I just submitted my pharmacy school applications to Purdue and Ferris State University. 

Q. Were you involved in any extracurricular activities as a student? If so, what were they and how did they enhance your experience?

A. I was involved with Chemistry Club, Sigma Zeta, Biology Club, Pre-Professional Club, College Mentors and I currently have a part-time job as a pharmacy technician at Wal-Mart Pharmacy. These activities enhanced my abilities to balance school, clubs and work. I think being in multiple associations and organizations has made me into a better student as well as a better organizer and manager of time in my daily life.  

Q. Were there any faculty, staff or fellow students who helped you during your time as a student?

A. There have been numerous professors and students who have helped guide my education. I would like to thank Dr. [Sandy] Davis, Dr. [Jim] Williams, Dr. [Kevin] Gribbins, Dr. [Doug] Stemke, Dr. [Marc] Milne, and Sierra Corbin for encouragement and advice during my years at the University of Indianapolis. Professors have served as advisors and mentors with not only schoolwork, but life-long decisions and career options as well. 

Q. Why would you recommend UIndy to prospective high school students?

A. I would recommend UIndy because the small classroom setting gives students the opportunity to know their professors. My advice to incoming freshmen is to not get overwhelmed during the first semester. And if such thing does happen, talk to your professors because they care about your education as much as you do. 

Q. Any other big takeaways or observations as you approach graduation?

A. I am super excited to graduate. I am ready for the next step, and now I am just anxiously waiting to start learning in depth about my future career!


Read about other 2017 December graduates.

Learn about 2017 December graduation

December 2017 Graduation: Meet Sierra Corbin

sierracorbinSierra Corbin ’17 (biology major, chemistry minor) talks about her experience in the Ron & Laura Strain Honors College. She and co-researcher Delmar Oropeza ’17 received a research grant from the Sigma Zeta National Honor Society to conduct and present research at the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Conference in Atlanta. Once she graduates in December, she plans to enter a physician assistant program.

Q. How did the Sigma Zeta grant assist in your research?

A. I was thankful about receiving the grant, because it paid for a lot of materials we needed to order for our project. The experience presenting at the conference was beneficial. We received feedback from judges so that we could improve our skills of presenting scientific research. It was also quite interesting to see what other students around the United States study.

Q. Could you briefly describe your research?

A. Our research analyzed the DNA of individuals that liked and disliked cilantro. Using the information and the procedure Delmar and I conducted, I wrote a laboratory procedure for undergraduate level students to use in genetics courses.

Q. How did your research experience – and Honors College in general – prepare you for the next steps in your career?

A. The research and presentation experience prepared me for learning how to explain to others who may not have as much knowledge about a particular topic, what is happening in a given situation. When I become a physician assistant, I am sure I will need to explain to patients what an illness may be, what caused it and how to treat it. If I do not end up going to graduate school to become physician assistant, I probably will go into research of some kind. Completing undergraduate research allowed me to become familiarized with the equipment and techniques I would need in my future.

Q. Were you involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?

A. I participated in UIndy for Riley and worked off campus, which took up a lot of my free time. Learning the skill of time management was essential and helped me become well rounded. Working also helped me get many of the clinical hours that physician assistant programs require.

Q. Were there any faculty, staff or fellow students who helped you during your time as a student?

A. Dr. [Sandy] Davis (biology) helped me tremendously through this project. She helped me in learning an abundance of knowledge about genetics. Also, Dr. [Marc] Milne (biology) was an awesome mentor and professor my freshman year, encouraging me to follow the biology route I had set for myself. Dr. [Kathy] Stickney was another professor who genuinely cared about her students performance and would go above and beyond for her students. I will never forget when she stayed at school until 2:00 a.m. helping students edit a paper and learn material.

Q. Would you recommend UIndy to prospective high school students?

A. UIndy is an awesome school, and is much better than some bigger schools in professor-student ratios. I have a few friends at large universities who cannot get appropriate help when they are struggling in a class. At UIndy, the teachers genuinely care about our academic success. Some of our courses definitely are harder than they would be at other schools, but that makes us more prepared.


Read about other 2017 December graduates.

Learn about 2017 December graduation